December 15, 2022
By Diana Hembree and Courtney Wise
Hello MindSite News readers,
Today we bring you a review of the new documentary on the mental health struggles of megastar Selena Gomez, who has navigated a high-pressure career while grappling with bipolar disorder. Only 30 years old, Gomez is a sought-after actor, singer, producer, entrepreneur and advocate. But another reason she is such a good role model for Generation Z is that she shows everyone in her orbit – including her legions of fans – exceptional kindness, empathy and grace.
Also in this issue: Dr. Barbara Greenberg’s advice for a teen who has the winter blues, Black psychiatrists treating Black kids, and schools and climate change.
“My Mind & Me”: New documentary on Selena Gomez’s journey with bipolar disorder
In this issue, we share our review of “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” written by arts and culture writer Sarah Henry, on a gripping new documentary about Gomez’s struggles with bipolar illness.
As Henry notes, Gomez began working at age 7 and hasn’t stopped since. She was born to teenage parents – her father is of Mexican heritage, her Mom of Italian descent – and she was raised largely by her maternal grandparents in modest circumstances in Texas. She moved to Los Angeles at age 11 and spent her high school years being taught on set. At age 16, she signed her first record deal. Diagnosed with bipolar illness after a psychotic break in 2018, she felt a giant sense of relief: “I felt a huge weight lifted off me when I found out. I could take a deep breath and go, ‘Okay, that explains so much.’”
Despite her mental health challenges, she’s had an enormously successful career in singing, acting and producing, serving as executive producer on the Netflix series “Living Undocumented” and on “13 Reasons Why,” which traces the aftermath of a high school student’s suicide, as well as the Netflix comedy-mystery hit series “Only Murders in the Building,” which stars Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short as podcasting sleuthes. Mental illness will always be part of her life, but Gomez is grateful to be alive – and to be, in her words, a work in progress. “I struggle with my own thoughts and feelings at times, but this does not make me faulty,” she says. “It does not make me weak, it does not make me less than.It makes me human.” Read the whole review here.
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Ask Barbara: Advice from a Teen Psychologist
“My teenage son tends to get the winter blues. He’s been reading up on it and thinks he has seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Should I worry?”
Dr. Barbara Greenberg responds with advice on how to deal with a teen son who has SAD — or one who may simply have the winter blues.
If you have a question about your marriage or parenting kids, teens or young adults, send them to Dr. Greenberg, co-author of Teenage as a Second Language, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A team of Black psychiatrists is shifting outcomes for Black children in Atlanta
In Atlanta, as in other cities, wrongly labeling a Black child as “disruptive” or “hostile” rather than “depressed” may set that child on a collision course with disaster. A 2019 analysis in the journal Families and Society showed Black youth are more likely to be diagnosed with disorders related to hostility or aggression than their White peers—even when their symptoms are similar. Inaccurately labeling a child as hostile or threatening can lead to the wrong care, improper medication and worse.
Enter Morehouse College in Atlanta, where a team of Black psychiatrists is shifting outcomes for Black youth through high-quality, consistent, and culturally sensitive care, according to The New York Times. The cultural competency of the all-Black Morehouse team is helping shift children’s school journeys and potentially eliminate future encounters with the justice system or school disciplinarians.
It’s something that some residents on the team know well: Dr. Brittany Stallworth was in the fifth grade when she received her first suspension for “promoting gang activity” – for wearing lime-green shirts with four other girls to celebrate the birthday of a friend whose favorite color was green. But being Black psychiatrists isn’t the magic bullet; it’s that their work is “anti-racist clinical care,” said Eraka Bath, a psychiatrist at UCLA, explaining the team takes into account the reality of societal forces such as structural racism and bias.
Take one teen who was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder. On closer examination, it turned out a policeman had recently pulled a gun on him when he “was hanging out with his friends.” His father had been roughed up by the police. Some teens were challenging him, looking for weaknesses. The Morehouse resident concluded the teen’s outbursts occurred when he was provoked, not as part of a psychiatric disorder. Said the resident: “I told him, man to man, and Black man to Black man, this is something we all have to deal with.”
In other news
Signs of climate change are clearly on the radar of teens across the nation—and they’re stressed about it, according to MindSite News and other publications. In a story on teens and climate change in EdWeek, the publication found that 37 percent of US teens are anxious about climate change and its effects, while more than a third admit to feeling afraid, with many feeling helpless and overwhelmed. So what can be done to help? Experts believe schools are a great place to start, according to the Washington Post, although few are ready for the tsunami of eco-anxiety. The Climate Mental Health Network is partnering to develop social-emotional learning resources for middle schoolers by next year that promote resilience, connection and climate-related action, rather than a growing sense of anxiety and dread.
What’s the best way to talk to LBQTQ kids about discriminatory legislation—or simply unprovoked meanness—especially when your own family is the one being targeted? Let kids steer the conversation, Dr. Jamiee Arnoff, told The Cut. Allowing them to guide the conversation “promotes a level of openness and security.” Meanwhile, talking can happen at just about any age—even as young as 4. Emphasize that whatever people hold as their own opinions, treating people equally and with respect is non-negotiable.
“It’s really hard to imagine we will grow old.” It’s a heartbreaking sentiment from Teen Vogue’s series Beyond Thoughts and Prayers, a journalistic retrospective marking 10 years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and examining the impact of gun violence on youth mental health.
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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The name “MindSite News” is used with the express permission of Mindsight Institute, an educational organization offering online learning and in-person workshops in the field of mental health and wellbeing. MindSite News and Mindsight Institute are separate, unaffiliated entities that are aligned in making science accessible and promoting mental health globally.
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