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,” says 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.”

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

  • collaborative care to integrate depression mental health care with general medical care;
  • flexible, patient-centered psychotherapy programs organized around peoples’ preferences and values and delivered online or by phone;
  • depression programs tailored for people with other health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, obesity);
  • using technology such as the Internet and secure email for outreach and care coordination;
  • outreach to reduce the risk of 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; and
  • 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,” Dr. Simon says. “We want ‘learning health care system’ to be more than a slogan.” 

Recent publications on Mental Health

Ahmedani BK, Westphal J, Autio K, Elsiss F, Peterson EL, Beck A, Waitzfelder BE, Rossom RC, Owen-Smith AA, Lynch F, Lu CY, Frank C, Prabhakar D, Braciszewski JM, Miller-Matero LR, Yeh HH, Hu Y, Doshi R, Waring SC, Simon GE. Variation in patterns of health care before suicide: a population case-control study. Prev Med. 2019 Aug 7;127:105796. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105796. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Richards JE, Hohl SD, Whiteside U, Ludman EJ, Grossman DC, Simon GE, Shortreed SM, Lee AK, Parrish R, Shea M, Caldeiro RM, Penfold RB, Williams EC. If you listen, i will talk: the experience of being asked about suicidality during routine primary care. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Jul 25. pii: 10.1007/s11606-019-05136-x. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-05136-x [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

Hartzler AL, Ralston JD, Hannan TA, Kelleher KJ, Penfold RB. Designing safer use of antipsychotics among youths: a human-centered approach to an algorithm-based solution. Psychiatr Serv. 2019 Jul 16:appips201800390. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201800390. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Wartko PD, Weiss NS, Enquobahrie DA, Chan KCG, Stephenson-Famy A, Mueller BA, Dublin S. Antidepressant continuation in pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2019 Jul 12. doi: 10.1002/pds.4799. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Simon GE. Self-reported suicidal ideation as a predictor of suicidal behavior. Psychiatr Serv. 2019;70(7):637-638. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.70704. PubMed

Researchers in Mental Health

Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael R. Von Korff, ScD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2874
Michael.R.Vonkorff@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ben Balderson, PhD

Research Associate
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)

David C. Grossman, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Senior Associate Medical Director, Market Strategy & Public Policy and Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-287-2948
David.C.Grossman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-287-2113
Paula.Lozano@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer B. McClure, PhD

Director of Research, Faculty, & Development; Senior Investigator
206-287-2737
Jennifer.B.Mcclure@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert Penfold, PhD

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

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2426
Karen.J.Sherman@kp.org

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Associate 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

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Cara C. Lewis, PhD, HSPP

Associate Investigator
206-442-4076
Cara.C.Lewis@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Amy K. Lee, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2827
Amy.K.Lee@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Joseph E. Glass, PhD, MSW

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2063
Kai.Yeung@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Julie E. Richards, PhD, MPH

Research Associate II
206-287-2100
Julie.E.Richards@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

Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH
Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, 
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Washington

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