<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Health Connection - [DFW Feature]State of Mind]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/healthen-usFri, 20 Sep 2019 09:40:48 -0500Fri, 20 Sep 2019 09:40:48 -0500NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[State of Mind - Kids Under Pressure]]>557922302Tue, 27 Aug 2019 16:49:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Under+Pressure+1200x675.jpg

Mental health is a tough subject to talk about, especially when it comes to children. On Thursday, Aug. 22, NBC 5 focused an entire newscast on raising awareness of issues involving teen mental health]]>
<![CDATA[Suicide Prevention and Resources]]>421477163Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:22:10 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/nspl-logos.jpg

Suicide is an ongoing public health issue in Texas and across the United States. In Texas, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24, according to the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas.

There are a number of local and national organizations dedicated to preventing suicide and saving lives.

Finding Help
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national suicide prevention and intervention telephone service funded by the Federal Government. Callers are redirected to a suicide and crisis center in North Texas where they can receive immediate assistance. If you are considering suicide or if you know someone considering suicide, you can call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)for help. En Espanol: Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454.An online chat option has been added CLICK HERE.

Call 911

If you believe someone may be an imminent threat to themselves, call 911.  Operators can dispatch police and medical help to the location or route your call to a crisis hotlines.

Go to a Hospital

If you believe someone may be having suicidal thoughts, a hospital can also provide immediate help to people at-risk of suicide. Doctors can assess if someone is in need of immediate inpatient treatment or recommend outpatient services where they can get help.

Online Help

Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers
There are 39 MHMR community centers in Texas that provide community-based services across all 254 Texas counties. MHMR centers help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serious mental illness and substance use disorders. To find a community center near you, click here.

The Texas Department of State Health Services
The Texas DSHS publishes a Suicide Prevention webpage complete with crisis hotlines, local mental health authority centers, children's mental health resources, as well as educational materials for schools. The state also published a video where DSHS employees talk about where Texans can get help in the video “Suicide Prevention Resources in Texas: Where to go if You or a Family Member Needs Help." Click here to visit the DSHS webpage. The suicide prevention video is embedded below.

Suicide & Crisis Center of North Texas
The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas is located in Dallas, but answers calls throughout North Texas. Each month, 1,500 people call the suicide crisis hotline at (214) 828-1000 or (800) 273-8255 to speak to a trained counselor. Anytime, day or night, someone always answers. You can also text "CONNECT" to 741741 anytime to reach trained, caring volunteers at the National Crisis Text Line.

Suicide Prevention and Resilience in Children (SPARC) at Children's Health
The Suicide Prevention and Resilience in Children (SPARC) at Children's Health is an intensive outpatient program for youth with suicidal behaviors. Click here to learn more.

Cook Children's Behavioral Health Center
Cook Children's Behavioral Health Center offers information and resources to help the most vulnerable children. Click here to learn more.

The Grace Loncar Foundation
The Grace Loncar Foundation was founded in 2017 with the goal to educate people on the signs of depression and mental illness, to give resources to those in need of a safe place to deal with their depression, and to advocate for families, friends, and those struggling with depression & suicidal thoughts. The website is a resource for those looking for help, looking to help or for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Read more about Grace Loncar and foundation named in her memory here.

The Trevor Project
Suicide and crisis helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 for immediate help 24/7; Text "Trevor" to 1-202-304-1200 (2p-9p M-F) or chat online (2p-9p every day).Find out more about immediate help here. The Trevor Project is also available on Facebook and Twitter.

Crisis Hotlines
The Texas DSHS maintains a list of state-wide crisis hotlines. See a complete list by clicking here.

Suicide Awareness Coalition of Tarrant County
The Suicide Awareness Coalition (formerly the Suicide Prevention Coalition) emphasizes primary awareness by helping reduce the factors that put people at risk and by preventing suicide before it occurs.More information here.

NAMI | North Texas
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Click here to learn more.

Befrienders.org provides multilanguage emotional support to prevent suicide worldwide.

Youth Suicide Warning Signs
A resource for common warning signs for youths considering suicide. The site provides tips to youth, parents, caregivers, gatekeepers and healthcare professionals on what to watch for in at-risk youth as well as what to say to them and how to help. See the warning signs here.

Adult Suicide Warning Signs
Adults considering suicide may show warning signs different from youths. Withdrawal, anger, anxiety, mood changes are only some of the symptoms.  Learn more here from the American Association of Suicidology.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255(TALK), which is toll-free and available 24/7. Also, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website by clicking here.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Suicide Prevention Program in Dallas Helps At-Risk Teens]]>557896681Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:56:56 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lily-allen1.jpg

Children's Health in Dallas offers an intensive outpatient program for youth with suicidal behaviors.

The Suicide Prevention and Resilience at Children's Health, or SPARC, is an evidence-based program designed to target risk factors associated with suicide in teens. 

Patients participate in group therapy three hours per day, twice a week, and attend individual and/or family therapy.

Lily Allen, of Frisco, said it saved her life three years ago when she was a talented 15-year-old dancer at Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

She was also the victim of bullying.

"I thought everything was fine, then the social stuff started happening again. Mean girls were mean. Freshman year I wrote my suicide note and was going to attempt suicide," said Allen.

She texted the suicide note to her friend, who called the police and the intervention saved her life.

Police reached her at her home and took her to Children's Health.

"Kids coming in with suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviors has really doubled 9 to 10 years," said Dr. Betsy Kennard, program director of SPARC at Children's Health and UT Southwestern associate professor of psychiatry.

In SPARC, parents also attend a parent group one hour per week to learn the skills their teens are learning in group medication management and other services. 

Patients attending the SPARC are referred from their current treatment providers.

"The treatment works. I think that's the most important message to get out there," said Kennard.

Fewer than 7% of program graduates tried again to commit suicide. The national average, according to Kennard is 20-30%. Allen is proud to be one of the success stories.

"I realized there were so many people who have been through what I've been through and who have come out of it and who have recovered and I wanted to be one of those people that recovered. According to Children's Health, it's important for parents and other family members to recognize the signs of suicide and make sure that teens get help. The best prevention is recognizing the warning signs and then seeking help for your child right away.

Your child could be at risk if any of these signs are exhibited:

  • Talking about wanting to die or committing suicide.
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Searching online or around your home for ways to commit suicide.
  • Talking to friends about ways to commit suicide.
  • Being preoccupied with death, as demonstrated in conversation or writings.
  • Showing raging anger or wild mood swings.
  • Behaving recklessly.
  • Drastic alterations in sleep patterns.
  • Withdrawing from others.

Take these warnings seriously. If your child appears to be in crisis, don't hesitate to take him to a mental health professional or even an emergency room.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and suicide prevention teams are specially trained to help your child learn to cope with the emotions and stressors that can lead to thoughts of hopelessness or suicide.

Some teens are treated as inpatients; others meet weekly or more often with a psychologist.

During the crisis, it's important that you remember this: If your child feels desperate or depressed, it is from a combination of factors and not a reflection on your parenting.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Musician Shares His Teenage Struggle With Suicidal Thoughts]]>557885621Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:57:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tye-harris.jpg

Some call it rap, but for Dallas-native Tye Harris, his music is therapy.

"It's documentation of my feelings, every lyric, every key, every cord," said Harris.

His music documents his life, his struggles, growing up in Oak Cliff. He said he started to feel the pressure here at Atwell Middle School in Red Bird.

"Some of the stuff we were going through in middle school, other people went through in college," Harris said.

He got into fights on campus while trying to grasp the material in school and dealing with family struggles at home.

"For some reason I felt like the world was fixing to end for me. It had to do probably with what was going around in my environment at the time. I'm going to say it, I had just witnessed someone get killed, right in front of me," said Harris.

"At first, I was numb to it and then I started to have little visions, little voices would tell me I was probably going to be next."

Tye said many minority families grow up struggling financially, causing pressure, especially for boys, to grow up and provide for their families.

Stereotypically, men are not allowed to be weak. That belief can be even more pronounced in some minority groups.

"We can't vent, black men period, we can't vent to nobody," said Harris.

"If we vent to our mommas or vent to anybody in our families, especially around my middle school time, it was weak, it was some 'white boy' stuff."

Therapist Danny Ross has heard it before. Ross works with children on a school campus in Keller ISD. He specializes in counseling for black men out of his Arlington office.

He came up with the idea after seeing an increasing number of minority boys and teens under immense pressure and he knows it from his own life.

"I've been given the message early on, you have to work twice as hard. Great message, but what's enough?" questioned Ross.

In some neighborhoods, children of color struggle with crime and poverty. In other communities, they're trying to settle in, go on dates, and succeed in schools where other students don't look like them.

Often, they're taught to just be strong, pray. They're rarely brought to therapy, when they're crying out for help.

"I think it's part of culture, there have been so many messages that have been passed on from generation to generation that have made it not OK. Being in therapy means that I need help, that I'm broken that I'm messed up. That it can make me look weak," said Ross.

There's that word again, weak.

"I always had this little weird vibe to me," said Harris.

"In middle school I got my first taste of rock music and Korn. I got my first taste of classical music and, man, the calmness it brought over me."

As much as he loved that music, pressures for what's the norm led him to this stage as a rapper.

Some of his lyrics we can't repeat, but others, they bare his soul talking about the medications he took, the pain he felt.

"It's just basically my open diary. It's me venting. It's the healthiest way to vent for me," said Harris.

He said when he walks off the stage he feels liberated, like he achieved something.

"Music got me," he said, "Music definitely saved my life."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[The Impact of Cyberbullying On Today's Teenager]]>557893841Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:56:39 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cyberbullying-emoji-screen.jpg

Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among children ages 10-18, according to CDC data. Young victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to attempt suicide and self-harm, according to this study.

Debbie Dobbs does her best to limit social media for 13-years-old daughter because she sees its effects on children first hand.

