Erasing the Stigma

How are the courts and mental health service providers working to address mental illness in the criminal justice system?

That was the topic of today’s “Think” at 1 p.m. on KERA-FM, 90.1. “Think” host Krys Boyd discussed the issue with Pete Earley, author of “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness” and Ron Stretcher, director of criminal justice for Dallas County

Since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, mental health has made headlines nationally and locally. For a time, it seemed like everyone was talking about the importance of mental health care -- from politicians like President Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to stars like Demi Lovato and Bradley Cooper. But spending on mental health is seriously lagging behind when compared to other medical conditions. As Catherine Rampell of the New York Times reports, direct mental health spending in the U.S. has remained roughly 1 percent of the economy since 1986, while total health spending climbed from about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1986 to nearly 17 percent in 2009.

Texas spent $38.99 per capita on mental health care, making it 49th in the country for 2012. The Texas Tribune's Brandi Grissom says the dearth of spending on mental health resources has converted jails, emergency rooms and homeless shelters into "de facto asylums." Today she kicks off a series, called “Trouble in Mind,” about mental health in Texas’ criminal justice system. And tonight, KERA airs “Erasing the Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions.” The public forum was presented by KERA, The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and will air at 7 pm on KERA-Channel 13.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

  The battle to help mentally ill people is personal for one state legislator.  Representative Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, has bipolar disorder.

This week he participated in a mental health forum, Erasing the Stigma, which was sponsored by KERA, The Dallas Morning News, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Then Rep. Coleman sat down to share his story.

BJ Austin, KERA

Experts on mental illness did some myth-busting at last night’s public forum at the Dallas Performance Hall. The panelists were part of the discussion “Erasing the Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions. 

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Why is there still such a stigma related to mental illness? How can the community work together to better identify and help young adults struggling with it?

That's the topic of the public forum "Erasing The Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions."

Take a look back at our live blog. Audio will be available on KERA News soon; look for video later in the week. And KERA-Channel 13 will air an edited version of the forum on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

5 Key Questions About Mental Illness

Feb 5, 2013

Two months ago, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., shined a spotlight on two crucial issues: guns and mental health. Nationally, much of the attention has focused on gun laws and President Obama's call to strengthen them. But today, North Texas is focused on mental health -- and how to deal with mental illness. 

BJ Austin, KERA

Juan Martinez is a popular waiter at a busy restaurant. He's a friendly, professional and dependable. But the 34-year-old is living a different life from a few years ago, when bipolar disorder had him in a tailspin.