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Toby's Take: The Brain

3D illustration of a human brain

November 21, 2022

My brain is a great big, mushy organ in my head.

As silly as that sentence sounds, I have to think it’s brilliant. At least scientists tell me it is. This thought came from my brain, through my fingertips and onto this computer screen I’m seeing through eyeballs operated by … my brain.

The mere “thinking” and then “acting” upon a thought with parts of our body is a miracle unrivaled in the universe.

Learning about the brain

I found all sorts of fun facts about the brain, including how many neurons there are in a piece of brain the size of a grain of sand (100,000) and that it weighs about 3 pounds like, say, a half-gallon of milk inside our skulls.

So how is it I can learn all about this organ, by way of this organ (I’m getting a headache) and not realize it’s as much a physiological part of me as my kidney?

It’s because I have learned to think of my mind as completely separate from my body.

Caring for and treating mental health

It’s taken my brain a while to get here, but this blog post isn’t about The University of Kansas Health System’s world-class neurology department. I “think” that’ll be a blog post down the road. This is about mental health and how we treat it. Our behavioral health team does an incredible job of addressing patients with mental health needs at our 2 hospital facilities away from our Main Campus in Kansas City and throughout treatment plans across the spectrum of what we do. I’m using this as a preview of things to come.

Over the next months, I’ll write about: 

  • Marillac Campus in Overland Park with its acute psychiatric hospital, partial hospital program and outpatient services that see every young person as someone who can, and deserves to, recover their lives 
  • Strawberry Hill Campus in Kansas City, Kansas, with its adult mental and behavioral health inpatient services

In further blogs, I’d like to explain how big of a deal it is that: 

  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment awarded our health system a $50,000 grant to implement the Zero Suicide Framework 
  • Why we have a Suicide Prevention Team in the first place

And while I’m thinking about it:

  • The former theater director who decided to become a nurse instead and then directed a musical so she could tell the story of mental health and recovery

Understanding the mind

Now that I have the ol’ synapses firing, there are more stories to tell. For now, let’s get back to my confusion that somehow mental and physical health are separate, and never the two shall meet. I’m comforted that this misconception is common.

We’re on a journey here, in this blog and throughout the health system, to make complex ideas and treatments easy to understand. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to … (oh, that reminds me of another blog post idea).

And if I don’t ever completely understand this, at least I know there are those here who do. That puts my mind at ease.



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Managing anxiety during a time of crisis

Times of uncertainty can trigger feelings of anxiousness, concern and confusion. Greg Nawalanic, PsyD, clinical director of psychology services at The University of Kansas Health System Strawberry Hill Campus, shares ways of reducing anxiety and improving mental health.

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