"She's just not ready for it," said Dobbs, who is also the executive director of The Counseling Place in Richardson.

The Counseling Place offers emotional health youth programs and victims' assistance when called upon by local police departments.

Counselors strive to teach young people good coping and decision-making skills to help them make healthy choices instead of harmful ones.  

Dobbs said social media comes up in most conversation with at-risk teens.

"They go into a group chat or direct messaging with others who may be feeling the same. Then, they just stay in that dark place and they don't get out," said Dobbs.

Experts said a negative comment or a screenshot or video that goes viral can weigh just as heavy on a teen's emotional well-being as an adult who loses a job.

They said it's because teens lack life experience.

"Kids don't see the future like adults do, so when they're miserable they think they're going to always be miserable," said Children's Health psychiatrist and UT Southwestern Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Betsy Kennard.

She said parents should talk with their teens openly about what happens on their social media accounts.

"It's so easy to say, 'It'll get better. You're going to be fine. Don't worry about that. It's not a big deal,' and really, that invalidates the child's concerns," said Kennard.

She said validation is key. Validation is the acknowledgement of another person's thoughts or feelings. It is the communication that what someone is thinking or feeling makes sense given the circumstances.

Parents should also talk with their child's school if they suspect cyberbullying.
Another piece of advice is setting stronger restrictions on their teen's social media use, which may not be popular with your child.

"There are so many parents who say, 'That's just the way it is,' and it's the way it is because we let it," said Dobbs.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Busy Schedules for Children Can Lead to Mental Health Stress]]>557889671Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:55:58 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kids-mental-stress.jpg

If you shuttle your children from academics to athletics and social activities you know how stressful it can be on you. Do you know the impact it's having on your kids?

It's a routine single mom Anastasia Taylor Has down pat.

She leaves the office, drives around town with her son Israel and daughter Lily trying to balance life.

"It can be exhausting," Taylor said.

What's stressful for parents is even harder when you're a kid -- between school work, marital arts, and chores, it can be hard for Israel to shut his brain down at night.

"I had trouble sleeping and I pushed everything off my bed," he said.

There's so much going on. He's in honors choir, martial arts, and in a challenging the STAAR test.

Almost 4.5 million children in America have been diagnosed with anxiety and almost two million with depression according to the CDC.

"The fastest growing group presenting with mental health concerns are young people," said Kem Edwards, Director of Guidance and Counseling for the Mesquite Independent School District.

Edwards said counselors jobs have changed from just checking credits and sending transcripts to helping keep kids from breaking down.

"I don't have one or two kids with a big behavior concern," said Edwards. "I have a lot of those kids."

Schools across North Texas are taking steps to help. At KIPP Pleasant Grove, students have a class devoted to their stresses and figuring out ways to manage their emotions.

"When I'm sad sometimes, my friends come by and give me a hug and make me feel better, they tell me to stop, name my feeling and tell them how I feel," said student Kirsten Clark.

It's called 'social and emotional learning,' more schools in North Texas are bringing it to campus recognizing their students are just under so much pressure these days.

Mesquite ISD won a statewide award for their efforts to help kids cope.

"Society definitely is changing and that has changed, the stresses that our students face has changed," said school counselor Chelsea Alvarado.

Alvarado said she encourages parents to look for changes their kids.

"Whether that child is normally super outgoing and gregarious is suddenly withdrawn. Someone who is typically timid is acting out," said Alvarado.

Changes in how your child eats or sleeps, complaining of headaches and stomach aches, or even just being frustrated or irritable are all signs parents shouldn't ignore.

In the Taylor's busy household, sitting down to dinner is important. It's their Mom's time set aside time to Lilly and Israel. she also does it as soon as she sees something is off, especially when it comes to that schools, sports, life balance.

"Sometimes we'll have to say, 'Why are you yelling? Everyone else is calm why are you upset?'" said Anastasia.

Israel said it helps him feel better.

"Getting everything off my mind because I'm trying not to annoy everyone," said Israel.

Anastasia walks the track every day while Lily is playing soccer. She lets her daughter know it's not just her way of getting in exercise, but also her time to just breathe and handle the stress we all face in life.

"It's the oxygen mask analogy, if you're not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else," said Anastasia.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Your Behavior Impacts Your Children's Mental Health]]>557896611Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:56:19 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kids-under-pressure-word-cloud.jpg

Various therapists and child psychologists offered advice on how to help your child cope. We've compiled some tips for you.

Children model behavior much more than you think.

Electronics are often cited as contributing to children becoming withdrawn. Are you telling your kids to turn off the TV while you're sitting at the kitchen table on your computer?  This sends mixed messages.

When you take time for yourself, do you close yourself in your bedroom and watch TV? 

If you want your child to manage their stress, therapists suggest keeping your stress in check as well. 

Talk to your child about why you are stressed, explain to them why you had a bad day, and what you are going to do to manage that stress.

If you take your bad day out on them or your spouse, your child will often do the same when they are overwhelmed.

Talk about ways to relax and share them with your child, experience them together. Quiet walks, turning off electronics, and reading together are all good tips.

No one is saying children don't need discipline and structure, but make sure you and your spouse are working together on tasks your child is given.

If one parent orders the child to clean their room, and minutes later the other parent orders the child to pick up toys left in the kitchen, the child can become overwhelmed trying to please both parents. 

Does your child talk to you while you have your smart phone in your hand or your computer in your lap? Is your children calling your name repeatedly and you're not responding because you're online?

Do you yell through the house to your child rather than come and talk to your child face to face?

All of these things can impact your child's behavior.

Parents aren't perfect, we make mistakes, it's important to acknowledge them.  Don't just say you're sorry, but ask you child how your behavior made them feel? What they thought when you lost your cool.

Listen to their feelings and address them, this much more powerful than simply saying I'm sorry or taking them for a treat.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dedicates Newscast to Topic of Kids Under Pressure]]>542791751Wed, 14 Aug 2019 17:22:50 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/State-of-Mind-1200-x-675-Lead-Image.jpg

NBC 5 is taking a multi-platform approach to raising awareness of issues involving teen mental health. NBC 5 will broadcast a focused newscast, NBC 5 State of Mind: Kids Under Pressure, on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 5:00 p.m.

NBC 5 anchor and health reporter, Bianca Castro, and education reporter, Wayne Carter, will focus on a collection of reports about the pressure on kids today, the effects of this stress, cyber-bullying, and an emphasis on the warning signs of a stressed-out child, as well as finding the right balance between school and extracurricular activities.

With the most recent findings showing an increasing number of young, minority boys attempting suicide, this focused newscast approaches topics that are unknown, overlooked and often neglected in some cases. NBC 5 aims to create a space for conversation to address this multifaceted issue for North Texans.

In addition to the television coverage highlighting the many triggers that can lead to teen suicide, NBC 5 will host a Facebook Live chat with experts in the field as well as hosting a phone bank of trained volunteers available to help North Texans find resources and answer questions dealing with this important topic.

<![CDATA[A Good Day at School Starts With a Pep Talk at Home]]>554039851Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:50:48 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Supporting_Our_Schools_Fills_Backpacks_for_Area_Kids.jpg

The first day of school can be so exciting, but kids can also be anxious with questions swirling in their minds.

"Will their old friends be there? Will I make new friends? Will people accept me as I am? So, they're a little worried about their new classroom, the new teacher. And, if they're going to a new school, just the whole experience all together," said James Adams, senior program manager at Big Thought.

The Dallas-based nonprofit has for three decades been giving students access to creative learning opportunities that can help prepare them for success in work and life.

Adams said before you send your kids off to school, make a point to build up their confidence.

"I think the biggest thing to give them is the awareness of the gifts they have on the inside as opposed to trying to find something tangible on the outside," he said.

That morning pep talk sets a child up for a good day.

"Being the father of a 5-year-old and 8-year-old myself, establishing with them confidence and having those conversations that let them know that it's OK that they're gonna walk into new experiences," he said. "Understanding that everyone may not accept you but that's OK and understanding and reinforcing in them that they are special in who they are."

And when kids come home, Adams said parents should be talking to them about what went well during the day and coming up with solutions for things that didn't go so well.

"Having that conversation with them to encourage them and let them know that mom and dad are there to support them, and there's always someone at the school to support them. If it's not your friend, it's a counselor, a principal, a teacher and you can look around and find those people in those spaces to support you in those times," he explained.

Adams said it's also important for children and adults to "take a mindful moment, 'woosah.'" Adams recommends the relax, relate and release method.

• Relax - take a deep breath and tune out what's going on around you.
• Relate - identify what's frustrating you and what approach to take.
• Release - let it go through meditation, exercise or conversation.

"Taking the time to exhibit to your children that there are times when you need to relax, relate and release," he said. "And if parents can model that for their children, it's a powerful thing."

<![CDATA[Gov't Wants a New 911-Like Number Just for Suicide Hotline]]>546793901Fri, 16 Aug 2019 10:20:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/911AP_19227581181022.jpg

With suicides on the rise, the U.S. government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach.

Once implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.

A law passed last year required the Federal Communications Commission to study assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention, like 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. The FCC said in a Wednesday report that there is "overwhelming support" for a three-digit number because it would be easier for distressed people to get help.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he intends to start the monthslong process to make that happen.

Anything that makes it easier for people having suicidal thoughts — and their loved ones — to reach out for assistance is good, said Dr. Lynn Bufka, an associate executive director at the American Psychological Association. "There's no way most of them are going to remember the 800 numbers. 988 makes it much easier to remember."

The government's action comes as suicide rates have increased across the U.S. over the past two decades, and dramatically so — by more than 30% — in half of U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 45,000 deaths in 2016.

