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Heat can be especially dangerous for people with mental illness: NPR



Jeannette Churchill stands outside her house in Baltimore. She says she has to keep her air constantly in the summer to control her bipolar disorder.

Nora Eckert / NPR


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Nora Eckert / NPR

Jeanette Churchill stands outside her row in Baltimore. She says she has to keep her air constantly in the summer to cope with her bipolar disorder.

Nora Eckert / NPR

Jeanette Churchill blows up an air conditioner at her Baltimore house. A large-scale heat wave has just enveloped the city, with temperatures above 100 degrees. "I don't even want to see what my electricity bill is for next month," she says.

Keeping cool during the summer months is not just a matter of comfort, Churchill says. This helps her manage the symptoms of her bipolar disorder. Churchill says that if she doesn't keep her house cool enough to sleep at night, it can turn into a manic episode with bouts of fast conversations, irrational purchases, or even suicidal thoughts.

She is not alone. For almost 1 in 5 adults who experience mental illness, the heat can be dangerous, according to Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.