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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – When #SocialMedia Is Really Problematic for Adolescents

Underlying problems may make some young people particularly vulnerable to what they find on #socialmedia, an expert says.

By Perri Klass, M.D.

There has been a lot of worry about adolescents and #socialmedia over the past couple of weeks, with new studies and reports raising questions about #mentalhealth and vulnerability, sleep and #suicide. I recently wrote about the question of whether the word “addiction” is helpful in understanding our worries about adolescents and their relationships to the devices that connect them to their friends and their world.

In mid-May, a report in JAMA looked at suicide rates among those aged 10 to 19 over the period from 1975 to 2016; boys have traditionally had higher #suicide rates, but the gap has narrowed as rates rose among adolescent girls, with the largest percentage increases among girls aged 10 to 14. The study was accompanied by an editorial calling the role of #socialmedia use among adolescents “an urgent public health issue that merits further investigation.”

#JamesDonaldson notes:

 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

 

Another study, just published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed a #suicide bump among 10- to 19-year-olds (both boys and girls, but a larger increase in girls) at the time of the release of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”; the study shows association, not causation, but raises the question of “media contagion” — that is, the possibility that the show and the intense discussion of it on #socialmedia may have led to some imitative behavior, and cites “the need for safer and more thoughtful portrayal of #suicide in the media.”

Dr. Michael Rich, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, cautioned against the impulse to look for binary answers to complex problems by drawing too-simple connections between #socialmedia and #suicide, or video games and violence.

From the team at NYT Parenting: Get the latest news and guidance for parents. We’ll celebrate the little parenting moments that mean a lot — and share stories that matter to families.

“What we need to do is look at the whole picture around these young people; we need to look at how kids and how we all are using #socialmedia,” he said.

Children may use interactive media in problematic or dangerous ways because of underlying problems, or they may be particularly vulnerable to what they find on #socialmedia. And even while the specific links between #socialmedia use and #mentalhealth (in both directions) are debated, and researchers try to elucidate the connections and the risks, there is a general acknowledgment that the emotional landscape of the next generation is increasingly tied to those online connections, for better and for worse.

“The technology isn’t the problem, we’re the problem,” Dr. Rich said. “It’s the interactivity that draws some kids in.” At Boston Children’s Hospital’s Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders, he said, they are seeing four manifestations of what they call problematic interactive media use, including gaming (mostly boys), and #socialmedia (mostly girls). And then there is pornography, “which is touching kids younger and more profoundly than anyone imagines,” he said. And finally there is “information bingeing,” with kids “disappearing down a rabbit warren of hot links.”

What these different problematic behaviors have in common, Dr. Rich said, is that many of the children involved had underlying issues to start with, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social #anxiety or #depression. He and his colleagues are coming to believe, he said, that the problematic use of interactive media “is not a diagnosis at all, but is a syndrome of these other already established psychiatric disorders.”

And when kids get treatment for that underlying problem, he said, “We often find these behaviors disappear or get much more manageable.”

Dr. Ana Radovic, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, an adolescent medicine specialist who does research in #mentalhealthservices, said that only about a third of teenagers with #depression get treatment, and it can take a long time.

At a clinic that serves teenagers who are severely #depressed or #suicidal, she began doing interviews about how they were using #socialmedia, and found she was hearing both positive and negative stories. “For example, there was one teen who shared with me that she enjoyed following a band that she liked on Instagram, and it made her feel better,” Dr. Radovic said. “And then all of a sudden she saw a picture of the band member self-harming and cutting her arm.”

Other adolescents talked about finding help through online groups— perhaps they found support through L.G.B.T.Q. sites which they didn’t find at home with their families — or about being talked out of #suicidal thoughts on Reddit. “It’s a balancing act for some of these teens, finding help and support online but not being able to filter out the negative things,” Dr. Radovic said.

And a great deal of that balancing act may have to do with how #teenagers are feeling before they go on #socialmedia, which then affects what they do on their devices, as well as how they react. Kids who are already feeling depressed have a negative cognitive bias, which affects how they interpret what happens on #socialmedia, Dr. Radovic said: “It’s a complex relationship, where you start off, what happens to you online, how you interpret what happens to you.”

“Teens are really driven by their peers, really rewarded by peer interactions,” Dr. Radovic said. “They’re exploring their identity, being creative, and sharing things that they’ve done, but it’s difficult for them to filter out the negative,” she said, and even more so when they are already vulnerable.

