Category : Psychology

(NYT Op-ed) Darbe Saxbe–This Is Not the Way to Help Depressed Teenagers

Ever since the pandemic, when rates of teenage suicide, anxiety and depression spiked, policymakers around the world have pushed to make mental-health resources more broadly available to young people through programming in schools and on social media platforms.

This strategy is well intentioned. Traditional therapy can be expensive and time-consuming; access can be limited. By contrast, large-scale, “light touch” interventions — TikTok offerings from Harvard’s School of Public Health, grief-coping workshops in junior high — aim to reach young people where they are and at relatively low cost.

But there is now reason to think that this approach is risky. Recent studies have found that several of these programs not only failed to help young people; they also made their mental-health problems worse. Understanding why these efforts backfired can shed light on how society can — and can’t — help teenagers who are suffering from depression and anxiety.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(FT) Only 14% of US voters say Joe Biden has made them better off

Only 14 per cent of American voters believe they are better off financially now than when Joe Biden took office, in the latest sign that the president’s economic record could undermine his re-election prospects.

A poll found that almost 70 per cent of voters thought Biden’s economic policies had either hurt the US economy or had no impact, including 33 per cent who said they believed the president’s policies had “hurt the economy a lot”. Only 26 per cent said his policies had helped.

The new monthly poll conducted for the Financial Times and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business will seek to track how economic sentiment affects the race for the White House. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan famously asked voters whether they were better off than they were four years earlier, setting the stage for his landslide victory over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, Psychology

(Church Times) Management and mission: the Church of England is not a machine

How is it that the noun “mission” has come so to dominate the avalanche of Anglican reports and episcopal directives? It is oddly contentless, unlike the older word “evangelism”, which suggests that we have the good news of the gospel to impart. What is little understood is how this word has come to be shaped by modern management theory.

Successful managers, Lyndon Shakespeare writes, are “makers of worlds by the use of words”, and those words must have particular qualities: “low in definition and direct reference, vague and mysterious in terms of precise content, easy to say, vivid and radical sounding in metaphorical and imagistic terms”. Two key terms that theorists employ for such world-making are “mission” and “vision”, and readers hardly need to be reminded of the recent use of these words in the Vision and Strategy documents.

The distinction between the two terms is that the vision gives the organisation direction and meaning, while the mission strategy points to how it will realise its purpose. The Church of England, however, while embracing managerialism with an unholy hospitality, has confused mission and vision so that mission has displaced the vision to become an end in itself. Every single facet of our lives as Christians is held to be for the sake of mission, and is subsumed in utilitarian fashion to this end.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(FP) Bari Weiss Talks to Walter Russell Mead–Are We Tipping into a New World War?

Now, with antisemitism in America, historically, we’ve had several peaks. There was one in the 1890s and another in the 1930s and 1940s, but these were some of the worst times in American history. During the Great Depression, unemployment reached 25 percent. People lost faith in the American way and as they did, they lost faith in this idea that people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds could work constructively together to make it better for everyone. When we lose that, two things happen. America doesn’t work as well, and antisemitism rises. You can look at those tiki torch boys in Charlottesville back in 2017, or the people marching on campuses today and talking about death to the Jews. They share three beliefs in common: one, they make an idol of ethnic identity. For the white nationalists, if you’re not in the white pure group, you’re only a destructive influence in America, and as for the far left, if you’re white, you’re not right. Two, neither the far left or the far right believe in the promise of the American Dream—that if we follow the American Dream, it gets better for everybody. Thirdly, the far right and the far left both hate Jews. For the white nationalists, the Jews are part of the Great Replacement. For the far left, the Jews are white. They’re uber-white, even. These two groups share these three things in common, and they’re all destructive to what has historically made America work. Our enemies overseas are glad to see the far right and/or the far left rise up. It warms their cold hearts to see us ripping and tearing at each other and denying the truths that over the centuries have made us the most successful large human society in history.

BW: So what you’re saying is that when you see the swastika daubed on a school or when you hear about death threats to Jewish students at Cornell, don’t think about those things as a Jewish issue? Think about those attacks as an American issue, because societies where antisemitism is unleashed are societies that are dead?

