Tag Archives: Jenny Westberg

Transgender clients faces unique challenges within health system

By Jenny Westberg, Contributing Columnist

In December 1973, a psychiatric breakthrough wiped out all signs and symptoms of mental illness for millions of Americans.

It wasn’t a new drug. It was an ex cathedra pronouncement by the American Psychiatric Association, declaring that homosexuality was not, in fact, a mental disorder. The change meant that more than 100,000 Oregonians went to bed one night with a diagnosable psychiatric problem and woke up the next morning with none at all.

Thirty-seven years later, however, being transgender — nothing more — is still enough for a psychiatric diagnosis, with a seven-page listing in the official diagnostic manual, the DSM-IV. Clinically, it’s called Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Continue reading

Navigating the inequities of mental health system

By Jenny Westberg, Contributing Columnist

Keaton Otis died on May 12. We know police shot at him 32 times. We know the other victim, Officer Christopher Burley, and we know he’ll survive. We know so much about a few moments. Now, thanks to the courage of Keaton’s parents, Felesia and Joseph Otis, we’ve heard about other moments in this bright, creative young man’s life — and the illness that may have led to his tragic death at only 25.

Keaton had a mood disorder. According to reports, a nurse practitioner consulted by the Otis family said he likely had schizoaffective disorder. And he needed help. But Keaton Otis wasn’t interested in getting treatment, and his parents were desperate. Instead he shut himself away from friends and family. He was convinced that people were plotting against him. He stopped eating and lost 50 pounds. Many families in our community have faced this situation. The U.S. Surgeon General reported one in five people have a diagnosable mental illness during the course of one year. We all know someone who’s dealing with mental illness or addiction. But what if it’s your son or daughter in crisis? Continue reading

You’ve stepped up to the plate, mayor; lets hit a home run

By Jenny Westberg

An Open Letter to Sam Adams:

Dear Sam,

Thank you for responding, finally, to our repeated calls to bring accountability to the Portland Police Bureau. It may have taken a couple of months, but you took our requests to heart.

We wrote and asked you to take a specific set of actions to address serious problems in the Portland Police Bureau. We directed your attention to an alarming number of tragic outcomes between police and people with mental illness. We noted a failure of police accountability that seemed to guarantee more tragedies in the future. Continue reading

Finding lost friends: A guide for connecting off the grid

By Jenny Westberg, Contributing Columnist

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each year around 25 percent of adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness — more than 57 million of our friends and family members. For severe and persistent mental illness, the figure is still high: about 1 in 19, or 5 percent of everyone.

What do you do when a friend or loved one seems to drop off the grid? Continue reading