November 8, 2022

By Josh McGhee

Good morning MindSite News readers. Today, we have a report about a football star sharing his battle with mental health. We explore a question: Can mental health first aid training become as common as CPR Training? (One nonprofit hopes so.) We also check in on what celebrities are saying in the wake of Aaron Carter’s death, and how an insomniac grapples with her bedtime screen habits. We’ve also got some tips for dealing with burnout, and with seasonal affective disorder after the end of Daylight Savings Time.

We begin with a story we are republishing from the blog of the California Health Care Foundation about a new approach to treating stimulant use disorder by rewarding users with cash payments when they stay in therapy and off of meth.

Can Financial Rewards Help Meth Users Kick the Habit?

Next year, California will become the first state in the country permitted to use Medicaid funds to pay for a controversial approach: paying meth users with a negative urine test small amounts of money to reinforce their abstinence. Research shows the approach – used in combination with other therapy – works.

Continue reading…


Blue light special: An insomniac’s snarky, witty take on the research on screens and sleep

While there’s no end of articles and studies saying that looking at screens before bed is terrible for your sleep patterns – ruining your melatonin reserves and altering your circadian rhythms –  they don’t seem to have much impact on people’s behavior. Certainly not on writer Rachel Sandler, a self-described insomniac, who takes on the subject of sleep and screen for Vulture in a delightfully snarky and readable piece.

Over 14 days (the reporting chronology of her story) she sleeps little but has a lot of fun interviewing sleep experts – researchers, clinical psychologists, film directors, her Gen Z sister (who generally watches TikTok before drifting off). Some of them, like Janet Kennedy, a.k.a. NYC Sleep Doctor, a New York clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders, lecture her for working from her bed. (“I’m not going to say I support working in bed because I don’t,” she tells Sandler. “Always get up and get dressed.”)

Sandler starts the story by citing a recent study in the Journal of Sleep Research, which found people consuming “entertainment media” (streaming services, video games, and podcasts) before bed had an earlier bedtime and slept longer overall, though the benefits diminished if they binged for more than an hour. Scientifically, that’s largely where she ends up, too. But the journey is totally worth it. Try reading it on your iPad in bed tonight.

The power in sharing your story

Professional football players only get one weekend off during the NFL regular season and Lane Johnson, a right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, recently spent his huddled with a mix of survivors, patients, and staffers from a depression treatment clinic, bringing them a little inspiration. “You have to attack the monster before it keeps building and building,” Johnson told them, referring to his own depression and anxiety.

Via Twitter

The NFL star has been public with his mental health struggles for the past year and has brought his booming voice and story to depression treatment centers in Philadelphia several times. Last season, the three-time Pro Bowl took a leave of absence to seek treatment for his issues. But his trouble actually began in his senior year of high school, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The monster just progressed,” he said.

Today, Johnson uses several resources to treat his mental health including medication, breathing exercises, and learning about other professional athletes’ journeys. Clearly, being involved in helping others is something that’s also part of his healing.

Free Mental Health Training for First Responders

Firefighters and police officers are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. The statistic hits home for Clay James, a captain with Owen County Volunteer Fire Department, who has known six first responders who’ve taken their own lives. 

“All of these people were people that were incredibly strong. They were mentors. They were exceptional folks in the industry,” he told WKRC-TV in Cincinnati.

Since 2019, Mental Health America has trained more than 11,000 people to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. The branch of the nonprofit covering Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio is hoping to put a dent in that grim statistic by offering first responders and those who support them free training courses on mental health first aid. The group hopes to make mental health training as common as CPR training.

In other news … 

In the wake of Aaron Carter’s death, celebrities are speaking up about prioritizing your mental health. The former teen pop star had recently gone public about being diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, acute anxiety and manic depression.

Taking care while rolling back the clocks: While legislation to eliminate daylight savings time stalls, one in five Americans report experiencing the “winter blues” around this time of year. For about one in 20 Americans, that rises to a more serious version: seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). The Los Angeles Times has rounded up a few strategies for those experiencing SAD including: light therapy, brightening up your space, exercising and creating a routine.

Are you burnt out? About three years ago, the World Health Organization officially recognized the occupational phenomenon resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Popularly referred to as “burnout,” it can manifest in a myriad of symptoms, said Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist at New York University. The three early signs of burnout you may be missing are: procrastination, constant distraction, and apathy. Click here to read more about what to do when you’re experiencing burnout. 

As Lame Duck Session Nears, New Mental Health Legislation, Funding Still Possible

At the end of a Congressional session that has focused more on mental health issues – and passed more funding for behavioral health – than any Congress in history, could further substantive legislation still emerge? The answer, as always these days, is maybe.

Continue reading…

Ask Barbara: Advice from a Teen Psychologist

Ask Dr. Greenberg your questions about kids, teens, youth and parenting.

Continue reading…

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:

Staff reporter Josh McGhee covers the intersection of criminal justice and mental health with an emphasis on public records and data reporting. He previously reported for Injustice Watch, the Chicago Reporter,...