April 7, 2022

Good morning, MindSite News readers. Researchers have found that Generation Z is less likely to be having regular sex than their parents and grandparents. At least one expert has linked this phenomenon to increasing rates of social isolation in the current “loneliness epidemic.”

Plus: An Illinois bill, if passed, would help fund campus mental health reforms proposed in an earlier state law. Second-generation Asian Americans are having “the talk” with their parents for the first time. And emotional support animals haven’t gotten their due, declares one psychiatrist. Read on, for these stories and more.

Fewer Americans are having sex. What’s going on?

Ana Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock

Apparently, there’s a sex drought in the U.S. — and COVID isn’t to blame. That’s not to say that the pandemic hasn’t contributed to a drop in desire, but as recently as 2018 nearly 25% of Americans reported having no sex at all in the past year. According to an essay in New York Magazine, in that same time period, only 39% of Americans reported having intercourse once or more a week – a decrease of nearly 12% in just over two decades. And in case you were expecting an aging population of boomers and Gen Xers to be the cause, think again. It’s the Zoomers, also called Gen Z, born right at the turn of the millennium, who are romping a lot less than their parents and grandparents. 

Theories on the dearth of sex range from sexism to the influence of online porn to women’s increased economic independence. British economist Noreena Hertz suspects it’s not all about a growing lack of sexual desire, but rather increasing rates of social isolation that have spawned what she terms the “loneliness epidemic.” Her book, The Lonely Century, describes “a world that’s pulling apart,” and separating us to the extent that it’s diminishing our physical, sexual, and mental health – and the health of global democracy. Whatever the case, this thoughtful exposition is worth the read.

Illinois bill may fund campus action on student mental health

The Illinois legislature is expected to soon vote on a mental health bill that would finally fully fund the Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act, a law signed in 2019 that requires all public colleges and universities in Illinois to improve campus mental health education and resources for students. As written, the act would increase training and awareness of mental health issues, screen students for mental health problems, boost on-campus mental health treatment and peer support, and create a statewide Technical Assistance Center to assist in the roll-out of on-campus services. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that both campus leaders and mental health advocates hope to see it passed, not least because of a mental health crisis that Victoria Folse, a professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, said is causing “unprecedented” rates of stalled student progress. The plan at her school, and many others, is to hire more mental health staff and increase telecounseling services. The mental health need is so great, in fact, that Folse expects funding to simply help stop the continued hemorrhaging. “We have a significant and growing unmet need,” she told the Tribune. “These are students that are hurting and will continue to hurt into the future.”

Second-generation Asian Americans have “the talk” with their parents

In the face of racially motivated crimes against Asians, some second-generation Asian Americans say that for the first time, they’re having “the talk” about racism with their immigrant parents. In conversation with several families, the Los Angeles Times reported on the generational divide that exists in how Asian Americans view racism and the rise in anti-Asian hate that prompted unprecedented household discussions.

Demonstration in Washington, D.C, against attacks on Asians, March 12, 2021.
Credit: bgrocker/Shutterstock

Becky Chen, 18, told the paper that she was so nervous about her mother’s potential response that she pretended her questions were a required part of a school assignment. But it gave her the first opportunity she’d had to bond with her mother about her immigrant experience – and to have a tough conversation about Asian American prejudice against other groups. That nuance leaves younger Asian Americans like Chen concerned for both their elders’ safety and frustrated with their elders’ lack of concern about the plight of non-Asians. 

As Manjusha Kilkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said, “Those older folks just said ‘we didn’t pay attention to the discrimination’ or even ‘there is no discrimination because we did well enough to own a home, a pool and a two-car garage.” Recognizing the strength it took to carve a life for themselves in a new world, many first-generation Americans are unwilling to perceive themselves as victims. Their children, on the other hand, wish to honor their parent’s achievements while also bringing them to a greater understanding of systemic racism within the larger culture.

In other news….

What’s the deal with emotional support animals? By legal definition, they’re neither service animals nor pets, but rather “an accommodation for a mental or physical health condition.” Since emotional support animals don’t actually have to be specially trained for the help they offer, some people may continue to view them as simply “pets with a special certificate.” Still, this short op-ed in Discover magazine from clinical psychiatrist Naomi Weinshenker argues that research supports their status as a key mental health treatment for a variety of patients.

Emotional support dog taking a break (credit/Shutterstock)

A heartening narrative from The Brisbane Times shares the story of Alex Dalton, a transgender boy, who was thoroughly supported by schoolmates and leaders of a co-ed Catholic secondary school, MacKillop College, in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Principal Rory Kennedy told the paper that the wellbeing of every student is the school’s priority. “As a Catholic school,” she said, “we believe that every person is made in the image of God and strive to create environments that reflect the innate, God-given dignity and uniqueness of every student, so that they feel welcomed and respected.”

Singer and actress Selena Gomez is the face and co-founder of Wondermind, a “mental fitness” company intended to help people train their brains similarly to how they train their bodies. In addition to providing digital resources to the general public, Wondermind also plans to  “elevate mental health stories across the entertainment spectrum” by producing film and television. Mandy Teefey, a Wondermind co-founder with Gomez and others, told Forbes, “It’s important for the entertainment industry to hold some sort of accountability of how the [mental health] narrative is expressed.”

In the US, if you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Revolution From the Inside Out  

A new generation of activists from the Young Women’s Freedom Center is working to change the system while struggling to heal from their own traumas.

We Interrupt This Program to Bring You #BlackJoy

We Black people – Black Americans in this case – know hard times, but our lives also sparkle with joy.

Librarians’ Mental Health Threatened By Book Bans, Abuse And Harassment

Some librarians used to make jokes about Fahrenheit 451 as they pushed back on threats. Not any more.

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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...