Good afternoon, MindSite News Reader. In today’s MindSite Originals, we bring you a story about a grieving writer’s journey during the pandemic to understand what robbed her of two of the brightest lights in her circle of friends and extended family, including the son of Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland. We also explore the sleeper hit TV series “Ted Lasso” and its surprising messages about mental health. We also examine the push to free an ailing and imprisoned mentally ill man who critics say has been failed by the justice system, and present a guest essay about the urgent need to get ready for 988 calls for mental health crises.

An Interrogation of Grief

On a one-year search for answers to two inexplicable deaths, I stumbled on solace by talking through private pain.

During the last year of the pandemic, writer Julia Landau lost two members of her extended family within three weeks of each other: a beloved friend so high-spirited and endearing that everyone considered him their personal soulmate, and longtime family friends’ son, Tommy Raskin, described by his parents, Maryland representative Jamie Raskin and Sarah Bloom Raskin, as “a strikingly beautiful curly-haired madcap boy beaming with laughter and charm” who grew into a loving, gifted young man and Harvard law student who championed social justice, hated snobbery and had an outrageous sense of humor.

Landau’s friend died of an apparent overdose and Raskin by suicide, deaths she found stunning and completely inexplicable. In a year-long journey through the labyrinth of grief, she spoke with friends, family members and experts on stigma and mental illness to try to find answers. She found that some questions will never be answered — but talking with others brought her a measure of comfort.


Ted Lasso’s Surprising Mental Health Message

If Season 1 of “Ted Lasso,” which aired in 2020, was the “feel-good show in one of the most feel-bad years in memory,” the second season saw the sports dramedy shift gears. We explore the surprising mental health message in the show as it explores the emotions of athletes and their long-suffering coach. The show received praise from therapists for its depiction of a skeptical client who finally found some solace – and clues to his psychological triggers – in a series of sessions. By exploring Ted’s initial reticence to participate in talk therapy, the show also makes a case for how it might be of benefit. 


Doing Time for Stealing Cold Medicine: 58-Year-Old Man with History of Mental Illness Deteriorating in NY Prison

Reginald Randolph and his family in 1997. Photo courtesy of Legal Aid Society.

In this investigative piece published in partnership with The Appeal and New York Focus, we examine the plight of a group of Reginald Randolph, a 58-year-old man with mental illness sentenced to two to four years in state prison for stealing cold medicine. New York state senators are urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to commute his prison sentence. Due to his frail health, the senators say, he may die if he is not released soon.


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Build Back Better Bill Moves Closer to Finish Line

With the possible exception of the Affordable Care Act, major health care legislation has passed on Capitol Hill for decades with little or no additional mental health care and substance use financing. Now that era seems to have sputtered to a halt. Find out what the government is doing for mental health in its $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill.


Our National Mental Health Hotline – 988 – is Set to Go Live Soon. We Aren’t Ready.

Calling 911 in an emergency is so ubiquitous that even some visiting professors and students from other countries have done so, having learned it from American movies and TV. But soon those shows may reflect a new reality: Calling 988 for a mental health crisis. In this guest essay, President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado Vincent Atchity argues that we need to get ready for this exciting change, in which people will receive “care, not cuffs” from the mental health providers who respond to those calls.  


Controversial Anthony Bourdain Film Named a Top 5 Documentary for 2021

Close-up of the memorial wall for Bourdain at Les Halles restaurant, with notes and flowers from fans and friends. Credit: Donald Barrows Photography/Shutterstock

“You’re probably going to find out about this anyway, so here’s a little preemptive truth-telling,” says Anthony Bourdain in a voiceover early on in the recent documentary ‘Roadrunner.’ “There’s no happy ending.” Morgan Neville’s documentary about famous chef Anthony Bourdain and his 2018 suicide, examined by culture writer Sarah Henry for MindSite News, was just named one of the top 5 documentaries of 2021 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, a precursor to the Oscars.


Please check out all of our stories at mindsitenews.org. And did we mention you should share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues?

Thanks for reading and see you next time,

The MindSite News Team

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