Posts

movies

‘Smile’ Writer and Director State’s Film’s Interpretation Of Mental Illness Was Intentionally Complicated 

New horror movie ‘Smile’ is becoming a hit at the box office this month. Parker Finn, the film’s writer and director, recently was interviewed by Polygon magazine at Fantastic Fest to discuss how he thinks the movie’s connected to so many audience members due to its representation of anxiety, trauma, and mental illness in general. 

“I think it’s so relatable. Everybody walks around carrying these things inside of themselves that are deeply rooted in them at their core, that are based on their histories and traumas.”

Finn continued to discuss how he wanted to use that feeling that so many can relate to, “and also explore what it might be like to have your mind turning against you. For me, that’s one of my greatest fears.”

Finn suggests that “due to events around the COVID-19 quarantines, feelings of stress and anxiety have become their own parallel epidemic.”

Embed from Getty Images

“I developed and wrote and ended up shooting this movie all during the pandemic, when I think we were all traumatized and feeling a sense of isolation and a fear of transmission. The idea that trauma could beget trauma was really present in my brain, and I think it just crept its way into the script,” he explained. 

Finn also broke down how society has become much more open when it comes to talking about mental health and the many different ways it impacts humanity. 

“I think it’s something that as a society, we’ve all started to confront more. I think it’s in the air. It’s something we’re all aware of: Everybody’s got trauma of some sort in their life, whether it’s great or small, things they carry around with them that they don’t talk about.”

“We all put these masks on to hide our trauma, which was very much a motif in the film, with the smile being a metaphor, a mask,” he says, referring to the common feeling of “hiding behind a smile” that many individuals who suffer from mental pain can relate to. 

The movie itself follows protagonis Rose, played by Sosie Bacon, as she navigates her own deep traumas from her childhood in relation to her mother’s death. Rose herself is a therapist, so while she’s used to helping others navigate their own mental health journeys, she’s not used to feeling her own internal struggle and confrontation with her past. 

Embed from Getty Images

“I wanted to do something that felt like what it would be like to be to experience [a breakdown], to put yourself in someone’s shoes and maybe look at [other people’s experiences and traumas] in a way we haven’t considered before,” Finn says. 

“I think it’s a universal theme for everyone, this idea that we’re all afraid of not being believed, especially by the people closest to us. That’s terrifying.”

Finn explained how he worked with psychologists throughout the production of the film to get the most accurate representation of when others don’t believe someone when they discuss their personal struggles, as well as convey the pain that one feels when they feel like they’re not being heard. 

“I think it’s always a balance, but I wanted to trust the audience and respect their intelligence and their emotions. And I love messy movies. I want people to feel different things. And sometimes you want to provoke them. Sometimes you want them to feel a ton of sympathy or empathy, but you always want to make it complicated for the audience. That’s when a movie is doing its job, right?” he expressed. 

Finn’s hope regarding ‘Smile’ is to “add to the conversation” surrounding mental illness in a horror context so that the movie is not only scary on the surface, but in its deeper meaning as well. 

“I think as a society, we’ve started to speak better about mental health and therapy and trauma, things like that. But we’re still not really there. It’s not something people understand. So I wanted to use this as a parallel and a device to explore something that hopefully would get people to think a little differently about what it might be like to be actually experiencing those sorts of things,” Finn concluded. 

mental health

Megan Thee Stallion Launches Mental Health Resource Website for Fans

Three-time Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion has launched a mental health resources website named “Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too.” The website lists virtual therapy platforms, external resource directories, nonprofits and crisis helplines.

Many of the resources on the website support marginalized communities, such as linked directories to locate nearby therapists of color and several resources dedicated to serving Black communities. A section titled “LGBTQIA+ Community Helpline” contains eight different crisis hotlines for members of the community. The page also provides resources for addressing substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

Embed from Getty Images

In an interview on Taraji P. Henson’s “Peace of Mind with Taraji” series, Megan spoke about the “cultural stereotypes that often prevent people in the Black community from getting the help they need.”

