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
  • Identifying and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in mental health treatment
  • Depression programs tailored for people with other health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, obesity)
  • Using technology such as the web and secure email for outreach and care coordination
  • 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,” Dr. Simon says. “We want ‘learning health care system’ to be more than a slogan.” 

Recent publications on Mental Health

Richards JE, Hohl SD, Segal CD, Grossman DC, Lee AK, Whiteside U, Luce C, Ludman EJ, Simon G, Penfold RB, Williams EC. "What will happen if I say yes?" perspectives on a standardized firearm access question among adults with depressive symptoms. Psychiatr Serv. 2021 May 4:appips202000187. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000187. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Coley RY, Johnson E, Simon GE, Cruz M, Shortreed SM. Racial/ethnic disparities in the performance of prediction models for death by suicide after mental health visits. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021 Apr 28:e210493. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0493. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Hecht LM, Yeh HH, Braciszewski JM, Miller-Matero LR, Thakrar A, Patel S, Simon GE, Lynch FL, Beck A, Owen-Smith AA, Rossom RC, Waitzfelder BE, Lu CY, Boggs JM, Ahmedani BK. Weighing the association between BMI change and suicide mortality. Psychiatr Serv. 2021 Apr 22:appips202000475. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000475. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Simon GE, Stewart CC, Gary MC, Richards JE. Detecting and assessing suicide ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Apr 22:S1553-7250(21)00095-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.04.002. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Whiteside U, Richards J, Simon GE. Brief interventions via electronic health record messaging for population-based suicide prevention: mixed methods pilot study. JMIR Form Res. 2021;5(4):e21127. doi: 10.2196/21127. 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

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)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute;
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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

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

Associate 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)

Paige D. Wartko, PhD, MPH

Research Associate
206-442-5230
Paige.D.Wartko@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lynn DeBar, PhD

Senior Investigator
(206) 287-2942
Lynn.Debar@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Yates Coley, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David S. Carrell, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2705
David.S.Carrell@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Mary A. Akosile, MS, MPH

Biostatistician I
206-287-2893
Mary.A.Akosile@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric Johnson, MS

Biostatistician II
206-287-2105
Eric.Johnson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Julia J. Smith, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2715
Julia.J.Smith@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah K. Hamilton, PhD

Research Associate II
206-287-2515
Leah.K.Hamilton@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