June 22, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s edition, a Black father and mental health counselor encourages Black dads to let their children be vulnerable. Green spaces make people happy, and you can measure that. And states and the federal government are making it tougher to get telehealth – and that really doesn’t make sense.

Black fathering, and the importance of being vulnerable

Photo: Shutterstock

That Father’s Day fell on Juneteenth this year was a joyous coincidence for author, professor and mental health professional Michael D. Hannon. “We can celebrate Black fathers who are doing their best to protect, provide and prepare their families for success, while also acknowledging the spirit and the resilience and the pursuit of freedom among Black people in this country,” he told the New York Times

The timing also brought Hannon’s book, Black Fathering and Mental Health: Black Fathers’ Narratives on Raising Their Children Across the Family Life Cycle, back to the forefront. Originally released in March, the book is a collection of essays from Black fathers, aspiring fathers, and mental health professionals on the unique challenges and victories of raising children in an anti-Black world. Some of the essays in the book focus on the need for parents to allow and encourage their children to express themselves and be vulnerable – especially in the case of Black fathers with their boys.  

“It’s important for Black fathers, and Black parents, to create the kind of environment where their children and their family members can express their vulnerabilities in ways that are accurate and precise,” Hannon said. “Hopefully, the expression of that vulnerability is treated with care and not treated as being something wrong or something pathological or something that’s not manly or not fatherly.”

Greenery in urban spaces – it’s good for our moods

Photo: Shutterstock

We can all benefit from more green space, even us dedicated big city dwellers. Using the magic of VR, French researchers from the University of Lille had three dozen participants walk along a virtual urban landscape with changing colors and vegetation. They found that participants were more engaged, walked more slowly and had higher heart rates when they saw more greenery in their environment. They also tended to keep their heads tuned to the environment more, rather than towards the ground. The results demonstrate that color and greenspace make the environment more pleasurable, Yvonne Delevoye-Turrell, the study’s lead author, told the Guardian

“Most people appreciate nature in cities – they find it beautiful, and they usually react with anger when it’s taken away,” Michal Matlon, an architecture psychologist and consultant who was not involved in the study, told the Guardian. Yet, “they don’t fully understand how beneficial spending time in nature is. We often underappreciate the compounding effects that enriching ordinary places with nature can have.”

Telehealth becoming less available

Photo: Shutterstock

More and more states are making it tough for people to continue seeing doctors in other states through the use of telehealth technology, according to a report from NBC News. These rollbacks are caused by the expiration of pandemic-era emergency health orders that allowed doctors licensed in one state to practice via telehealth in others. “Most states now are back to the pre-pandemic licensure rules, where you must be licensed in our state if you’re going to see patients in our state,” said Brian Hasselfeld, a doctor at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland. The change will require some patients to find new doctors or travel long distances if they don’t wish to make a switch.

It’s a problem, says Linda Branagan, the director of telehealth programs at the University of California, San Francisco. She said the swift changes in state laws and regulations are “operationally untenable,” especially for vulnerable patients. “We have asked patients to come on site who we normally would see by video,” she said. “They’re either financially fragile or clinically fragile or both.” That poses challenges for certain health specialties, including mental health.

Payment for telehealth is another issue. Medicare began waiving restrictions on remote visits in March 2020, but unless Congress takes action, that waiver will expire in mid-July.

In other news…

Can being optimistic help us live longer? A study published earlier this month in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society suggests that’s the case. Barbara Ehrenreich might disagree, but lead author Hayami Koga, a PhD candidate at Harvard, told Inverse: “I hope that people will think about the importance of positive resources, such as optimism, that may be beneficial to our health — especially if we see that these benefits are seen across racial and ethnic groups.” To be clear, optimism doesn’t mean only seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Rather, it means having a general expectation that that while bad things do happen, good things outnumber the bad ones.

Fatboy Slim is using his skills at the turntables to improve mental health. The world-famous DJ partnered with the British charity Heads On to teach a DJ class to people with severe mental health challenges. “Sometimes I can get a bit blasé about what I do for a job,” he told The Guardian. But “seeing that innocent joy about the way you can manipulate music: it’s exciting, it centers you, it gives you a nice warm feeling. So it’s joyful to see people who’ve been struggling going through that process.” You can see him in action in this 90-second piece from CBS News.

In the face of anti-trans legislation, trans joy is an act of protest and defiance, says Gillian Branstetter in an op-ed for Common Dreams. “There is a stark difference between naive optimism and conscious, purposeful joy,” he writes. “Neither progress nor defeat is inevitable, and buying into either myth can mute the motivation needed to fight for real, lasting change.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889. Services are free and available 24/7.

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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...