 “As a Black person and when you think of therapy, you think, ‘oh my gosh, I’m weak.’ Like you think of medication, and you just think the worst. ’Cause that’s kind of what you see on TV too. Therapy wasn’t even presented in the media as something that was good. Now it’s becoming safe to say, ‘All right now, it’s a little too much going on, somebody help me.’”

The website’s name comes from a lyric from her song “Anxiety,” whose video visualizer is embedded into the page. Megan tweeted about the website’s launch to her followers with “Hotties! You know how much mental wellness means to me, so I created a hub with resources that can help when you might need a hand.”

Embed from Getty Images

In the interview with Henson, Megan shared that she started therapy after her mom died from a brain tumor in 2019. Her grandmother died just two weeks later, and her father died when she was a teenager. A year later, in 2020, she was the victim of a shooting, which she described as “the worst experience of my life.” After she named the shooter to be rapper Tory Lanez, people took to the internet to create memes, make jokes at her expense, and call her a liar. Lanez openly denied he ever shot her. Megan eventually posted photos of her feet post-surgery, where she had been shot, to prove her injury.

“I feel like right now mental health is more important to me, more than ever, because I have more pressure on me than I feel like I used to have…when I was Megan, and I wasn’t as criticized and under such a magnifying glass as I am now…now, in this space, I’ve lost both of my parents. So now I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, who do I talk to? What do I do?’ And I just started learning that it’s okay to ask for help. And it’s okay to want to go get therapy.”

TJ Johnson Sleep Science Coach

How a Sleep Science Coach Uses Hypnosis To Help Clients Find Restful Sleep | TJ Johnson

According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 Americans are sleep-deprived. Sleep deficiency leads to injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, poor quality of life and lost work productivity. And yet, it is rarely addressed adequately in healthcare. Sleep Science Coach TJ Johnson is trying to change that. By using Neurolinguistic Programming, she empowers her clients to approach sleep in a new way.

therapist

US Task Force Recommends All Adults Under 65 Be Screened for Anxiety

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended that all physicians screen adult patients under 65 for anxiety. The move was motivated by the country’s mental health epidemic in the wake of the pandemic.

The USPSTF is a panel of medical experts appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The panel said the recommendation was brought forward to prevent mental health disorders from going undetected or untreated for a long time. Over the last few years, people were more stressed and depressed, and anxiety levels went through the roof.

Between August 2020 to February 2021, adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5%. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide. In 2021, 1 in 4 adults aged 18 to 44 received treatment for mental health.

The task force recognizes anxiety as “characterized by greater duration or intensity of a stress response over everyday events.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Pbert, who is on the task force, says that Americans have been remarkably stressed out after a series of stressors like COVID-19, inflation, death of loved ones, fear of illness and crime rates. According to the NYTimes and CNN, Dr. Pbert said, “our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care — and urgently.”

“Our hope is that by raising awareness of these issues and having recommendations for clinicians, that we’ll be able to help all adults in the United States, including those who experience disparities.”

Embed from Getty Images

The task force lists generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia under the umbrella of anxiety conditions and recommends screening those who are not already diagnosed with a disorder. The panel also recommended that adults be screened for depression.

Mental health providers appreciated the recommendations but acknowledged that while screening tools are helpful, they are not a diagnosis, and subsequent testing is required to determine if an individual has a clinical disorder. A one-time screening may only be indicative of a temporary stressor. Providers also spoke on the lack of resources to address the issue on a wide scale.

Dr. Jeffrey Staab, a psychiatrist and chair of the department of psychiatry and psychology at Mayo Clinic, said the country is “short on mental health resources on all levels — psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists — that’s a real concern.”

“When providers say, ‘You must have a disorder, here, take this,’ we could face an overprescribing problem, but the opposite scenario is that we have lots of people suffering who shouldn’t be. Both outcomes are possible.”

Embed from Getty Images

Dr. Pbert also said the task force’s research showed that people from minority groups are often overlooked in mental health research, contributing to continued systemic inequality both in and outside the medical field.

