October 13, 2022

By Courtney Wise and Diana Hembree

Hello, MindSite News readers! Welcome to the second issue of our children, youth and family newsletter. As in our last issue, this newsletter features a column from Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a teen psychologist whose Ask Barbara column will appear regularly in these pages.

In this edition, we also feature a MindSite News story on how the memoir “Crying in H Mart” resonated for a Korean-American family in a time of loss. We examine stories on student loan scams to avoid. We look at an outstanding New York Times story on the unconsionable history of abuse and deaths linked to the troubled teen industry, which includes residential treatment facilities and wilderness therapy camps. Finally, we highlight the good news on mental health benefits for immigrant families as a result of the Biden Administration’s new “public charge” ruling. 

Check out these stories and our kids and youth news roundup below.

Ask Barbara: Advice from a Teen Psychologist

Dr. Barbara Greenberg, clinical psychologist

Today’s question is from a parent who is worried to hear that her son’s friends consider him boring and are starting to leave him out of their activities. In this column, find out how Dr. Greenberg advises this mom to approach her son about this issue.

If you have a question about parenting kids or teens (or conversely, if you’re a teen who has questions about your parents, mental health or other burning issues), send them to Dr. Greenberg, co-author of Teenage as a Second Language, at info@mindsitenews.org. Stay tuned!

Love in the time of terminal cancer

Mary Long/Shutterstock

Perhaps one of the hardest things a family can endure is confronting a disease that cannot be stopped, such as end stage cancer. MindSite News correspondent Sarah Henry writes about grief in a time of endless loss, telling the story of a Korean-American friend in California who, while caring for her dying husband, finds some solace in the memoir “Crying in H Mart.” The book was a boon to her daughters as well.

The best-selling memoir was written by Korean-American writer and musician Michelle Zauner of the band “Japanese Breakfast” about her mother, whom she cared for as she was dying from cancer. The story interweaves Zauner’s searing memoir with accounts of the other family’s grieving and transformation and Henry’s reflections as a supportive grief-adjacent friend. Included: what you can do to help someone who is grieving (and what not to do).

Sign up for student loan relief—but beware of scams 

via Twitter

More than half of student loan borrowers link anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems to their student loan debt. But as the opportunity for Americans to apply for President Biden’s promised student loan relief nears closer, USA Today reports on scammers gearing up to take you for what you’ve got. Straight up: If someone calls, texts, or emails you claiming to be directed to help you on behalf of the Department of Education or your student loan servicer—hang up the phone, delete the text or email, and then hit BLOCK.

While you should focus on getting information directly from the US Department of Education, The Institute for Student Loan Advisors (TISLA) also offers trustworthy, free advice. Here’s what else you should know:

-If someone contacts you claiming to want to help you apply for debt relief, they’re probably lying. Block them and contact the Education Department yourself. 

-The debt forgiveness being offered by the Biden Administration is free. Do not ever pay for student debt relief.

-Never share your personal loan information, especially not your social security number or FSA ID.


In other news…..

The New York Times takes on the troubled teen industry — including residential treatment centers and wilderness therapy — in an oustanding package called “Can You Punish a Child’s Mental Health Problems Away?” The Times interviewed more than 50 former patients, experts, regulators, legislators and employees for this piece, which featured video testimonials from kids about abuse and — trigger warning — shows security camera footage of terrifying violence from treatment center employees against children. The interviews and footage bear witness to one of the most hellish aspects of our mental health system: what the Times calls “treatment facilities that don’t sufficiently address the core problems but instead attempt to punish them away.”

The Times reports that according to lawsuits, government reports and the testimonies of former patients and employees, “children are often abused, assaulted, sedated and placed in solitary confinement. Sometimes they are treated in ways that are illegal to treat prisoners, let alone kids seeking mental health treatment. Dozens of children have died.” Although troubled teen camps and facilities generate more than a billion dollars annually, there is precious little federal accountability and regulation. Paris Hilton, who suffered abuse in a therapeutic boarding school in the 1990s, is among the activists helping lead the charge against the industry.

This National Hispanic Heritage Month, Edutopia has provided a list of ways to explore the landscape of public artwork created by Latino makers that acknowledges injustice and the work to overturn it, but also celebrates beauty, joy, and loved ones who have passed on. As author Tanya Brown Merriman wrote, “Creating art to remember and honor the dead is a pillar of Latino culture and a powerful way to help students process difficult experiences. Murals like After the Final Lakers Game, for example, provide space for a community to grieve and remember.”

Good news for many immigrants in new “public charge” ruling: Weeks ago, in a move toward more ‘fair and humane’ immigration policy, the Biden Administration reversed public charge policy changes made by the Trump Administration in 2019. This means immigrant communities that have been fearful of accessing much-needed public healthcare benefits — including Medicaid mental health benefits — can now feel free to do so. (Unfortunately, undocumented workers are still excluded.) According to Salud America, the update should benefit the health and wellbeing of immigrants who are lawfully in the country and is slated to take effect on December 23.

And a follow-up to the Stanford suicides story: Last spring, when soccer player Katie Meyer’s death rocked the campus of Stanford University. At the time, the beloved women’s soccer captain became the fourth student at the school to die from suicide in little more than a year. In response, students rallied for big changes to what they say is a broken university mental health service and officials promised more and better help. But six months later, students tell the San Francisco Chronicle that nothing has changed.

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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Courtney Wise

Courtney Wise Randolph is a writer and creative based in Detroit, Michigan.