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Posts tagged: mental health

Mental health crisis

We walk the streets of our communities and at any time we see them: persons who have mental illness.

When one of these persons commits a crime – or is it a crime if they have limited awareness? – they are arrested and put in jail. While waiting for appropriate care, psychiatric care at a hospital, many of these people spend months in jail. And their mental health status deteriorates.

“Mental-health advocates are seeking class-action status in a federal lawsuit arguing that holding these patients in jail violates right to due process and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Many hope the Legislature will intervene with more funding,” writes Andy Mannix in a Seattle Times story.  

Our society has lost its way in caring for people who cannot find their way.

(S-R archive photo)

Anne Lamott speaks

Anne Lamott writes about faith, recovery from addiction, and the profound presence of God in the ordinariness of life. She is not pious or pretentious – she has lived through too much pain and suffering for that nonsense.

Robin Williams was her neighbor when she was growing up in the Bay area. Anne writes of his life, mental health and our common search for meaning in the raw pain of life.  

(S-R archive photo: Anne Lamott)

What does your gut tell you?

We often ask that question when others are baffled about decisions. And there may be more wisdom and influence living in that gut than we realize.

As a college sophomore, Elaine Hsiao learned in microbiology class one’s gut holds almost twice our brain weight in bacteria. For what purpose? As a graduate student Hsiao learned that these bacteria might actually influence our thoughts, moods and behavior.

Now a research fellow, Hsiao explores how those microbes can affect brain function. Perhaps she is on a path of healing; perhaps one day we treat mental health by simply introducing more microbes into one’s system.

My gut tells me such a discovery would bring peace and wholeness to millions.

(S-R archive photo: a scene from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” 20th Century Fox)

Policing ~ with care

Mental illness plagues many of our homeless neighbors. Their behavior is often interpreted as threatening or at least confusing and bothersome. The Seattle Police Department now has a mental health expert who rides with them, often as the initial contact for a person deemed experiencing a mental health crisis. Perhaps other law enforcement groups will take a look at this model of community policing - and create a compassionate outreach program like it. We all know someone who suffers from mental health challenges; we know that resources are few.

 A trained caregiver out in our community can reduce anxiety - for the person on the street as well as officers who are trained and committed to protect their communities.  

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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