April 27, 2022
By Courtney Wise
Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s newsletter, new research explores what baby teeth can tell us about the stresses a child has been exposed to and their future mental health. A new urgent care service for mental health opens in Detroit. And do laws against interstate therapy limit freedom of speech?
Can baby teeth predict future mental health conditions?
It sounds incredible, but a close examination of your kindergartener’s teeth may predict their risk of mental illness. Etched with tiny biomarkers that may offer insight into our futures, “teeth are thought to be almost like fossil records of our early life experience,” says Erin C. Dunn, a social and psychiatric epidemiologist.
As they grow, human baby teeth develop tiny stress lines that researchers can examine under a microscope once the teeth are cut open. One such line, the neonatal line, is believed to differentiate between a child’s in-womb and after-birth experiences. Dunn told Discover that science still isn’t sure why the neonatal line forms, but they think that its size reflects the level of stress experienced during a child’s birth. The wider the line, the worse the stress. So, what’s that got to do with mental health?
Well, recent studies suggest that childhood adversity may significantly increase the likelihood that someone develops a mental illness. And as “teeth develop in parallel with the brain,” it made scientists like Dunn wonder about the relationship between the width of a child’s neonatal line, in combination with the mental wellness of their mother during and after pregnancy. Is there a correlation?
So far, Dunn’s team has found that pregnant mothers who reported mental health challenges and greater stressors gave birth to children with wider neonatal lines, while mothers who reported significant social support during their pregnancies had children with thinner lines. For Dunn, it was an indication that “teeth may not just hold biological records of risk factors, but protective ones, too.”
Detroit nonprofit opening new virtual urgent care for mental health
Common Ground, a 24-hour crisis services nonprofit based in Michigan’s Oakland County, is launching a virtual Behavioral Health Urgent Care aimed at addressing the growing need for immediate mental health support in the region. The new “on-demand” center, slated to open Monday, May 2, will help people needing urgent counseling sessions or even medication refills if they can’t get through to their regular provider. The best part is that appointments will be available days, nights, and weekends.
“The time is really good because there is such a high need out there in our community right now,” Heather Rae, Common Ground’s president and CEO, told the Detroit Free Press. “The pandemic has caused so much stress and anxiety for so many people. For those who were already struggling, this has tipped them into really needing to reach out for care.”
The program currently operates a 24-hour crisis call center and brick-and-mortar programs for adults in Pontiac and for adolescents in Royal Oak. The virtual center aims to assist people with urgent, rather than crisis, needs so wait times could run as long as 90 minutes. For that reason, people feeling suicidal or facing an emergency should still call 911. The program also plans to open a new brick-and-mortar urgent care facility in the months ahead.
A “visit” to the urgent care won’t be cheap. Evaluations start at $220, with therapy sessions beginning at an additional $75 for 30 minutes, and going up from there. Common Ground encourages potential patients to check with their insurance carrier to confirm coverage in advance.
A late ADHD diagnosis is better than never
After struggling for years to focus on tasks like reading, sweeping or even washing the dishes, 25-year-old Ahmed Hassanin of Canada finally has an answer for his difficulty staying on task. Last fall, the computer engineering graduate student was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. “I’m learning to work with it, rather than fight it,” he told the CBC in a story about getting diagnosed and the impact it’s had.
Janet McDonald, a Canadian counselor who specializes in helping people manage ADHD, said that getting a diagnosis “can be like finding a missing piece of the puzzle.” People who struggle in school or work may have suffered from low self-esteem, and high achievers might even be challenged by their diagnosis, thinking that they “do too well” to have ADHD. Still, as helpful as it is, a diagnosis may just provide the piece that brings the puzzle’s picture into focus. Six months later, Hassanin is still working to find a treatment that works for him.
In other news…
Remote work has plenty of advantages, but there’s a big downside to it that’s cropped up during the pandemic: Call it presenteeism, or working while sick. Though people may feel compelled to go home or call in sick when working at the office, many feel pressure to push through with the illness when working from home. Inverse, a digital science site. has the scoop on this “worldwide phenomenon,” which is also a public health hazard, resulting in mental burnout and costing companies money.
Conducting therapy across state lines can be against the law. A therapist and her lawyer say that violates her First Amendment rights. All Elizabeth Brokamp, a licensed professional counselor based in Virginia, wants to do is continue providing telehealth therapy to clients who have moved out of her home state – in this case right next door to Washington D.C. In an op-ed published by USA Today, attorney Rob Johnson says Brokamp has the right to free speech, so he filed suit he filed on her behalf to challenge the District of Columbia’s restrictions on virtual therapy by out-of-state counselors.
Perpetrators of crime are often also victims of crime and violence. In an article marking Crime Victims Week, JSTOR Daily examines the dichotomy between criminal and crime victim by considering the traumas experienced by the incarcerated population in the US and the dearth of mental health services that can help people heal.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.
A close look at protests over mental health programs at school suggest that the powerful forces driving them are anything but grassroots.
A new generation of activists from the Young Women’s Freedom Center is working to change the system and themselves.
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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.