Health

telephone, buttons, hotline
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

If you need help, you can contact the hotline by dialing 1-800-273-TALK.

When people in crisis dial the Idaho Suicide Hotline, starting Wednesday, they'll reach someone close to home. The service is marking its second anniversary by expanding to 24-7 coverage.

US CPSC / Flickr

Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare says more calls are coming in about children being poisoned by bright and colorful laundry detergent packets this year compared to last. Children can mistake the plastic soap tabs for candy.

So far this year, 69 Idaho children in Idaho have been exposed to the packets by eating them or getting the soap in their eyes and nose. That compares to 45 kids during the same time frame last year.

This year, 40 kids went to the emergency room and five of those children ended up being hospitalized.

insurance exchange, computer, your health idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho officials say the state-based health insurance marketplace had nearly 13,000 visitors just days after it opened for business.

Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly isn't immediately releasing how many Idahoans signed up for coverage on the state exchange's website. However, he told reporters Monday yourhealthidaho.org hasn't experienced any of the technical glitches that plagued the federal marketplace last year since it launched Saturday.

Last year, 76,000 Idaho residents enrolled within six months.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is on track to become the only Republican-dominated state to launch its own health insurance exchange when enrollment opens Nov. 15.

But the state exchange is facing pressure to function just as well as the federal exchange when it first opened for enrollment last year.

While the federal exchange's website experienced serious glitches when it first launched, it quickly outperformed other state exchanges in the following weeks. States like Oregon chose to rely on the federal government's site because it was too costly and time-consuming to fix their own.

Donald Sandquist / Flickr Creative Commons

In a survey released by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo's office a third of more than 1,000 Idaho veterans who responded say they're unhappy with health care through the Veterans Administration.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly a quarter of Idahoans are living with a mental illness. Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Nearly 22,500 Idahoans receive mental health treatment through Idaho’s Medicaid program. 

It’s the access to services, and a web of service providers, that have proven difficult for folks in need of care.

All week Boise State Public Radio and the Idaho Statesman have been reporting on Idaho's fragmented, underfunded, and threadbare mental health care system.

We've learned that Idaho doesn't have enough psychiatrists or treatment facilities. It doesn't have enough resources for some of the state's poorest residents.

In Crisis: Idaho Medicaid In Flux Causes A Big Shift In Care

Oct 31, 2014
mental health, in crisis
Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Nine-year-old Kendra sits in one of the private rooms on the second floor of Boise’s Downtown public library with her community-based rehabilitation services worker, Jennifer Beason.

Beason slides a workbook to Kendra. It is what she calls her feelings journal. “Do you know what relieved is?” she asked.

Without missing a beat, Kendra rattles off examples of feeling relieved.

Gary Raney, sheriff
Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Idaho prisons, jails and courtrooms aren’t just parts of the criminal justice system. They also have been tasked with providing treatment to Idahoans with mental illness.

'WOW, THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYBODY'

Judge Michael Reardon started working at Ada County Mental Health Court seven years ago, in addition to his work as a family-law magistrate judge.

mental health, in crisis, shannon guevara
Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

It’s a sunny September afternoon, and the room is packed. It’s like a movie theater before the lights go down — the buzz of nervous energy, nattering about plans for the weekend, someone lingering in the aisle until the very last minute.

But this isn’t the movies. It’s a courtroom — one where the stakes aren’t just “jail” or “no jail” but are, for many of the people in the room, much deeper.

Idaho has 10 special mental-health courts, where adult felons diagnosed with one of four mental illnesses show up each week to talk to a judge.

mental health, in crisis
Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Several people interviewed by the Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio did not want to be named or quoted because of stigma surrounding mental illness. Shawna Ervin of Nampa believed the issue of mental illness in Idaho is important enough to share her story, despite concerns from a family member that doing so could hinder her job search. Shannon Guevara of Nampa did not seek treatment for decades for her bipolar disorder because of stigma around psychiatric disorders.

mental health, in crisis
Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The voice started when Shawna Ervin was 16 years old, and it hounded her for two years.

It told her to hurt herself.

“It was relentless and wouldn’t stop laughing at me until I burned myself on my face,” she said.

When she finally did burn her face, the laughter turned maniacal. Then it stopped.

Ervin’s mental illness is not rare. She is one of thousands of Idahoans whose disorders can be severe enough to warrant hospitalization.

Philip Mazeikas, mobile crisis, mental health
Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Two years ago, Philip Mazeikas answered the front door of his family home. The course of his life changed when he opened it.

At 24-years-old, Mazeikas found himself in the middle of his first psychotic episode.

He thought he'd been contacted by aliens who were using him in a scheme to control the world. He wasn't eating well. He was drinking his own urine.

mental health, in crisis
Joe Jaszewski | jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com / Idaho Statesman

Philip Mazeikas, now 26-years-old, started noticing signs of his mental illness when he was 18.

"I started thinking there was a prophecy about me rising to power, or being famous," he says. "Things turned worse when I was 23, when I started hearing voices."

By the time Mazeikas was 24, the Boise Police Department had been called to his home more than once. Mazeikas had become unpredictable and volatile. 

"He would sometimes say to us, 'Hey Dad I'm back, I've been gone a while'," Mike Mazeikas recalls.

In Crisis: How To Help Someone Needing Mental Health Care

Oct 27, 2014
telephone, buttons, hotline
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some phone numbers to call:

  • Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Idaho's 24-hour crisis line: 2-1-1
  • Medical or public safety emergency: 9-1-1

If someone you know is in emotional crisis and you worry they're in need of help, here are some warning signs to watch for from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and National Institute of Mental Health.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Roy Vopal didn’t expect to live at a Boise Rescue Mission shelter in Downtown Boise this year. But the 60-year-old had a serious knee injury, then surgery, that he said left him unable to work for the first time in his life.

“Mentally, it’s a mind-screw” to be out of work, Vopal said. “It definitely twists the brain.”

Vopal says his service in the Marines during the Vietnam War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There were times when I wanted my life to end,” Vopal said. He attempted suicide in his 30s and used drugs.

the hive, gabe rudow
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Organizers of a new nonprofit want to do more than provide cheap studios for Boise’s growing music scene. They’re helping musicians who are struggling with things like stress, depression and addiction by connecting them with low-cost services.

Monash University / Flickr Creative Commons

Nurses are worried about Ebola after nurses in Texas and Spain contracted the disease while caring for infected patients. A survey from the organization National Nurses United says most nurses have serious concerns about how prepared their employers are to deal with Ebola.

Season's First Two Flu Deaths Reported In Idaho

Oct 9, 2014
flu, flu shot, sickness
US Army Corps Of Engineers / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports two adults have died from influenza-related sicknesses.

The two deaths, one in Ada County and the other in Kootenai County, are the first flu-related deaths in Idaho this season. The department says 19 Idahoans died last year from the flu.

Both of the people who recently died were women, both were over 60-years-old.

DBKing / Flickr

The Supreme Court will decide whether private sector health care providers can force a state to raise its Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with rising costs.

The justices on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from Idaho.

The state is trying to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the state to increase payments.

Pages