August 25, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s Daily, we share a book review about a tragic case of youth violence that stemmed from undiagnosed mental illness and internet obsession. We share a clip – and a reminder – about the live event we’re hosting on a new documentary on the youth mental health crisis. Plus, the need for indigenous therapists and cultural sensitivity. And more…

How Psychosis and Internet Obsession Brought Two Girls to the Brink of Murder

In 2014, two 12-year-old girls lured a third into the woods and stabbed her repeatedly. The stabbings tell a tragic story about the deficiencies of the mental health and criminal justice system in the U.S. – and the terrible things that too often happen when they collide. Kathleen Hale tells this story. Continue reading…

MindSite News, WETA and Ken Burns present a FREE live back-to-school event: A Conversation About Youth Mental Health and the Making of Hiding in Plain Sight

THURSDAY, September 8th at 4:00pm PST | 7:00pm EST

Angel is a young man featured in Hiding in Plain Sight. In the film, Angel gives voice to the pressure of keeping up with an image of a “good kid” and dealing with PTSD from living in a household with drugs and alcohol and the early death of his sister. Watch his clip on Twitter here

For more information regarding the film speakers and MindSite News interviewers for this special event click HERE

The push to “Indigenize” mental health care for Native people

KOSU Indigenous affairs reporter Allison Herrera. Photo via Twitter

The mental health crisis that has made suicide the Number 3 cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24 is especially acute among Native Americans. For Blu Cornell, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the problem is aggravated by the lack of Native therapists and the distrust many Indigenous people feel with traditional western mental health services. “There’s a lack of mental health resources that are made available and specifically cater to Indigenous people,” Cornell told Allison Herrera of National Public Radio affiliate KOSU. 

Non-Native therapists lack insight and cultural understanding into issues such as intergenerational trauma, she said, even though they are common in Indigenous communities. Cornell is majoring in psychology and Native American studies, with a goal of helping “Indigenize” mental health care. “We take into consideration your spiritual health, your mental health, your physical health, and all these different factors that play into that,” she said.

Culturally appropriate therapy is especially important for American Indians and Alaska Natives, who have a 64% greater risk of suicide than the overall U.S. population, according to a July report from the US Department of Health and Human Services. “We culturally enhance the models, the therapeutic models, that we use based on tribal specific teachings,” said Dee BigFoot, a child psychologist and director of Indian Country Child Trauma Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. For instance, simply offering water to patients is huge because “certain tribes have teachings about water, that water can be grounding,” she said. “It’s really reclaiming the healing practices that were already there.”

Our summer fundraising campaign continues. As you read our newsletter today, please consider making a gift to support it. The work you see here and in our original reporting requires skill and time, but it can help hold powerful institutions accountable and make the case for new approaches.

As therapists cut ties with health insurers, therapy becomes a luxury

Like a lot of people with health insurance, Meena Thiruvengadam had to make a choice between ending her relationship with the therapist she’d seen weekly for years, or paying out of pocket per session, when she could afford it. Even though the therapist had previously accepted her coverage, they stopped taking insurance altogether last year. In the end, she opted to pay out of pocket for one session per month – much less than she’d like. “I can start all over and relive some things I maybe don’t want to relive, or I can suck it up and pay for it,” Thiruvengadam told the Chicago Tribune. “This is something I shouldn’t have to pay for, but it is worth it for me to pay for this.”

Thiruvengadam’s experience mirrors that of many therapy patients across the US whose mental health providers have ended their relationships with health insurers, arguing that insurance companies pay them too little, take too long to pay and make them jump through hoops to get what they’re due. People on Medicaid or without insurance are left to rely solely on community mental health centers and nonprofits where wait times are long, sessions are infrequent, and the therapists are often less experienced. 

“Essentially, care is rationed based on ability to pay, so your ability to get services is based on your finances,” said David Lloyd, a senior policy adviser with the Kennedy Forum.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

Recent MindSite News Stories

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An expert committee said a Cook County detention facility that houses up to 175 youths is “isolating and deprivational” and should be closed. The committee found that most kids spend at least 13 hours per day locked in their cells.

Continue reading…

What’s behind the gender gap in the teen mental health crisis?

“How did your teen do during the pandemic?” That’s a question I often ask other parents, and their answer is almost always the same: Their sons were fine – they even flourished during Zoom school. The gils imploded.

Continue reading…

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Type of work:

Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter and freelance writer. She is the host of COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience, a 2020 project between WDET and Documenting Detroit which won an Edward R. Murrow...