February 22, 2022

Good morning, MindSite News readers! Today, we are thrilled to publish an excerpt of Healing: Our Path From Mental Illness to Mental Health by our own Tom Insel. Also: MindSite News covers a Congressional hearing on protecting children in schools, a global report looks at the frequency of intimate partner violence and a Los Angeles art show highlights social justice and mental health.

‘It’s going to take a movement’

Tom Insel is a co-founder of MindSite News, the chair of our editorial advisory board and a generous donor. More importantly, he is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and visionary who served as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health from 2002-2015 and has had a hand in starting or advising numerous mental health companies that are using new forms of technology in an effort to transform the delivery, access and effectiveness of mental health care. 

His book – released today – has gotten considerable media attention. It was excerpted by The Atlantic in an adaptation called “What American Mental Health Care Is Missing,” covered in a Wall Street Journal story called “Psychiatrist Thomas Insel Looks for a Cure to America’s Mental Health Crisis,” reviewed by the journal Science, and endorsed by the Library Journal. Blogger Pete Earley previewed it in a piece called “Putting Out the Fire.” It is slated for coverage on the PBS Newshour and will appear in upcoming articles in other major publications. Read the excerpt here.

Congressional hearing challenges use of physical punishment, restraints in schools

On the heels of a national report that found states lagging in the area of student mental health, child advocates told members of a Congressional subcommittee that federal legislation is needed to protect students from “brutal” forms of harsh or physical punishment including paddling, seclusion and restraint.

The hearing got almost no coverage – except for MindSite News. Contributor Laurie Udesky covered the hearing that took testimony on three bills that would essentially ban traumatizing practices, including corporal punishment, which has long been banned in the schools of every other Western nation.

Black students are twice as likely as their white peers to subjected to corporal punishment. Nationally, Black children represent 15% of students and 37% of students hit or paddled. Disabled students account for just 17% of the student population, but 21% of those who were physically punished. Read more here.

One in four women have experienced intimate partner violence, The Lancet reports

More than a fourth of all women globally have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, according to a new study from The Lancet. A press release from the medical journal reported that between 2000 and 2018, 27% of women 15 to 49 years old have experienced physical or sexual violence with a male partner during their lifetimes, with 13% reporting such violence within the past year. “Evidence suggests intimate partner violence starts early,” noted The Lancet, explaining that 24% of the women reported having experienced violence from a male partner “at least once” since they were 15.

“The numbers are alarming,” said study senior author Claudia García-Moreno, World Health Organization. “The pandemic exacerbated issues leading to intimate partner violence, such as isolation, depression and anxiety, and alcohol use, as well as reducing access to support services.” Preventing such violence was “urgent,” she said, adding that governments and communities should include it in post-COVID reconstruction efforts.

The study, the largest to date of intimate partner violence, analyzed data from the WHO Global Database on Prevalence of Violence Against Women.

Asian Americans call for mental health funding to combat NYC hate crimes

Anti-Asian hate crimes went up 361% in New York City last year, according to a report from the New York City Police Department in December 2021. In the wake of the latest attack, in which 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee was stalked and killed inside her apartment in the city’s Chinatown by a man who was homeless, Asian advocates are calling for the city to invest $30 million into emergency mental health services.

“We’re heartbroken to hear about the death from this past weekend, “ Joo Han, Deputy Director of the Asian American Federation, told NYN Media, a newsletter that covers New York’s nonprofit community. “The latest profiles of aggressors who have targeted Asian New Yorkers have been folks who are unhoused and have mental health issues or a mental illness. So it seems now more important than ever as an organization to push for an investment in mental health services for the Asian Community as well as all communities of color.”

In other news: 

Art, social justice and mental health. Frieze LA, the popular annual art event, this year hosted The BIPOC Exchange, a free exhibit focused on social justice at the Beverly Hilton hotel, KCET reported. The event featured art from 10 social justice organizations chosen by border artist Tanya Aguiñiga including the Los Angeles Poverty Department, which creates art featuring the hopes and dreams of people living in LA’s Skid Row; AMBOS, which features art from both sides of the border; Classroom of Compassion, which creates “immersive healing spaces”; and the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project, which celebrates indigenous cultural traditions.

Art work from a recent exhibition by Tanya Aguiñiga, who organized The BIPOC Exchange

Mental health awareness down south. Veterans made up 25% of all suicides in 2020 in an area of southern Alabama, southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle known as the Wiregrass. The city of Dothan, Alabama, and the Department of Veterans Affairs hosted a town hall last week, to share insight about warning signs among veterans, WRBL of Columbus, Georgia reported. Experts at the town hall said the first step in preventing a veteran suicide is knowing the signs: anger, anxiety, increase alcohol or substance use, and feelings of having no reason to live are all things to look out for. And in Jacksonville, Florida, a city commission is launching a campaign to connect residents with available resources and services and break the cycle of generational trauma and end the stigma of mental health, WJXT reports.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

Covid’s impact on mental health

Covid-19’s long-term mental health effects, a surprising finding about suicide prevention and a new discovery on how your gut affects your brain.

Hearing challenges corporal punishment

Child advocates told members of a Congressional subcommittee that federal legislation is needed to protect vulnerable students.

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