Mental Health

“We aim to be a real learning mental health care system, answering the practical questions that patients, families, and mental health clinicians care about.”

Greg Simon, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

Mental health is a vital part of overall health. But traditional mental health care reaches only a fraction of the millions who could benefit. So, researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) are finding practical, patient-centered ways to reach people affected by conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

“Many of the ideas that are changing American mental health care were first tested here at Kaiser Permanente Washington,” said Gregory Simon, MD, MPH, senior investigator at KPWHRI and a Kaiser Permanente Washington psychiatrist. “We’re now working to spread those innovations to large health systems across the country.”

Some of the mental health research group’s current projects include:

  • Conducting research to optimize firearm suicide prevention in health care
  • Developing methods to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in suicide risk prediction
  • Expanding a program to reduce the burden for caregivers of patients with a dementia diagnosis
  • Testing an intervention to guide earlier access to services for youth with symptoms or concerns related to their mental health
  • Reducing suicide attempts among high-risk teens and young adults
  • Testing interventions for variables associated with dementia risk, such as depression and social isolation, in elderly patients
  • Developing a model to predict risk of a psychosis spectrum disorder diagnosis
  • Improving tailoring of depression care using customized clinical decision support
  • Studying how peer support is being used to support youth mental health

Innovative patient-centered mental health programs developed at KPWHRI include:

  • Using collaborative care to integrate depression mental health care with general medical care
  • Developing flexible, patient-centered psychotherapy programs organized around people’s preferences and values and delivered online or by phone
  • Identifying and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in mental health treatment
  • Tailoring depression programs for people with other health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, obesity)
  • Using technology such as the web and secure email for outreach and care coordination
  • Facilitating earlier identification of people at risk for self-harm or suicide attempts
  • Improving physical health in people with severe mental health problems
  • Combining peer support with professional treatment for mood disorders
  • Broadening the focus of mental health treatment from symptom management to recovery
  • Activating mental health patients to be more knowledgeable and assertive
  • Reducing use of high-risk medications in both children and older adults
  • Collaborating with health systems through the national Mental Health Research Network to systematically measure and improve outcomes of care

“We are partnering with health care leaders at Kaiser Permanente Washington and other health systems to test innovative programs and implement treatments that work,” Simon said. “We want ‘learning health care system’ to be more than a slogan.” 

Recent publications on Mental Health

Simon GE, Rossom RC, Iturralde E, Ahmedani BK, Waring SC, Owen-Smith AA, Sterling SA, Miley K, Stults CD, Daida YG, Lynch FL, Beck A, Sanchez K, Coleman KJ, Shortreed SM. Clozapine use among people with psychotic disorders who experience specific indications for clozapine. J Clin Psychiatry. 2024 Apr 29;85(2):23m14833. doi: 10.4088/JCP.23m14833. PubMed

Costales B, Slama NE, Penfold RB, Nugent JR, Spalding SR, Sterling SA, Iturralde E. On- and off-label atypical antipsychotic prescription trends across a nine-year period among adolescents pre- to post-COVID-19. Acad Pediatr. 2024 Mar 6:S1876-2859(24)00072-X. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2024.03.003. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Ranchoff BL, Jeung C, Zeber JE, Simon GE, Ericson KM, Qian J, Geissler KH. Transitions in health insurance among continuously insured patients with schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia (Heidelb). 2024;10(1):25. doi: 10.1038/s41537-024-00446-4.  PubMed

Martin P, Haroz EE, Lee C, Bolton P, Martin K, Meza R, McCarthy E, Dorsey S. A qualitative study of mental health problems among children living in New Delhi slums.  Transcult Psychiatry. 2024 Feb 23:13634615231202098. doi: 10.1177/13634615231202098. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Yarborough BJH, Stumbo SP, Schneider JL, Ahmedani BK, Daida YG, Hooker SA, Lapham GT, Negriff S, Rossom RC. Patient perspectives on mental health and pain management support needed versus received during opioid deprescribing. J Pain. 2024 Feb 2:S1526-5900(24)00367-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2024.01.350. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Mental Health

Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2979
Gregory.E.Simon@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ben Balderson, PhD

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2803
Benjamin.H.Balderson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Katharine A. Bradley, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2151
Katharine.A.Bradley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator; Director, ACT Center
206-287-2113
Paula.Lozano@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer B. McClure, PhD

Director, Investigative Science
206-287-2737
Jennifer.B.Mcclure@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert Penfold, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2232
Robert.B.Penfold@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

Senior Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2088
Susan.M.Shortreed@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2532
Dori.E.Rosenberg@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gwen Lapham, PhD, MPH, MSW

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2021
Gwen.T.Lapham@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer F. Bobb, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2190
Jennifer.F.Bobb@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Joseph E. Glass, PhD, MSW

Associate Investigator
206-287-4266
Joseph.E.Glass@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Julie E. Richards, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2100
Julie.E.Richards@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paige D. Wartko, PhD, MPH

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-442-5230
Paige.D.Wartko@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Yates Coley, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2071
Rebecca.Y.Coley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Abisola Idu, MS, MPH

Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2893
abisola.idu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric Johnson, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2105
Eric.Johnson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2895
Rod.L.Walker@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah K. Hamilton, PhD

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2515
Leah.K.Hamilton@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2024
Brian.D.Williamson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rosemary Meza, PhD, MS

Collaborative Scientist
Rosemary.X1.Meza@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Morgan Justice, MA

Collaborative Scientist
Morgan.J.Fuoco@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Theresa E. Matson, PhD, MPH

Collaborative Scientist
Tessa.E.Matson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lily N. Shapiro, PhD

Collaborative Scientist
Lily.X.Shapiro@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers in mental health

Paul Crane, MD, MPH
Professor, Internal Medicine
University of Washington

Patrick Heagerty, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Biostatistics
University of Washington

Laura P. Richardson, MD, MPH
Adolescent Medicine
Seattle Children's Hospital
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Washington

Noah R. Simon, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biostatistics
University of Washington
Principal Investigator, Therapeutics Development
Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Emily Williams, PhD, MPH
Investigator
Health Services Research & Development
VA Puget Sound Health Care System