MENTAL HEALTH

Weed use is taking off as more states move to legalize it. And with all the buzz over medical marijuana, it's starting to gain an aura of healthfulness. But there are some serious health risks associated with frequent use. One of the more troubling ones is the risk of having a psychotic episode.

For 18-year-old high school senior Ellie Rapp of Pittsburgh, the sound of her family chewing their dinner can be ... unbearable.

"My heart starts to pound. I go one of two ways. I either start to cry or I just get really intensely angry. It's really intense. I mean, it's as if you're going to die," she says.

Rapp has been experiencing this reaction to certain noises since she was a toddler. She recalls a ride home from preschool when her mother turned on the radio and started singing, which caused Rapp to scream and cry hysterically.

A billboard, at right, on Route 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, was paid for by the mother of a man who says he was sexually abused decades ago in a now-closed elementary school in Sheffield. This one went up in February.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The mother of a man who says he was sexually abused as a child in a Berkshire County elementary school paid for two billboards this winter to call attention to the case.

Slot machines at the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Half a year since the opening of the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, some mental health counselors are seeing an uptick in gambling among clients — though not necessarily an increase in people seeking addiction treatment.

Lee Elementary School counselor Heather Lucy consoles a student.
Karen Brown / NEPR

There's an ongoing effort in Berkshire County to look at how trauma is dealt with, in areas including education and law enforcement. 

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