September 8, 2022
By Courtney Wise
Good morning, MindSite News readers. In an upcoming book, physician and author Gabor Maté urges people to abandon the myth of ‘normal.’ California passes a landmark bill to protect children online. New questions about melatonin are cropping up. Plus: Join our live discussion about youth mental health and the making of the Ken Burns/WETA documentary Hiding in Plain Sight today, September 8, at 4 pm PT (see below). Hope to see you all there!
Doctor’s orders: Trade “normal” for something less toxic
Physician and author Gabor Maté wrote in his upcoming book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, that our Western habits of overwork, individual exceptionalism, and scrolling through social media every night until we pass out are killing us. “My own workaholism as a physician earned me much respect, gratitude, remuneration, and status in the world, even as it undermined my mental health and my family’s emotional balance,” he wrote. “I needed to be needed, wanted, and admired as a substitute for love. I never consciously decided to be driven that way, and yet it ‘worked’ all too well for me in the social and professional realms.”
Earlier this month, Maté sat down with Travis Lupick of Yes magazine to discuss his new book (co-written with his son Daniel) and explain what he’s learned about healing from the toxicity of our culture in his nearly 80 years of life. Chiefly, he says, we are designed to live and work together as a collective, not side-by-side in constant competition. And as he wrote about addiction in his book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Maté says many illnesses have psychological causes that need to be dealt with: “The people who are ill—mentally ill or physically ill—they’re not abnormal. These are normal responses to abnormal circumstances.”
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 Leah, a girl featured in Hiding in Plain Sight. In the film, Leah shares her experience growing up through her parents’ divorce and her battles with depression from spending time alone while her father worked two jobs to support the family.
Watch Leah’s clip on Twitter HERE
For more information regarding the film speakers and MindSite News interviewers for this special event, click HERE
California legislature’s sweeping law aimed at protecting children online
Many of the gaming and social media platforms we use employ algorithms, tracking apps, and other tools to keep us plugged in and focused on our screens. But with rising concerns about the mental health and safety risks these pose to children and teens, lawmakers in California have become the first in the nation to pass a bill requiring certain apps and websites to install protections for all users under 18, according to the New York Times.
Rather than attempt to regulate what online content is accessible to youth, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, or Kid’s Code, is designed to reduce the harm younger users might face when using apps and platforms. For instance, the New York Times reports, the measure “aims to hold online services to the same kinds of basic safety standards as the automobile industry — essentially requiring apps and sites to install the digital equivalent of seatbelts and airbags for younger users.” Among other things, it will help protect kids and teens from images that encourage or promote eating disorders, suicide and other forms of self-harm.
In other news…
Want to increase your productivity? Take a break. Findings from a recent systematic review and meta-analysis by Romanian researchers published in PLoS One say microbreaks of up to ten minutes are as integral to productivity as discipline and persistence, according to Inverse.com.
Melatonin is a common supplement taken by scores of people who struggle with falling asleep. Many feel comfortable taking it due to research suggesting that it doesn’t cause withdrawal or dependence like prescription sleep drugs, that more and more amounts aren’t typically needed for results, and that the experience of waking up isn’t accompanied by the grogginess associated with other sleep aids. But does that mean that melatonin isn’t addictive? The New York Times has a story on how more than one million users on TikTok say they can’t sleep without it—along with some tips from experts on how to start weaning themselves off it.
A Michigan public school counselor is getting attention for her habit of teaching students the ‘four pillars of self-care:’ physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. “We need to be taking care of these four circles in order to be okay,” Catherine Livingston said. The Utica Schools Counselor notes that parents and teachers should expect to see better grades and behavior from their students when all four areas are fulfilled. “If we start it and we continue with our students,” she told NPR affiliate KQED, “the next generation of adults …will have better coping skills than we have had.”
Wanted: Financial therapy. Your childhood experiences likely have an effect on your finances today, especially if your experiences surrounding money were traumatic. But shifting your financial mindset can improve your financial and mental wellbeing, according to licensed clinical professional counselor Joyce Marter in a column for Psychology Today. As part of the emerging field of financial therapy, she offers readers a handful of strategies to overcome mental habits that might lead to financial self-sabotage.
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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