News Roundup: Asylum Discovery, Deadly Anorexia, and the Happy App

grove of trees in sunlightOne thousand bodies were dug up beneath a grove of trees on a Mississippi campus, all of them believed to have been patients at a state asylum a hundred years earlier. Who were they? What stories would they tell if they could? And why were their unmarked bodies discovered now?

The story raises many questions, especially in light of the many battles still being fought to protect the rights of people diagnosed with mental health issues. Colleges and universities are in the news for committing students who display mental health issues to psychiatric institutions against their will, as well as for kicking them out of school. Health insurance companies are denying coverage to survivors of suicide attempts who sustain significant injuries. And a woman in Vermont was held in a psychiatric hospital for over five weeks against her will following the murder of her son by her estranged husband.

Meanwhile, social scientists are focusing their energy on developing smartphone accoutrements like the Happy App, which may unlock a tailored journey to finding happiness.

Graves’ Discovery Affects Mississippi Medical School’s Plans

A startling discovery was made on University of Mississippi’s campus: 1,000 bodies buried beneath a grove of trees that was about to be made into a parking garage. Apparently, the Mississippi campus is no stranger to unmarked graves. The chairman of the state’s Board of Health told USA Today that every time the University of Mississippi has broken ground in an attempt to expand the campus, caskets, tombstones, and the remnants of bodies have been found.

The recently discovered collection of bodies are believed to have been asylum patients at the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum a century ago, and there may be “thousands more” waiting to be discovered.

Schools Fall Behind in Helping Students with Mental Health Issues

Being open about a mental health condition on a college campus may lead to expulsion or being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward. NPR interviews Katie J. M. Baker, the reporter who covered the issue for Newsweek.

Despite Law, Health Plans Refuse Medical Claims Related to Suicide

Insurance companies are refusing coverage for injuries sustained during suicide attempts. Considering that medical issues related to suicidal behavior often stem from mental health conditions such as severe depression and bipolar, mental health advocates argue that there are no grounds to deny coverage.

Judge: Release Christina Schumacher Immediately

A 48-year-old woman in Vermont was committed involuntarily to a psychiatric ward for five and a half weeks following the murder of her 14-year-old son by her husband. A judge ordered for her immediate release, and she was reportedly billed for her time spent hospitalized against her will.

Eating Disorders: Sufferers Unaware Condition Can Be ‘Fatal.’

Many people don’t realize that issues surrounding eating and body image such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa may lead to fatal health failures down the road—specifically, heart attacks and stomach ruptures.

Working with a Therapist Can Help when Sleeping Pills Don’t

Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven effective in treating people with chronic insomnia who do not respond to sleeping pills. Keeping a sleep diary and identifying behaviors that may interfere with sleep are key components of the approach.

I Wrote the “Scathing Obituary” About My Mother, and Here’s Why I Did It and Have No Regrets

A woman speaks plainly about her reasons for publishing an obituary for her mother in September 2013 that spoke of how “she neglected and abused her small children,” making their lives miserable and terrifying. Her words have sparked dialogue about child abuse and how the U.S. system handles—or mishandles—its victims.

An App on the Search for the Secret to Happiness

Want to track your levels of happiness by answering survey questions sent via text message by a social scientist? There’s an app for that. NPR interviews Matt Killingsworth, creator of the Happy App.

Feel-Good Story of the Week: True Fairy Tale Makes Terminally Ill Girl a Princess

It’s always touching to see a community gather around someone in need, much like hundreds of people did in Dickinson, Texas, to lift the spirits of a terminally ill 5-year-old named Claire. Check out her “princess for a day” experience in the following video.

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  • Lesa

    February 21st, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    wow that story about the graves and the medical school is kinda creepy

  • Lawson

    February 22nd, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    It’s great tostart a conversation about abusein our society because there are obviously a whole lot of people who are hurt by that every single year.

    But to do it in a forum that is normally reserved for speaking of the good things about a person and not the bad? That had to take a great deal of bravery and courage.

    I am sure that there was backlash from the family and probably others in this field of work who may think that this was not the way to sort through your problems.

    But it was probably a release for this person who had endured so much and I think that if it felt right for her then you can’t complain about that.

  • Ben

    February 24th, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    Do the new Obamacare laws have any say on what the insurance companies are doing as a result of suicide attempts? You would think that if there is something in there about not denying coverage because of pre existing conditions then they wouldn’t allow insurance companies to discriminate in these instances either.

  • roland

    February 25th, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    The piece on eating disorders resonates very loudly with me as I lost a daughter to anorexia. I think that in the beginning she thought that not eating would help her lose a few pounds and then that would be eat, not knowing that she could get caught up in this cycle of disordered eating and would never be able to break free from it. She lost her life in an effort to be a little thinner. I look at these women now and think is it worth it to be a size smaller? To give up a beautiful life for that?

  • Regina

    February 26th, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Roland- thanks for sharing your story, as I know that there must be such terrible grief and anger there when you have lost a child.
    I hope that others will read your story and can share with their own family who could be struggling with the very same thing.

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