September 9, 2022
By Courtney Wise
Good morning, MindSite News readers. An opinion piece calls for giving kids a smartphone when they’re…..30? A potential backlash against psychedelic therapy hype. The Celtics’ Grant Williams talks to rookies about mental health. Plus: It’s a frightening world out there, but Harvard professor Arthur Brooks advises teaching your child about love rather than fear.
Kids and smartphones are a bad mix
It’s no coincidence that as the smartphone has evolved, so have rates of depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance abuse, and suicide. That’s “The Big Idea” of Kara Miller’s latest Boston Globe column by the same name. “Parents sometimes joke that they’re fine with their kids starting to date — if they wait until they’re 30,” Miller writes. “I haven’t sorted out my feelings on dating yet. But waiting until 30 sounds just about right when it comes to buying a kid a phone.”
Kids know as well as adults that they’re on their phones too much, Miller says, but parents have largely relinquished their moral authority since they’re constantly tied to their own devices. That leaves kids with few barriers to keep them from using social media and YouTube as “mood regulators” to manage boredom, anger and anxiety.
So what’s the “right age” to give your kid a phone? Carl Marci, a Harvard professor, Massachusetts General Hospital physician, and author of Rewired: Protecting Your Brain in the Digital Age, prefers 18 – but knows that’s unrealistic. So he encourages parents to hold out if they can and to wait until high school to give their kids a cellphone. Good luck!
Could psychedelic therapy hype lead to a hallucinogenic backlash?
Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics have obviously permeated the media over the last year or so as potentially powerful treatments for behavioral health disorders ranging from depression to addiction.
Small studies (total participants number in the low hundreds, according to a review published in January) have found moderate benefits when the drugs are paired with therapy to help patients process their experience, a key point that gets drowned out in the hype and torrent of misinformation. Public opinion has morphed into ballot questions, with votes to legalize psilocybin scheduled for November in Colorado and Oregon. Manufacturers, distributors and testing labs are already planning for the big day.
But scientists who five years ago shared their belief that psilocybin could revolutionize mental health now worry about a backlash if it doesn’t, Wired magazine reports in a story headlined “Is the Psychedelic Therapy Bubble About toBurst?” A new JAMA Psychiatry opinion piece with a similar title argues that the country is in the midst of what the authors call a psychedelic hype bubble.
People with severe mental illness for whom hallucinogens represent a last-ditch effort after all other treatment has failed will suffer the most when rigorous studies eventually inform a more realistic view of their benefits, according to co-author David Yaden, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As Yaden, who studies the subjective effects of psychedelics, told Wired: “They’re going to feel, I think, cheated.” – Don Sapatkin
In other news…
Harvard professor and best-selling author Arthur C. Brooks’ recent column for The Atlantic notes that parents worry an average of 37 hours a week about their children. Naturally, this may translate into countless warnings about their safety. But Brooks makes a compelling, evidence-based case that over-emphasizing so-called “dangerous world” beliefs does more to hurt children than protect them. Instead, he writes, “Let them know that people are made for love—we all crave it, and we can find something lovable in just about everyone we meet. We don’t always give it or accept it, because we make a lot of mistakes, but love is what all our hearts desire. If you want to give your children a rule to live by, this one is a much safer bet.” – Don Sapatkin
Mental health problems rose during the pandemic, but so did mental health treatment, Time magazine reported yesterday. The biggest rise occurred among the youngest adults, ages 18 to 44.
The Celtics’ Grant Williams is talking to basketball rookies about mental health, reports CBS. Mental health is “probably the No. 1 most important thing in the league, more so than even your physical health,” Williams said. Among other things, he noted that enduring a slump and death threats from fans can be devastating, but “to be able to say you came out on the other side is amazing.”
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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