The Mental Health Project is a Seattle Times initiative focused on covering mental and behavioral health. The project illuminates a growing mental health crisis in the Seattle region, Washington state and beyond. It explores the many types of mental illness people experience, spotlights promising treatments and research, and examines actions by government agencies, nonprofits and health providers to address the problem.

Diana Samuels, Editor

Diana Samuels is the editor of The Mental Health Project. She has been directing our law and justice coverage since joining The Seattle Times in 2019. Before that, she was an editor and reporter at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans for six years. As a reporter there, she led a multimedia project exploring the lives of girls in the South that included live events, videos and a social media campaign.

Samuels said the COVID-19 pandemic has “put into stark relief the necessity and value of talking about and treating mental health issues in the U.S.”

“For decades, the country has used its emergency rooms, jails and prisons as a broken mental health system, and the results are seen in our homelessness crisis and the revolving doors of incarceration,” she said. “The collective trauma of the pandemic has had profound effects on mental health worldwide, with its impact on children particularly carrying the potential to affect an entire generation for decades to come.”

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Michelle Baruchman, Engagement Editor

Engagement editor Michelle Baruchman will focuses on direct interaction with readers, both in person and online. Baruchman moved to the project after more than three years as engagement editor with the Traffic Lab team, where she fostered conversations with readers and community groups, hosted public events and wrote explanatory articles.

Before coming to The Times, Baruchman held engagement and reporting internships at The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times.

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Hannah Furfaro, Reporter

Reporter Hannah Furfaro joined The Mental Health Project after two years on the Education Lab team. With a master’s degree in science and health journalism from Columbia University, Furfaro wrote about neuroscience and psychiatry before joining The Times. Her work focused on psychiatric drugs, new treatments and rare mental health conditions; she published stories in Science, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic, among other places. 

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Esmy Jimenez, Reporter

Reporter Esmy Jimenez joined The Seattle Times from KUOW, where she has been covering immigration and other topics. Before joining the NPR affiliate in 2019, she worked at Northwest Public Broadcasting in Yakima, the Sightline Institute in Seattle and the Seattle Globalist.

Jimenez has been a fellow at Reveal Center for Investigative Reporting, the ProPublica & Ida B. Wells Data Institute, the Maynard Institute + Google News Lab, and National Public Radio’s Next Generation Early Career program.

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