WRM: That’s right. Antisemitism is both a sort of mental impairment and a barrier to learning. If you think that “the Jews” control the banks, you don’t understand finance, and will never understand it because you have this happy conspiracy theory and you think you already know everything. If you think “the Jews” control the weather with their space lasers, you’re not going to bother to study meteorological science. A society in which this kind of antisemitism is prevalent is not going to be a sign of a society on the cutting edge of science or business or economics or anything else. In our society, these beliefs are toxic. They’re terrible for Jews, but they are actually poison to what makes America, America.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(CT) Chris Davis–Another Southern Baptist Betrayal Revelations of a scandalous amicus brief raise the question: Who’s driving the SBC?

That story—at least, a sinister reading of it—came to mind as I tried to process last week’s revelation of an amicus brief filed in April by legal counsel for the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC’s Executive Committee, Lifeway Christian Resources, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The case is Samantha Killary’s lawsuit against the city government of Louisville, Kentucky, where law enforcement employees allegedly enabled her years-long sexual abuse by her father, also a police officer.

No SBC entity is named in the lawsuit. But because it is similar to other lawsuits being brought against the SBC and the Executive Committee in Kentucky, legal counsel apparently advised these entities to file the amicus brief, encouraging the state Supreme Court to exclude “non-offender third parties” from Kentucky’s recent change in the statute of limitations for abuse claims.

This may protect the SBC from legal liability, but it harms Killary and excuses the institution that hurt her. It is an enormous betrayal to abuse survivors and our allies for accountability within the SBC, and the consequences will—and should—be grave.

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Posted in Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Barrons) An Epidemic of Unhappiness Is Consuming Young Americans. It Could Hobble the Economy.

Barron’s: It is fairly widely acknowledged that the mental health of young Americans has deteriorated. What is significant about your newest research in this area?

David Blanchflower: I have written a lot about despair, distress, and well-being. My work has showed that happiness trends are basically hump-shaped over a lifetime. Distress or despair peaks in midlife. Young people are happy, middle-aged people are less happy, and then older people recover [happiness] in retirement. But what has happened, suddenly, is that the well-being of the young has collapsed, while other generations are the same.

In the latest research, I asked this question: Over the past 30 days, what number of those days [were] bad mental health days? If you said “every day of my life is a bad mental health day,” that’s what I call distress. In 2011, about 5% of women under age 25 reported mental distress. But by 2023, more than 10% said every day of their lives was a bad mental health day.

The same thing is happening with young men. It isn’t just a young woman’s problem. Both young women and young men have seen this uptick, although for women it is worse. So far, we have seen that levels of mental distress vary especially by education—it is worse for the less-educated.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Psychology, Young Adults

(Tablet) Archbishop warns of mental health consequences of conflict

In his address to the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about his own personal struggle with depression. He noted that the all-island Mind Matters research in Ireland had shown that 46 per cent of the 290 clergy surveyed felt not enough was being done to support their mental health.

He highlighted how the poverty, war and instability faced by people in the Global South contributes significantly to poor mental health while in the Global North “there is powerlessness, there is helplessness” in the face of the constant news about conflict in places like Ukraine and the Middle East and this contributed to poor mental health.

“We are better off than we have ever been in the past, yet there is a much higher level of mental illness in the economically prosperous world than elsewhere particularly among young people.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Health & Medicine, Israel, Middle East, Psychology, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Gallup) Almost a Quarter of the World Feels Lonely

Nearly one in four people worldwide — which translates into more than a billion people — feel very or fairly lonely, according to a recent Meta-Gallup survey of more than 140 countries.

Notably, these numbers could be even higher. The survey represents approximately 77% of the world’s adults because it was not asked in the second-most populous country in the world, China.

With the World Health Organization and many others — including the U.S. surgeon general — calling attention to the dangers of loneliness, these data, collected in partnership between Gallup and Meta, provide a much-needed global perspective of social wellbeing.