The new, shorter number would likely lead to more calls, which in turn would mean more expenses for crisis centers already struggling to keep up . If the number of calls to the hotline doubled, centers would need an extra $50 million a year to handle the increase, the FCC said, citing the federal agency that funds the hotline, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"These kinds of hotlines need to be well supported and well-funded," Bufka said. "Let's make sure we've got the resources in place to really be able to respond."

She cautioned that if someone in a moment of crisis called and couldn't get through to a counselor, that could add to the despair.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Photo Credit: Jenny Kane/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health, Suicide Remain A Problem In Law Enforcement ]]>505793351Wed, 13 Feb 2019 20:03:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dallas+County+Sheriff.jpg

This past weekend, a McKinney police officer became the latest North Texas law enforcement officer to die by suicide.

Nationwide, advocacy group 'Blue H.E.L.P' estimates 31 officers have taken their own lives in 2019.

It's a problem that many officers and mental health experts believe is bolstered by a stigma surrounding depression, PTSD and other mental health issues that can be difficult to discuss.

In the summer of 2018, Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy Homero Calderon took his own life after a long battle with depression, according to his family. And just days after his death, his widow Sharonda Calderon, sat down with NBC 5 to discuss the challenges her husband faced.

"He let me know what he was feeling on the day he left me, he let me know he was sad," Calderon said.

Depression was not something she said her husband liked to discuss. An accomplished and respected Sheriff's Deputy, she said he was proud of what he did for a living but she also believes it was taking a toll.

"He said I'm supposed to be a police officer protecting other people and I don't even feel worthy of that," she said. "Don’t just see my husband, see the disease, this is a disease and it is real and it will take you out before you know it."

Some recent studies cited by the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggest that as many as one in four police officers will at some point consider suicide.

Doctor John Burruss, a clinical psychiatrist and CEO of mental health provider Metrocare, said the repeated emotional trauma that first responders and police officers are exposed to can impact the brain detrimentally in multiple ways.

"We know that it will absolutely change your brain to experience trauma and more trauma creates more changes," Burruss said.

Sharonda Calderon is careful not to entirely blame her husband's depression for his death but she has no doubts it played a large role. Increased awareness and conversation, she hopes, will encourage more in law enforcement to seek treatment and perhaps break the stigma that she said remains a problem.

"If you don’t acknowledge these feelings, you will become my husband, it's just a matter of time, it was just a matter of time," Calderon said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Coping With Tragedy: Help Finding Help]]>455692813Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:55:17 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/551984311-Hacker.jpg

If you're having trouble coping with a tragedy, NBC 5 has put together a list of resources to help you find help.

For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the National Institute of Mental Health's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.

Other local and national advocacy and professional organizations have information on finding a mental health professional, and sometimes practitioner locators, on their websites. Some of those are listed below -- more can be found in our special section on mental health -- State of Mind.

The Gatehouse
The Gatehouse is a faith-based Independent Life Program offering housing, transportation, child care, food, clothing, education and more. Because when the cycles of abuse, poverty and helplessness are disrupted and transformed into self-supportiveness, generations of lives are saved. Find out more here.

Metrocare Services
Metrocare provides behavioral health, primary care, pharmacy, housing and supportive services, staffed a call center at NBC 5 Monday fielding calls from people with questions about mental or behavioral health. Find out more about their adult and adolescent programs here.

Mental Health America
With locations in Fort Worth and Dallas, MHA can help people locate a wide range of treatment and support. Find help here.

Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers
There are 39 MHMR community centers in Texas that provide community-based services across all 254 Texas counties. MHMR centers help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serious mental illness and substance use disorders. To find a community center near you, click here.

The Texas Department of State Health Services
The Texas DSHS publishes a Suicide Prevention webpage complete with crisis hotlines, local mental health authority centers, resources for Veterans, as well as educational materials for schools. The state also published a video where DSHS employees talk about where Texans can get help in the video “Suicide Prevention Resources in Texas: Where to go if You or a Family Member Needs Help." Click here to visit the DSHS wepage. The suicide prevention video is embedded below.

Crisis Hotlines
The Texas DSHS maintains a list of state-wide crisis hotlines. See a complete list by clicking here.

Suicide Crisis
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is toll-free and available 24/7. Also, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website by clicking here.

There are a number of local and national organizations dedicated to preventing suicide and saving lives.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national suicide prevention and intervention telephone service funded by the Federal Government. Callers are redirected to a suicide and crisis center in North Texas where they can receive immediate assistance. If you are considering suicide or if you know someone considering suicide, you can call 1-800-273-8255 for help. En Espanol: Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454.

Call 911

If you believe someone may be an imminent threat to themselves, call 911.  Operators can dispatch police and medical help to the location or route your call to a crisis hotlines.

Go to a Hospital

If you believe someone may be having suicidal thoughts, a hospital can also provide immediate help to people at-risk of suicide. Doctors can assess if someone is in need of immediate inpatient treatment or recommend outpatient services where they can get help.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health Support Leads to Gains in Productivity: WHO]]>450283743Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:59:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/state+of+mind+brand.jpg

The World Health Organization says employers who promote mental health and support to their employees see gains in employee health and productivity.

Whereas, a negative working environment can do the opposite.

An unhealthy workplace can cause a decline in your productivity and even lead to alcohol and substance abuse.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental conditions that can impact your work.

If you are struggling, it's important to realize you aren't alone. #WorldMentalHealthDay is trending Tuesday on Twitter and Facebook with countless personal stories and words of encouragement.

MORE: Mental health resources here in North Texas

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sue Loncar Hopes Family Can Bring Awareness to Mental Health]]>421692243Mon, 08 May 2017 23:06:22 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sue+loncar.jpg

The National Institute of Mental Health says one out of every five high school students will seriously consider suicide.

One mother says it happened to her family. Sue Loncar's youngest daughter died from suicide at the age of 16 last fall. Her husband, prominent Dallas attorney Brian Loncar, who in his commercials called himself "The Strong Arm," died days later.

Sue Loncar says it's time for people to talk about depression in a different way. That's why she's opening up about her family's struggles.

"It was everything to me, our family. So, we had six kids, and we were really proud of that. We were proud of our tribe and our family," Sue Loncar said.

She says always at the center of the family was the youngest, 16-year-old Grace Loncar.

"She was clever. She always had these – she was very sarcastic, she was very mature for her age, I think, being the youngest of six like that," Sue Loncar said.

Grace was an actress and student at the prestigious Booker T. Washington for the Performing and Visual Arts. She dreamed of one day moving to New York to perform.

"She was such a good actress that I think she spent a lot of her life acting," her mother said.

Loncar says Grace mastered the art of hiding her grief.

"But she saw herself as unattractive and not talented, which was not (reality), but then again, that's what depression is – it lies to you," she said.

Loncar says the depression surfaced at the age of 11 when Grace first tried to commit suicide, which was a big wake-up call for her mother.

"I've spent every day since then trying to save her life," she said.

Loncar says her daughter lost that battle on the night of Nov. 26, 2016. Grace had broken some family rules, and Sue and her husband Brian grounded Grace and took her phone.

"She'd gotten real defensive and real puffed up about it and real angry," Loncar said.

Loncar says the family never kept guns in the house because of Grace's depression, but this night was different.

"Brian had been hunting and usually took them back to the office and had not returned them to the office. She acted impetuously, and I just don't think – like they say, their mind is not even completely formed at that age, much less do they have the sense of what forever is. But this really messes with you, because you think, 'Wasn't there something I could have done?' She chose this, and that's so much harder to live with," Loncar said.

Loncar says she and her husband found Grace's body the next morning in the family's home. Brian's grief was unimaginable.

"I know even the day we found her, he said almost prophetically, 'I'm not gonna make it.' There is, I think, nothing harder than the loss of a child," she said.

The days that followed, Loncar says, were crippling for her husband, and she was really worried about him.

"I was, I really was. I mean, they were really close, and I think he felt a lot of responsibility really weighing on him," she said.

Brian Loncar spoke through tears at Grace's funeral.

"I had a friend even that said she heard him at the funeral and she said she thought, 'He's not gonna make it,'" Loncar said.

He didn't. Exactly a week after the Loncars found Grace, Brian Loncar's body was found in his car outside of his office. The medical examiner would later rule his death an accidental cocaine overdose.

"I actually, complete and total shock, I mean it just couldn't even. Plus, Brian was so bigger than life – more than anybody I've ever known my whole life – and indestructible. He is somebody, he, I think, he even shared that at the funeral that probably she could die 10 times with the risks that he had taken in his life. He seemed bulletproof," Loncar said.

But addiction, she says, was her husband's lifelong battle.

"He just had a lot of demons. It's just, things are not always as they appear. He was bipolar and he was a recovering alcoholic that had, at one point, 23 years of sobriety but then he relapsed, which ultimately led to his death. Which is it, what it says in the big book. And the disease is never done. The disease never rests," Loncar said.

Loncar says she believes her husband medicated to dull the pain of losing Grace.

"She had been really angry at him the night before, and I think had said some pretty harsh things to him, and I think those would have to be kind of haunting because of his own addiction struggles. She was angry about that. And he made a poor choice in dealing with the pain, which is what addicts do. They don't deal with pain well. They try to escape it any way they know how, and then it ultimately just brings more pain to all the people who love them. But all of it is a disease. Addiction is a disease, mental illness is a disease, depression's a disease," Loncar said.

Sue Loncar is speaking out, she says, to destigmatize mental illness and encourage others to fight.

"I just don't want – if I could just keep one person alive, and make her death count for something," she said.

In the dark times, Loncar says she clings to good memories of her husband.

"I would jokingly say to him a lot of times, 'How's that beautiful mind doing?' because he was brilliant, way ahead of his time. What all he could think of and how he could think ahead, way ahead. Because he just started with a card table and a phone and an office. I mean, he didn't start with anybody helping him or a leg up or any family money," Loncar said.

Loncar also clings to her wonderful 16 years with Grace.