There are changes that tech companies could make in how #socialmedia works, Dr. Radovic said, which might reduce some of those negatives and change the online experience. For example, Instagram is looking at doing away with “likes” in a pilot program in Canada, to reduce social pressure and comparisons. There are ways to make things safer, she said, and even helpful; #socialmedia could play a part in the “safety plans” that teenagers make to handle #suicidal feelings, if they come.

On the other hand, Dr. Radovic said, “there’s more and more evidence about sleep and suicidality,” with poor sleep a risk factor. And a new report from Common Sense Media emphasizes the ways that mobile devices have invaded our bedrooms, with both teenagers and their parents reporting waking up to check their devices, and using them right before falling asleep — and first thing on waking up.

The ways we use our devices, and the ways our children use their devices reflect who we are and how we’re doing, but they also reflect the power of the technology. Dr. Radovic asked, “Can we change how people are using their #socialmedia so they’re not multitasking constantly, not having it keep them up?” Can we help teenagers filter their online experience to stay away from negative exposure? Or even help them figure out how to use #socialmedia to get help when they need it?

“We have sort of checked out of parenting in the digital domain and had them do their own thing both because we felt completely inept next to them, but also because they said, ‘this is my space, not yours,’” Dr. Rich said.

“They need us in that space — we draw an artificial distinction between online and offline, real world and virtual world,” while for them it is a seamless reality, he said. “We need to parent them in that space.”

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Researchers Examine #Altitude’s Role In #Depression And #Suicide

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RAE ELLEN BICHELL

The Mountain West has some of the highest rates of #depression and #suicide. Researchers think the mountains, with a lack of oxygen at high altitude, could be interfering with people’s #mentalhealth.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Mountain West is home to some of the happiest states in the country. That’s according to a recent Gallup poll. Paradoxically, they also have some of the highest rates of #depression and #suicide, and some researchers believe altitude may be playing a role here. Reporter Rae Ellen Bichell starts with an odd experiment.

RAE ELLEN BICHELL, BYLINE: Back in 1991, a crew of eight people stepped into a series of sealed glass rooms in Arizona. They didn’t come out for two years and 20 minutes. One of them was Mark Nelson.

#JamesDonaldson notes:
 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is oe of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

MARK NELSON: It was pretty radical experiment.

BICHELL: It was called Biosphere 2, and it was a privately funded experiment to recreate a mini version of our ecosystem.

NELSON: We fell in love with our world. Everything made sense in Biosphere 2.

BICHELL: Except there was a problem. As the months went by, the oxygen levels started dropping. A lot of it got trapped in the building’s concrete. It got down to about 14%, which is about the oxygen availability you’d expect on top of a 13,000 foot mountain.

NELSON: You know, we kind of were like the lobsters in the pot.

BICHELL: But eventually, they started feeling pretty bad. They were low energy. Several developed sleep apnea. Three started talking to therapists on the phone. Finally, Mission Control injected a bunch of oxygen into the building.

GREENE: Suddenly, I found myself running and laughing and – party time.

BICHELL: There are a lot of obvious reasons that Nelson and his crew members’ experience is not at all representative of the real world, from their specialized diet to the fact that this was a group of people that basically said sure, we’ll live in a box for two years. But in terms of oxygen having real effects on their bodies, they might be a good example of something researchers think is happening across the Mountain West.

BRENT KIOUS: I think that’s a totally appropriate example.

BICHELL: Brent Kious is a psychiatrist with the University of Utah. He’s among a group of researchers who think that the lack of oxygen at altitude could actually be messing with people’s #mentalhealth. The thinking goes something like this – the brain needs oxygen in order to function, and it needs more oxygen to do things like communicate between the parts of the brain that handle reasoning and emotion.

KIOUS: There are very close, very complicated connections between those parts. And we know from a lot of other studies that they’re disrupted in many people with #depression.

BICHELL: He says lack of oxygen could contribute to that in a few ways. Withholding energy from the reasoning part of our brains could affect the ability to regulate emotions. Or maybe it messes with serotonin production, also important for mood. Still, none of this is certain.

KIOUS: It is still a fairly controversial hypothesis.

BICHELL: It’s controversial because #depression and #suicide are really complicated. Even if altitude does impact a person’s #suicide risk, it’s probably only a little sliver of the picture.

EMMY BETZ: It’s not going to be responsible for 100% of it.