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Posted in Anthropology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Premier) Church leaders considering quitting job due to stress

One in three church leaders say they want to step down from their roles within the next two years due to job-related stress, according to a new survey by Unite.

The trade union’s study revealed that 75 per cent of those surveyed regularly work beyond their contracted hours, often facing challenging situations such as providing support to individuals suffering from acute mental illness.

Rev Nicky Skipworth from Unite shared with Premier the challenging nature of the clergy’s role, emphasising the desire to be there for people in times of need but feeling they often have to rely on family and friends to feel listened to.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress

(EC) German Jews: ‘Berlin Synagogues Are Burning Again’

Since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, Germany has seen a large uptick in the number of recorded antisemitism incidents, including the attempted firebombing of a Berlin synagogue and an anti-Israel riot in the German capital that led to 20 police being injured.

The Federal Association of Research and Information Centres on Anti-Semitism (Rias), has recorded 202 antisemitic incidents since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on October 7th. The newspaper Die Welt reported that the figure is a 240% increase compared to the same period last year.

The vast majority of the incidents are anti-Israel in nature—nine in ten of those reported. Rias claimed that Israel is largely being blamed for the massacres carried out by Hamas.

In fifteen cases, residences of Jews were marked with a Star of David, evoking scenes from the 1930s when the German Nazi party’s Stormtroopers, the Sturmabteilung, painted Stars of David on businesses that were later targeted for attacks and boycotts.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Israel, Judaism, Other Faiths, Psychology

Simeon Zahl–The Cure of Souls and Theory of Change in Christian Ministry

Let me try to distill this Augustinian theory of change into three basic theological assumptions:

1. First, as I’ve already said, human beings are driven not by knowledge or will but by desire. We are creatures of the heart, creatures of love.

2. Second, the human heart is very hard to change. It strongly resists direct efforts to change it. The truth of this point is easy to demonstrate. Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind about politics through rational argument? Have you ever tried to talk someone out of loving the person they have fallen in love with? I rest my case.

3. Third, human beings are wired in such a way that judgment kills love. When we feel judged, we hide our love away, we put up our walls, we resist. If your theory of change depends in any way on the idea that telling someone what is wrong with them will lead to them changing what is wrong with them, you will be sorely ineffective. Augustine says it beautifully in his treatise On the Spirit and the Letter: “[The law] commands, after all, rather than helps; it teaches us that there is a disease without healing it. In fact, it increases what it does not heal so that we seek the medicine of grace with greater attention and care.”

Rather than elaborating on why I think Augustine is right, I want to cut to the chase and ask what the implications of the Augustinian theory of change are for Christian ministry. And I think there are in fact some very specific practical implications. If you want to do ministry the Augustinian way, if you want to use a hammer drill instead of spending your time wearing down your battery, then your ministry will need a certain shape, certain contours.

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Posted in Adult Education, Anthropology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Psychology, Theology: Scripture

(Times of Israel) Haviv Rettig Gur–Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve

It is hard in the wake of the October 7 massacre to calmly contemplate Palestinian strategy and thinking. There is no Israeli unaffected, no one without family and friends reeling from the Hamas onslaught, no one, including this writer, not overcome with anxiety for relatives or neighbors now called up to the war.

And yet it is necessary. It is necessary to understand the enemy, the chain of rationalization and habits of mind that produced it and shaped its strategy of brutality.

That enemy is not the Palestinian people, of course, even though support for terror attacks is widespread among Palestinians. The enemy is not exactly Hamas either, though Hamas is part of it. The enemy is the Palestinian theory of Israelis that makes the violence seen on October 7 seem to many of them a rational step on the road to liberation rather than, as Israelis judge it, yet another in a long string of self-inflicted disasters for the Palestinian cause.

The October 7 massacre wasn’t an outlier in Hamas’s long history of brutality; it was its apotheosis. It was what Hamas would do if it could. On that dark Saturday it suddenly found that it could, and so it did. (emphasis mine)

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Psychology, Terrorism, Violence

(Church Times) Clergy well-being: the smoke before the burnout

The social psychologist Christina Maslach has described burnout as “an erosion of the soul caused by a deterioration of one’s values, dignity, spirit, and will”.

