October 6, 2022

By Courtney Wise and Diana Hembree

Hello, MindSite News readers! Today marks the first issue of our children, youth and family newsletter, which we dedicate to parents, kids and their extended families and friends – and everyone who works with or cares about youth and their mental health.

It’s a pleasure to bring you this new weekly newsletter, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a teen psychologist and MindSite News advisory board member whose inaugural Ask Barbara biweekly column makes its debut in this week’s newsletter.

This week’s edition also features two original MindSite News stories, one on the delightful – and powerful – Australian series on a social experiment now airing on Netflix: Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, and another on the rise in abusive sports parents (we’re sure you’re not one of them).

Check out these stories and our youth news roundup below! 

Ask Barbara: Advice from a Teen Psychologist

Dr. Barbara Greenberg

Today’s question is from a parent who fears that her rude and unpleasant teen may grow up to be an adult no one wants to be around. In this column’s post, find out why Dr. Greenberg isn’t too worried that will happen.

If you have a question about parenting 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 to see if your question will be in the next issue!

Netflix Series Explores Preschooler Rx for Lonely Elders

Might a busy bunch of little people – curious, enthusiastic, imaginative, full of  wonder – help reignite a zest for life and be a catalyst for change in a group of seniors in a retirement home in Australia, many of whom have chronic health conditions, suffer from depression and rarely leave their room? And could the elders, with their patience, empathy and rich life experience, comfort and help the children through their own struggles? 

In Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, now showing on Netflix, you’ll find some answers. This magical, poignant series, wildly popular among viewers, has already ignited a deep interest in intergenerational care in Australia. Read Sarah Henry’s in-depth report, watch videos from the show embedded in the story and see a sneak preview of the coming sequel, Old Peoples Home for Teenagers. As one Guardian critic titled her review, “I’m not crying – you’re crying.”

Out of Bounds: Coaching Alliances Cry Foul on Abusive Sports Parents

Garfield Park Coach Ronny Roby coaches the 12u Falcons in their football game against Muskegon Heights on Saturday Oct. 1, 2022 at the Godfrey Lee Field in Grand Rapids, MI. (Photo: Daytona Niles)

Ronny Roby has seen more than his share of abusive parents interfering in youth sports. For 26 years, Roby has been the park director and fill-in coach for youth football and cheerleading at Garfield Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But an incident at a football camp he and his coaches were hosting this last June was especially chilling.

A mother with two sons in the football camp had heard secondhand that a coach had yelled instructions at her son. After swearing and threatening people on the sidelines, she called family members on her cell phone to demand they get themselves to the park and assault the coach. Roby ended up refunding the enraged woman her money and removing her and her sons from the program.

It’s far from an isolated incident. Coaches and referees across the country increasingly confront verbal and even physical assaults from parents. As abusive players threaten players’ mental health and put coaches in danger, nonprofits aim to put fun and sportsmanship back in the game. Read the article by writer Heaven Jobe.


Detroit nonprofit pilots equine therapy program for kids

Detroit’s Alkebu-lan Village, an Eastside nonprofit that has focused on youth fitness, academic growth, and entrepreneurship for the better part of five decades, recently launched an equine therapy program that it hopes will help boost youth mental health. Stop Horsing Around, as the program is called, welcomed its first cohort with one dozen students this past summer. So far, so good, 9-year-old Naima Spruce told the Detroit Free Press after working with a reddish-brown stallion named Charlie Brown. “I’m excited!” Naima said. “I love petting him, brushing him and feeding him.” Though offered through Alkebu-lan, the program itself is led by Sabrina Cesaire, a Detroit-based social worker and therapist and Maje-Lloyd Hogan, a veteran Detroit public school teacher. 

Equine-assisted therapy was selected on the basis of limited but promising evidence that it helps youth participants reduce anxiety, depression and behavioral issues, as well as improving self-esteem, social skills and more. The 12 students who worked with Cesaire and Hogan last summer learned how to approach, feed, groom and mount horses in the city, before later traveling to a stable where they were able to ride. “Sometimes in life, you fall off. But the most important thing, you must get back on. Try again, that’s called striving,” Hogan told the kids. “It’s always a lot of clean-up. It’s always a lot of work. But the ride is amazing.”

In other news…

ADDitude, a publication focused on “the ADHD mind” is hosting a free webinar on eating disorders and body image in teens later this month. Child psychologist Dena Cabrera will lead the conversation, which is scheduled for 1 pm EST on October 27th.  Families who are interested but can’t attend are encouraged to sign up; a link of the recorded webinar will be sent to everyone who registers.

How you talk about mental health with your children and teens matters. If you’re unsure how to start, Psychology Today posted a blog with some good tips on how to overcome your anxiety or fears about beginning the conversation, along with some suggestions on where to begin.

Researchers know that unpaid labor is more detrimental to women’s mental health than men’s. The New York Times shared this piece on the reasons why. At the top of the list? Women go to work and then clock in for a “second-shift” at home, while men’s additional responsibilities are less urgent and time-sensitive. 

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:

Diana Hembree, MS, is MindSite News co-founding editor. She is a health and science journalist who served as a senior editor at Time Inc. Health and its physician’s magazine, Hippocrates, and as news...

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...