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Mental health advocates want more access to care and less stigma in Northern Nevada

Kim Palchikoff is a freelance mental health journalist, certified clinical social work intern, and the host of the No Stigma Nevada podcast.

Palchikoff, who has bipolar disorder, interviews mental health professionals, current and former lawmakers and everyday people. She strives to give Nevadans a space to share their personal stories and provide a place where people can get information.

“There’s a lot of repetition of people saying, ‘Nevada is ranked 51st in the country. Nevada’s mental health sucks. People want to know more about it,” Palchikoff said. “I’ve also noticed that the people I’ve interviewed are also very eager to share their expertise, but I’m really also here to collect people’s stories so people don’t feel so alone.”

Mental health advocate Kim Palchikoff and Reno-based psychiatrist Dr.  Barry Cole at the KUNR Public Radio studio in Reno, Nev., on May 10, 2024.

Mental health advocate Kim Palchikoff and Reno-based psychiatrist Dr. Barry Cole at the KUNR Public Radio studio in Reno, Nev., on May 10, 2024.

Palchikoff said some of the biggest barriers to accessing mental health care in Northern Nevada are the lack of culturally diverse providers and stigma.

Dr. Barry Cole, president-elect of the Nevada Psychiatric Association, has seen the stigma firsthand. He was a guest on the show and the association helped finance it.

“I want to destigmatize that psychiatrists are not scary people. We’re just average people with certain skills, but there’s no stigma attached to me,” Cole said. “I’ve practiced in small towns where I literally had to have a back door. So patients could come in through the front door, but you didn’t want them to leave through the same door because someone might see them.”

Cole is excited to see more people completing psychiatric residencies in Reno and about the future of the closed West Hills Behavioral Health Hospital. Washoe County commissioners voted in favor of the purchase, but will have to renovate the building before it opens.

Palchikoff wants the new suicide prevention hotline 988 to become more visible, especially at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I would like to see that 988 number posted everywhere,” Palchikoff said. “Every dorm, every fraternity, every fraternity, on the football field.”

Palchikoff looks forward to sharing upcoming episodes of her podcast, including a peer support specialist who is a student and a veteran with PTSD.

If you’d like to share your story for Palchikoff’s podcast, send her a message on Instagram @nostigmanevada.