The chief executive of the Guild of Health and St Raphael, the Revd Dr Gillian Straine, lists its symptoms: “Emotional exhaustion, loss of empathy. You want to be alone. You fantasise that you’re somewhere else. You feel unwell, pessimistic, irritable, overwhelmed. You don’t care any more.”

Burnout is common in the caring professions. But, she says, “there are certain things in the Church that make clergy more susceptible — and increase their suffering.”

She recalls a day on healing ministry organised by a diocese when five clergymen approached her to talk about depression. Two had imagined taking their own life, she says, and a third had made plans to do so.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of England, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Stress

(Church Times) Anne Holmes reviews Struggling with God by Christopher C. H. Cook, Isabelle Hamley, and John Swinton

This deeply Christian book names and identifies with the holistic way in which Jesus approached people. It draws on “biblical insights, the lived experience of those who struggle with mental health challenges, the insights of psychiatry and the mental health sciences, and the resources of theology”. This makes it a vital resource for all those wishing to support those thus challenged and for those who care for and about them.

Particular features are a useful summary of specific illnesses in chapter one and close encounters with biblical narratives throughout, notably that on Job and his friends. The authors suggest that Job’s struggles were not outside God’s presence, but were “a valid and essential expression of faith in the midst of utter darkness”. This sense of despair is picked up in chapter three, in a reflection on the dark night of the soul as explored by St John of the Cross in the 16th century. Comparison is made with characteristics of a depressive disorder. The difficulty in disentangling spiritual and psychological struggles is named. This difficulty was the research object of the psychiatrist Glòria Durà-Vilà, who was troubled by the over-medicalisation of deep sadness and published her findings in Sadness, Depression, and the Dark Night of the Soul (Jessica Kingsley, 2017).

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(PD) Emilie Kao–Radcial questions need to be asked about the Transgender Movement’s promotion of questionable procedures

In California, Chloe Cole filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her doctor and Kaiser Permanente, claiming doctors ignored her mental health issues, including the trauma of sexual assault. Instead, they prescribed her puberty blockers at 13, then began testosterone injections and performed a double mastectomy, all before she was 17. In less than a year, she began to regret the permanent loss of the ability to breastfeed. Cole’s lawsuit states that doctors hid the harms of these interventions and the lack of long-term studies. Instead of disclosing the strong possibility that gender dysphoria could resolve naturally, doctors told her parents that without this radical regimen, their daughter would be more likely to commit suicide. Cole recently testified before Congress, asking it to end “the largest medical scandal in history” to prevent other youth from becoming victims of pediatric gender transition.

Whistleblowers on both sides of the Atlantic are confirming medicine’s betrayal of young patients. In Missouri, Jamie Reed says Washington University’s gender clinic did not allow her to schedule patients for psychological care even though they had autism, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Reed says the clinic lied to both patients and their parents. And at Tavistock, psychiatrist David Bell says leadership treated him with hostility when he raised concerns about the medical transition of children as young as eight. Bell says, “What matters is the truth. I hate the weaponisation of victimhood, the fact that the fear of being seen to be transphobic now overrides everything. . . It’s about free thinking, the kind that will result in better outcomes for all young people, whether transgender or not.”

As more stories like these surface, doctors who performed pediatric gender transition are now being held to account by former patients-turned-advocates. Since 2021, more than 20 legislatures have enacted laws to protect children from the irreversible harm these procedures can cause. Detransitioner Prisha Mosley, for example, recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit for pediatric gender transition surgery that left her in constant pain and fearful that she is sterile. Yet the AAP and other medical organizations continue to turn a deaf ear toward stories like hers and the growing evidence against these procedures. Instead, they oppose legislative limits that protect children from irreversible harm. Some judges have sided with them and enjoined laws in Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida. But recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a decision upholding Tennessee’s law protecting children from medical transition. The court rightly concluded that it is the role of the legislature—not the courts—to determine whether such procedures should be available to children.

