Wednesday, March 29, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Greetings, MindSite News readers. In today’s edition: Alarming rates of American youth are being hospitalized for self-harm and suicidal behavior. Researchers in the Netherlands may have found a link between high anxiety and dementia. And the NBA’s Andre Drummond has decided to get rid of all his social media apps to boost his mental health.

The number of youth hospitalized for self harm exploded within a decade

Another indication of the startling recent increase in youth suicide attempts has emerged in a new analysis. Dartmouth researchers analyzed more than 4.7 million youth hospitalizations across the country and discovered a 163% increase in the portion hospitalized for self-harm and suicidal behavior in the U.S. from 2009 to 2019. The numbers, published in JAMA, don’t tell the full current story, the New York Times reported, since the period studied preceded the Covid-19 pandemic and exclude admissions to psychiatric hospitals.

Study co-author JoAnna Leyenaar said her medical school training didn’t prepare her to treat children hospitalized for mental health emergencies who “are now a central focus of [my] working life.” As a result, Dartmouth’s medical school has added instructions on safety planning and cognitive behavioral therapy to help new doctors address a disturbing new reality. The study didn’t identify specific reasons for the increase, but Leyenaar pointed to “growing use of social media among children and adolescents,” which other studies have linked to increased depression.

Mary Arakelyan, another co-author, hopes the findings incite policy changes. More mental health care services in school and community settings may help reduce hospitalizations, she said. She also believes hospitals have to accept their role as mental health providers. 

“For so long, the culture has been, in the hospital, that medical emergencies are the true emergencies,” said Christine M. Crawford, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Boston Medical Center who was not involved in the study. But mental health training should be required of all hospital medical staff, she said, “kind of like how everyone in the medical staff is trained on how to do CPR.”

Hoops star quits social media to protect his mental health

via Twitter

The NBA’s Andre Drummond is quitting social media to help protect his mental health, according to TMZ. The Chicago Bulls center said he is turning off all his apps and letting his managers take over his social media accounts, as well as changing his phone number. To his 840,000 Twitter followers, he wrote: “Time to focus on my mental health. If you too are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone 💙 it’s okay to ask for help.”

Is there a connection between high anxiety and dementia?

There’s no definitive answer to that question, according to a new study from Netherlands researchers, but they did find that high levels of anxiety in older adults are associated with worse executive functioning and an increased risk for dementia. 

When data from 7,344 participants from 40 to 75 in a long-running study in the Netherlands was analyzed, associations emerged: Panic disorder was associated with worse scores on memory tests, anxiety symptoms were linked to worse scores on processing speed, and agoraphobia was associated with worse functioning across multiple measures of cognitive function. 

Researchers also accounted for differences in participants’ age and gender, as well as other conditions such as depression and diabetes. “The reason this study’s results matter is that anxiety disorders are treatable and that once treated these effects diminish,” professor and psychiatrist Gail Saltz. “A big issue in treating an older population is that anxiety disorders are often missed because some of the symptoms like disrupted sleep, somatic symptoms like body aches and pains, headache, and nausea are also things that happen at a much higher rate in older adults.”

In other news…

While visiting her hometown of Detroit to promote her latest book, Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Relationships, therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab spoke with the city’s El Central newspaper about why she began writing books on setting healthy boundaries and healing families. Glover Tawwab said she hopes to see more places, including Detroit, make mental health support available in nontraditional spaces. 

“I would love to see mental health taken into non-traditional spaces, like maybe barber shops or nail salons, more in schools, more in churches, in different spaces,” she said. “I think it would be wonderful if people in communities, especially in cultural communities, be it the Hmong community, the Hispanic community…could be trained because those are communities that might not seek out those services but they have a trusted member in the community that could be of help.”

Brett Goldstein was first a writer for Ted Lasso before also suggesting himself for one of the cast’s main roles, Roy Kent. In this 36-minute listen on NPR’s Fresh Air, he talks about how soccer is a vehicle for the show’s characters to access their emotions and start to heal. “Men, traditionally, aren’t great about looking each other in the eye and talking about their feelings,” he says. “I think sport is there so men can say ‘I love you’ without saying ‘I love you.’ ”

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:

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...