BICHELL: Emmy Betz is an emergency physician and researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She also just wrapped up a stint on the Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission. She says it’s really important to look at other factors.

BETZ: Things like access to firearms, access to behavioral health care, the sort of potential #stigma in the society around asking for help.

BICHELL: Or the types of people who choose to live in often-remote areas. Betts took a closer look at the people who died by #suicide at low and high altitude in 15 states, and she found that they were different in a lot of ways – from race and ethnicity to firearm use to the likelihood that they’d recently had some sort of crisis like losing their job.

BETZ: Suggesting that it wasn’t just the altitude explaining the difference in #suicide rates.

BICHELL: But a growing number of studies backup the idea that oxygen could be involved, like one in Peru on electrical workers. The ones stationed at about 10,000 feet had more symptoms of #depression and #anxiety than their sea-level colleagues. Or the study on a small group of Marines before, during and after a month of altitude training. They showed more symptoms of #depression. So did medical students who moved higher up for residency.

Given all these pieces of information, there’s something Emmy Betz and Brent Kious are very certain of – this is worth a much closer look. And who knows, maybe it’ll reveal something about how to treat people with depression at whatever their altitude. For NPR News, I’m Rae Ellen Bichell.

GREENE: That story comes from the Mountain West News Bureau, a public radio collaboration. And let’s remember; #suicide can be prevented. If you are in crisis, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or you can text TALK to 741741.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – #MentalIllness And #Suicides

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By: Jose Ma. Montelibano

There seems to be an epidemic that is more deadly than dengue. We do not hear much about it, not as much as we should considering its potential impact on society (although there is more mention of it lately). I refer to the general ailment of #mentalillness, not the usual visible ones we know that inevitably brings the victims to a mental institution. We see or hear about it more as #depression, generally more quiet and subtle. The person suffering from it does not act irrationally for a long while. When they do mention it as best as they can describe their situation, they are presumed as just some moody episode.

#JamesDonaldson notes:
 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is oe of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

I am not a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist. Being a senior, though, with decades of life experiences, I have equivalency, so to speak, not of the details of their expertise, but the exposure to many people who have suffered and sought out help. By now, many must be suffering and the number of deaths alarming. Authorities in government, churches, and educational institutions must be getting worried because #mentalhealth concerns do get reported more today. There is even an official #mentalhealthawareness month.

Of course, we do not get the full and real statistics. We do receive sporadic news about those who commit #suicide because some #suicides cannot avoid getting into the news. Either the victim is a high-profile personality or related to one, or the manner of #suicide is more public. But other than that, we can get only a sense, not verified information. I wish government will take the lead here in making people understand more of the gravity of #mentalillness or #depression. If such a situation is really serious, a press release is of very little help to the understanding of the general public. The Shake Drill of MMDA in preparation for the Big Earthquake has more focused attention. Yet, earthquakes are not happening everyday while #depression that leads to attempted or completed #suicide does.

There are ways of putting #mentalhealth concerns up front and center. If those who have access to the macro statistics come to the conclusion that we have an illness than can become an epidemic, then they must engage the public as best as they can. If there are information and interventions that can make Filipinos more aware, more informed, and then more equipped, lives will be saved. The reverse is true as well. If Filipinos stay unaware, uniformed, and ill-equipped to handle #mentalhealth concerns that grow to be #mentalillnesses, then more lives will be lost.

I have been informed about this alarming trend mostly by those in counselling, in schools, and in the medical profession. If the numbers as they know it reveal a pattern that can be epidemic in nature, they should start to engage everybody and not just the parents of the troubled youth in their care. It is easy to judge that parents are the primary cause, which somehow sounds both true and false, but a growing number can mean that it is more societal and not just familial. It can be lifestyle and culture combining to aggravate a weakness simply because they are unaware. The lack of awareness allows the many causes to prosper because these have become part of an acceptable lifestyle.

Aside from gaps or weaknesses in parenting, another usual culprit is technology that is moving with such speed, volume and radicalness. It might be very well so, just as parents can hardly escape some level of culpability. But awareness, information and expert guidance can mitigate or even neutralize the impact of the great technological march. In the first place, advances in technology will not stop, not even slow down. On the contrary, they will continue at a faster pace. Knowing that and pointing to technology as a factor in depression among the young (and even the not so young) is like committing collective #suicide if we do not develop a #mentalillness prevention program.