The medical establishment’s complicity with the eugenics movement of the last century should have led to serious evidence-based inquiry before subjecting another vulnerable population to irreversible harm; however, the country’s leading doctors are embracing ideology and eminence over scientific evidence and sound ethical principles as much now as in the age of Buck v. Bell.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

(Guardian) Mark Taubert–I thought I should always be positive with my patients – until I found out how damaging that can be

There is a lot of pressure to be positive these days. Some people even regard it as a form of wellness treatment in itself and warn of the potential dangers of “allowing negativity into their lives”. But such enforced optimism ignores the realities of our existence. Some patients seem to think negativity will shorten their lives. But researchers in different studies have tested the hypothesis that optimism can impact survival in cancer patients and have found that it does not have an impact. In one of these studies, there was a suggestion that encouraging patients to be positive perhaps even represents an additional burden.

Whether you have terminal cancer or not, believing everything must stay positive just isn’t sustainable. It needs to be balanced with realism. An expectation that outcomes will and must always conclude well can in itself create disappointment and anxiety – because, at some level, we know that we cannot guarantee those wishes will come true.

Being pessimistic or negative on occasion can help, and patients tell me that it is pragmatic and even reassuring to talk about the worst-case scenarios that may lie ahead. When my patients spend more time getting used to the very real possibility that things will work out not so well, it can reduce anxiety considerably over future weeks and month

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(PD) Alexander Riley–Cormac McCarthy and the Possibility of Faith

Cormac McCarthy, who passed away today, ranks among the most important writers of fiction American society has ever produced. There is ample agreement on this point.

When it comes to interpreting the meaning of his work, though, there is much less consensus.

McCarthy handled big themes in his work, and that is true in his most recent novels: The Passenger and Stella Maris. These two books form a single narrative of siblings Alicia and Bobby Western’s extraordinary lives. We find here meditations on meaning and meaninglessness, human knowledge, death, spirituality, and the nature of the material world. Truth and beauty, reason and faith, love and sex: it’s all here. Mingled with these themes is obsessively detailed description of machines and contraptions of all sorts (especially guns and cars)—another perennial McCarthy interest.

Many critics read McCarthy’s novels the way they do so many other art forms: devoid of the possibility of hope, transcendence, and a living God. But this often glosses over the genuinely conflicted character of the art. The Passenger and Stella Maris offer more than just an artistic representation of reality’s inescapable brutality. They forcefully struggle with the greatest questions of human existence. Like any good work of art, these books don’t allow any reader—religious, atheist, materialist, Christian—to walk away feeling perfectly comfortable in their understanding of the world.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) DNA tests are uncovering a generation of biological fathers and half-siblings who stretch the bounds of what makes kin

Five years ago, Tiffany Gardner learned she had another father. She already had two.

One had colon cancer and died when Gardner was 4 years old. Her adoptive father taught her to drive and walked her down the aisle at her wedding. At 35 years old, when Gardner received news of a third, “I remember the room spinning,” she said.

Gardner had been in her mother’s kitchen. During the conversation, her mother let go of a long-held secret about the man Gardner had long believed to be her father. He was in an accident, her mother said. He had to relearn how to walk and talk. I couldn’t get pregnant. The doctors said the accident had likely left him infertile. We used a sperm donor.

“I felt I was falling backwards trying to process the moment,” recalled Gardner, a lawyer in the Atlanta area and the mother of three boys. Among her feelings was a desire to meet her newly uncovered biological father. It didn’t take long to find him online.

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Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology

A NYTimes Article on David Breaux RIP–He Devoted His Life to Compassion. His Killer Showed None.

It felt as if he had always been there, a steady sight on a busy corner in a college town.

Hovering above 6 feet tall with hazel eyes and hair streaked with gray, David Breaux was a graduate of Stanford University and had been an aspiring screenwriter. But such details belonged to a past he rarely spoke of. He had reimagined his purpose, becoming a fixture at the intersection of Third and C Streets in Davis, Calif.

It was there that he held a notebook and offered passers-by a question: Would you care to share your definition of compassion? You, charmed by the interaction, most likely jotted something down. And then maybe you stuck around to talk a little more.

