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A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis in Wyoming

The Mountain West is in the grips of a full blown mental health crisis, and Wyoming is ground zero. Stigma in isolated rural communities prevents people from seeking help, but with addiction, suicide, and PTSD devastating the state, it is time to start a conversation. This documentary series traces patient journeys, weaving expert interviews and man on the street commentary to examine solutions to Wyoming's mental health crisis. 

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Caregivers
26:50
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a huge responsibility. It can have consequences.

The Caregivers - S2, Pt 3

Taking care of a loved one with dementia is a huge responsibility that can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. With the caregiver population growing, how can we be sure their mental health is not overlooked?

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThrough the Clouds
28:41
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

Why is the mountain west dubbed "The Suicide Belt?" Scientists have a compelling theory.

Through the Clouds - S2, Pt 2

U.S. counties above 4,000 feet have twice the suicides as counties at 2,000 feet. Why is the mountain west dubbed “The Suicide Belt?” Depression, suicidal thoughts, and addiction are all worse at higher elevations. Is it because of less oxygen in the air? Recent studies at University of Wyoming (Dr. Carolyn Pepper and her ‘Stress and Mood Lab’) and Dr. Brent Kious, a psychiatrist and assistant professor with the University of Utah are among a group of researchers who think that the lack of oxygen at altitude is contributing to the crisis. Their work is shedding light on why mountain states have higher rates of depression. We’ll look at scientific research into why Wyoming has the highest suicide rate in the USA, featuring interviews with the leading scientists studying this phenomena.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Climb Out
27:59
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

A look at the affects poverty and depression can have on single moms and their kids.

The Climb Out - S2, Pt 1

What is it like to be a single mother in Wyoming struggling with depression and drug addiction?  Many single mothers are experiencing a mental health crisis. Some moms don’t like to ask for help, but alcohol or drugs seem like a solution.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisGeneration Found
27:40
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

Providing young people in WY a voice as they discuss mental health challenges.

Generation Found - S1, Pt 6

Young people are facing unique mental health challenges in Wyoming. Often, youth mental health issues are ignored, which can result in long term consequences. This episode gives young people in Wyoming a voice as they discuss mental health specific to a new generation.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Battle Inside: Veterans and PTSD
28:46
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

A soldiers’ perspective of their own mental health crisis, as they overcome PTSD.

The Battle Inside: Veterans and PTSD - S1, Pt 5

Wyoming has a long tradition of military service with nearly 10 percent of the population having served in the military. And many combatants often experience depression, PTSD, and flashbacks. This episode features the soldiers' perspective of their own mental health crisis, as they open up about their post traumatic stress.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisProtecting the Protectors
26:32
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

A look at how the stress our first responders experience affects their mental health.

Protecting the Protectors - S1, Pt 4

Most everyone has been through a stressful event in life. When the event causes a lot of stress, it is called a traumatic event. Our first responders, police officers and any other ‘protectors’ often experience higher rates of depression and mental health issues resulting from PTSD. This episode tells their story.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Lone Wolf: From Addiction to Recovery
28:18
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

An examination of substance abuse & the journeys of several who overcame their addiction.

The Lone Wolf: From Addiction to Recovery - S1, Pt 3

Addiction impacts people across all ages and groups, and does not discriminate. And mental health and addiction are intertwined. This episode explores substance abuse, tracing the journey of several people who overcome their addiction.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Pickup Man
27:46
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

A conversation around suicide loss and what can be done to prevent it.

The Pickup Man - S1, Pt 2

Wyoming had the highest rate of suicides in the United States in 2020. How does this keep happening? This episode begins a conversation around suicide loss and what can be done to prevent it.

A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health CrisisThe Cowboy Code
28:19
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

In the west, there's a stigma around mental health that can stop people from getting help.

The Cowboy Code - S1, Pt 1

In the west, there is a stigma around mental health that can stop people from getting treatment. Some call it the ‘cowboy code’: that you are supposed to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, stuff it inside and move on. There are resources available and sometimes the bravest thing you can do is reach out for help.

UPCOMING EPISODES in Season 2

The Caregivers

Taking care of a loved one with dementia is a huge responsibility that can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. With the caregiver population growing, how can we be sure their mental health is not overlooked?

Crisis Behind Bars

Our jails and prisons are experiencing a mental health crisis.  But innovative work is being done in the state of Wyoming to address this epidemic.

A Frontier Perspective

Much of Wyoming is considered “frontier” - unincorporated towns and isolated rural areas. How does this impact mental health disorders, addiction, and suicide clusters? 

This series is sponsored in part by: 

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Jack & Carole Nunn

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Related Content and Resources

Wyoming PBS SpecialsLiving Life Online: The Impact of Social Media on Youth
1:27:39
Published:
Rating: TV-PG

A live discussion on how social media affects youth mental health.

Download this guide to see lists of national organizations and partners, as well as Wyoming mental health resources located across the state.

Wyoming Department of Health

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WAMHSAC

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Virtual Counseling Resources

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Hotlines

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