March 30, 2022

Hello, MindSite News readers!

In this issue, you’ll find out why it’s a smart financial move for employers to invest in mental health. Plus, pharmacists might be ideally suited to help prevent suicide, three cities center dignity in their outreach efforts, the real reason we see faces in clouds, and much more.

Investing in employee mental health saves employers’ money

MR Chalee/Shutterstock

Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of GuideWell and Florida Blue, asserts that investing in employee mental health is one of the best ways to save on expenses and keep a healthy workforce. In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald, Geraghty noted a 2021 National Safety Council and University of Chicago analysis found that while workers in mental distress use more healthcare services per year than their coworkers, organizations that support employee mental health still see a return of $4 for every $1 invested in mental health resources. 

Geraghty also cited data that showed a new and staggering willingness of employees to leave jobs where they feel unsupported, with half of employees saying they’ve left a previous role due partly to mental-health reasons — a 47% jump from 2019. Rates for millennials and Gen Zers—who together make up most of the current workforce—are even higher.

Geraghty isn’t a disinterested party – he is affiliated with the health insurance industry – but he concludes that businesses have an ethical responsibility to provide the workforce with mental health support. His bottom line? “There is no health without mental health.”

Can pharmacists help prevent suicide?

The Missouri state legislature is considering a bill to engage pharmacists in suicide prevention, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The idea is that pharmacists are in a unique position to recognize people at risk for suicide because they not only fill prescriptions, but they interact with patients who come to the pharmacy to pick them up. Because of that, there’s a chance they could see and respond to suicide risk warning signs.

Image credit/Shutterstocck

The bill is inspired by the efforts of Patrick Tharp, a pharmacist and the founder of Pharmacists Preventing Suicides Inc., who lost his own daugther to suicide in 2002. If the bill were to pass, licensed pharmacists could access suicide prevention training for continuing education credits. In addition, the Missouri Board of Pharmacy would help develop a similar curriculum for use in accredited pharmacy schools across the state.

Rehabilitation psychologists: What are they, and how do they help?

The concept of physical therapy is pretty straightforward: After a serious spill on your bike, for example, you may need specialized care to ease the pain, increase your function, and prevent further injury. But what if you heal up well but find yourself avoiding biking, fearful of another accident? That’s where a rehabilitation psychologist can step in.

Vasilyeva Larisa/Shutterstock

Rehabilitation psychologists treat mental and emotional conditions that prevent – or delay you – from getting your mojo back. “In many cases, there are cognitive, behavioral or emotional barriers to progress that patients may not understand or know how to manage,” said Brigid Waldron-Perrine, a rehabilitation psychologist at Michigan Medicine, in a post from the University of Michigan’s health blog. “That’s where we can be useful guides.” In addition, rehabilitation psychologists frequently help patients navigate a health system that itself is often confusing and dispiriting.

Always see faces in the clouds? We do, too

Ever gotten frustrated trying to get a friend to see the face smack dab in the center of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I won’t say it isn’t there – just that you may have been looking for one. “Your brain is super attuned to see faces everywhere,” scientist Susan Wardle told the New York Times in this article on how and why people see faces in everyday objects. Known as “face pareidolia,” it turns out that our hypersocial nature as people causes us to always search for one another. We’re trained to always be on the lookout for other people, both to protect ourselves from danger and to engage in connection.

Fortunately, seeing illusory faces of that sort is perfectly fine. They pose no threat and tend to indicate nothing in terms of mental wellness other than that seeing them is human. If you want to see them more often, you can. Wardle says to spend time thinking about them. “It’s an attention thing,” she says. “If you’re not seeing them, try to give yourself the time and space to look out into the world in a curious, aimless way. Just stare out, not looking at anything in particular, and allow yourself to see patterns.”


In other news:

Looking for a little comedy in a relatable TV series about big feelings as a grown-up? NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour recommends tuning into Netflix’s Human Resources. It’s a spin off of Netflix’s popular Big Mouth, which NPR describes as a witty show “that mines the miseries of puberty with a sharp yet strangely big-hearted humor.” Human Resources is basically the same thing, after puberty and at work. ~Courtney Wise


The Parapsychology Foundation, with its incredible archive of peer-reviewed research papers, photos, books, letters and videos documenting the broad and controversial field of parapsychology, is struggling to survive. The New York Times takes us to the room where it’s happening. ~Don Sapatkin

Three cities’ approaches to supporting dignity: King County, which includes Seattle, has a new trailer on the road, Patch reports – a mobile shower unit that offers dignity in the form of essential hygiene to residents experiencing homelessness. New York will create a new 30-bed shelter dedicated to trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming homeless people who regularly endure harassment or worse on the streets of the city and even from staff at existing shelters, according to NYC Lens, a news site produced by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism students. And in Ottawa, a group of psychologists is using a new approach for Black clients in distress – not treating Black people like all other patients, as the initiative’s leader told the Ottawa Citizen. Instead, they’ll be actively addressing the psychological harm caused by the discrimination, racial profiling and microaggressions that they live with day to day. ~Don Sapatkin

In the US, if you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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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...