Wednesday, April 5, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Greetings, MindSite News readers. In today’s Daily, anxiety and depression rose among children in Chicago schools during the pandemic and it increased the most among Latinx kids. We also consider the difference between being empathetic and being an empath. Some ADHD patients face uneven demands for drug testing from their physicians. Plus, youth in the UK lament the climate crisis. And more.

The pandemic was tough on young people. In Chicago, it was hardest on Latinx kids.

It’s no secret that kids had a tough time during the pandemic. Now a new study that looked at Chicago public school students in grades 5 to 8 who were referred for services showed that rates of depression and anxiety rose as the pandemic wore on. It also found that the greatest increases in these conditions were seen in Latinx youth. The findings were published online March 31 in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

Photo: Shutterstock

Researchers led by Antonio J. Polo from DePaul University in Chicago looked at depression and anxiety scores from 1,220 fifth- through eighth-grade students referred for services at three phases – before the pandemic, during the pandemic’s first year when students were receiving on-line instruction, and again the following year when in-person instruction resumed. Scores rose for all children. Compared to non-Latinx students, more than twice as many Latinx students fell in the clinical range for generalized anxiety in the first year of the pandemic and for social anxiety in the second year.

“Families were in isolation and withdrawn from others for prolonged periods,” Polo and his colleagues noted in a statement. “The children received instruction via video conferencing for over one year. They did not have the opportunities for natural and less restrictive socialization. Additionally, mental health services were severely disrupted and often unavailable to Latinx youth, especially those from uninsured and of low-income backgrounds.”

Being empathetic doesn’t make you an empath. Here’s how to tell the difference

Showing empathy means you can relate to or understand someone else’s feelings. Empaths, by contrast, experience others’ feelings as their own – and can become overwhelmed in the process. Linda Yoon, an LA-based therapist who specializes in working with empaths, said there are three types: emotional, physical, and spiritual. People may be one type or all three, she told the LA Times for its Group Therapy newsletter.

Emotional empaths might be the most recognizable in pop culture. They actually absorb someone else’s emotions, along with the sensations and energy of the feelings. Physical empaths experience the pain or discomfort others have in their body. Spiritual empaths are highly attuned to the energies of spirit, possessing deep intuition.

So, what if you are an empath? What can you do to avoid emotional and mental overwhelm? The article points to several protective strategies that are useful for empaths and the general population, including: setting firm boundaries, getting plenty of fresh air, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in creative activities to give your own emotions a safe place to go.

Patients using ADHD medications face drug testing and stigma

Talk about inconsistency. Some ADHD patients never have their urine tested. Others get tested several times a year in order to maintain their prescriptions. The idea is to confirm that patients are safely taking their pills and not selling them or taking too many. The requirements across providers and health insurers vary widely – and leave some patients feeling stigmatized.

Travis Gordon has been treated for ADHD at the same clinic for 10 years. When he was first prescribed medication, no testing was required. A few years later, the clinic began requesting a quarterly urine sample. He wasn’t really tested at all during the pandemic. Now, he’s back to screenings every six months. “We shouldn’t have to feel like street criminals to get drugs that are needed for our daily success,” Gordon told Kaiser Health News.

In other news…

Chicago libraries offer mental health services: A partnership between Chicago’s Department of Public Health and the city’s public libraries makes free counseling available to residents age 13 and up at four library branches in the city. “Offering care in libraries opens a new world of access beyond our own clinics and those of our partner agencies,” Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said in a press release. “Together we are building a comprehensive system of community-based mental health support for all Chicagoans.” Library Commissioner Chris Brown called public libraries “community anchors for the city’s diverse neighborhoods.”

Vintage video games like Pong and Tetris helped players achieve states of “zen-like flow” by accident. But by the early 2000s, game designers approached promoting players’ meditation or mindfulness as a goal, rather than a happy surprise. To that end, Mashable offers up a list of 13 video games intended to arouse players into a meditative state, most of which were released within the past decade.

Growing numbers of adolescents and young adults in the UK feel dread about their future as a result of the climate crisis, the Guardian reports. According to a recent survey by the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, almost three-quarters of youth ages 16 to 24 said the climate crisis is negatively affecting their mental health. That’s up from nearly two-thirds of youth three years ago. 

“I am on antidepressants but I don’t think this is a solution,” said Jem, a 24-year-old who has lost sleep from worrying about the climate. “Antidepressants can’t fix things when it’s an external problem. It’s the world we have created that is causing these issues…I know the science and the stark realities of it. There’s no fix to the anxiety because you know [the climate] is going to get worse.”

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 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...