Jan. 10, 2021

Good morning MindSite News Readers. In today’s newsletter, you’ll read about California’s effort to bring in 10,000 more school mental health counselors. And you’ll also find out how psychotherapists are an untapped resource for helping young people overcome vaccine hesitancy.

California hopes to speed up credentialing to add 10,000 mental health counselors to schools

Photo: Shutterstock

The California Department of Education is seeking to bring 10,000 mental health counselors into the state’s public schools to help address what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called a youth mental health crisis. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond wants to ease the state’s shortfall of counselors and is in talks with legislative leaders about a measure with a projected price tag of $250 million that could provide student loan forgiveness, scholarships, and licensing changes to hasten credentialing, the Los Angeles Times reported. “I can’t think of anything more important right now in terms of dealing with the trauma that students and families have experienced,” Thurmond said. “But the reality is that there is a shortage, there just aren’t enough counselors.”

A close-up look at the mental health crisis among young adults

Last month, shortly before final exams, Towson University lecturer Andrew Reiner got a scary message from a student who wasn’t turning in homework and often missed class. “I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch this semester…I’ve been in a dark place and wanted to end things,” the message said. Reiner shared the experience in a Baltimore Sun commentary about the current epidemic of mental illness among college students. He talked with the student, who assured him that he felt better and was no longer in danger. “After our conversation, I sent him the counseling center email, a suicide hotline number and pleaded with him to share his struggles with his parents and to set up a counseling appointment,” he wrote.  

Reiner’s colleagues are seeing similar anguish in their students, a faculty survey revealed – anguish that is echoed in campuses around the country. Reiner calls for more and better training of colleague educators to help them recognize the signs of mental distress. “We don’t have to play therapist or have the ‘right’ answer or solution for young adults to help them when they’re struggling,” he wrote. “But we can help if we’re paying close attention to their needs, and if we know who can help them.”

Mental health clinicians uniquely positioned to tackle vaccine hesitancy

Young adults tend to be among the least vaccinated, but they are also more likely to be seeing a mental health professional. For this reason, mental health providers are ideally poised to work with young adults to help them overcome vaccine hesitancy, according to an article in Medical News Today.  “Mental health professionals and teams are trained to use empathy, reflective listening, and cooperative goal setting to help patients address challenges,” said behavioral health researcher Neetu Abad of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Noting that 18% of U.S. adults see a therapist in any given year, she said that therapists could actively support patients’ well-being, including “health behaviors such as receiving [a] COVID-19 vaccination.” 

In other news…

Photo: Shutterstock

Harvard Business Review explores how leaders should deal with wildly different employee reviews of an executive’s performance. In employee interviews about a particular boss, the magazine reports, “some people described him as supportive and kind while others described him as self-serving and mean-spirited.” The article offers advice on how to deal with such contradictory feedback.

Advice from a Boss therapist Retired family therapist Pauline Boss has written a new book about the pandemic that offers ways to heal without trying to “find closure” or erase the extraordinary losses of the last two years, National Public Radio reports.

Psychedelics continue to be tested for treating depression, trauma and anxiety. An overview piece in The New York Times examines what’s out there, how it can help and some of the risks involved. 

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

Replicating research and the mental health impact of evictions

Only a small fraction of the findings in cancer biology can be replicated. What about mental health research?

Cavetown’s ‘Boys Will Be Bugs’: Rx for Teen Boys’ Mental Health

The 2018 sleeper hit is the most important song about teen boys that most adults have never heard of.

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