June 7, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s newsletter, a plan for school-based mental health clinics triggers a surprising backlash. A new violence-prevention effort in Chicago. And what the state of a woman’s hair may say about the state of her mental health. And more.

Fight over school mental health splits generations

Of the many tools that might alleviate the current youth mental health crisis, experts place in-school mental health services right at the top of the list. Yet after Connecticut’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to increase the number of school-based mental health clinics in public schools, the school board in the town of Killingly voted against opening a clinic at Killingly High School, the New York Times reported. The vote was 6 to 3.

The clinic would have made mental health services easy to access and cost-free to families, but school board members fretted that students could access up to six therapy sessions – and even discuss issues like birth control or abortion – without parental knowledge or consent. “I am not going to make it easier for kids to go around their parents,” said school board member Jason Muscara at the hearing. “I don’t think we should be helping a kid to walk into a mental health facility in a school and say, ‘I’m thinking about an abortion, let’s talk about that,’ without the parents knowing.”

Chris Viens, one of the three board members supporting the clinic said opponents seem to “fear that something about their belief system is under attack. They seem to think that they have to stop it here. It’s almost like this line you don’t cross.” A poll of students conducted by the Killingly High newspaper found near-unanimous support for the clinic, and students have taken to protesting the board’s rejection, holding signs that read, “14.7 percent have made a suicide plan” and “Talk to your children about mental health.”

A celebrity hair stylist on the emotional power of hair

Image: Shutterstock

Kim Kimble will tell you: Being a hair stylist means listening – but not being overwhelmed by what you hear. “A lot of clients get in your chair and they kind of almost look at you as a psychiatrist,” she says. She’s had to learn to “hear, but not hear” – otherwise “you take on too many people’s emotional issues.” 

Kimble is a superstar stylist for superstars. She worked with Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Zendaya and Shakira. These days, she splits her time between LA-based salons and film sets like HBO’s hit Euphoria. In an interview with Elle Magazine, she talked about her journey with hair – and using hair to depict the turbulent inner journeys of characters on screen. She has seen how folks’ emotional states are reflected in their hair. “I know a girl who didn’t comb her hair for an entire year,” said Kimble. “One, I think she was depressed. But two, she’s like, ‘Nobody can do my hair because of the pandemic.’…But why couldn’t you comb your own hair? It’s just the mental state of what people were going through.” 

After 30 years of styling others, Kimble is undergoing her own transformation. For years, she used extensions and straighteners, but now has started a natural hair journey. “I hated my hair growing up. I was like, ‘This hair is the most difficult hair in the world to deal with.’ It was even like, ‘God, why?’” Now, after taking time to work through her feelings – and work with her natural hair – she feels better about herself and has developed techniques and products to help others. “I wish years ago I knew this,” she said.

Violence prevention center works to make life safer for Chicago youth

Living in a community with high rates of community violence can contribute to conditions including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. To address the problem in Chicago, the Community Safety Coordination Center opened last fall to create safe centers in neighborhoods deeply affected by violence.

“A lot of kids (go) downtown, because they’re looking for something to do, because there’s nothing to do in the neighborhood,” Rob Castañeda, a community engagement manager for the Coordination Center told the Chicago Tribune. “Kids should have options in their own community.” 

The group is co-sponsoring youth activities within a safe environment to tamp down on violence. Parents and CSCC leaders see their efforts working. Maria Flores took her 12-year-old to an event at New Life Center, co-sponsored by the CSCC. “I was kind of hesitant,” she said. But “he also needs to go ahead and socialize.”

In other news…

Can home design bring personal joy? Franchesca Ramsey, an LA-based writer, producer, and actress, let Apartment Therapy visit her colorful abode. She shared her affinity for bold in-home styling – and said her redesign has helped through the stress of her life. “Decorating my spot was both therapeutic and a way to cope with the loneliness of the pandemic and my new life as a divorcee,” she said. 

When should “teen angst” become a concern? Adolescence is a time of major change in the life of any human being, and mood swings and some anxiety are to be expected. But after two years of pandemic isolation, how are parents to know when changes in their teens’ moods require outside help? Newsweek reached out to an expert for advice

People with allergies suffer plenty during the day, but sleep deprivation, too? Allergies tend to get worse at night when people lay down, and congestion and postnasal drip get worse. Indoor allergens factor in, too. End result: sleep deprivation,  which can affect your mental wellness by fogging your thoughts, contributing to mood swings, and increasing your risk of dementia, anxiety, and depression. So what can you do? The Charlotte Post compiled a list of paths to better rest, even if allergies are here to stay.

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.

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Type of work:

Courtney WiseReporter

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...