Over the years, Mr. Breaux made countless connections and grew a reputation as a communal therapist of sorts. Business owners revealed their anxieties. Students spoke of finals week. Unhappy mothers divulged marital problems.

“If you’ve ever been through a divorce, you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you and that you might not make it. I sat down there with him, and he really saved me,” said Kristin Stansby, 54, a shift manager at a local CVS Pharmacy. “You just really felt you could pour your heart out to him.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Psychology

(AP) US Navy deploys more chaplains for suicide prevention

The families of two young men who killed themselves in Norfolk said chaplains could be effective as part of a larger effort to facilitate access to mental health care without stigma or retaliation. But they also insist on accountability and a chain of command committed to eliminating bullying and engaging younger generations.

“A chaplain could help, but it wouldn’t matter if you don’t empower them,” said Patrick Caserta, a former Navy recruiter. His son Brandon was 21 when he killed himself in 2018, after struggling with depression and being “told to suck it up and go back to work.”

Mental health problems, especially among enlisted men under 29, mirror concerns in schools and colleges, which are also increasingly tapping campus ministry for counseling. The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated depression and anxiety for many.

But chaplains, civilian counselors, families of suicide victims, and sailors from commodores to the newly enlisted say these struggles pose unique challenges and security implications in the military, where suicides have risen for most of the past decade and took the lives of 519 service members in 2021, per the latest Department of Defense data.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

(NYT) Hospitals Are Increasingly Crowded With Kids Who Tried to Harm Themselves, Study Finds

The portion of American hospital beds occupied by children with suicidal or self-harming behavior has soared over the course of a decade, a large study of admissions to acute care hospitals shows.

An analysis of 4,767,840 pediatric hospitalizations by researchers at Dartmouth, published on Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, found that between 2009 and 2019, mental health hospitalizations increased by 25.8 percent and cost $1.37 billion.

The study did not include psychiatric hospitals, or reflect the years of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that it is a considerable undercount.

Especially striking was the rise in suicidal behavior as a cause: The portion of pediatric mental health hospitalizations involving suicidal or self-harming behavior rose to 64.2 percent in 2019, from 30.7 percent in 2009. As a proportion of overall pediatric hospitalizations, suicidal behavior rose to 12.7 percent in 2019 from 3.5 percent in 2009.

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(WSJ) Most Americans Doubt Their Children Will Be Better Off, WSJ-NORC Poll Finds

The WSJ-NORC poll surveyed 1,019 adults from March 1 to 13, largely before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and subsequent turmoil in the financial industry. Roughly 4 in 10 cited healthcare and housing costs as big worries, and nearly two-thirds said inflation is a major concern.

“No matter how much they increase your pay, everything else is going up,” said Kristy Morrow, a coordinator for a hospital who lives in Big Spring, Texas. “I do fear that for the kids.”

Ms. Morrow, 37, said she’s concerned her children will be worse off because deep divisions in America have left people unable to fix the country’s problems. The single mother of two young boys and an adult daughter, who earns about $45,000 a year, said she traded her Chevrolet Tahoe for a GMC Terrain to lower her gas costs and is teaching her boys the importance of spending money on needs, not wants.

The findings showed fresh anxiety about the strength of the job market, which was a rare point of economic optimism as recently as last year. More than half of respondents said it wouldn’t be easy to find another job with comparable pay and benefits. That was the highest level since 2010, according to NORC’s General Social Survey.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology

(WSJ) Exercise Can Be the Best Antidepressant

One of the highlights of my pandemic workweek was the Zoom workout I did with a dozen fellow swimmers once we lost access to our pool. Most aspects of my life were upended, but the 7:45 a.m. home exercise session was a constant: a warm-up, two sets of resistance exercises designed by our loyal coach, then stretching and gabbing. None of us wanted to give up this routine when restrictions eased, and we’re still at it.

I feel more upbeat and quicker on the uptake on days when I do planks and squats. Now a new paper evaluating studies of the impact of exercise on mood shows that physical activity, of any kind, is just as effective as antidepressants at reducing feelings of anxiety and depression—and sometimes more effective.

