November 9, 2022

By Diana Hembree

Good morning, MindSite News readers. Experts say early screening for learning disabilities and trauma could slow the school-to-prison pipeline. The hashtag #DisabledJoy reminds people that disability and joy are not mutually exclusive. MindSite News wins two journalism awards. And more.

Early Screening for Learning Disabilities Could Slow School-to-Prison Pipeline: Experts

Frank Pinckney, who grew up in Washington, D.C., suffered from trauma and learning problems (Credit: YouthCast Media)

Frank Pinckney wonders what his life could have been like if his parents and teachers had believed what he now believes: that as a child he had a learning disability, attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and suffered from trauma after a sexual assault. As it turned out, his problems went undiagnosed, which may help explain why Pinckney’s life spiraled into crime, mental illness, and  substance use disorder. 

“The older I got, the more my drug habit escalated,’’ he says. The spiral ended at age 32 with a three-year prison term.

Pinkney’s story is part of an original story for MindSite News by Youthcast Media Group, an organization that trains teens and youth from under-resourced communities in solutions journalism, The young reporters explore the Pinkney’s saga as an example why some experts are calling for increased early testing and screening of children for trauma nd learning disabilities.

“If we could do this for kids when they’re little, when they still love to learn, it would make a huge difference,” says Teresa Giral, a clinical psychologist who heads a counseling and assessment center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, told Youthcast Media. Instead, she says, “we wait for them to fail before we intervene.” Read the entire Youthcast Media Group story here.

MindSite News Win Two Awards from the San Francisco Press Club

Rudi Dharmalingam as Nik Katira in WAKEFIELD. Photo Credit: Lisa Tomasetti/Jungle Entertainment/ABC/BBC Studios.

In our first time entering the San Francisco Press Club competition, MindSite News won journalism awards for commentary and series reporting. Writer Sarah Henry won a Series/Continuing Coverage award for her compelling arts and culture series on the changing views of mental illness in films, streaming series, novels and television.

The series included Batsh*t Crazy, her profile of the creator of Wakefield, an Australian television drama set in a psychiatric hospital; On the Couch with TV’s Ted Lasso, a feature on the popular Apple+ TV series Ted Lasso; and an exploration of a controversial documentary on the life and death of Anthony Bourdain, the brilliant, compassionate but troubled celebrity chef, author and culinary travel guide.

MindSite News writer Julia Landau won a Commentary award for her remarkable essay, “An Interrogation of Grief.” This personal essay describes her wrenching search for closure in the loss, within weeks of each other, of two people who were part of her extended family. On a one-year search for answers to two inexplicable deaths, she says, she stumbled upon solace by talking through private pain.

“Time to move on”: Mental health wake-up call for a Welsh golf star

via Twitter

Becky Brewerton had traveled around the world as a golf star, but at age 29, she took a fall — literally. The two-time winner of the Ladies European Tour (LET) and Wales’ first-ever Solheim Cup player had a bike accident that sent her flying over her handlebars and slammed her hip into the curb. The result: Pain and anxiety that stole her confidence and destroyed her golf game.

Beckerton soon found herself living on a friend’s couch and delivering parcels for a living. She realized, however, that she had felt like an imposter even before the accident. But after all her fear and trauma after the accident, being told her score was too low to return to one competition was a turning point. “It was weird, once it actually happened it was almost like a relief that it was over,” sovhe told CNN.

“I didn’t have to obsess about it anymore because the worst thing had happened and lo and behold, nothing awful happened – I was still alive, still healthy,” she said. “You realize, ‘okay, that’s it, now’s the time to move on.’” Without pressure and overtraining, her golf game improved; by the end of 2021, Brewerton was again enjoying tournment golf and ranked as one of LET’s top 20 players. This time, she’s playing on her own terms. Read the full CNN story here.

Hashtag #DisabledJoy lives on

Annie Segarra is one of many who responded to Farkash’s hashtag (via Twitter)

Writer Andrew Farkash, who has pudendal neuralgia, started #DisabledJoy, a hashtag to celebrate happiness among disabled people, reports the digital publication GoodGoodGood. “There’s a common misconception that you can’t be Disabled and happy,” Farkash tweeted in 2018. “That you can’t express joy, and if you do, you must not be hurting or Disabled anymore. I propose a new hashtag to empower us and show people otherwise,” Since then #DisabledJoy has been embraced by the disabled community, many of whom continue to use the hashtag on social media. Said Farkash: “I also wanted people to realize that Disability and joy/happiness aren’t mutually exclusive and that people who are Disabled don’t live a miserable existence.”

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.

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Type of work:

Diana Hembree, MS, is MindSite News co-founding editor. She is a health and science journalist who served as a senior editor at Time Inc. Health and its physician’s magazine, Hippocrates, and as news...