March 21, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Greetings, MindSite News Readers! Today’s newsletter opens with the cast of Ted Lasso helping to promote mental health at the White House. Also: snapshots of happiness around the world, Oregonians get creative about bringing mental health care to rural residents, and more.

Ted Lasso’s road to the White House

via Twitter

Ted Lasso, an Apple TV program focused on the mental health struggles of a kind and relentlessly optimistic soccer coach, his team and a sports therapist premiered its third and final season last week. The show has championed mental health wellness throughout its run, as noted by Sarah Henry’s MindSite review back in 2021. “The feedback we’ve gotten from people on this show is so uniquely moving — and has been from the beginning for various reasons — but, when we added the therapy element, we heard back from a lot of different people about how therapy has helped their lives” said show co-creator and cast member Brendan Hunt. “And some people who were just finally taking the step to start therapy because of the show.”

The show’s focus on mental health is also being shared with the White House, reports ABC News, as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed the cast of “the show”Ted Lasso” to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to discuss the importance of talking about mental health. “President Biden has made addressing the mental health crisis a core pillar of his Unity Agenda,” said the White House in a statement. “His strategy is focused on training more providers, making care more affordable and accessible, and creating healthier and safer communities, including online.”

“How do you take a picture of happiness? We asked photographers to surprise us”

via Twitter

The International Day of Happiness is “a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world,” according to the United Nations. As part of this year’s theme –  “Be mindful. Be grateful. Be kind” –  NPR asked photographers from around the globe to send back images of people embodying joy, kindness, and gratitude. They succeeded, abundantly so, and brought this writer some happiness. We’re sharing the link to the blog post here to send some happiness your way, too.

California unveils new plan to address homelessness

via Twitter

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom has begun a campaign to rally voters’ support for his second major effort to address homelessness, mental health and substance use across the state. Over the weekend, he revealed a plan to greatly expand the number of treatment beds available for unhoused residents struggling with mental illness or substance use. According to the Sacramento Bee, Newsom’s goal is to build a “multi-pronged statewide initiative” for voters to consider in 2024 that will “modernize how California treats mental illness, substance use disorder and homelessness.”

“It’s unacceptable what we’re dealing with,” Newsom said at a press conference announcing the plan. “We have to address and come to grips with the reality of mental health in this state and our nation.” With this new initiative, Newsom hopes to use general obligation bonds to pay for the construction of multiple community mental health facilities across California. 

The plan has already seen pushback. Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, said that moving $1 billion of the $3.8 billion that counties expected to spend on dedicated mental health treatment to fund housing could force cuts to current services and imperil matching dollars from the federal government. “California can’t choose between funding mental health services in a time of critical need and addressing homelessness,” Doty Cabrera said. “We have to do both.”

Oregon is getting creative about making mental health care accessible to far-flung residents

via Twitter

Rural Oregonians face more limited access to mental health providers and treatment than their urban counterparts, and children are most negatively affected. Psychiatric care for children barely exists outside of Metro Portland, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting. Moreover, Oregon’s rural communities experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. “When you combine the economic environment with how challenging it is to earn a living producing food, it’s stressful,” said Allison Myers, Oregon State University’s Family and Community Health program lead. “You have this combination where folks are feeling alone, or where it’s not OK to talk about the stuff underneath.”

To that end, OSU and the state legislature have taken action to make mental health care more available in rural and coastal areas for both children and adults. For starters, OSU’s Coast to Forest program teaches mental health first aid, training residents how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental distress and how to broach  the subject of suicide with someone in crisis. As in other successful community mental health strategies, the idea is that people  unfamiliar with mental health providers might be more comfortable talking to folks they already know. “People who work in forestry and [agriculture] and youth development might have connections that behavioral health professionals don’t,” said Dusti Linnell, an associate professor with Extension Family & Community 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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Type of work:

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...