The Problem with the Solution

Americans LOVE solutions. But are there problems we shouldn't try to solve? Lulu visits a town in Belgium with a completely different approach to dealing with mental illness.

Click on the image above to get the coloring page version of the episode art!

In this episode we find that the solution can be the problem. The hour begins with a charming couple from Utah who stumble across a clever fix to their clogged drain problem one day while they are showering together. For them, the impulse to fix the problem leads to a happy adventure into the world of patenting and manufacturing a new product. From there, the hour takes a turn to explore how this very same impulse to fix a problem — the impulse that has led the human species to invent telephones and bicycles and rocket ships — has surprising consequences when it comes to the problem of mental illness.

Bonus Content:

NPR's health blog, Shots, will be producing special bonus content that explores the theme of each Invisibilia episode. The links below will go live as each feature is published or sign up for our newsletter to get it all delivered to your inbox on Mondays!

This week, we take a deeper look at the unique approach to mental health care in Geel, Belgium. We meet Mr. Kitt, who was able to get off the street, get clean, and become an artist thanks to a community housing nonprofit in New York. Jackie Goldstein, a psychologist who spent decades studying Geel and other experiments in community care for people with mental illness, talks about how reducing stigma can improve mental health. And NPR reporters Pam Fessler and Nate Rott visit community housing sites on East and West coasts that aim to provide sanctuary, not just shelter.

Listen with friends! Host your own listening party using this guide from Generation Listen, including conversation starters to spark your discussion, snack ideas, a music playlist and more. You can find conversation catalysts specific to this episode here. Have fun!