Blog

As a psychiatrist I've seen how culture affects views of mental illness [TheGuardian.com]

“I am already dead! I have been buried.” said a young south Asian girl on the psychiatric ward. Prior to her admission she had stopped going to school, and instead isolated herself in her room spending hours on the internet searching for her grave. She was not eating much and losing weight. There had been occasions when she wandered off at night. With poor eye contact and slow speech, she added: “I can feel the worms crawling inside my body.” After an assessment she was found to have...

Using Film to Mobilize Action [MARC.HealthFederation.org]

For years, Teri Barila had tried to coax newspaper reporters in Walla Walla, Washington , to write about brain science, ACEs, and resilience. They didn’t bite. Then, on a crisp December evening, 1600 people—many of them inspired by years of community organizing—crammed the town’s largest venue for a screening of Paper Tigers, James Redford’s documentary about the dramatic reboot of a local alternative school after its principal became an advocate of trauma-informed care. Suddenly, reporters...

The Never-Ending Struggle to Improve Head Start [TheAtlantic.com]

Fifty-one years ago in the White House Rose Garden, former President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the launch of Head Start. “Five- and 6-year-old children are inheritors of poverty's curse and not its creators,” Johnson told his audience as he explained that the federal government would be, for the first time, funding education and health services for children living in poverty in the form of a public preschool program. That first summer, according to a press release from the time, the...

America's Insensitive Children? [TheAtlantic.com]

Contrary to popular belief, most people do care about the welfare of others. From an evolutionary standpoint, empathy is a valuable impulse that helps humans survive in groups. In American schools, this impulse has been lying dormant from a lack of focus. But in Denmark, a nation that has consistently been voted the happiest place in the world since Richard Nixon was president, children are taught about empathy from a young age both inside and outside of school. Children in the Danish school...

Freedom's Song of Sorrow

I was inspired to write the poem, "Freedom's Song of Sorrow", by the violent and tragic murders of black men in our nation following July 4th -- brutal murders of police, culminating with the violence in the world with the Bastille Day terrorist massacre in Nice, France. The poem actually began in the 1990's when I wrote the poem, "America's Children are Singing", inspired by Walt Whitman's poem, "I Hear America Singing", and my witnessing abuse and neglect of young children whom I cared for...

California issues update on state residents' ACE scores from 2011 & 2013 surveys

The latest adverse childhood experiences survey from the California Department of Public Health shows that 42% of the population has an ACE score of 3 or higher; 16% have an ACE score of 4 or higher. Those with an ACE score of 4 or higher are: 3x more likely to be current smokers 4x more likely to have a depressive disorder 2x more likely to have asthma 2x more likely to be obese 4x more likely to have COPD 3x more likely to have a stroke Here are a few other highlights from the six-page...

Everything is NOT fine! A call to action in our faith communities

Has your church heard about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)? If not, I am sure you have seen the effects in your communities and your worshipping communities. Those in our congregations as well as those in our neighborhoods are struggling under the weight of unresolved trauma, persistent toxic stress, and the dysfunction that results from broken relationships. No matter what we might want to tell one another, “Everything is NOT fine.” In our home state—where 17% of children have...

America, the House That Slavery Built [PSMag.com]

When Michelle Obama said in her speech at the Democratic National Convention, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she no doubt meant to inspire and unify the audience by emphasizing the progress the nation has made. And, judging by social media and the DNC crowd reaction, it did. But there was also a visceral response voiced by many others. Some people, like media personality Bill O’Reilly, rushed to deny or downplay the role of slavery in the White House’s...

UK’s ‘hidden disgrace’: mental health problems can lead to 42% pay gap [TheGuardian.com]

People suffering from mental health problems such as depression and panic attacks earn up to 42% less than their peers, prompting the government’s equalities watchdog to brand the pay gap “a disgrace”. Evidence collected by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has exposed stark differences between the earnings of those suffering from psychological illness and those who are not. For every pound that a non-disabled man earns, men who have conditions such as phobias or panic attacks earn...

Texas lawmakers look for ways to better help abused children [Star-Telegram.com]

It’s time for Texas to step up and do more to protect the state’s most vulnerable people. That starts with reducing caseloads and boosting salaries for the people who investigate child abuse cases and recommend where those children should live, several local and state officials said Thursday. “The problems are really huge,” Bruce Capehart, chair of the Child Protective Services Board for Tarrant County, told state lawmakers gathered in Fort Worth. “There will not be a quick or easy solution...

Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty [Jezebel.com]

Two years ago, I was hired as a campaign coordinator for a community initiative in South L.A. I got the job because I’d been an organizer for labor unions, and I was eager and thrilled. I’d be coordinating The Belong Campaign, part of a nonprofit funded by government entities as well as large foundations. My cubicle was in the heart of The Children’s Bureau. What they said I was doing — what the foundations were paying us to do, what I thought I was doing — was working to prevent of child...

The Drug Docs [Extras.MercuryNews.com]

For years, few questioned how doctors treated the emotional trauma of California’s abused and neglected children — and nobody monitored how often they handed out psychiatric drugs that can turn fragile childhoods into battles with obesity and bouts of stupor. Now, a Bay Area News Group investigation into the prescribing habits of the state’s foster care doctors reveals for the first time how a fraction of those physicians has been fueling the medicating of California’s most vulnerable kids.

Pop-ups bring preschool to low-income communities [HechingerReport.com]

At 11 on a cool Friday morning in spring, Cindy Rivera opened the door to her preschool room and greeted 13 children by name as they rushed in, pulling a parent or grandparent by the hand behind them. “Good morning, Siena,” said Rivera in a lilting voice. “Are you going to sign your name in all by yourself?” As the children sat cross-legged on a large round rug decorated with illustrations of kids from around the world wearing traditional clothing, Rivera led them in their good morning song,...

Balancing science with justice for violent teens [Tennessean.com]

As research emerges about the impact of trauma on a child’s developing brain, state leaders are grappling with the thorny problem of how to balance science with justice when dealing with violent and criminal teens. The development issues are commonly referred to as “adverse childhood experiences” – and they impact just about every public entity that encounters children – from public schools to the Department of Children’s Services to hospitals and the criminal justice system. Lawmakers this...

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