"I mean, she was our baby to all of us, and we all loved – her brothers loved her so much, her sisters loved her. She was cherished," Loncar said.

Sue Loncar hopes her story will take some of the stigma away from mental health.

She and her family created the website GraceLoncarFoundation.com to help. If you need immediate help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is always waiting for your call.


Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Sue Loncar Shares Story of Daughter's Suicide to Help Others]]>421477134Fri, 05 May 2017 20:15:01 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Grace-and-Sue-Loncar.jpg

Sue Loncar has made it her mission to discuss teen suicide after losing her 16-year-old daughter, Grace, and her husband, Dallas personal injury lawyer Brian Loncar, just days apart.

"The disease is never done. The disease never rests," she said.

The disease she speaks of is depression. She said it took an incredible toll on her family and she now hopes talking about Grace's life, and death, will help save other teens.

Grace Loncar would have turned 17 Sunday.

"She was funny. She had this great wit," Sue said of her daughter, who was the youngest in a blended family of six.

Sue said she and Brian first learned of Grace's depression when she was 11-years-old -- when, almost out of nowhere, Grace tried to take her life.

"That changed my life," said Sue. "Because that's, that became my main goal, was to make sure that she stayed alive."

Before that first attempt on her life, Sue said Grace seemed normal.

A junior at the prestigious Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Grace was a talented actress who dreamed of one day acting on the stages in New York City.

"She always told us that she didn't feel pretty, that she didn't feel like she had any friends," recalled Sue. "And clearly, all of that was a lie. That she didn't feel talented, I think that was probably the down side of going to a school with so many talented people."

Sue said Grace also struggled with her appearance.

"She couldn't take it in. I mean, she used to tell me, 'My nose is too big.' She was very critical of herself. She saw herself as fat," she recalled. "It's what's really sad is the self-esteem that she didn't have."

It later became clear, Grace had been suffering in silence for longer than they knew.

"The final night of her life she said to me that she didn't feel, hadn't felt, happy, since she was 7-years-old," said Sue.

This past fall, on the night of Nov. 26, Sue said Grace had broken some family rules. She and her husband grounded her and took her phone.

"We'd gotten on her, said, you know, 'Your grades are slipping. You're not showing an interest in school like you should. We're worried about you,' And she'd gotten real defensive and real puffed up about it and real angry. And I had talked to her even that night and told her how much I loved her and that if she could only see herself through my eyes," Sue said.

Because of Grace's struggles with depression, Sue said the family was careful not to keep guns in the house. But that night was different.

"Brian had been hunting and usually took them back to the office. And he had not returned them to the office," she said. "But her being the snoop that she was … she knew where it [the gun] was."

Sue believes Grace acted out of passion and anger.

"I really feel like that she acted so impetuously. And that's the thing with teenagers, I don't think they think about. She was angry," she said.

Sue said she'll always wonder if things would be different.

"I feel like if there hadn't been a gun in the house..." Sue said, before pausing.

And she has a warning for everyone.

"I would encourage anybody to not have a gun in their home if they have someone that they think is at all suicidal or depressed. Because I'm always going to wonder, if there hadn't been a gun, that I didn't even know was here."

Grace had been in counseling and was under a doctor's care at the time of her death. Sue said her husband took his daughter's death hard. He spoke at her funeral in December, telling the mourners it took him two mornings to write her obituary.

"Grace had so much life ahead of her, so many people who loved her and some who wanted to be her, but she couldn't love herself," he said. "Why couldn't this be me," he said. His words would become haunting.

Three days later, Brian Loncar was found dead in his office. The coroner ruled his death an accidental cocaine overdose. The family believes he died of a broken heart.

Loncar said losing Grace produced not only sadness, but also anger and questions.

"When I talk to her I'm like, 'Things weren't bad enough for you to do this to me. You didn't have the right to take your own life,'" said Sue Loncar. "'I was your mother. I carried you. We were one person at one time. You have hurt me beyond repair. You didn't have the right to do this to all of us. All of us are just broken because of this. You had a responsibility to try harder.'"

Sue said she wants to ask her daughter why, but that peace comes from knowing she did everything she could to make sure her daughter know she was loved.

"I do know that I did everything, and I know that she knew how much that I loved her, we were so close," said Sue.

Sue said her daughter's room, across the hall from her own, has become her refuge. The room is filled with all the things Grace loved -- production posters, famous quotes, makeup and strawberries.

"Her brother, who she was super close to, Patrick, sent her the song 'Strawberry Fields' from the Beatles," said Sue. "And she loved strawberries, so she wore strawberries all the time."

She said the other thing that helps her cope is the goodness of people and acts of kindness.

"Just this week somebody left some strawberry sandals on my front porch with a sweet note," said Sue. "The outpouring of love has been humbling to me."

Sue said she clings to her faith and wants to bring some honor to Grace.

"I want to make a difference," said Sue. "I feel like I have a story to tell."

The Loncar family has set up the website GraceLoncarFoundation.com to help. If you need immediate help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is always waiting for your call.

MORE: GraceLoncarFoundation.com

Photo Credit: Loncar Family Photo
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<![CDATA[Pediatricians Screen for Mental Health Problems]]>406363955Wed, 14 Dec 2016 05:03:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pediatric+screening.jpg

Children's Health implements mental health screenings at all well-visits for its patients.

The system's integrated behavioral health program assigns a behavioral health clinician to the system's 18 pediatric offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Children are asked a series of behavioral health questions and if an answer prompts a red flag, the medical provider can immediately contact the behavioral clinician for further assessment.

The director of the program says this helps families connect with further treatment options.

"When they [doctors] say, 'I have concerns about your child's depression, his mood, his attention span,' they suggest going to behavioral health. But the parent then goes home and thinks, 'Well, he's not so bad. I'll talk with my friend. I don't need to follow up with that.' So that's why it's so important that at Children's Health, we are making the connection to behavioral right there in the office," said Sue Schell, clinical director for behavioral health at Children's Health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, almost one in five children in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder, and 20-25 percent of affected children receive treatment.

The screening questions are based off a study that found events in a child's life can adversely impact brain development and have long-term mental health implications.

The original 1998 study on the impact of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) on long-term health clarified the result of a child's lifestyle and home environment on their future health.

"Significant stress exposure damages developing brain architecture, leading to lifelong problems in learning, behavioral and emotional development and physical health," according to researchers.

Children's Health is applying that science to create what it hopes will become standard screening questions across the country.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[State of Mind: Keeping an Eye on Children's Mental Health]]>405687806Mon, 12 Dec 2016 11:28:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/eucheoma+cofield.jpgDr. Elizabeth Ucheoma-Cofield discusses things parents should watch for when it comes to their children's mental health.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health a Priority This Legislative Session]]>405322995Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:32:18 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/texas-legilature-generic-1.jpg

In a little over a month, Texas lawmakers will be heading to Austin for the 2017 legislative session, and mental health will be a priority for House Speaker Joe Straus.

Texas trails behind other states when it comes to care and treatment.

"There is enough to do in 140 days to balance our budget, to meet the needs of Child Protective Services, to improve mental health care in the state," said Straus, a San Antonio Republican.

Members of the Texas Legislature already have some ideas, because Straus put together a committee in 2015 to look at mental health treatment and services as a whole.

There have been hearings for a year now, but the recommendations are not out yet.

"My hope is that our recommendations include replacing state facilities, state hospitals, increase funding to local mental healthcare authorities, better integration with public education," said State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, a member of that committee.

According to our NBC 5's news partners at The Dallas Morning News, there are 11 psychiatric hospitals and the Texas Department of State Health Services has identified the need to replace five along with renovating the others.

It's a heavy lift that would require $1 billion of taxpayer money, and that is even before they even get to other mental health needs, like the shortage of psychiatrists in the state.

"Again, I think the House leadership, Speaker Straus and others, are very serious about this issue, as am I. So I think the House is united and says this is one of our top priorities. I think we can get it done," he said.

Photo Credit: NBCDFW.com]]>
<![CDATA[Managing First Taste of Adult Life With College Academics]]>405534025Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:23:33 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*133/college-stress.jpg

As part of NBC 5’s week-long focus on mental health, we’re taking a look at the pressures and stresses of college life.

Going off to school is exciting, but it’s also often a student’s first time on their own and balancing high-level academics with a new taste of adulthood can be overwhelming.

But at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, students and staff are working together to make school feel like home.

There’s a lot to learn on a new college campus, people to meet, classes to figure out. But in those quiet moments, it can start to sink in…

“No one has to tell me to do anything,” said UNT sophomore Cam Johnson. “I can kind of just go do whatever and at first that was really cool and then I was like, oh my god, I have a million things to do.”

You’re on your own now.

“I got really scared,” said freshman Marcos Sillero of his first week on campus. “It wasn’t fun. It was nights of calling my mom and missing my dogs, missing my little brother and sister, it was tough.”

Going off to college is a privilege and an exciting time. But there’s also stress and pressure and experts say students can get into trouble when they don’t admit to themselves that they’re struggling.

“Failing a semester, you and I know you can get around that,” said Dr. Pam Flint, UNT’s Associate Director for Clinical Services and Training. “The break-up of a romantic relationship, we know you can survive that. But for a young adult who may not have a lot of experience solving problems on their own, that can be overwhelming.”

Dr. Flint uses therapy dogs to help UNT students feel more comfortable talking about their feelings.

“It feels more relaxing, so you don’t have to feel like you’re in therapy,” said Dr. Flint.

“I would love to totally ignore all my homework and classes and stay here,” one student said while playing with the therapy dogs.

Dr. Flint sees patients struggling with high-level academics, while managing career goals, finances and their parents’ expectations.

“I’m first generation to go to college,” Sillero said. “I’m the first one at a university in my entire family actually. So it’s a lot of pressure for me because I feel like I have to succeed.”

