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

Braciszewski JM, Idu AE, Yarborough BJH, Stumbo SP, Bobb JF, Bradley KA, Rossom RC, Murphy MT, Binswanger IA, Campbell CI, Glass JE, Matson TE, Lapham GT, Loree AM, Barbosa-Leiker C, Hatch MA, Tsui JI, Arnsten JH, Stotts A, Horigian V, Hutcheson R, Bart G, Saxon AJ, Thakral M, Ling Grant D, Pflugeisen CM, Usaga I, Madziwa LT, Silva A, Boudreau DM. Sex differences in comorbid mental and substance use disorders among primary care patients with opioid use disorder. Psychiatr Serv. 2022 Jun 16:appips202100665. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202100665. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Simon GE, Richards JE, Boggs JM. Effect of care management or online dialectical behavior therapy skills training vs usual care on self-harm among adults with suicidal ideation-reply. JAMA. 2022 Jun 14;327(22):2246-2247. doi: 10.1001/jama.2022.5883. PubMed

Frost MC, Richards JE, Blosnich JR, Hawkins EJ, Tsui JI, Edelman EJ, Williams EC. Association between clinically recognized suicidality and subsequent initiation or continuation of medications for opioid use disorder. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Aug 1;237:109521. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109521. Epub 2022 Jun 3. PubMed

Boggs JM, Simon GE, Beck A, Rossom RC, Lynch FL, Lu CY, Owen-Smith AA, Waring SC, Ahmedani BK. Are people who die by intentional medication poisoning dispensed those medications in the year prior to death? Arch Suicide Res. 2022 May 17:1-8. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2022.2072253. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Lewis CC, Marti CN, Scott K, Walker MR, Boyd M, Puspitasari A, Mendel P, Kroenke K. Standardized versus tailored implementation of measurement-based care for depression in community mental health clinics. Psychiatr Serv. 2022 May 11:appips202100284. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202100284. [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
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)

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

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

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Cara C. Lewis, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-442-4076
Cara.C.Lewis@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

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2100
Julie.E.Richards@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paige D. Wartko, PhD, MPH

Collaborative Scientist
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 Biostatistics 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)

Abisola Idu, MS, MPH

Collaborative Biostatistician I
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

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah K. Hamilton, PhD

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)

Ruben Martinez, PhD

Collaborative Scientist
Ruben.G.Martinez@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Morgan Justice, MA

Collaborative Scientist
Morgan.J.Fuoco@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