mental illness

John Bender / RIPR

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has pulled the veil from his famous family in a new book that details his addiction and mental health issues.  Some members of his family have reacted angrily to the book, calling the memoir inaccurate. RIPR’s Scott MacKay says Kennedy deserves a Profile in Courage award of his own.

People who are in recovery from addiction or mental illness might be open to sharing their story with anyone who asks. Or they might not. There's still enough stigma and misunderstanding about the disease of addiction that keeping it private might feel safer.

The ADA for Addiction And Mental Illness
Just in case, though, there's the Americans with Disabilities Act. It protects people who are in recovery from or treatment for addiction or mental illness from being excluded from certain opportunities or having to disclose private health information.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

When Maria Montanaro took the reins of the state department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, she inherited an agency with massive responsibilities, and major challenges. Among them, mounting costs and allegations of abuse at Eleanor Slater Hospital – the state psychiatric and long-term care facility for people with serious illnesses.

Have you ever encountered moments in life when you weren't sure you had the wherewithal to climb out of bed and face another day?  Moments when you saw no light whatsoever at the end of your tunnel, when you wanted to, well, just give up and end it all?  Sadly, many people have just such moments.  The most fortunate are able to climb out of the dark abyss.  And, as we know, some are not.  We hear from David Blistein, who has written a powerful memoir about his own struggles with mental illness.

David Blistein grew up in Providence and, he reports, learned to write from his father, who was on the Brown University faculty for many years.  Blistein is a graduate of Amherst College and now lives in southern Vermont.  Blistein's books explore history, spirituality, nature, and psychology.  His most recent work is David's Inferno: My Journey through the Dark Woods of Depression.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Since about 2007, the percent of all hospitalizations of kids 18 and under for a mental health reason has nearly doubled. According to state public health data, there have been a steady number of total hospitalizations - about 20,000 - for kids statewide. In 2002, the percent admitted for a mental disorder was between six and eight percent for kids with private insurance or Medicaid, and quite low for uninsured kids. Today it's between 10 and 12 percent across the board.

The chief of staff for the state senate president will join the Obama Administration as a senior advisor for a federal agency that tries to reduce substance abuse. 

Tom Coderre will work on programs and policies that try to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another legislative session has wrapped up. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about how health care fared on Smith Hill.

Here's a transcript of their discussion.

It's been a year since the tragedy in Newtown, CT took so many lives, including that of the gunman, who some believe was battling serious mental illness but may not have gotten all the treatment he needed.

We’ve heard lots, since then, about the need for more mental health resources, and lots about the rollercoaster ride of federal and state funding for those resources. Here’s a round up of some of the year’s most significant developments for mental health patients and advocates:

A legislative task force on gun safety is slated to hold its first meeting this afternoon Thursday at the Statehouse.

Assembling the gun safety task force was one of the few steps taken by the General Assembly in response to the school shooting last year in Newtown, Connecticut. But all the members weren’t named until last month, shortly after media reports that the task force hadn’t yet met.

John Bender / RIPR

Several weeks ago, a  shooter opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington D.C.  It turns out the suspected shooter Aaron Alexis was in Newport prior to the shooting.  During his stay Newport police were called to his hotel room, and he reported hearing voices.  The encounter, combined with others, has spurred debate about whether authorities should have seen red flags and done more.

President Obama praised former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy for his support of legislation that made mental health coverage mandatory on health insurance policies.

The president’s remarks came Monday at the White House National Conference on Mental Health. In his opening remarks, the president praised several individuals, including Kennedy, who struggled with bipolar disorder and substance abuse during his years representing Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter joined afternoon host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about what public health experts and legal scholars have to say about mental health records and the gun background check database. A transcript follows. You can listen to our feature story on Rhode Island's lack of participation in the National Instant Criminal Background Check, or NICS, database here.