“It’s a lot to take in all at once,” added Johnson. “Especially now in 2016 just with everything that you have to do to kind of become that perfect candidate at the end of your four years here to get a job. It can be a lot.”

Johnson had some tough times during his first year. Now as a sophomore, he’s an orientation leader, helping freshmen like Sillero find their footing.

“It may not seem like you’ve got that same support that you had at home,” Johnson said. “But there’s always someone here who’s here to listen to you, wants to hear your issues.”

And saying them out loud to whoever will listen, human or canine, goes a long way.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Store Offers Profit to Mental Health]]>405594345Fri, 09 Dec 2016 08:57:35 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/renew-resale.jpg

ReNew Resale, is not your typical secondhand store: It offers second chances to families struggling with mental illness.

The store opened in July of 2016 and all of its profits are donated to Meier Clinics for mental health care.

“They do counseling and psychiatric care on a sliding fee basis depending on your income,” Carol Whites explained.

Whites is the owner of the store and her dedication to mental health comes from a very personal place.

“My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia; schizoaffective disorder,” she said. “He was about 18 and we went around and tried to figure out what would help him.”

Whites said it was frustrating for her family and made life difficult.

“There was really nothing out there to help us pay for it. It costs a fortune," she said. "So many people are still going through that and it will always be that way until someone does something about it.”

That’s why she opened the store. All the items in the store are donated and after paying insurance, utilities and rent she gives 100 percent of their profit to the Christian mental health organization.

“That would be available for mental health care for someone who didn’t have money,” she said. “[If they] would call and didn’t have any money to pay for it.”

She is surrounded by family and friends to help her make the shop run smoothly.

“She works 60, 80, 90 hours a week for maybe a dollar an hour,” Whites chuckled when describing the hard work of Dana Phillips.

Phillips’ dedication to the store is also based in mental health heartache.

“My sister, 12 years ago, ended her life," she said. "If I can keep one family from going through what I went through, the pain that we felt and everybody that it affected, it’s worth it to me."

Whites made her first donation to Meirer Clincs in November and it was matched and doubled.

“It was important that we reach deep and give as much as we can in November, so it would be a matching amount,” she said. “Instead of $1,000 it would be a $2,000 donation.”

Whites hopes this is just the beginning of what she can do to help.

“A city council member said to me, ‘I hope you make $1 million.’ And I said ‘I hope I do too and I want to give every dime of it away,’” she laughed. “I may not make a difference to a lot of people, but I might make a difference to one or two.”

The store is located at 6700 Main Street in The Colony. They can be reached at 214-367-0781.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Charles Haley Opens Up About Mental Illness Battle]]>405556235Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:38:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/charles+haley1.jpg

Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley sits atop a prestigious list. He is the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings – three with the Dallas Cowboys and two with the San Francisco 49ers.

But it's not X's and O's he is talking about these days. Haley is taking a courageous stand, opening up about his mental illness and the signs he wishes he'd seen much earlier in life.

"I'll be honest, I should have known as a kid. I didn't like my brothers because they picked on me. Everything in life I saw different, I saw totally different," Haley said in an interview with NBC 5's Meredith Land. "I went to college and I hurt people or didn't have friends there either."

When Haley went to the NFL, he quickly became known for his temper.

"Only thing I knew was I would come in on top of the world, bouncing off of cloud nine and then would come in for three to four weeks and wouldn't talk," Haley said.

His unpredictability cost him his first job in San Francisco. Haley says he butted heads with players and coaches.

"I would destroy the locker room. It was an out-of-body experience. I would stand there watching me do all this crazy stuff and then it was like, 'Oh (expletive),' and then I would put my clothes on and went home because I knew I was fired," Haley said.

But he says what haunts him most is what is family endured.

"When I got through playing, I would stay in my house and my kids would put food at the door because I would be so depressed I couldn't get out of bed. They didn't want to open the door because they didn't want the explosion or whatever. Those things still haunt me," Haley said.

After years of denial and three years out of the NFL, Haley says he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002.

"If you want to call me that I have a mental illness, you put at the end, 'but he's happy,' but that's because I sought help and I get help and I take my medicine," Haley said.

Today, he is a mental health advocate. He mentors kids and professional athletes. His new book, "Fear No Evil: Tacking Quarterbacks and Demons on My Way to the Hall of Fame," shares some important truths, including his family's forgiveness.

"They gave me so many chances. And, you know, when I started taking my medicine I got my family back, and that's something I never thought I would ever get back," Haley said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Virtual Dementia Tour Available To Public]]>405491185Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:49:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Virtual+dementia+tour.jpg

The James L. West Alzheimer's Center in Fort Worth offers a variety of free services, including a virtual dementia tour, to caregivers and family members of people suffering from Alzheimer's.

According to the center, the Virtual Dementia Tour® is a scientifically proven, hands-on experience that builds a greater understanding of dementia and sensitivity in individuals caring for those with dementia through the use of sensory tools and instruction.

Julia Mason, of North Richland Hills, went through the tour to see what daily living is like for her father, who suffers from Alzheimer's and lives at the center.

Jaime Cobb, Vice President Caregiver and Community Education, runs the program and equips Mason with the tools for the experience.

"I'm going put things on you that limits your senses, try to create confusion try to disorient you," Cobb said to Mason.

"The purpose of the virtual dementia tour is to mimic dementia as best we can, so we can provide better care for their loved ones, have a better understanding of what they're going through," Cobb said.

Mason puts on shoe inserts with sharp points to mimic neuropathy, a pins and needles sensation from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet and caused by diabetes or symptoms of medications.

Mason also wears thick gloves to mimic low circulation and arthritis.

Specialty eye glasses mimic cataracts and she wears headphones that emit background noise, which can distract and confuse dementia patients.

Cobb then takes Mason to a dedicated room, set up as a small bedroom, where she gives simple household tasks that Mason must perform with limited senses.

Mason says after ten minutes in the room, she felt confused, agitated and anxious.

"I felt like there was stuff I was supposed to do, so I needed to do it, even though I couldn't think of what it was. I thought I was trying," said Mason.

"Every time I walked, I just felt poking and that did not feel good, and I was trying to remember what you said and I could not remember what you said," Mason said to Cobb.

She says the experience brought her to tears and helps her appreciate the disease debilitating her father.

"I think anyone who has a parent needs to go through this," she said.

"Everybody knows somebody that has Alzheimer's and maybe it can give us a better appreciation for the people and what they go through, and we can be more patient and understanding with them."

The Virtual Dementia Tour® is free and by appointment only at the James L. West Alzheimer's Center to any member of the public who is a caregiver or family member of someone living with dementia.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Coping With the Holiday Blues]]>405514636Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:03:06 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/SOM_-_Holiday_Blues_4p_120816_1200x675_828421187558.jpgDr. Ken Jones is director of behavioral health at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. He discusses the holiday blues, how to avoid triggers and get help.

<![CDATA[Help for Dallas' Homeless Goes Mobile]]>405350465Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:46:27 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/citysquare+rv+homeless.jpg

There is a new tool in the effort to reduce homelessness in Dallas. CitySquare, a non-profit group dedicated to fighting poverty, is now using a converted RV to deliver services directly to people in the city's homeless camps.

"It's going to be invaluable for us," said John Siburt, president of CitySquare.

CitySquare spent about $30,000 on the vehicle. Part office, part clinic, the RV provides a place where social workers can provide assistance to people trying to transition out of homelessness. "The ability to go mobile, reach people where they are, really makes for a more efficient, more timely process and allows us to get people on the road to housing much quicker," said Siburt.

One challenge is connecting the city's homeless to mental health care providers. CitySquare partners with Metrocare Services to connect with people who need both housing and mental health treatment.

"We mostly deal with depression, anxiety, bipolar," said Jasmaine Dowe, with Metrocare.

Dowe estimates that up to 75 percent of the homeless people she encounters are in need of mental health care services.

CitySquare and Metrocare know that helping Dallas' homeless is a complex, long-term problem. The hope is, by using new strategies such as the RV to deliver service where they're needed most, there may someday be no one left in the city's homeless camps.

CitySquare has several ways you can help. For more information, visit the CitySquare website.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[WWII Veteran Tells of Time as POW]]>405025015Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:49:16 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Fiske+Hanley.jpg

Fiske Hanley has crammed a lot of lives into his 96 years.

When asked how old he feels, “I’d say I’m in my 60s,” Hanley answered with a laugh.

In his Fort Worth home he’s proudly wearing his officer’s uniform.

"It almost fits too,” Hanley said.

In World War II, the aeronautical engineer was in charge of keeping engines running on B-29s.

“Turned out pretty good, up till’ the seventh mission,” said Hanley.

On that mission their B-29 was lit-up by a Japanese battleship.

“So they put all of our engines on fire, our bomb bay was on fire. I figured I was through,” said Hanley.

He and the co-pilot jumped out of their burning plane.

"I bailed out of this little door right here,” Hanley said while pointing to a small model plane.

They parachuted down, hitting the ground in Japan. Hanley pointed to a painting and said, “this is where I landed over here, in a rice paddy. That’s where I got captured.”

Soon after capture the torture began. He was already wounded by gunshots and plane shrapnel.

“No medical attention, one-half regular rations -- we were starving to death,” said Hanley. “And so, we were just trying to live.”

What made it worse? B-29 prisoners were classified as war criminals and treated more harshly than other prisoners.

“We were not going to live through the war no matter what happened,” said Hanley.

Held in a dungeon in Tokyo he was fed a daily food ration of rice the size of a silver dollar.

“Once a day, that’s all we got, thrown in on the dirty floor,” said Hanley.

He said his weight went from 165 pounds down to about 80 pounds. On top of that, he counted 14 times of facing imminent death, including a firing squad.

“Order comes out, guns up, click click, bullet in the barrel, I thought, ‘Boy this is it’ and nothing happened,” Hanley said.

The officer never pulled the trigger.