Dr. Ben Singh, a research fellow at the University of South Australia, was the lead author of the study, which appeared in February in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. He and 12 other scientists combed the research literature for all randomly controlled studies published before 2022 that involved adding exercise to a person’s “usual care,” to see how physical activity might relieve psychological distress.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sports

(The Parliament Politics) Bp [of St. Albans] Alan Smith–Coroners currently do not need to record an opinion on the factors that may have caused a person to take their life this has to change

The industry makes most of its profits from those who are vulnerable, with 86% of online betting profits coming from 5% of customers. Most of thesepeople are already suffering from gambling–related harms or have been diagnosed as suffering from an addiction. Further, the statistics show that 35% of people with a gambling disorder receive daily incentives to gamble, compared to only 4% of those without. All too often there are reports in the media of people receiving offers of ‘free’ spins and the chance to be a ‘VIP customer’ when they have been trying to stop gambling.

Coroners currently do not need to record an opinion on the factors that may have caused a person to taketheir life. My Private Members Bill, the Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill aims to change that.

It is estimated that between 400 – 500 people take their lives each year in this country due to gambling. Yet when the House of Lords ministers answered my questions they claimed that there was no reliable statistics of the numbers of deaths caused by gambling. Furthermore, they showed little concern to find out.

If this bill comes into law, the requirement on coroners to record the ‘where, how and what’ questions associated with each suicide will remain unchanged. However, once this part of the inquesthas been concluded, each coroner will be required to record the co-morbidities of each suicide….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance, Psychology, Stress, Suicide

(NYT) ‘I Live in Hell’: The Psychic Wounds of Ukraine’s Soldiers

Each war teaches us something new about trauma. In World War I, hospitals overflowed with soldiers who screamed or froze or wept, described in medical texts as “moral invalids.” By the end of World War II, a more sympathetic view had emerged, that even the hardiest soldier would suffer a psychological collapse after sufficient time in combat — somewhere, two experts from the surgeon general’s office concluded, between 200 and 240 days on average.

Russia’s war in Ukraine stands out among modern wars for its extreme violence. Its front lines are close together and barraged with heavy artillery, and rotations from the front line are infrequent. Ukraine’s forces are largely made up of men and women who, until a year ago, had no experience of combat.

“We are looking at a war that is basically a repetition of the First World War,” says Robert van Voren, who heads the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry, which provides mental-health support in Ukraine. “People just cannot fight anymore for psychological reasons. People are at the front line too long, and at a certain point, they crack. That’s the reality we have to deal with.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Russia, Ukraine

([London] Times) Nick Cave: my son’s death brought me back to church

The question of how to meditate effectively comes up often in Cave’s online forum, the Red Hand Files, which he launched in 2020. Named after one of his most famous songs, Red Right Hand (inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the hand represents divine vengeance), it’s a place where a wide range of people, not only fans, write in to share their troubles and questions, and Cave writes back. The site has become almost a form of spiritual direction between Cave and his public. “One concern that comes through all the time,” he says, “is, ‘I want to be a creative person, but I don’t feel inspired.’ They’re just thinking that something’s going to drop out of the sky and sort of ignite their imagination. Creativity for me is a practice, a rite, an application.”

Its purpose is not self-expression, he says, but a way of “making space”. Cave talks in the book about how his 2019 album Ghosteen was an attempt to “make a space” for his son Arthur in the terrible period after his death.

“Yes, that is what I was doing,” he says. “Trying to find a place Arthur could inhabit. A place where his spirit could reside. Things, of course, are different now … I think I’ve learnt to both incorporate his absence and indeed his presence into my work, slowly finding other things to write about.” It’s become a question, he says, of finding a space “around” Arthur, not just “for” him.

