Introducing Rutabaga Jones, beloved pup of Suzanne Jakiw, our director of special operations and legal wizard.
Welcome to our weekly link roundup, where we gather all the best mental health articles you may have missed. This week, we say goodbye to The Toast, which closes its doors today, with a couple of its recent, excellent articles about depression. We’re also borrowing a bit of inspiration from the site by topping these posts with pictures of the furry family members of the Take This team — a Toast tradition that definitely deserves to live on.
“Think of depression like a rhino sitting on a person’s chest. The person wants to get up. The person knows that standing up would be a lot more fun than lying flat and squashed. It’s just, there’s this rhino, you know? And it’s so much bigger than the person is.”
Aunt Acid isn’t a mental health professional, but she speaks from personal experience. If you’ve ever felt like you should be doing more to push your depressed friends to help themselves, or you don’t know how to explain to a well-meaning friend that you appreciate their help but that they can’t fix your life for you, this article from The Toast is a must read. Also, isn’t that analogy fantastic?
“As health policy evolved, mental health benefits continuously lagged, Humphreys says. Coverage for mental health treatments or hospitalizations was meager or nonexistent. ‘We don’t seem to have this problem with cardiology or oncology,’ Humphreys says. ‘You don’t see people lining up to pay cash for those services because the benefits are so low.'”
A psychiatry professor expresses his concerns about the difficulty of finding mental health care for low-income people when many therapists are unwilling to take insurance in this piece from NPR.
“‘If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week, there would be 7 percent fewer cases of depression and 9 percent fewer cases of high blood pressure,’ says ecologist Danielle Shanahan from the University of Queensland.”
Outdoor activity has a ton of health benefits, but now researchers have studied just how much time we need to spend outdoors to get those benefits. They found that a minimum of 30 minutes at a time in green spaces can make a significant difference, as reported in Science Alert.
“On its face, the project is not a typical civic tech project: there’s nothing new and shiny here from the tech side. But the project may be stronger for it. It uses standard tech that works (a website and a form) to crowdsource stories. There’s a focus on the stories, not the tech. Eventually, by examining both good and bad stories of local experiences, the project will begin to build a space to share information about Toronto mental health services.”
While the NPR article above lauds the Canadian mental health care system, it can still be complicated and difficult to access therapy, and national and provincial health insurance systems don’t cover anything but visits to psychiatrists. Torontoist explains how locals are using tech to make health care more accessible to the people who need it.
“For me, recognizing a new dysthymia flare as it was starting was pretty thrilling — and then deflating. I turned my anger on my brain chemistry: ‘I should be really excited about this piece I should be writing, and it really pisses me off that you’re trying to take this away from me.’ That’s when the lightbulb went off.”
We’ll close out the week with one more piece from The Toast, this one a personal essay on coping mechanisms. While the author’s strategy won’t work for everyone, her core idea of recognizing and working with your distorted thoughts is key to many popular forms of psychotherapy. As she found, if you can see the false paths your mind is laying out for you, it’s much easier to step away from them.