There are some in the world who do monitor, process and share their insights of global movements and tendencies. Their insights are powerful because, through these, we can see the destructive paths and consequences in technicolor, so to speak. Many scientists, for example, point to climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels which can eliminate many coastal villages. There may be continuing debates about specifics, but what is clear to many is that they already feel the heat, the droughts, the typhoons and floods – at levels they claim to be the worst in living memory. Their claims are often supported by scientific statistics like historical heat and water levels.

If #mentalhealth concerns are elevated to the level of consciousness as climate change, human creativity will produce countermeasures. Of course, different nations will address the same problem is different ways. But as they do, there will invariably emerge common strategies and methodologies. Adopting what is common will create a global response.

Technology and its unfavorable impact on humanity is a global challenge. If we are convinced that technology has contributed to #mentalillness or #depression, then let us be prepared for a more powerful and faster attack. That attack will hit mostly the younger generations and the ones about to emerge. How do we respond? What do we do to prepare? More importantly, how do we shield our young when what we are only starting to complain about today will come like a tsunami in the very near future?

My appeal, then, is mostly to those who know better what is already going on but somehow have chosen to keep it private. To keep secret the presence of what can be an epidemic is close to criminal. Yes, they can rationalize and justify, saying the numbers as yet are not threatening. I really hope so. Nobody wants #suicide to be an option for the young. But if the threat is minimal and insignificant, give the more serious threats the slot of #MentalAwarenessMonth.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/123189/mental-illness-and-suicides#ixzz5w8xFCqM0
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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – How Affordable Housing Affects Mental and Physical Health

Colorado drug treatment programs and resources accessibility area from the research

Finding affordable housing in Colorado continues to make headlines and cause headaches for those who live in the state; however, a University of Northern Colorado researcher is investigating affordable housing and physical and #mentalhealthissues using geographic information system (GIS)-mapping techniques.

JamesDonaldson notes:

 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

 

Results indicate that neighborhoods with rental burden, more than 30% of a household’s annual income, also show high rates of mental and physical health issues. The interactive maps show different data sets that overlap where connections can be drawn. For example, one layer shows how high-rent burden is throughout the entire state and then another layer can be added that shows #suicide and drug-mortality rates in those same areas.

The project used secondary, or existing, data from sources including the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to identify high housing cost areas at the census tract level.

From there, areas with high housing cost can be identified for additional burden of physical and mental health problems such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, alcohol and drug consumption, #mentalhealth and #suicide. In turn, areas with high mental and physical health issues but no health facility nearby can be uncovered and receive information about resources and the closes medical centers. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is reviewing the results for additional actionable insights, as well.

Jieun Lee

“From the results, the Denver-metro region has the majority of census tracts that experience both housing and mental health issues, but southern cities, such as Pueblo and Colorado Springs, have a disproportionate burden,” said Lee. “You can also see some hot spots in western parts of the state, such as high #suicide mortality near Grand Junction. Something should be done to explore what is happening.”

A Census tract in Weld County also experiences drug and #suicide mortality rates 20% higher than the state average. According to a recent 24/7 Wall St. report, Greeley ranks first in all U.S. metropolitan areas where home prices are at least 20% higher than at their nearest pre-recession peak: Greeley has experienced a 10-year population growth of 25% with a current median home price around $327,000, a 79% home-price change since before the recession.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing will use these findings to further investigate housing affordability and #mentalhealthissues for those who are most affected.

This project, “Social Determinants of Health in Colorado: Spatial Analysis of Housing Affordability, #HealthIssues, and Health Care Accessibility,” was funded more than $45,000 by the University of Denver’s Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab.

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Researchers Examine #Altitude’s Role In #Depression And #Suicide

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

RAE ELLEN BICHELL

The Mountain West has some of the highest rates of #depression and #suicide. Researchers think the mountains, with a lack of oxygen at high altitude, could be interfering with people’s #mentalhealth.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Mountain West is home to some of the happiest states in the country. That’s according to a recent Gallup poll. Paradoxically, they also have some of the highest rates of #depression and #suicide, and some researchers believe altitude may be playing a role here. Reporter Rae Ellen Bichell starts with an odd experiment.

RAE ELLEN BICHELL, BYLINE: Back in 1991, a crew of eight people stepped into a series of sealed glass rooms in Arizona. They didn’t come out for two years and 20 minutes. One of them was Mark Nelson.

#JamesDonaldson notes:
 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is oe of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

MARK NELSON: It was pretty radical experiment.

