Tuesday, January 3, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers, and welcome to my first newsletter of 2023. Today, we’ll explore the effort to address mental health needs in Dearborn, home to the largest Muslim community in the US. Also: tips on making New Year’s resolutions relevant, addressing trouble on Love Island, and a peer-to-peer solution for veterans.

City and community agencies partner to address mental health crisis for nation’s largest Muslim community

In Dearborn, Michigan, the city’s police department and public health department are working with an Arab community group to address a growing mental health crisis in the Muslim community. Dearborn, home to the largest per capita number of Muslims in the nation, has seen a 31% increase in mental health calls from December 2021 to December 2022, Police Chief Issa Shahin told the Detroit News. Mental health issues are challenging due to community stigma surrounding mental illness, said Harnada Hamid Altalib, president of the Institute for Muslim Mental Health. A July 2021 study in JAMA Psychiatry showed US Muslims twice as likely to have attempted suicide than members of other religious groups.

“You have challenges in all cultures, including a stigma about mental health and a resistance to talking about it, but there are some things that are particularly salient to Muslim culture,” said Altalib. “You have a mistrust of the system if you’re an immigrant and not in your home country, and there’s a reluctance to see a doctor. Specific to Muslims, there’s a concern about Islamophobia in the system.” 

Ali Abazeed, the city’s public health director, said there’s a need for increased community outreach efforts to nudge Arab Americans to get the mental health care they need and to encourage more Arab Americans to enter the field. He also hopes recent programs launched by the city will help mental health crises from becoming police situations. “It starts with normalizing it, and maybe removing the label of ‘mental health’ and just calling it ‘health,'” Abazeed said. “Anxiety and depression in a post-pandemic world are on the rise, especially in communities that have a strong ethnic enclave like here in Dearborn, and we must recognize the limitations of the criminal justice system and try a different approach.”

Set any resolutions? Make sure they’re SMART

Time seems to crawl in the final week of the year, but as soon as the clock strikes 12:01 on January 1, the pace picks up again. If you’re already getting anxious about staying on track to meet New Year goals, NPR’s Morning Edition has some insights for maximizing achievement.

Image: Shutterstock

The key, says Houston-based therapist Keisha Moore-Medina, is time management. She guides her clients to meet their goals by teaching them the five-point SMART strategy for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Developed in the 1980s, it helps people organize their time around their goals. Of the five, relevancy may be paramount. And that means your goals should align with who you are and what you want.

“It’s easy to sort of get distracted or to get out of touch with the things we really care about, or maybe just people telling us what to do,” said Ken Sheldon, author of Freely Determined: What the New Psychology of Self Teaches Us About How To Live. “You can grit your way through it and you can get it done,” he said, “but you may not feel any better when you finish.” But if you pick a goal you really care about, “you’ll both get it done and you’ll feel better when you’re done.”

Following suicides, Love Island producers pledge to look out for contestants’ mental health

Via Twitter

Reality TV may be one of the last places you’d expect producers to emphasize mental health, but that’s now happening for cast members on the upcoming season of the Love Island dating show. Since 2018, two previous contestants and a former host have died by suicide. In response, the production team has changed several parts of the behind-the-scenes process, according to Glamour. Sure to be noticed: the absence of contestants from all social media while on the show. The move will “protect both the Islanders and their families from the adverse effects of social media,” producers told Glamour.

The show will require sign-offs from contestants’ primary care doctors, engage cast members in psychological assessments and continue to make mental health professionals accessible to them during the season. Contestants will also get video training led by the show’s executive producer and former participants on how to cope with constant surveillance, how to deal with social media trolls, and how to adjust to life once the show ends. When their time on the show ends and they return home, contestants will also be offered up to eight therapy sessions.

In other news…

A national shortage of Adderall, a medication widely used for ADHD, is putting a spotlight on the condition in women. According to a report from NBC News, ADHD symptoms often show up in childhood, but manifest differently between genders. “There’s been an increase in women diagnosed with ADHD over the last several years because of an increasing recognition that it’s not just the disruptive, impulsive behavior of boys that leads to a diagnosis,” said David Goodman, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Arkansas Money and Politics offered a brief look at Warrior PATHH, a peer-based mental health program designed to help combat veterans and first responders recover from the trauma of their professional experiences through physical activity and outdoor adventures. 

“The mainstream mental health and apparatus structure wasn’t working well for many veterans and first responders,” said Chris Jackson, Warrior PATHH’s director. “This is not therapy, it’s training and people sharing experiences from peer to peer — no doctors or therapists.” He says the organization’s data show the program to be working, producing “enormous shifts” in some participants. 

Force commonly used against mentally ill in Pennsylvania jails. In October, MindSite News published an investigation from WITF reporter Brett Sholtis that found corrections officers frequently use physical force on prisoners in the throes of a mental health crisis. Earlier this week, NPR’s All Things Considered broadcast a new audio story from Sholtis examining these use-of-force incidents in Pennsylvania.

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...