“Why didn’t they do it?” Hanley questioned.

He credits his survival to his faith and his body’s ability to heal his 30 plus infected wounds.

“By the time four and a half months, half of them had healed.”

More than five months after his capture, Japan’s emperor surrendered and the fighting stopped.

“It’s just all these happy people. I’m in the front row there,” Hanley said with a chuckle, pointing to a picture with other POWs who were freed. “We wanted food, candy and cigarettes.”

Years later, working on planes as a civilian back in Texas, he met a Japanese co-worker named Bill Nagase.

Hanley learned Nagase trained as a kamikaze pilot in Japan during World War II. The two became friends and Hanley later learned their paths had crossed in the tragedies of war when Hanley’s B-29 dropped a bomb on Nagase’s home.

“Well, I didn’t tell you really how bad it was. I burned his house down. He didn’t tell me this, but his wife did. I killed his mother and father -- and we’re still friends.”

Hanley was by Nagase's side when he passed away a few months ago. Nagase left him his Japanese service medal.

Hanley has traveled back to Japan several times while working to answer some of life’s toughest questions, including one that came from a little school girl.

“I said, ‘Yes, young lady, what do you want to ask?’” said Hanley. “She said, ‘Mr. Hanley, what causes wars?’ Now how do you answer that?”

Hanley has written two books about his accounts of World War II. He is also planning to go back to Japan for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He’ll be 100-years-old that year.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[When Social Media Use Crosses the Line]]>405299265Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:50:12 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/social+media+addiction.jpg

Tyler Mosley is 23 and a senior in college, and admits to having a consuming social media habit.

"I think I have it worse than most people,” Mosley said. “I'm always constantly on my phone. I can never put it down. It's even hard to just even be in tune with television, friends or family.”

Mosley even sleeps with her phone and wakes up in the middle of the night to check for messages on Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.

“I just need it near me. Last night I was watching YouTube and I just needed the videos playing so I could go to sleep,” Mosley.

Though Mosley’s fascination with social media probably can't be called an addiction, mental health experts have a warning for people who let their social use interfere with their lives: if you can't control yourself from checking your feeds, updates and notifications, beware.

“I think there are people around us, particularly youth, who have a habit that relates to social media, and they misuse social media,” said Dr. Desirè Taylor, a psychologist with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Plano. “That means social media use interrupts their lives in a way that leads to negative consequences, and the person can't curb their behavior.”

"Is it an addiction? I'm not quite sure,” said Taylor, “But it definitely sometimes gets in the way of normal functioning, from the day to day."

Problems to look out for: insomnia, not connecting with family and friends and feelings of withdrawal when unable to check in. Also, an overwhelming feeling of missing out.

Mosley said she can control her use -- she even deleted the Twitter app to get ready for finals.

“I wanted to concentrate on school, so I just deleted it," she said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Young Woman Shares Battle with Anorexia to Give Hope]]>405284615Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:16:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Malley+Morales.jpg

For women and men who struggle with an eating disorder, fighting to stay healthy (physically, emotionally, and mentally)  can be a day to day battle.

“It was never about the food,” said Malley Morales who struggled for years to break free from anorexia. “It was about control, and something… somewhere inside… I just didn’t feel good enough,” she said.

The 19-year-old started counting calories and dieting in middle school.

“It got to the point where I was only eating maybe 100 to 200 calories a day. I would leave home before eating breakfast, I would avoid lunch, and for dinner maybe I would have a few cranberries. Eating disorders are really secretive,” said Morales.

Her eating habits were governed by her emotions.

Gatherings or events that involved food, would cause her anxiety to rise.

“It was just obsessive. If I was eating with my family I would hide food up my sleeve or spit it out in my cup. I would also weigh myself maybe five or fix times a day. If the number low enough, I would think ‘OK, you’re good, you’re fine,’ but if the number goes up, you say ‘well, I’ve failed and I can’t eat today,’ you have no control,” she said.

In the eighth grade, she was admitted to Children’s Health Eating Disorder Inpatient Treatment Program.

Children’s Health is the only hospital and treatment facility that accepts both male and female patients, and the only facility in Texas that accepts children younger than 10-years-old.

“We accept children as young as 5-years-old,” said Dr. Sonia Schwalen who is a Psychologist in the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children’s Health.

Schwalen treated Morales when she was in the hospital.

“Eating disorders typically have taken months or years in the making, so it takes a very long time to undo that," Schwalen said. "By the time families have reached us, the eating disorder has truly taken over. It has become very toxic. Sometimes they don’t recognize that they have a problem, and others can come to us drowning in shame.”

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life.

Anorexia, one of the most common types of eating disorders, has the highest death rate out of all mental disorders.

Recovery can be a tedious process, because the addiction (or “drug” of choice) is something necessary to live.

Alcoholics can find ways to avoid the liquor store. Those who struggle with substance abuse can choose not to consume their drug of choice, but if the addiction is connected to food, the recovery process can be hard.

“Every time you’re hungry, that’s a trigger. When you’re at a family gathering or someplace where there is a lot of food, that’s a trigger. It stresses me out sometimes. But, I’m not going to let it control me. The eating disorder is not my identity, and I no longer believe what it was telling me about my body,” Morales said.

It took Morales years before she was able to look in the mirror and see her true reflection.

“There is a thing called body dysmorphia where you look in the mirror and you don’t see what other people see. Now when I look in the mirror I don’t judge my body. I really see someone who is talented and has a really bright future in a really cool field,” she said.

Morales used music to help her through recovery.

When she was hospitalized she wrote music and song lyrics to help her address her pain.

“The eating disorder, the addiction to food or being perfect is only the symptom. My family and my doctors helped me get to the root of the problem,” Morales said.

There are other triggers than food.

The images on social media, magazines and movie screens can become an hindrance, as well.

“It's so intertwined with everything that a child can see. Our society has a "‘thin ideal beauty myth," and it’s important for parents to talk to their children about body image. It's also important for parents to watch what they say about their own bodies, and negative comments about food,” said Schwallen.

Morales has taken her recovery to another level. She believes there is power in telling one's story.

“I’ve been talking to other young girls and just telling them, ‘there’s hope,’ I want them to know that,” she said.

Types of Eating Disorders:

  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge Eating Disorder

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Weight fluctuation
  • Depression or constantly tired
  • Fixation on weight
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Switching from overeating to fasting
  • Obsessive and compulsive eating patterns

For more information on Children’s Health and their inpatient and outpatient treatment center for eating disorders, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How to Cope With Mental Addiction]]>405311796Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:01:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/SOM_Mental_Addiction_4p_120716_1200x675_827383363618.jpgAs we continue our week-long look into mental health -- we're focusing on addiction today. Dr. Joel Holiner is executive medical director of Medical City Green Oaks Hospital talked about addiction symptoms, when is it time to get help and more.]]><![CDATA[Bush Institute Connects Veterans to Resources]]>405091515Wed, 07 Dec 2016 05:22:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Col.+Miguel+Howe.jpg

A new military initiative at the George W. Bush Institute focuses on psychological affects of war on veterans and their return to civilian life.

According to the institute, when the general public thinks of a service member injured while fighting in a conflict zone, they likely think of visible wounds – like limb loss or severe burn – however some men and women return with symptoms of the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or both.

The message from Col. Miguel Howe, the director of the Military Service Initiative at the Bush Institute, is that with proper care, these wounds are treatable and warriors can continue to lead on and off the battlefield.

"Those who return home with the invisible wounds of war – post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and others – may find it challenging to tackle the barrier their injury presents to meaningful transition to civilian life," Howe said.

He is leading the effort at the Bush Institute to work with community partners to better the mental health care available for returning veterans.

"For a lot of reasons connected to the broader issue mental health care, we, as a nation, have a lot of work to do to improve the high quality of care," Howe said.

He says stigmas and stereotypes exist within and outside of the military community, and military members hesitate to ask for help because they believe that it will make them look weak, that their families and friends won't understand, or that it will negatively impact their employment opportunities.

He also says some feel that if they do ask for help, it will affect their ability to find a job.

"When they take off that uniform, we still need that leadership in our businesses, in our communities, in our families and across our nation," Howe said.

And while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, he says, is doing what it can, the Bush Institute is pushing for better care and resources in the private and non-profit arena.

"We now see almost 45,000 nonprofits across the country who have emerged to serve and support military families," he said.

Metrocare Services' Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Addison is one of those nonprofits.

It opened in June and has already counseled hundreds of families, accepting each case regardless of someone's ability to pay.

"The VA, in many cases, is not a place where the veteran themselves would like to go. Or the VA might be, in some cases, challenged to get people in in a timely fashion, so it's critical to fill that gap," said Dr. John Burruss, CEO of Metrocare Services.

Click here for more information on the wellness work at the Bush Center.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Jacob Schick: Veteran Suicide, Survival and Strength]]>405013885Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:39:34 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Jacob+Schick.jpg

The story of Jacob Schick is one of service; it's also one of sacrifice.

"I knew at the age of 8-years-old that I was going to be a Marine," said Schick, who would be following his family lineage of war fighters.

"Cause I just wanted to be able to say, ‘I did my part.' I want to contribute to this thing that we call freedom."

He signed up in high school, but even before boot camp he knew combat was in his future.

"When that second plane hit that south tower, I knew at the ripe old age of 19 I'm going to war," said Schick.

Three years later, driving a Humvee in Iraq, Schick hit an IED.

"We hit the bomb. Um, I remember everything. I remember everything. I remember being in the air, knowing that this is bad. This is really bad,” said Schick.

The bomb blew him through the roof of his Humvee.

His list of injuries from the blast included having his right leg amputated below the knee, his left pinky finger blown off and a hole through his arm. His recovery included 46 operations, 23 blood transfusions and 18 months in the hospital -- they weren't the worst part.

"It's the wounds you can't see that live six inches in between your ears that will be most detrimental to your well-being," Schick said.

He became addicted to pain medication and overcome with depression. 

"Just constantly contemplated suicide,” said Schick. “Just wondering, would it be easier if I was just gone?"

He said after about a year of that struggle, his wife, Laura, pleaded to him.

"She just looked at me and she said, 'Jake, the difference between you eating a bullet and living the way you're living is time, but the outcome's gonna be the same. You're killing yourself.' And she said, 'You owe it to your brothers that didn't come home, and those that did and still love and respect you, to not only live, but live well. That's the only way you can truly honor them. And you're being a selfish bastard,’ and I was like, 'Roger that,'" said Schick.

That next day, he started trying to get clean, but detoxing brought on a whole new battle.

"With 100 percent conviction I know why addicts stay addicts, because I've never been that ill in my life. I don't know what was worse: getting blown up or getting clean," said Schick.

Shick has now been clean for 10 years and enjoys riding motorcycles alongside his fellow veterans and co-workers at 22Kill, while working to convince his military brothers and sisters that this life is worth living

"If you're struggling, tell someone. It's OK. It's OK to not be OK," said Schick.

He said the way people can help, is simply by recognizing that the biggest battles can't always been seen.

"Everyone in here is fighting something. Everyone in here is battling something,” said Schick. “So just go out of your way to treat everybody you meet as if they had a broken heart."

Schick has been in documentaries about veterans and movies like American Sniper. He also works as the executive director of 22Kill, an organization famous for its pushup challenge. It's all in an effort to awareness about veteran suicide.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Hensley: Finding a New Mission After the Military]]>405016535Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:45:42 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hooves+for+heroes.jpg

On any given morning, Equest's Texas Horse Park in South Dallas is a hub of service where military veterans receive equine therapy while volunteering to take care of the park's horses.

Overseeing this free program for veterans is Jeff Hensley, who spent 21 years as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy and did a second tour fighting on the ground in Iraq.

Hensley is all too familiar with the challenges of military service, especially in combat.

“I mean, you never knew when you were out there, when you were in a Humvee driving through town, you never knew when something was gonna happen,” said Hensley.

But he did know his mission. He had a purpose, a job to do. It’s a feeling that was missing after his two decades of military service was over.

“The biggest thing for me was I just didn’t know who I was supposed to be anymore,” said Hensley.

Hensley was diagnosed with depression and thought asking for help was a sign of weakness.

“What became very apparent to me was that my behavior was having a hugely adverse impact on my children and that was what really was the motivator to get out there to get some help,” said Hensley.

He was a single father and started to get help by enrolling his children in equine therapy.

“I kind of watched them from the cheap seats, watched their progress going through there and that’s what started getting me excited because I started thinking, ‘Maybe this is something that could help me too,’” said Hensley.

Through a fellowship from nonprofit The Mission Continues, he got paired up with the equine therapy folks at Equest.

“That really wound up being the thing that gave me my new fit too. That’s where I found my identity, and once I did then it kind of changed the whole trajectory,” said Hensley.

Hensley is now a counselor and oversees Equest’s veterans program, Hooves for Heroes.

Finding a new purpose, also improved his personal relationships. Four years ago, during orientation for The Mission Continues, he met Colleen, a fellow Navy veteran.

The day of this interview the two were setting up for their wedding ceremony, which was held on the grounds surrounding Equest.

Finding a new way to serve has helped every aspect of Hensley’s life. And every day, he keeps working to pay it forward.

“To be on the other side and let this whole process come full circle, yes, it’s really cool,” Hensley said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Homeless Adults Use Music Therapy]]>404968926Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:10:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-12-06-06h11m52s209.jpgHomeless men and women are healing and working through mental and physical trauma using music at a recovery center in downtown Dallas.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Missionaries Share Personal Journey About Mentally Ill Teen]]>404852845Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:40:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Thomas-Johnson-scene.jpg

A North Texas couple is on a crusade to help those in need share their very personal story about mental illness.

Dave and Lisa Stephenson took in a troubled teen who would later be accused of murder.

The uplifting photos in their home represent the chronicle of people who have been helped by the couple.

However, not all of the images have a happy resolution.

Two years ago, they first met Thomas Johnson.

"The high school football coach saw us on the sideline, came up afterwards and said, 'Can y'all help one of my former players?'" recalled Dave Stephenson.

They thought their rural Farmersville home would be the perfect setting for a troubled South Dallas teen.

Thomas had been a standout football player at Texas A&M until the day he mysteriously walked away from campus and never returned.

In short order, he was arrested for car theft and jailed.

Even so, the Stephensons were more than willing to help.

"Without much of a background and never going into a jail and never knowing much about what to do, we just trusted God and said 'if this is where you want us and we'll to the best of our abilities try to help him in wherever he wants to go in life,'" said Dave Stephenson.

His wife, Lisa, described Johnson as gentle, mild-mannered and polite, but says at times he would exhibit odd behavior.

"He would either stare into space and not be engaging or looking at us or he would just laugh about something when there was nothing funny," said Lisa Stephenson.

Looking back, Lisa Stephenson says she questions if that could have been a sign. What was Johnson thinking about?

She says about eight weeks in, Johnson abruptly left and returned home to Dallas.

His father said Johnson complained of hearing voices, so he took his son to a psychiatrist.

Johnson was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Two months later, while under psychiatric care, the unimaginable happened.

Johnson was accused in one of the most brutal murders in recent memory.

Police say Johnson used a machete to kill a perfect stranger, David Stevens, whose wife was so consumed by grief, that she then took her own life.

"He wasn't capable of that. The Thomas we knew was not capable of bludgeoning somebody like that," Dave Stephenson said.

The couple watched the news coverage on Oct. 12, 2015.

Three days after the murder, the Stephensons visited Johnson in jail.

His mental state at that time still haunts them.

"He was just like he was sitting in our living room, 'how are you doing?' that he liked her haircut," said Dave Stephenson. "That's when we knew for certain that he was mentally ill."

"I mean, he was completely normal as if he didn't even remember that it had happened," Lisa Stephenson said.

But it did happen.

His family says beneath the calm surface of his outward behavior, there was an escalating turbulence that resulted in tragedy.

"They could hear a voice telling them to do things or even a voice commenting on how they're behaving or even several voices conversing with each other," said Dr. Hicham Ibrahim, a psychiatrist with the O'Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Ibrahim has been treating patients who have mental illnesses for nearly two decades.

Although he has no affiliation with Johnson's case, he tells NBC 5 that there are warning signs with a delusional patient and some can be easy to miss.

"Behaving inappropriately, reacting inappropriately, particularly change in how it used to be and how it is now. This is kind of the stuff that families can really point to," said Ibrahim.

He says increased awareness and proper treatment from the onset is key.

"They're really able to lead productive and fulfilling lives. We've seen patients who are treated well, have done really well in their lives," he said.

After months of silence in jail, Johnson was transferred to a mental health facility in Vernon, Texas, and has been writing to his missionary family.

The letters give Dave and Lisa Stephenson hope and healing.

"That's really all we wanted was for him to get help. We don't expect him not to pay for what he did. That's not what it's about," Lisa Stephenson said. "We want him to have a shot at having as normal of a life as he can have. That may be in prison for the rest of his life, but at least he's not going to be in prison in his brain, as well," she said.

Johnson was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for the murder.

Doctors at UT Southwestern will soon be opening an early psychosis clinic to address the problem of not identifying people with schizophrenia early enough.

MORE:DMN: Couple who once lived with jailed A&M star is fighting to reach him again | DMN: Patti Stevens, wife of slain White Rock runner killed self, authorities say

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lady Gaga Reveals PTSD: 'I Suffer From a Mental Illness']]>404787106Tue, 06 Dec 2016 07:21:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gagagagag.jpg

Lady Gaga made a stunning admission about her mental health during a visit to a homeless shelter for LGBT youth in Harlem.

Gaga, who revealed in 2014 that she had been raped at age 19, led a brief meditation exercise during her visit. "I don't have the same kind of issues that you have," she said, "but I have a mental illness and I struggle with that every day so I need my mantra to help keep me relaxed."

Until her visit, Gaga had never spoken publicly about living with post traumatic stress disorder. "I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness. I suffer from PTSD. I've never told anyone that before, so here we are," the 30-year-old singer revealed. "But the kindness that's been shown to me by doctors--as well as my family and my friends--it's really saved my life."

Gaga made the visit on behalf of the #ShareKindness campaign, "Today" and NBCUniversal's celebration of kind acts both big and small.

"Kindness, to me, is an action of love or a showing of love to someone else," the pop singer said. "I also believe that kindness is the cure to violence and hatred around the world. I like to share kindness in a lot of different ways."

"I love to give things to people that have nothing or less than me. These children are not just homeless or in need. Many of them are trauma survivors; they've been rejected in some kind of way," she said. "My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others."

Lady Gaga Gets Emotional When Talking About Fame

Gaga didn't tell anyone she had been raped for seven years. In hindsight, the singer admitted, "I'd been searching for ways to heal myself. I found that kindness is the best way. The one way to help people that have trauma is to inject them with as many positive thoughts as possible."

Lady Gaga on What It Means to Be a Lady

"Today" partnered with Gaga's "Born This Way Foundation," which she co-founded with her mom, Cynthia Germanotta, for the Share Kindness Experience, located at 30 Rock in New York City. For those outside of the city, using the hashtag #ShareKindness on Twitter and Instagram, and sharing or commenting on a kind story from "Today's" Facebook, will also contribute to the goal.

"Those of us that have should give to those who have not during the holidays. Do one kind act before the end of the year. Just be kind," Gaga said. "The act itself, it's free--and it's priceless."

