mental health

UC Berkeley Professor Matthew Walker is the author of “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.” In this headshot photo, Walker sits before a blue-green background. He has blond hair and blue eyes.

UC Berkeley Professor Matthew Walker has consulted for the NBA, the NFL and Pixar — all on sleep. Sleep can impact everything from food cravings to the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Yet human beings are the only species that “deprive themselves of sleep for no sound reason,” Walker says. Walker joins us to talk about the impact of sleep deprivation, how to improve your sleep cycle and his new book “Why We Sleep.”


Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience, UC Berkeley; author, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams”


Yalom Irvin

Stanford psychotherapist Irvin Yalom has built a career trying to understand the minds of other people. But in his new memoir, he turns the lens on himself. Yalom joins us to talk about his new book “Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir” and about his groundbreaking work in group psychotherapy.

Irvin Yalom,
professor emeritus of psychiatry, Stanford University; author most recently of “Becoming Myself”

Law enforcement officials continue their investigation at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on November 6, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

When Devin Kelly opened fire in a Texas church on Sunday there may have already been signs he was at risk for committing such a heinous act: Kelly spent a year locked up for domestic violence against his wife and her infant son. In this segment, Forum explores the link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

Mark Follman,
national affairs editor, Mother Jones magazine
Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

President Donald Trump leaves the CIA headquarters after speaking to 300 people on January 21, 2017 in Langley, Virginia . Trump spoke with about 300 people in his first official visit with a government agency. In the background a military aid carries the 'football,' with launch codes for nuclear weapons.

Ever since President Trump announced his candidacy, journalists, armchair therapists and mental health professionals have posited theories about his psychological state. To some, Trump is a pathological narcissist; to others, his unpredictability is what makes him effective. Still others, referencing the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater Rule,” say all psychological evaluation of the president should be left to his own doctors. We talk about the science, politics and ethics of assessing Trump’s mental health with two contributors to the new collection “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”


Robert Lifton, psychiatrist; contributor, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”

Thomas Singer, psychiatrist and Jungian analyst; contributor, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”

Samuel Barondes, professor emeritus of psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

Protesters greet senators leaving Ronald Regan Washington National Airport in Terminal B on June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC

When President Obama appointed him in 2014, Vivek Murthy became America’s youngest-ever surgeon general. He says he was making progress on the fight against opioid and alcohol addiction when he was abruptly dismissed by President Trump in April. Since then, he’s continued to speak out against Obamacare repeal efforts and the ravages of gun violence and substance abuse. Murthy joins us in the studio to talk about his stint as “America’s Doctor” and his recent efforts to highlight loneliness and stress as major public health issues.

Vivek Murthy,
Physician and Former U.S. Surgeon General

Homeowner Martha Marquez looks over her burned home in Santa Rosa, California on October 10, 2017.

Losing a home or fleeing from a wildfire can be a traumatic event. And for many people, monitoring news about the North Bay wildfires and keeping track of loved ones is stressful as well. Forum discusses how to recognize the signs of burnout and trauma, methods for taking care of yourself and the mental health services being offered at evacuation centers as wildfires continue to burn.

Michael Kennedy,
behavioral health director, Sonoma County Department of Health Services
Alan Siegel, psychologist and associate clinical professor, UC Berkeley
Alexa Stone, mental health clinician, Sonoma County Department of Mental Health

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someone shooting up using a hypodermic needle

San Francisco is home to an estimated 22,500 injection drug users, according to the city’s Department of Public Health. Though many argue that number is inflated, injection drug use is becoming an increasingly visible problem in San Francisco as chronic homelessness rises and rapid development takes over users’ hiding spots. San Francisco Magazine calls the rising heroin and methamphetamine use the city’s “greatest public health crisis since the height of AIDS.” Forum talks with the magazine’s executive editor about its reporting on the injection drug epidemic, what San Francisco can do to address it and the magazines’ special report, “One City, Under the Syringe.”

Gary Kamiya,
executive editor, San Francisco Magazine; author, “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco”

A close view of a man drinking a dark brown beer.

One in eight American adults suffers from alcoholism, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry this month. The study found that rates of high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder have increased substantially since 2001 and constitute a public health crisis. We discuss what may be driving Americans to drink more, what treatments are most effective and who’s most at risk.


Bridget Grant, senior epidemiologist, National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism; study author

Anna Lembke, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical Center

Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director and CEO, Alcohol Justice

A man lies in bed with his hands covering his face.

Stress is inevitable. But psychologists are learning more about how to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Midlife, in particular, can bring with it many stressful events: divorce, the death of a parent, a stagnating career. In this hour, we’ll discuss how to develop the coping skills needed to meet the challenges of midlife.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty,
author, “Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlife”; former religion correspondent, NPR

Karen Reivich, director of resilience training services, Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania; author, “The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles”

Steven Southwick, professor of psychiatry, post-traumatic stress disorder and resilience at Yale Medical School

Stephen Hinshaw

Scientists know a lot more today about mental illness than we did a generation ago.  But UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw says that social attitudes toward mental illness have not kept up with the advances in research. Hinshaw joins us to discuss the urgent need to destigmatize mental health issues so that more people can access the help they need.  Hinshaw will also talk about his memoir, “Another Kind of Madness,” which explores his experience growing up with a psychotic father, whose illness was kept a secret for 18 years.


Stephen Hinshaw, author, “Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness”; professor of psychology, UC Berkeley; professor of psychiatry, UC San Francisco

Resources Mentioned on Air:


Journalist Don Lattin

Over the past 40 years, author Don Lattin has been writing about the beneficial uses of psychedelic drugs. In his new book, “Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy,” the former San Francisco Chronicle religion writer shares stories of neuroscientists, volunteer research subjects and others searching for safe uses of psychedelics. He also recounts his own search for an alternative treatment for depression, which took him from Switzerland to a South American jungle.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Mentioned on Air)

Close up on a man and a woman holding hands at a wooden table

More than 43 million Americans have mental health conditions, but a 2014 survey found that over half of those who felt they needed help never got it. In recent years insurers have increasingly been required to include mental health coverage in their plans, yet even people with insurance continue to struggle to find available or affordable therapists. Forum discusses why it is so difficult to get mental health care, even in places like the Bay Area, which has an abundance of therapists.

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a woman looking distraught

Suicide rates in the United States rose by 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Despite suicide’s growing prevalence, many people remain uncomfortable talking about it, adding to the tragedy and grief when a loved one kills him or herself. Our guests share their stories of coping with the suicide of a loved one.

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