BICHELL: It was called Biosphere 2, and it was a privately funded experiment to recreate a mini version of our ecosystem.

NELSON: We fell in love with our world. Everything made sense in Biosphere 2.

BICHELL: Except there was a problem. As the months went by, the oxygen levels started dropping. A lot of it got trapped in the building’s concrete. It got down to about 14%, which is about the oxygen availability you’d expect on top of a 13,000 foot mountain.

NELSON: You know, we kind of were like the lobsters in the pot.

BICHELL: But eventually, they started feeling pretty bad. They were low energy. Several developed sleep apnea. Three started talking to therapists on the phone. Finally, Mission Control injected a bunch of oxygen into the building.

GREENE: Suddenly, I found myself running and laughing and – party time.

BICHELL: There are a lot of obvious reasons that Nelson and his crew members’ experience is not at all representative of the real world, from their specialized diet to the fact that this was a group of people that basically said sure, we’ll live in a box for two years. But in terms of oxygen having real effects on their bodies, they might be a good example of something researchers think is happening across the Mountain West.

BRENT KIOUS: I think that’s a totally appropriate example.

BICHELL: Brent Kious is a psychiatrist with the University of Utah. He’s among a group of researchers who think that the lack of oxygen at altitude could actually be messing with people’s #mentalhealth. The thinking goes something like this – the brain needs oxygen in order to function, and it needs more oxygen to do things like communicate between the parts of the brain that handle reasoning and emotion.

KIOUS: There are very close, very complicated connections between those parts. And we know from a lot of other studies that they’re disrupted in many people with #depression.

BICHELL: He says lack of oxygen could contribute to that in a few ways. Withholding energy from the reasoning part of our brains could affect the ability to regulate emotions. Or maybe it messes with serotonin production, also important for mood. Still, none of this is certain.

KIOUS: It is still a fairly controversial hypothesis.

BICHELL: It’s controversial because #depression and #suicide are really complicated. Even if altitude does impact a person’s #suicide risk, it’s probably only a little sliver of the picture.

EMMY BETZ: It’s not going to be responsible for 100% of it.

BICHELL: Emmy Betz is an emergency physician and researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She also just wrapped up a stint on the Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission. She says it’s really important to look at other factors.

BETZ: Things like access to firearms, access to behavioral health care, the sort of potential #stigma in the society around asking for help.

BICHELL: Or the types of people who choose to live in often-remote areas. Betts took a closer look at the people who died by #suicide at low and high altitude in 15 states, and she found that they were different in a lot of ways – from race and ethnicity to firearm use to the likelihood that they’d recently had some sort of crisis like losing their job.

BETZ: Suggesting that it wasn’t just the altitude explaining the difference in #suicide rates.

BICHELL: But a growing number of studies backup the idea that oxygen could be involved, like one in Peru on electrical workers. The ones stationed at about 10,000 feet had more symptoms of #depression and #anxiety than their sea-level colleagues. Or the study on a small group of Marines before, during and after a month of altitude training. They showed more symptoms of #depression. So did medical students who moved higher up for residency.

Given all these pieces of information, there’s something Emmy Betz and Brent Kious are very certain of – this is worth a much closer look. And who knows, maybe it’ll reveal something about how to treat people with depression at whatever their altitude. For NPR News, I’m Rae Ellen Bichell.

GREENE: That story comes from the Mountain West News Bureau, a public radio collaboration. And let’s remember; #suicide can be prevented. If you are in crisis, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or you can text TALK to 741741.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com
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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – The #Men’s #MentalHealth Double-Bind

JamesDonaldson notes:

 Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Rob Whitley, Ph.D.

Two contradictory yet insistent messages can damage men’s mental health.

This week is “Men’s Health Week,” an annual event initiated by Senator Bob Dole to bring attention to the oft-ignored issues surrounding #men’s #health. One of these overlooked issues is #men’s #mentalhealth, which remains a major concern to health advocates worldwide.

One issue that demands urgent discussion is what I call the “#men’s #mentalhealth double-bind.”

Double-Bind

double-bind refers to a simple psychological concept, whereby an individual or group regularly receives two contradictory yet insistent messages, with each message negating the other. An example of a double-bind is a parent constantly telling a child, “you should show me more physical affection,” but then reacting negatively when the child attempts any physical contact.

