Mental Health

“Our research leads the way in designing and testing innovative ways to bring mental health and wellness to more people who haven’t always been offered effective and convenient care.”

Evette J. Ludman, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Research Associate

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.”

“We emphasize that people living with psychological problems are not defined by their condition,” says Senior Research Associate Evette J. Ludman, PhD. “We go beyond the traditional focus on resolving symptoms and help people harness their motivation to achieve a healthier life.”

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

Owen-Smith AA, Ahmedani BK, Peterson E, Simon GE, Rossom RC, Lynch F, Lu CY, Waitzfelder BE, Beck A, DeBar L, Sanon V, Maaz Y, Khan S, Miller-Matero LR, Prabhakar D, Frank C, Drake CL, Braciszewski J. The mediating effect of sleep disturbance on the relationship between non-malignant chronic pain and suicide death. Pain Pract. 2018 Nov 21. doi: 10.1111/papr.12750. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Richards JE, Whiteside U, Ludman EJ, Pabiniak C, Kirlin B, Hidalgo R, Simon G. Understanding why patients may not report suicidal ideation at a health care visit prior to a suicide attempt: a qualitative study. Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Nov 20:appips201800342. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201800342. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Rosenblat JD, Simon GE, Sachs GS, Deetz I, Doederlein A, DePeralta D, Dean MM, McIntyre RS. Factors that impact treatment decisions: results from an online survey of individuals with bipolar and unipolar depression. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2018 Nov 1;20(6). pii: 18m02340. doi: 10.4088/PCC.18m02340. PubMed

Rosenblat JD, Simon GE, Sachs GS, Deetz I, Doederlein A, DePeralta D, Dean MM, McIntyre RS. Frequency of use and perceived helpfulness of wellness strategies for bipolar and unipolar depression. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2018;30(4):296-304. PubMed

Heffner JL, Mull KE, Watson NL, McClure JB, Bricker JB. Smokers with bipolar disorder, other affective disorders, and no mental health conditions: comparison of baseline characteristics and success at quitting in a large 12-month behavioral intervention randomized trial. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Oct 10;193:35-41. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.08.034. [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)

Michael R. Von Korff, ScD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Elizabeth H. Lin, MD, MPH

Adjunct Researcher, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-287-4264
Elizabeth.H.Lin@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

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Sr 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

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-884-8241
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

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

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

Associate 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

Assistant Scientific 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, 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

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

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