Rhitu Chatterjee | KUNR

Rhitu Chatterjee

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The past year and a half have been stressful on many fronts for Chris Aragon, a caregiver for his older brother who has cerebral palsy.

"The left side of his body is atrophied and smaller than his right side, and he has trouble getting around. He's kind of like a big teenager," says Aragon, 60, who is part Apache and lives with his brother on the Fort Berthold Reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, in North Dakota.

Even before the federal government's recent decision last week to authorize COVID-19 boosters all adults, it had already recommended them in October for people with certain high-risk conditions. Along with with illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, that list included mental health conditions.

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The CDC recently added people with mental illness to the list of those who should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee explains why psychiatric disorders put people at higher risk of COVID.

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Of all the ways in which the pandemic has affected Americans' well-being, perhaps the one we've noticed least is how much we're sitting. And it's not just bad for our waistlines — it's hurting our mental health.

More than a year and a half of social distancing and work-from-home policies have led to less time moving around and more time sitting and looking at screens — it's a potentially toxic combination that's linked with poorer mental health.

Of all the sad statistics the U.S. has dealt with this past year and a half, here is a particularly difficult one: A new study estimates that more than 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. The majority of these children come from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Most kids around the country are back in classrooms by now, but this school year isn't quite the return-to-normalcy that everyone had hoped for. Covid-19 cases are surging again, and many school districts have already closed due to outbreaks. Others are offering remote learning options.

Updated August 24, 2021 at 1:57 PM ET

Ever since Marty Parrish was 17, he has struggled with bouts of major depression.

"It tends to run in cycles," recalls the resident, now 58, of Johnston, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. "When I'm on medication, and medication is working, my symptoms are alleviated."

Think sweat is gross?

"It could have been so much worse," says Sarah Everts, the author of a new book called The Joy of Sweat, that is all about, you guessed it, the science of sweating.

Turns out human sweat — our body's air conditioning system — is really pretty tame on the "yuck" scale of animal cooling methods.

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The pandemic has taken a massive toll on people's mental health. But a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us are seeing and feeling in our own lives: The impact has been particularly devastating for parents and unpaid caregivers of adults.

Updated June 11, 2021 at 11:30 PM ET

In 2019, the Rockville Centre school district in Long Island, N.Y., was shaken by a string of student deaths, including the suicides of a recent graduate and a current student.

"When you get these losses, one after the other, you almost can't get traction on normalcy," says Noreen Leahy, an assistant superintendent at the school district. "You can't get traction on kids functioning on a day-to-day basis in a school setting."

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With almost 40% of the U.S. fully vaccinated, many parts of this country are opening up, but not everybody is quite ready. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has been talking with psychologists about why.

Updated May 7, 2021 at 5:52 AM ET

In recent weeks, Dr. Kali Cyrus has struggled with periods of exhaustion.

"I am taking a nap in between patients," says Cyrus, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University. "I'm going to bed earlier. It's hard to even just get out of bed. I don't feel like being active again."

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People feeling burned out at work are not alone. A recent survey of workers in more than 40 countries found that more than 60% of them reported they felt burnt out often or very often during the pandemic. Research shows that workplace burnout poses a serious risk to mental health. So our Life Kit team asked how you can know when you're burned out and what to do when you are. In this encore presentation, NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has some tips.

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If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

It was over a decade ago when Regina Crider's daughter first attempted suicide at age 10.

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