This has led to him rediscovering what can only be described as joy, through “an altered connection to the world”: “spasms of delight”, a brightness uncovered in things, coexisting with the “dark, vacuous space” of loss. This is a joy that has nothing much to do with “feeling happy” or with satisfaction. “It’s there, despite ourselves … not attached to anything.” This double vision, Cave says, is fundamental to the religious impulse. It explains why in church he feels able to hold together both the doubt and pain and the sense of anchorage.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Books, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Music, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) He Survived the Trade Center Bombing. ‘I Always Knew They’d Be Back.’

Thirty years ago today, terrorists left a bomb weighing more than a half-ton in a rented van parked beneath the World Trade Center, a workplace for tens of thousands. Its smoldering fuse took about 12 minutes to close the gap between the everyday and the horrific.

The lunchtime blast left a crater several stories deep, sent acrid smoke up the center’s north tower and killed six people. More than 1,000 others were injured that day, including a dark-haired trader just yards from the underground detonation.

Eight years later, that same man, Tim Lang, fled Lower Manhattan as terrorists struck the World Trade Center again, this time with jetliners. He saw the first of its two towers buckle and fall in an attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, including those dear to him.

Mr. Lang is 69 now, with shock-white hair and photos of grandchildren stored in his smartphone. He describes himself as an unremarkable man. Yet he is also an everyman through-line between two remarkable events: the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which upended world politics, and the bombing of Feb. 26, 1993, which is less indelibly burned into collective memory but stands as ominous prelude.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Washington Post) Teen girls ‘engulfed’ in violence and trauma, CDC finds

Almost 3 in 5 teenage girls reported feeling so persistently sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row during the previous year that they stopped regular activities — a figure that was double the share of boys and the highest in a decade, CDC data showed.

Girls fared worse on other measures, too, with higher rates of alcohol and drug use than boys and higher levels of being electronically bullied, according to the 89-page report. Thirteen percent had attempted suicide during the past year, compared to 7 percent of boys.

Sharon Hoover, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine and co-director of the National Center for School Mental Health, said she was struck by “the magnitude of the increases and the gender difference.”

Hoover and others pointed out it is unclear whether the data is influenced by other factors — if girls were more aware of depressive symptoms than boys, for instance, or more inclined to report them — or whether girls are simply far worse off.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Gallup) Americans Pessimistic About Inflation, Stock Market

Americans are more likely to predict negative rather than positive outcomes for five key aspects of the U.S. economy over the next six months. Higher inflation, unemployment and interest rates, as well as reduced economic growth and stock market values, are all expected.

A majority of U.S. adults (67%) expect inflation to rise, although more (79%) predicted that it would last year. At the same time, the public’s outlook for unemployment and the stock market have become more pessimistic and are now negative on balance. Expectations for economic growth and the stock market are the most pessimistic in Gallup’s periodic trend.

Gallup first asked Americans in October 2001 what they expected would happen with these five aspects of the economy and updated them monthly until 2006. Since then, Gallup has asked about them eight times, though not during the late 2007-early 2009 Great Recession. The latest results are from the Jan. 2-22 Mood of the Nation poll, which also found that Americans’ confidence in the economy remains low, mentions of inflation as the nation’s most important problem are still elevated and perceptions of the job market are positive but weakened compared with a year ago.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Sociology, Stock Market

(CT) Adam Carrington–Deaths of despair are on the rise in our country. What is the role of the church?

Today our society is suffering from an epidemic of self-harm, culminating in the most final form of suffering on this earth—in “deaths of despair.”

These deaths speak to the harm inflicted on oneself through overdosing, suicide, or health issues from alcoholism. They manifest despair as a way of coping (or trying to end) one’s suffering of physical or mental pain.

A new study makes the case that a loss of religion has played a significant part in this rise. This does not necessarily entail atheism, as many of these people may continue to believe in God or some other kind of spirituality. Rather, it involves no longer participating in organized religion within a faith community.

Previous research has shown that men and women who regularly attended religious services at least once a week were less likely to die of despair. Which means, as Tyler VanderWeele and Brendan Case point out in a CT article, “Empty pews are an American public health crisis.”

The individualization of religion and the isolation of its experience are two factors contributing to this trend. We live in times of great confusion regarding how God created us—and among the lies we struggle with is believing that community is something we can take or leave.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture