Wednesday, June 28, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Greetings, MindSite News readers! In today’s Daily: A look at how reiki practice may support mental and emotional health. A push by Gov. Gavin Newsom to redirect mental health funds divides advocates and policymakers. Tips on managing anxious coworkers so the work gets done. Plus, Alabama lawmakers need to find new funding to keep the 988 crisis hotline operating.

Newsom’s push to redirect mental health funds divides mental health advocates

Earlier this year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a proposal to redirect a big chunk of state mental health funding to address the twin problems of severe mental illness and homelessness. “We have to address and come to grips with the reality of mental health in this state and our nation,” Newsom said at the time.

The proposal has opened a split among mental health advocates, Cal Matters reported. Sacramento mayor and Newsom ally Darrell Steinberg is a strong supporter. The former Senate Majority Leader helped craft the 1% “millionaire’s tax” approved by voters in 2004 that last year raised $3.8 billion for mental health. Steinberg says the state needs to direct money where it is most urgently needed, rather than allowing counties to spend their share of the money “without any clear state and societal priorities driving their investments.”

Critics, including children’s mental health advocates and county behavioral health officials, say the proposal will hamstring their ability to use money flexibly. “They don’t seem to have done any analysis on what they’re giving up to have this $1 billion for housing,” Lishaun Francis, senior director of behavioral health at Children Now, told Cal Matters.  “It’s an interesting time to make a change that seemingly shifts resources away from young people.” 

Adrienne Shilton, senior policy advocate for the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, says the proposal would actually reduce funds for youth prevention and early intervention. “In the current structure, there’s a requirement that 51% of prevention and early intervention funds are spent on children and youth. We’ve lost all of that,” Shilton said.

The legislature must approve the details of the measure before it ends its session in September. It would then go before voters in March 2024.

Can reiki therapy improve mental and emotional health?

Reiki, a form of energy medicine rooted in the belief that energy flows through our bodies, was the subject of a piece in yesterday’s LA Times. Reiki practitioners work to remove blocks within energy flow in order to relieve pain, aid relaxation, and reduce other symptoms of mental and physical anguish. The modern practice dates back about 100 years to the teachings of Japanese scholar Mikao Usui, according to the book Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy

“Usui studied, fasted and meditated to seek an understanding of life,” wrote authors Ellen Zambo Anderson and Cindy Wolk-Weiss. At some point, he received “a powerful form of energy now known as reiki. He realized that this energy gave him a remarkable ability to heal and that he could easily transfer the ability to access and use this energy to anyone.” 

Users liken the therapy to the most basic care, like a mother’s kiss on a child’s ‘boo-boo,’ explained writer Jordan Kisner. “A hospital patient awaiting surgery or chemotherapy might feel relieved, in that hectic and stressful setting, to have someone place a hand gently and unhurriedly where the hurt or fear is with the intention of alleviating any suffering,” Kisner said. The practice is growing because of its focus on the physical body and spirit, which can be neglected in favor of western therapies that target the mind, said Kenneth Cohen, a reiki practitioner. The two methods, reiki and talk therapy, can be used to complement one another, rather than be treated as ‘either/or’ options. 

Some researchers assert reiki’s power lies in the placebo effect, but the Times article cited two studies, one from Yale and another from Harvard, that support claims of the practice’s healing potential for heart attack recovery and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Should you consider reiki for yourself, beware of where you go for service. It’s an unregulated practice and not covered by insurance. Seeking guidance from organizations like the International Association of Reiki Practitioners, the International Reiki Association, and The Reiki Alliance are good places to start. 

Anxious coworkers can make the workplace difficult. Here are some tips for managers

Anxiety can wreak havoc, including at the workplace. Two major types are seen in the office, reports the Washington Post: controlling and overdependent. A coworker with ‘controlling’ anxiety can become openly hostile in the face of disagreement or when things don’t happen according to plan. The person with overdependent anxiety demonstrates a capacity for success and shares great ideas, but fails to execute without excessive reassurance or micromanaging. In either case, work can be delayed or left undone. So what’s a manager to do?

Since perfectionism and low confidence are often the culprits, it can help to set clear expectations that both parties agree on: What are the goals – and what would success look like? Regular assessment meetings can be helpful, with clear, specific, and nonjudgmental feedback. It may also help to reinforce the importance of flexibility when things don’t go according to plan. In the case of coworkers who struggle with procrastination, try breaking up projects into mini-deadlines, to help them see success and build confidence on the road to completion. And don’t forget to encourage them to discover their own solutions to challenges.

In other news…

What now for the 988 crisis line in Alabama? Lawmakers rejected a bill to fund the hotline with a 98-cent monthly fee on phone lines, so now they have to figure out how to keep it running. State mental health officials may lobby for a similar bill next year or make an appeal for support from the state’s General Fund. Either way, talks are necessary, the Alabama Daily News reported. “This summer, we’ll be having conversations, particularly with members of the legislature, to sit down and say, from a policy perspective, what is the best way to continue to expand these crisis services statewide,” Kim Boswell, Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner, told the News.

Can nutritional supplements alleviate depression? Possibly, say researchers including Sebnem Unluisler, chief longevity officer at the London Regenerative Institute. An article in Medical News Today explored the science. It noted that one large study found nutritional supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium were no better at preventing depression than placebos but that a Mediterranean diet might help. A 2022 meta-analysis of 41 studies found a possible benefit from Vitamin D for depression. Other studies have found hints of benefit from Vitamin B6, from probiotics to alter the gut microbiome and from St. John’s wort. Read the article for a fuller rundown with plenty of caveats.

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 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...