Friday, February 1, 2019

My Son’s Tutor Slipped Me Entrance-Exam Questions. Should I Report Him?

From the New York Times on 01/22/19

"With some ambivalence, I took him to a well-regarded (and expensive) tutor to help him prepare for the Specialized High School Admission Test. After his session, the tutor asked if my son was also taking the entrance test for a different coveted public high school in the city. When I said yes, he gave me a handwritten paper, explaining that it was a copy of most of the test questions, which he got from “spies” he sent to take the exam. He asked me not to tell others about it. I was shocked and horrified and left with the test. I did not look at it or allow my son to, as I would consider it cheating. Upon arriving home, I put it in an envelope to send to the school’s admissions office, because I believe that it should know its test is available in this way.
Can I send the test anonymously without naming the tutor? Or should I sign the letter and provide his name, if asked? Name Withheld
You can read the Times' answer by clicking here.
I would add my own questions and concerns which are related to teaching our children and other people we interact with integrity. It seems that cheating and lying have been increasingly endemic in our society with the current Presidential administration. The corruption is rampant, explicit, and norm changing. As Tracy Chapman sings in her great song "All that you have is your soul", "My mama done told me; she say she learn the hard way; don't give your soul away; all that you have is your soul."
What this tutor has done beyond encouraging his student to cheat is to corrupt the system and attempt to ingratiate himself with the parent who is paying his fees. This has far reaching consequences far beyond the immediate participants. The tutor's behavior in providing test answers illictly is toxic for our society, not just for the individuals involved. 
The larger question about this behavior is what kind of society do we want to create? How can that society embody integrity and mutual respect?
With 86% of college students admitting that they have cheated in school, many questons arise about the integrity of our educational system.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?

From Medical News Today on 09/25/19 by Kathleen Davis, FNP
"Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns.
Engaging with CBT can help people reduce stress, cope with complicated relationships, deal with grief, and face many other common life challenges.
CBT works on the basis that the way we think and interpret life's events affects how we behave and, ultimately, how we feel. Studies have shown that it is useful in many situations.
More specifically, CBT is a problem-specific, goal-oriented approach that needs the individual's active involvement to succeed. It focuses on their present-day challenges, thoughts, and behaviors.
It is also time-limited, meaning the person knows when a course will end, and they have some idea what to expect. Often, a course will consist of 20 one-to-one sessions, but this is not always the case.
It can also take the form of either individual or group sessions.
CBT is a collaborative therapy, requiring the individual and counselor to work together."
For more information click here.
Editor's note:
CBT, the so called "talk therapy," is very helpful and achieves better results than medications in most cases. Psychotropic medications and psychotherapy can both be helpful. Psychotherapy usually contributes to the most effective and longest lasting results.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

New York, Virginia become first to require mental health education in schools

From CNN on 07/02/18:
On Sunday, New York and Virginia became the first two states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools.
New York's law updates the health curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools to include material on mental health. Virginia's law mandates that mental health education be incorporated into physical education and health curricula for ninth- and 10th-graders.
For more click here.
To see the New York State laws enacted click here.
Editor's note:
It's hard to believe that it took until 2018, for New York and Virigina to become the first two states in the United States to require mental health education as part of the health education curriculum. 
Every time there's a mass shooting in the U.S, the politicans, funded by the NRA, state that these mass shootings are a mental health issue not a gun issue. However, these same politicians have not taken steps to see to it that the issue is addressed except in New York and Virginia.

More college students are turning to emotional support animals,

From the Inquirer on 01/21/19

"Emotional-support animals (ESAs) are owned by people with mental-health disorders and deemed necessary by medical professionals. The animals, which typically have not had special training, gained popularity in 2015 when they prompted a federal guideline for housing providers, but they seemed to go viral last year following news stories about someone trying to take a dog or a peacock or a goat onto an airplane — sometimes with success.

Ever since, ESAs have become the target of ridicule. Popeyes released an “emotional support chicken” carrier available only in airports. Ellen DeGeneres poked fun at them in her recent Netflix special. Some talking heads have questioned whether ESAs are just elaborate scams.

But despite the cries of “they’re just trying to bring their pet everywhere for free,” people — particularly those of the younger variety — keep turning to emotional-support animals as a means of treating depression and anxiety.

Besides perhaps airports, nowhere is the trend more apparent than on college campuses, some of which have seen residence halls turn into true animal houses as more students file paperwork to keep an emotional-support cat, dog, or hamster in their dorm room. The ESA trend took hold over the last several years, as rates of anxiety and depression among college students have soared in the last decade."

For more click here.

Editor's note:
I have written a few letters for existing clients where support animals in dorm rooms and apartments seem appropriate and helpful. I have also turned down requests from people just seeking an evaluation in order to obtain a letter of support.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

MBH index - School lock downs 2017 - 2018

  • Number of children who experienced school lock downs in the U.S. 2017-2018 = 4 million
  • Number of school lock downs in the U.S. 2017 - 2018 = 6,200
  • Number of school lock downs, on average, per day in U.S. schools 2017 - 2018 = 16

Source - Washington Post as reported in The Week on 01/11/19

Editor's note:
There is growing evidence that school lock down drills are very traumatizing to children which raises the question of whether the benefit of such practices are worth the psychological and social costs.

These statistics also make one pause and consider what kind of a society we have become as a result of our love of freely available guns and what kind of a society we want for our future.

Is there a significant difference in fatal police killings from state to state?

There are huge differences in the number of people killed by police by state.

Click on image to enlarge.

From Peter Moskos' blog, "Cops In The Hood" on 01/01/19

"The national annual average (2015-2018) is 0.31 (rate per 100,000). And yet New Mexico is 0.98 and New York is 0.09. This is a large difference. 

Or take Utah (because of this story in the paper). Utah has a murder and violence rate below the national average, a low poverty rate, and is 90 percent white. And yet people in Utah are almost 5 times as likely an in New York to be killed by a cop. Utah has murder rate lower than NYC, 1/5 the poverty rate, far fewer cops, and Utah is 90% white. In 2018, the rate of people shot and killed by police in Utah is multiple times higher than NYC. 

I'd speculate significant variables are (in no particular order) training, fewer cops per capita, fewer cops per mile (no backup), one-person patrol, more guns, gun culture, more meth, more booze, and race (with more white states having more police-involved shootings). 

The ten leading states -- as in cops most shootingest states -- in rank order, are New Mexico, Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, West Virginia, Montana, and Idaho. It certainly seems like if we were to focus on the states that have the highest rates of police-involved shootings (and by far), we could find some low-hanging fruit to reduce the number of said shootings. But to do this we'd have stop thinking of police-involved shootings as primarily related to race. 

Collectively the top-10 states are 4.9 percent African American (compared to 13 percent nationally). These are the cowboy states out west. The 10 states with the highest percentage of black population (collectively 25%) have a rate of police-involved homicide (0.24) that is below the national average."

For more click here.

Editor's note:
I have added the bolding.
Another factor which Moskos does not mention is politics. The high shooting states are red states while the low rate states are blue. Political orientation while not a cause does seem to be correlated.

Indiana offers to pay student loans for Mental Health Professionals willing to work in 11 rural counties

From US News & World Report on 01/07/19:

"The Indiana Department of Health is hoping to entice mental health care professionals to work in rural and opioid-stricken counties in the state by offering to help pay their student loans.

"This program will help bring more qualified medical professionals to rural Indiana communities and expand access to quality treatment for individuals with substance use disorder,” Jim McClelland, the state's executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, said in a release on the initiative.
For more click here.

Editor's note:
I wonder if other states will offer similar programs?