Mental Health

Stacy Nick / KUNC

A lifetime of memories can disappear in an instant for those with Alzheimer's and dementia. One study is looking at whether music can help keep that spark going a little longer – and make the lives of patients, and their caregivers, a little better. The study is known as B Sharp and participants attend concerts by the Fort Collins Symphony.

"If you think about a symphony, it's not just something that you listen to," said Jeni Cross, an associate sociology professor at Colorado State University and head of the study. "It's actually something that you feel with your whole body." 

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Inside a small, plain-looking room at the Northglenn Heights memory care facility, volunteer Dale Jones walks slowly around a circle of older adults. Some have walkers or wheelchairs, some are just seated quietly. Jones is handing out small, colorful plush birds that fit neatly in their hands. As he gives out the toy birds, he shows each resident how to make them sing a birdsong.

"You can just hold on to it and if you want to listen to it sing, press right here in the middle," Jones instructs.

Giving singing bird toys to adults with dementia may seem kind of odd. But it's actually part of a regular biweekly educational therapy program. This program, called Bird Tales, uses toy birds to bring a little bit of nature into long term care facilities.

StoryCorps' Memory Loss Initiative supports and encourages people with various forms of memory loss to share their stories with loved ones and future generations.

Teresa Valko lives in California, and her mother, 80-year-old Evelyn Wilson, lives in Georgia. They keep in touch with regular phone conversations.

Eight years ago, Wilson began to show symptoms of memory loss.

A group of 12 U.S. senators, led by Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., is calling for the Army inspector general to investigate the discharges of tens of thousands of service members diagnosed with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Staff Sgt. Eric James, an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq, paused before he walked into a psychiatrist's office at Fort Carson, Colo. It was April 3, 2014. James clicked record on his smartphone, and then tucked the phone and his car keys inside his cap as he walked through the door to the chair by the therapist's desk.

A drug that's already approved for treating leukemia appears to dramatically reduce symptoms in people who have Parkinson's disease with dementia, or a related condition called Lewy body dementia.

A pilot study of 12 patients given small doses of nilotinib found that movement and mental function improved in all of the 11 people who completed the six-month trial, researchers reported Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

Patrick Campbell / CU-Boulder

It's no secret that schools struggle to address the mental health issues of their students. Many teachers feel ill-equipped to recognize, let alone support, a student who demonstrates symptoms of mental illness.

That's one reason behind Safe Communities Safe Schools, a University of Colorado-Boulder program designed to encourage emotional health and well-being in schools, and to identify and treat students who have mental health issues. The initiative is the recipient of more than $6 million from the National Institute of Justice to bring the program to 32 middle schools along the Front Range.

Jackie Fortier / KUNC

Where do you go if your teenager is cutting themselves? Or you’re having a panic attack? Or you just need to talk at 2 a.m.?

Those are the types of situations Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislators had in mind in 2013, when they approved nearly $20 million for a statewide hotline, and both mobile and walk-in stabilization centers, like the new facility now open in Fort Collins.

“Basically it’s an opportunity for people to come in, 24/7 to meet with a licensed clinician if they are having any sort of behavioral health crisis,” said crisis services coordinator Teresa Sedlak.

In the trial of James Holmes, prosecutors spent the first month re-creating the night of the shooting. But this isn't a question of whether Holmes killed 12 people at the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. The question has always been: Was he insane at the time?

For prosecutors, detailing that night is critical in exploring Holmes' mindset. During the process, jurors watched a lengthy, videotaped psychiatric examination. It was ordered by the court after Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

In the "American Sniper" murder trial, prosecutors successfully countered Eddie Ray Routh's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity by saying that he just seemed psychotic because he was high. But scientists continue to argue over whether marijuana-induced psychosis is always short-lived or if there's a deeper connection at play.