September 7, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s newsletter, public libraries use social workers to help homeless patrons. Telehealth prescribing of meds for opioid use disorder found to be effective. And “temporal disintegration” – yep, it’s a real thing, and really confusing. Plus, a mental health hotline in farm country. And more.

Libraries as “homeless service centers” in San Diego

The City of San Diego has assigned a social worker-in-training to its Central Library to support the many unhoused people who visit each day and now make up the majority of patrons, the San Diego-Union Tribune reported. “We need to make this a safe place for everybody,” Public Library Director Misty Jones told the paper.

Via Twitter

“The public library presents a unique opportunity to access an otherwise hidden population,” wrote Lianne Urada, an associate professor of social work at San Diego State, in a recent paper. Though fewer people visit than in the past, libraries are still widely used via their digital collections and unhoused patrons take advantage of the amenities they offer – heat, air conditioning, bathrooms and safety. “I can just isolate myself,” a homeless man told Urada in an interview. “Grab a book or even a newspaper and just tune everyone else out, you know? I’m safe and don’t have to worry about getting robbed.”

San Francisco, the first public library to hire a social worker, has connected more than 150 unhoused people to permanent housing. More than 30 public libraries now have social workers on staff, and some have added food banks and other services. The Public Library Association has created a resource directory to help public library staff support homeless patrons. 

MindSite News, WETA and Ken Burns present a FREE live back-to-school event: A Conversation About Youth Mental Health and the Making of Hiding in Plain Sight

THURSDAY, September 8th at 4:00pm PST | 7:00pm EST

Meet Alexis, a young Native American woman featured in Hiding in Plain Sight. In the film, Alexis gives voice to the beauty of her culture, as well as the challenges of living in a community with high rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse – and how it has affected her mental health.

Watch Alexis’ clip on Twitter HERE

For more information regarding the film speakers and MindSite News interviewers for this special event click HERE

Telehealth for addiction treatment really works, a large study finds

Via Twitter

Medicare beneficiaries with opioid use disorder (OUD) were more likely to receive and stick with any of the three types of medication-assisted treatment, the gold standard for opioid addiction, after federal agencies relaxed restrictions to enable easier telehealth prescribing of the drug. New research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, also found that beneficiaries who used telehealth services to access treatment for opioid addiction were less likely to experience an overdose.

The findings help dispel concerns that expanding telehealth would reduce commitment to treatment, and they are likely to increase pressure on federal agencies to make permanent some of the rules changes put in place during the pandemic – changes strongly supported by treatment professionals.

The study followed claims data for 175,000 Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with opioid use disorder and found that the use of telehealth to access treatment exploded from less than 1% before the pandemic to almost 20% after. The use of telehealth for any kind of behavioral health service jumped from 2% to 41%. But as is often the case with health services, Black beneficiaries were less likely to receive telehealth services or to stay on the medication regimen long term, Behavioral Health Business reported.

-Don Sapatkin

Can’t tell weekdays from weekend? Blame the pandemic

If you struggled to keep track of time during the waves of pandemic shutdowns, or if time still feels a little twisted for you now, you’re not alone. The Washington Post reported on a paper published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. It found that of roughly 5600 US adults surveyed in the spring and fall of 2020, nearly two-thirds reported what researchers call “temporal disintegration.” 

That means they felt like time was speeding up or slowing down, they were often unsure what day it was, and weekdays and weekends blended together. Some 35% of respondents even reported short-term memory problems. More women than men reported distortions, and people who had experienced other prior traumas were more likely to have challenges. 

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In other news…

What you eat may be making you feel (mentally) bad: New research reviewed in Psychology Today suggests that good nutrition can affect mental health, just as it does physical wellness. By analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a team of scientists found that people with diets low in vitamin and minerals have higher rates of depressive symptoms. 

Set boundaries! It’s hard, but it’s an important part of self-care. “Typically, people want to avoid conflict at all costs,” licensed clinical social worker Brandy Stinson told Essence. “Conflict feels uncomfortable. When we set boundaries, we risk conflict. So, to avoid conflict, we often avoid setting boundaries because we don’t want to face any type of backlash or negative emotional responses from others.” But each time you set boundaries anyway, you become more empowered to manage your wellness sans guilt, becoming more self-aware and confident, Stinson says.

AgriSafe runs a mental health hotline for farmers in Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia called the AgriStress Helpline. When someone calls, they’ll be connected to a person trained to help farmers and ranchers. KSUT has more.

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.