The primary care practice is currently a missed opportunity for screening. Black and Hispanic people are less likely to be treated for mental health conditions than white people and are more often misdiagnosed when they do receive care. Dr. Pbert said standardized screenings might help reduce those statistics by removing other factors like implicit bias.

The USPSTF made a similar recommendation for children earlier in the year. The task force set the age range to 65 and younger because older adults may produce positive screening results due to the natural aging effects such as fatigue and generalized pain.

The panel will finalize the draft after reviewing public comments and notes submitted before the Oct. 17 deadline. Though the recommendation is not mandatory, many physicians use the panel’s guidance to improve their standard of care.

pride

Far-Right 4channers Launch Attack on the Trevor Project’s Suicide Hotline

The far-right website 4chan launched a coordinated attack against The Trevor Project—a nonprofit organization focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.

A post on the website called for users to inundate The Trevor Project’s hotlines with false phone calls for help and inaccurate location information. In a collective effort to use up as many of the organization’s resources as possible, users aimed to prevent at-risk LGBTQ youth from receiving assistance in their most critical moments.

The Trevor Project’s website lists grim statistics on suicide rates among LGBTQ youth. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. At least one young person in the LGBTQ community attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

“The Trevor Project’s 2022 Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.”

Embed from Getty Images

 4chan began as a messaging board in 2003 and quickly became known for its population of internet “trolls.” In recent years, the “alt-right” movement has taken over the website. The original post to mobilize was made on its most active board, “/pol/,” which stands for politically incorrect. In 2022 “/pol/” was the most active board on the website, serving as a primary platform for far-right extremists.

Real-world violence has been linked to the board. Racist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ commentary riddles its front page. In April, the gunman who shot four people in Washington D.C. posted a video of the shooting on 4chan. The perpetrator of the mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket in May released a 180-page manifesto with language lifted directly from the website’s boards.

Users of the board referred to The Trevor Project as an organization of “groomers,” a term frequently used by the far right to equate the LGBTQ community and their advocacy with pedophilia.

Embed from Getty Images

Due to the influx of calls, the nonprofit had to place a banner atop its website that listed there would be delayed wait times as they struggled to maintain the demand for assistance.

In a statement to The Daily Dot, the nonprofit spoke on the morality of this coordinated attack.

“The act of attacking a crisis services line intended to prevent suicide among young people is egregious. Our crisis counselors work around the clock to be there for LGBTQ youth who feel like they have nowhere to turn, and it’s harrowing that anybody would attempt to compromise our lifeline or encourage suicide.”

The Trevor Project intends to continue its advocacy work despite the attacks, vowing to protect its counselors and people seeking its service. It is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis organization for LGBTQ youth.

online

School’s Find National Test Scores Take A Plunge As A Result Of The Pandemic

Due to the lack of in classroom learning and having to switch to online teaching, most elementary schools are finding that because of the pandemic that math and reading scores have plummeted to its lowest level in over a decade.

kids

California’s “Late Start” Mandate For Middle and High Schools Offers Mental Health Benefits

For high school students, start times can be difficult to face. Thanks to a new California law, however, students will have a bit more time to catch some much needed Z’s. Signed back in October 2021, Senate Bill 328 demands that no middle schools can begin earlier than 8:00 a.m., and no high schools can start earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The law exempts rural school districts in the state, but includes all other schools for the 2022-23 academic year. The idea behind the mandate is that school start times — which can average between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) — affect a student’s ability to earn an adequate amount of sleep.

That lack of rest then prevents students from staying awake and paying attention during school hours, impacting the amount of learning and studying able to be accomplished. With added sleep, students could be more productive and healthy. Advocates expressed hope that later start times will also help to bring down teen suicides and car accidents.

Though opponents of the bill say the later start times will create conflicts in bus schedules, the overall benefits the mandate could bring might outweigh any negatives. Certainly, mental health and a lack of rest have become extreme obstacles to students.

A study published in the journal Annals of Human Biology found that of 1,113 university students ages 16 to 25, over half (55%) experienced excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Those students were twice as likely to have depression or experience moderate-to-severe stress levels. The study also found EDS was more prevalent among females.

University of Mato Grosso, Brazil faculty member and the study’s lead author, Dr. Paulo Rodrigues, explained those sleep disorders led to several impacts on a student’s academic life. “These include failures in attention and perception, high absenteeism rate, and sometimes dropping out of the course,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children ages six to 12 receive at least nine to 12 hours of sleep a night, while children ages 13 to 18 get eight to 10 hours. Pushed starts would force children to go to bed later, helping them to align with their biological sleep patterns.

Adding to that lack of sleep students experience was a complete disruption of the school system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Pew Research Center study, 37% of high school students at private and public schools reported their mental health, which includes stress, anxiety, and depression, was not good during the pandemic.

While California is the first state to mandate a ruling like this, it appears other states could be right behind them. New Jersey is one of several exploring possibilities for later start times. Speaking to ABC News, pediatrician Dr. Bert Mandelbaum expressed enthusiasm over the potential ruling, explaining recent events have made this a necessity.

“I think we’re at the right time that people are willing to listen and do the right thing for kids. I think the pandemic heightened everyone’s awareness of the mental health needs,” Mandelbaum said. School districts in Philadelphia and Denver have also taken the steps towards pushing back times, with former Philadelphia superintendent William Hite citing the need for “stability.”

New Study Finds Humans Need Better Therapies, Not Just Antidepressants 

According to a new study, while antidepressants are the main solution for treating depression, their use may not be that effective long-term. The study showed that depressed individuals who aren’t medicated, but in a stable and consistent therapy program have been able to have a greater quality of life in the long run when it comes to their mental health. 

Lead pharmacoepidemiologist for the study Omar Almohammed, emphasized that the point of the study is not to deter individuals from using antidepressants, as these drugs do save lives, but instead bring light to the fact that many people who do take them think that it’ll be enough to combat their depression, when that’s not the case for a lot of people. 

“For some, these meds do little to relieve depression and can have unwanted side effects such as weight gain, insomnia, loss of sex drive, and even withdrawal-like symptoms if they are stopped abruptly.”

Embed from Getty Images

“Improving people’s overall wellbeing, especially their quality of life, for years and not just a few short months, is the ultimate goal of therapy. However, whether antidepressants help achieve this goal is questionable, to say the least.” Almohammed and colleagues wrote.

Antidepressants in general have a history of being either unreliable or ineffective. This is partially due to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has long suppressed piles of trial data that prove some antidepressants can be ineffective.

The study took data from the US Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, a nationwide study that tracks which health services are used by Americans. The researchers found that antidepressants leave many people “desperate” for better treatments, specifically, between 2005 and 2016, roughly 17 million adults were diagnosed with depression each year. 

The analysis found that while antidepressant use was associated with some improvements in the immediate mental health of these individuals, the physical aspects of their quality of life tended to diminish. 

About two-thirds of the individuals researched throughout the 11-year dataset were women, which also reflects the gender-disparities that exist in the mental health industry. Nearly 60% of the women in the data were treated with antidepressants. 

Embed from Getty Images

“People tended to report that their psychological distress and well being improved with antidepressants, but their physical health problems, bodily pain, and lack of vitality often remained.”

“Doctors and health professionals should consider looping people into psychotherapy or social support sessions before resorting to or when prescribing antidepressants mainly since there was no persisting impact for these medications on people’s quality of life,” the team writes

Again, the authors of the study emphasized that antidepressants shouldn’t be distributed, but instead clinicians should be rethinking the best way to help their clients through therapy and other programs in addition to, or in lieu of, antidepressants.  

“Pairing antidepressants with support from a psychotherapist seems key to improving people’s quality of life, more so than the drugs or talking therapy alone.”

“Although we still need our patients with depression to continue using their antidepressant medications, long-term studies evaluating the actual impact for pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ quality of life are needed,” the team concluded.