Double-binds are logically impossible to resolve. As such, they can be emotionally distressing and cognitively confusing for those on the receiving end. In short, some research shows that double-binds can have a damaging effect on the #mentalhealth of vulnerable people.

“#Men, Please Talk More”

Men experience elevated rates of numerous #mentalhealthissues including #suicide and substance use disorder while showing low rates of #mentalhealthservice utilization and a tendency to bottle-up. This has led many scholars to posit a silent crisis of #men’s #mentalhealth.

Consequently, many #mentalhealth organizations and high-profile individuals are sending out an insistent message that men must talk more about their #mentahealth. Even royalty has endorsed this message, with HRH Prince William stating in a recent documentary that we need to “pass the message onto men everywhere that it’s okay to talk about #mentalhealth…and be able to talk about our emotions.”

Fine words indeed.

“#Men, Please Shut Up”

However, other individuals and organizations are sending out a completely different message, namely that men as a group need to remain silent and “check their privilege.” As wryly noted by Bloomberg journalist Ramesh Ponnuru “check your privilege means shut your mouth.”

Such messages can be seen all over the Internet, with pleas for #men to shut-up or stop whining. Of note, these pleas come from both #men and #women. These echo comments men often hear in face-to-face interactions, even from their intimates and their employers. 

Indeed, such perspectives can emanate from high places, including the U.S. Senate, with Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono recently stating, “I just want to say to the men in this country: just shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.” For some, #male silence is a sign of moral rectitude.

This situation creates a #men’s #mentalhealth double-bind. On the one hand, #men are being told to talk more and open-up; on the other hand, #men are being told to check their privilege and be silent. This can only create cognitive and emotional distress. 

Interestingly, the #men’s #mentalhealth double-bind manifests itself beyond the borders of the U.S. As such, examples from the U.K and Canada are given below to illustrate its global nature.

#Men’s Issues Groups

Numerous groups have attempted to organize discussions about issues affecting #men’s #mentalhealth. These are sometimes met with hostility.

For example, a group of #male and #female students at Ryerson University created a men’s issues group, holding events to discuss #men’s #mentalhealth. This group was refused official status by Ryerson University’s Student Union on numerous occasions, with members being s#tigmatized and abused by some campus activists, as seen in the CBC TV report below.

Likewise, other groups have invited well-known #mentalhealth scholars as guest speakers, with unforeseen consequences. For example, the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Society invited Dr. Warren Farrell to talk about #men’s #mentalhealthissues, but his lecture was met with violence and vandalism by protesters who tried to shut down the event.

The wider social message may be encouraging #men to talk more, but #men are often facing local situations where they are being implicitly told to shut-up, check their privilege and talk less. This double-bind may be especially present on university campuses.

British Psychological Society #Male Psychology Group

Several British psychologists recently formed a male psychology group offering public lectures, a website, a newsletter, and a social space to discuss #men’s #mentalhealth issues (full disclosure: I am a member).

As the group grew, the leadership applied for the group to be recognized as an official section of the British Psychological Society (BPS). This would require a vote from the whole BPS membership.

Bizarrely, this was opposed by an organized group entitled “No  to Male Psychology,” which campaigned for a no vote. In the resultant ballot, over 4,000 BPS members voted, with two-thirds in favour of the new section. This was welcome news, but it cannot go unnoticed that 30 percent of BPS members who voted did not want a male psychology section.

Undaunted, the newly recognized BPS Male Psychology Section is going from strength to strength, and later this month will be holding a Men’s Mental Health conference in London. Keynote speakers include Jackie Doyle-Price, the UK Minister of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, as well as Member (elect) of the European Parliament, Martin Daubney.

Thankfully, there are still some influential people who are willing to walk the talk when it comes to #men’s #mentalhealthissues.

The Way Ahead

In a free society, everybody has the right to possess and express opinions about #men’s #mentalhealth, even if such opinions are stigmatizing.

That said, health advocates must note that #men’s #mentalhealth double-bind has nefarious consequences for vulnerable #men in need of support.

Simply telling #men to talk more will have a limited impact while significant voices are telling #men to talk less and check their privilege. This double-bind needs to be recognized as a social determinant of #men’s #mentalhealth.

Indeed, addressing this double-bind should be considered a #mentalhealth promotion strategy. As such, health advocates must engage in robust debate with those who discourage #men from talking. 

Otherwise, the well-meaning exhortations from HRH Prince William and others for #men to talk about their #mentalhealth become empty platitudes.

We can not have it both ways.

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