With The Mental Health Project, we’re shining a brighter light on a growing crisis 2021

It’s confounding and tragic that psychological well being struggles are so widespread and nonetheless so stigmatized that folks endure and even die with out looking for assist.

And for individuals who do attain out, a scarcity of care suppliers typically leaves them helpless.

We wish to assist change that.

On Sept. 19, The Seattle Occasions will launch The Psychological Well being Venture, an initiative to report on the numerous sides of psychological and behavioral well being. If journalism is supposed to shine a light-weight on vital points going through society, then it’s exhausting to think about a extra worthy endeavor right now.

Proof factors to a psychological well being disaster rising within the Northwest, throughout the nation and all over the world — exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, financial fallout and the nation’s racial reckoning. Nervousness, despair, substance abuse and different problems are straining our faculties, criminal-justice programs and social companies, and disproportionately hitting susceptible individuals together with individuals of coloration.

To deal with this weighty and sophisticated topic, we’re constructing a group of two reporters, an editor and an engagement editor.

The group will outline the scope of the issue and put the Seattle area and Washington state in context with the remainder of the nation and world. We’ll describe the numerous varieties of psychological sickness individuals expertise, share promising remedies, and discover advances in psychiatric care led by native researchers. We’ll assist individuals discover care and probe whether or not authorities businesses, nonprofits and well being suppliers are doing the correct issues — or sufficient of them — to make a distinction. Alongside the way in which, we’ll examine in with you usually to make sure we’re asking the correct questions and telling the tales you need and must know.

This initiative has been funded for 2 years by Ballmer Group, a nationwide group centered on financial mobility for kids and households, and we hope to proceed it by means of extra fundraising.

Our group will probably be led by editor Diana Samuels, who has been directing our legislation and justice protection since becoming a member of The Seattle Occasions in 2019. Earlier than that, she was an editor and reporter at The Occasions-Picayune in New Orleans for 3 years. As a reporter there, she led a multimedia challenge exploring the lives of ladies within the South that included stay occasions, movies and a social media marketing campaign.

Samuels stated the COVID-19 pandemic has “put into stark aid the need and worth of speaking about and treating psychological well being points within the U.S.”

“For many years, the nation has used its emergency rooms, jails and prisons as a damaged psychological well being system, and the outcomes are seen in our homelessness disaster and the revolving doorways of incarceration,” she stated. “The collective trauma of the pandemic has had profound results on psychological well being worldwide, with its affect on youngsters significantly carrying the potential to have an effect on a whole technology for many years to return.”

Samuels will lead two reporters:

Hannah Furfaro strikes to this challenge after two years on our Schooling Lab group. With a grasp’s diploma in science and well being journalism from Columbia College, Furfaro wrote about neuroscience and psychiatry earlier than becoming a member of The Occasions. Her work centered on psychiatric medication, new remedies and uncommon psychological well being circumstances; she revealed tales in Science, The Wall Road Journal and The Atlantic, amongst different locations.

Esmy Jimenez joins us from KUOW, the place she has been overlaying immigration and different subjects. Earlier than becoming a member of the NPR affiliate in 2019, she labored at Northwest Public Broadcasting in Yakima, the Sightline Institute in Seattle and the Seattle Globalist.

Jimenez has been a fellow at Reveal Heart for Investigative Reporting, the ProPublica & Ida B. Wells Knowledge Institute, the Maynard Institute + Google Information Lab, and Nationwide Public Radio’s Subsequent Era Early Profession program.

The group will work carefully with our picture, video, graphics and information journalists. And an engagement editor to be named quickly will be a part of them, specializing in direct interplay with readers — each in particular person and on-line. As with our different community-funded newsroom groups — Schooling Lab, Visitors Lab and Venture Homeless — this group is dedicated to listening to immediately from you about your individual experiences, questions and issues.

In actual fact, you can begin now. Please share any ideas you may have about this matter to mentalhealth@seattletimes.com or depart a voicemail at 206-464-2090.

We’ve already heard from lots of you, suggesting a variety of subjects: The scarcity of therapists and inpatient therapy beds. What to do if an grownup little one has a manic breakdown. Why so many grownup girls appear to be getting recognized with ADHD. How fentanyl is affecting habit charges and therapy. The intersection between psychological sickness and homelessness. What could be accomplished about inequitable entry to care. Methods to fight despair amongst seniors.

It seems like an countless listing of tales to do. And that, we notice, is the purpose of The Psychological Well being Venture: to focus our journalism on an unlimited, under-covered space that impacts so many.