Magnify Glass of Real Estate Market

Global Wellness Real Estate Market Surging Throughout Pandemic 

Wellness real estate is defined as “commercial, institutional, and residential properties that incorporate wellness elements in their architecture and amenities,” according to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

GWI explained that throughout the past few years the wellness real estate market has seen exponential growth, even with the pandemic. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The pandemic fueled the shift in the real estate and construction industries toward wellness: from 2019-2020, wellness real estate continued to grow by over 22%, even as overall construction shrank,” the organization reported.

GWI held their annual Wellness Real Estate and Communities Symposium this week in New York where they discussed the market as it currently stands, and ways to continue to expand and improve it. 

“The wellness real estate market as a continuing opportunity, driven in part from lessons learned during COVID. Doctors, architects and wellness professionals have come together to introduce preventive medicine intentions into the way we design the built environment as a preventative medicine tool,” shared presenter and sponsor Paul Scialla, CEO of wellness technology firm Delos.

“The pandemic has driven the idea of ‘building for human health’ into the mainstream consumer consciousness, and the recent market growth far exceeded our predictions.”

Embed from Getty Images

The US and China alone account for 60% of the overall total wellness real estate market. GWI estimates that there are more than 2300 wellness projects worldwide in various stages of development and completion; three years ago that number was around 740. 

GWI attributes the growth in the industry to many factors, including many brought on by the pandemic; “stress, loneliness, remote work and an increasing eco-consciousness in the public sphere.”

“The pandemic has definitely brought the wellness real estate concept more into focus. COVID forced us to see our homes and built environment in a radically new light. Wellness real estate is now quickly moving from elective to essential.”

According to GWI vice president of research and forecasting, Beth McGroarty, the pandemic drove trends in wellness real estate thanks to a multitude of factors, such as advanced technology, remote working procedures, and affordability depending on the area.

Why Experts Believe Gardening Is Good For Both Your Physical And Mental Health 

There’s been a growing amount of research surrounding what we can do for ourselves at home to continue to practice good physical and mental health habits. After the last year, we’ve all had to adapt our lives to make sure that we’re constantly stimulating our brain, and moving our body to ensure that we remain as healthy as possible. 

Gardening has become one of the most popular pandemic activities and for good reason. A growing amount of research has proven that gardening is not only great for your physical health because it gets you up and moving, but your mental health as well, due to the fact that it gives you tasks to focus on, while also adding beauty to your space. 

Embed from Getty Images

James Wong is a botanist and journalist who recently looked into this concept more deeply, and found that gardening has actually helped a lot of people cope with the isolation of the past year. 

Wong explained how in general, “research has shown that mindfulness exercises that focus one’s attention on the here and now and stop our minds wandering to the past or worrying about the future are an important therapeutic tool.” So gardening has always acted as a form of therapy for many people. 

“Gardening is a classic example of such a mindfulness exercise, where you clear out extraneous thoughts and focus on what is in front of you, especially given the seasonal nature of gardening.”

Embed from Getty Images

“In fact, many Eastern cultures that have a long tradition of mindfulness are fixated on the beauty of seasonal plants, such as cherry blossom, precisely because of their transience, not in spite of it. So, in my opinion, fake plants and a green fence are unlikely to provide the full benefit,” Wong explained. 

There’s also a major social aspect that comes with gardening that Wong explained has motivated many individuals to go out of their way to talk to others. 

“Studies conducted at community gardens found that gardening in such places has a significant positive impact on one of the key factors behind poor mental health – loneliness and isolation.”

Wong recommends putting energy into your front lawn garden, or whichever part of your house is closest to your neighbors if you want to attempt to branch out and get to know the individuals you share a block with. 

“Each of these benefits appears to play only a small part in a much more complex puzzle, and the relative importance of each piece is likely to vary enormously for each person, to the point where they are often contradictory. When it comes to horticultural therapy, the best advice is it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it the way that works best for you,” Wong explained.