mental health

Mass shootings, health care concerns and the upcoming 2020 presidential election top the list of Americans' worries these days. That's according to a new survey out this week from the American Psychological Association.

Overall, 71% said mass shootings were a significant source of stress in their lives, up from 62% last year. Hispanic adults were most likely to report stress over mass shootings (84%).

CHRISTINA STELLA / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Between late planting, floods, and trade turmoil, many families in agriculture are operating under an extra layer of stress this year. But, addressing mental health in rural communities is more complicated than increasing resources.

Arline Feilen lost her husband to suicide in 2013. Three years later, she lost her dad to cancer. And this February, she lost her 89-year-old mom to a cascade of health problems.

"We were like glue, and that first Mother's Day without her was killer. It just dragged me down," said Feilen, who is 56 and lives in suburban Chicago. "It was just loss after loss after loss, and I just crumbled."

The dispatch call from the Concord, N.H., police department is brief. A woman returning to her truck spotted a man underneath. She confronted him. The man fled. Now the woman wants a police officer to make sure her truck is OK.

"Here we go," mutters Officer Brian Cregg as he steps on the gas. In less than three minutes, he's driving across the back of a Walmart parking lot, looking for a man on the run.

Imagine you are forced to go to a hospital to receive psychiatric treatment that you don't think you need. What rights would you have?

That's the question at the heart of a legal battle between the state of New Hampshire and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The case has big implications for New Hampshire, but it also highlights a nationwide problem: A shortage of mental health beds is leaving patients stranded in emergency rooms for days or weeks at a time.

Anxiety and agitation

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

At eight-years-old David Hall was taken from his mother’s house in Canadian County and placed into foster care. He had been abused most of his life and was struggling with PTSD.

Hall says he didn’t talk about being abused, he assumed it was normal.

“That’s not really something you talk about at school. When I was a kid, I talked about Scooby-Doo and things like that,” Hall said.

More teens and young adults — particularly girls and young women — are reporting being depressed and anxious, compared with comparable numbers from the mid-2000s. Suicides are up too in that time period, most noticeably among girls ages 10 to 14.

These trends are the basis of a scientific controversy.

One hypothesis that has gotten a lot of traction is that with nearly every teen using a smartphone these days, digital media must take some of the blame for worsening mental health.

This summer's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, accelerated calls for more red flag or extreme-risk laws in those states, as well as helped jump-start bills in Congress. The laws allow courts to order the seizure of firearms from those believed to pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed such laws.

But, while the political focus may be on mass shootings, states are using the laws far more often to prevent cases of individual gun violence, including suicide.

Following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Congress is considering a bill that would encourage states to pass red flag laws. Members of Congress may want to study Florida, where it's been in place for a year and a half.

Since it was adopted there, courts have approved some 2,500 risk protection orders. That's nearly five every day, more than any other state. The Florida law allows police, acting with court approval, to temporarily seize weapons from people deemed to be at risk of harming themselves or others.

A new tool

Strong majorities of Americans from across the political spectrum support laws that allow family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove guns from a person who is seen to be a risk to themselves or others, according to a new APM Research Lab/Guns & America/Call To Mind survey.

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