(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Victoria's Secr]]>
<![CDATA[Audit Faults $2.3 Million Research Study for Vets With PTSD]]>404873225Tue, 06 Dec 2016 05:09:37 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chair+spin+ptsd+va.jpg

Texas taxpayers spent $2.3 million to spin veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a chair for a research study that wasn't valid and may have put the vets at risk, according to an audit.

The review, by the inspector general of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, was highly critical of the contract with an Irving health clinic called Carrick Brain Centers. It has since been renamed to Cerebrum Health Centers.

The contract was the focus of an investigation by NBC 5 and The Dallas Morning News last year.

The audit found the agency failed to properly oversee the contract, that the clinic billed for services it did not provide and "put the health and safety of participants at risk" by doing human research without scientific safeguards.

The agency is asking the company to refund $278,000 for items that it said were clearly in violation of the contract, including billing for patients who were not from Texas.

In a statement, Cerebrum president Jimmy Matthews noted the audit found no evidence of fraud.

"Our success and reputation with veterans speaks for itself and we remain committed to care for those who have served our nation," he said.

For a full report on the audit, read more from NBC 5's media partners at The Dallas Morning News.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[McKinney Police Train Officers to Deal with Mental Health Issues]]>404861616Mon, 05 Dec 2016 19:09:27 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/McKinney+police+car.jpgPolice officers are often on the front lines when it comes to dealing with mental health issues in the community, which is why training is crucial.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health Hotline Open at NBC 5]]>404852396Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:42:11 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/METROCARE+PHONE+BANK.jpgAll week long -- we're setting aside time in each newscast to focus on mental health in North Texas. It's an issue impacting millions of Texans, Many of whom suffer in silence. So for the next several days, we're helping answer questions and connecting people with the resources they need. A hotline will be open Monday - Wednesday this week from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The number is 817-654-6303.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Jail Suicides Drop Following Screening Changes]]>404839135Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:28:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Jail-Generic-Photo1.jpg

Records show the number of suicides in county jails has declined since changes were implemented that include a more comprehensive mental health screening of inmates.

The head of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards on Monday said 14 jail suicides have been reported since last December. Brandon Wood says that compares to 34 suicides the previous year.

Texas in the prior five years averaged 23 suicides annually.

Wood says the number has dropped largely because intake forms are more detailed.

If an inmate acknowledges a suicide attempt, for instance, the booking officer must tell a supervisor or mental health official. Officers previously used their own discretion.

Wood says the changes were in place before motorist Sandra Bland killed herself in the Waller County jail last year, but that her death gave the changes greater urgency.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

<![CDATA[Veteran Explains What PTSD Looks Like to Him]]>404692906Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:29:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/PTSD3.jpgJeremiah Dee served in the military for ten years, working as a mechanic on Black Hawk helicopters. When two of those helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq, Dee was called in to help take it apart. That included removing some of the crash victims' bodies, some of those victims he knew personally. He said that was the moment that caused his post traumatic stress disorder, but it was several years after he came home that it brought his life to a halt. Dee shared what PTSD looks like to him.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Foster Care Center Opens in Dallas]]>404744596Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:29:37 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-174728410toys.jpgA new foster care center focusing on mental health is set to open Monday in Dallas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McKinney Police Train Officers to Deal With Mental Health Issues]]>404832165Tue, 06 Dec 2016 05:12:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/McKinney+police+car.jpg

Police officers are often on the front lines when it comes to dealing with mental health issues in the community.

That is one reason McKinney’s Police Chief Greg Conley is requiring every officer to undergo crisis intervention training through a week-long program at Collin College, offered only several times a year.

Officer Terry Qualls is McKinney PD’s crisis intervention coordinator. He said calls for crisis situations have continually increased in recent years – with no signs of slowing down.

“It is actually up by about 20 percent from last year,” Qualls said. “It could be the economy. It could be family issues.”

Qualls said that in 2016 so far, they have received approximately 450 calls for someone dealing with a mental health issue.

“That’s why we focus a lot on the de-escalation skills,” Qualls said, which include taking time and plenty of talking.

NBC 5 Reporter Homa Bash and Photojournalist Lyle Davis were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the final crisis intervention training class of 2016, during which law enforcement officers go through various scenarios – sometimes with real people.

One of those people is John Gaglione, a Vietnam War veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an illness he did not realize he had until years after returning from the war.

Gaglione was a machine gunner, sometimes spending 30 to 40 days in the bush.

“It was very hard,” Gaglione said. “I didn’t realize I had depression, so I started drinking, turning to other things.”

These days, Gaglione is turning to help law enforcement by playing a role he knows all too well.

“Because you don’t know what the person is going to do. If they’re with PTSD, you definitely don’t know what they’re going to do,” Gaglione said.

Which is why the only thing police can do is train – and train again.

“Especially with mental health issues, we’re not taking a bank robber down, we’re taking someone who has called us to help them,” said Professor Richard Rossman. “We want officers to know how to help them.”

Rossman said they are also hoping to re-train the community to call resources that can better help than police. 

Many Collin County law enforcement personnel also must be re-trained because on January 1, the county will be run by a new mental health authority, LifePath. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[TMS: Providing Hope for People With Depression]]>397297441Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:06:38 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation.jpg

Depression is a subject that is starting to gain more attention and funding in our country, but many still don't realize how prevalent the issue is.

Nearly 350 million people worldwide are affected by some form of depression, according to the World Health Organization.

About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18 and 16 million adults in the United States will have at least one major depressive episode during the course of a year. That is approximately 6.9 percent of all adults in the country.

Now, there is a treatment that may be able to help a lot of those people is becoming more mainstream and being accepted by more health care companies.

Tyler Kirkpatrick has been dealing with depression for most of his life. He says he thinks it set in during his teen years.

“I think it set in sometime around 13 or 14, I went from being a happy kid to being depressed,” he said.

And for Kirkpatrick, typical medications were not effective.

“I started with all these meds," he said. "Every single one, the side effects were too much, or they made me more depressed or they just didn't work”

That’s when Plano psychiatrist Dr. Dhiren Patel stepped in with transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS uses pulses from a magnet to affect your brain in a way that medications typically don't respond to.

“This is a big change in our thought process in treating depression," he said. "The patients we treat with TMS, they have tried 3 or 4 meds and because of side effects or other problems they’re not really taking it and it doesn't work well for their mood.”

Kirkpatrick started with TMS about a month ago and the difference, he says, is huge.

"I still struggle with daily challenges, I still have some mood swings, but when I look back, I woke up with depression and I went to bed with depression, and not just depression but despair.” he said. “Every time I had a hopeful thought, I'd have a thought that no, you can't do that. And now it's switched."

“I'm not dealing with the feelings of hopelessness anymore. They're just gone," he said. "It is amazing. It's changed my life.”

Many insurance companies are now covering this relatively new form of treatment. And if you were wondering, Kirkpatrick insists it's not painful. A bit strange the first few times you do it, but not uncomfortable at all.

And Kirkpatrick's not an exception, as 80 percent of patients see results from TMS. Patel says it's complete remission for some and 50 percent improvement for others, which is huge for someone who has not seen any change in year.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[State of Mind - Kids Under Pressure]]>558476162Tue, 27 Aug 2019 16:50:22 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Under+Pressure+1200x675.jpg

Mental health is a tough subject to talk about, especially when it comes to children. On Thursday, Aug. 22, NBC 5 focused an entire newscast on raising awareness of issues involving teen mental health.]]>
<![CDATA[Sue Loncar Hopes Family Can Bring Awareness to Mental Health]]>421695583Mon, 08 May 2017 22:58:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sue+loncar.jpg

Sue Loncar says it's time for people to talk about depression in a different way. That's why she's opening up about her family's struggles.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Live: North Texas Doctor Discusses Mental Health]]>421692233Mon, 08 May 2017 22:22:50 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ML-FBLive-050817_1200x675_939291715997.jpg

Dr. Walter Elliston, a psychiatrist at Medical City Green Oaks Hospital, speaks with NBC 5's Meredith Land about mental health and the resources available in North Texas. The conversation originally appeared as a Facebook Live video, and NBC 5 viewers contributed questions.]]>
<![CDATA[Missionaries Share Personal Journey About Mentally Ill Teen]]>405080946Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:39:20 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Thomas-Johnson-scene.jpgA North Texas man accused of one of the most brutal murders in recent memory. His foster family talks about his mental illness.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Homeless Adults Use Music Therapy]]>404958245Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:16:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-12-06-06h11m52s209.jpg

Homeless men and women in Dallas are healing and working through mental and physical trauma using music.

Music therapy is the use of song and sound to address mental or physical illnesses. Kamica King, a certified music therapist, leads a group of homeless adults through several music and lyrical sessions at The Bridge Recovery Center in downtown Dallas.

“Music therapy is a huge benefit for someone who is experiencing homelessness,” said Kamica King, who is also studying to receive her Masters at Southern Methodist University.

“There’s a lot of stress that comes along with homelessness. Their past may include some trauma as well,” said King.

Using songs, rhythm, and sound is different than traditional therapy. It can help the client relax and begin to address their pain.

“It can allow them to, just for that moment in time, to be focused on something that is positive and something that can bring them joy,” said King.

Music therapy can be implemented in the mental health sector, the school system, and the hospital system to help people rehabilitate from injuries.

In the last year, the homeless population increased 24 percent and the homeless veteran population increased 21 percent, according to the Dallas Homeless Coalition Mental health.

“I come heavy, but I leave light,” said Alvin Johnson, a homeless veteran. Johnson was born in McKinney, TX but was later raised in Dallas.

“I like the music therapy because it takes my mind off from everything else. I’m learning some different things from it,” said Johnson.

It’s estimated 10,000 people are waking up every morning on the streets of Dallas without a place to live. Of that number, 3,700 of them are children.

The Dallas Commission on Homlelessness surveyed a group of homeless families, adults, and children regarding their needs. The group says their number one urgent need is affordable housing, and the second need is mental health care.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>