November 10, 2022
By Diana Hembree
Good morning, MindSite News readers. Do you have a child or relative with severe mental illness? If so, you may be especially interested in this issue, in which we discuss recent findings on the value of family support and connection in treating children suffering from schizophrenia and other ills that involve psychosis. Research suggests that getting involved with your children’s treatment — including sessions involving cognitive behavioral therapy — not only greatly improves their healing, it can be a lifeline for you, too.
Also in this edition: Dr. Barbara Greenberg answers a frustrated teen’s question about weight, body image and Mom. Five things your kids want you to know about their mental health. The importance of indigenous comics. And more.
Kids and psychosis: The value of family support
If you have a child with serious mental illness, fear, burnout and exhaustion may be taking a high toll on you – especially if psychosis is involved.
As you likely know, psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which people’s thoughts and emotions are out of touch with external reality. What’s heartening is that the research community is finding that early intervention – from primary care doctors, case managers, psychiatrists, therapists and yes, family members – can help turn things around. Not only can parents, siblings and other family members play a key role in the treatment of this daunting illness through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), they can help ease their own pain and exhaustion through the same techniques, according to a powerful Seattle Times interview with Dr. Sarah Kopelovich, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at UW Medicine.
Just as families are educated and involved in their loved ones’ diabetes or asthma treatments, we need family interventions for mental illness, she says – especially to help build a sense of connection. “There’s some misconception that people with psychosis are hostile or potentially violent,” Kopelovich says. “More often than not, they’re scared that other people mean to do them harm. And so they build a wall around themselves.”
“Having a serious mental illness is incredibly isolating, incredibly lonely,” she added. “We need to get people reconnected, which is where therapy and families can play a huge role.” Research shows that integrating family with treatment, Kopelovich says, has led to fewer psychotic episodes, fewer hospital admissions, and better engagement with treatment, as well as better mood and quality of life, better work performance and reduced substance use. (You can find out more by contacting Psychosis REACH, which offers training sessions and on-demand courses on CBT for friends and relatives of people with psychosis, and by checking out our Research Roundups, which include articles written by Dr. Tom Insel and other scientists on the importance of family support for people with psychosis and good news on psychosis interventions and recovery,)
Ask Barbara: Advice from a Teen Psychologist
A 15-year-old girl is overweight, hates her body and thinks her mom’s “inner beauty” pep talk is hypocritical and cringe-y. Dr. Greenberg gives her some other ways to think about body image.
If you have a question about parenting kids, teens or young adults, send them to Dr. Greenberg, co-author of Teenage as a Second Language and a member of the MindSite News editorial advisory board, at email@example.com. (Teens, you can send in questions about parents, too.) Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Make way for indigenous comic book heroes
Lee Francis was a Laguna Pueblo youngster when he first got hooked on comic books like Iron Man, but he couldn’t really find anyone like him in those pages, according to the Christian Science Monitor. But, the Monitor reported, he went on to found the only Native American comics book store in the world: Red Planet Books & Comics in Albuquerque, N.M. “It’s a joy to see Native folks come into the shop and be amazed at what we’re doing. To know how amazing it is to be able to tell our own stories,” says Dr. Francis, who has a PhD in education.
He’s been getting more company lately. The Cherokee Nation recently hosted “its first-ever comic convention,” according to Indian Country Today. “The power of the word and the images together…make the comic book the ideal medium to connect with mythic symbols, concealed histories, and tales of daring,” said Ariel Baska, a writer for Comics Book Showcase. The Cherokee Nation’s SkasdiCon comic festival follows the long-awaited release of a new Marvel comic featuring Spider-Man, written by Taboo, a Shoshone musician in the rapper group Black-Eyed Peas, with Marvel writer B. Earl, and illustrated by Argentine comic book artist Juan Ferreyra.
In other news…
“Dear Parents: Here are 5 things we teens want to tell you about our mental health” is the headline of an important Good Morning America story by our own Neha Chaudhary, MD, an advisory board member at MindSite News. Number One: “We don’t want you to fix us. We want you to listen.” And for anyone given to making light of kids’ concerns in the hope of reassuing them, pay special attention to Number Two: “Mental health isn’t a phase we are going to snap out of. Trust us when we say we need help.” Read the whole story here.
In Selena Gomez’s new documentary about her mental health, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” she reveals how being diagnosed with bipolar disorder changed her life and led her on a journey toward healing. In an incisive piece for Think, writer Patricia Grisafi suggests that Gomez doesn’t go quite far enough since she is “commodified” as a celebrity: It’s hard to stay on brand and be authentic at the same time. But as the talented young musician and actress says, “I’m a work in progress.”
In case you missed it: Early screening for trauma and learning disabilities can slow the school-to-prison pipeline. Don’t miss this remarkable story and mini-documentary from Youthcast Media Group, which trains student journalists in solutions journalism. We published this story yesterday in MindSite News and hope you get a chance to read it.
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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