Health News Roundup

Mental health in schools, what barbershops can teach us about health care, and more in this week’s roundup

health equity

School-based mental health centers play vital role for Hispanic and black students
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 21
Once a week, the health center at Stamford High School offers sophomore Roger Sanchez an oasis — someplace he can talk to a trusted adult, where counseling sessions help him cope with anxiety. Sanchez is among a growing number of black and Hispanic teens receiving mental health services at school-based health centers — services, data show, they’d be much less likely to get or stick with if they pursued them elsewhere. While students seek services for various reasons, research shows black and Hispanic students are more likely than their white peers to experience depression in particular.

Suicide rates for black children twice that of white children, new data show
Amy Ellis Nutt, The Washington Post, May 21
Although suicide is rare among young children, the latest findings reinforce the need for better research into the racial disparities, lead author Jeffrey Bridge said. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for older children. “Most of the previous research has largely concerned white suicide. So we don’t even know if the same risk and protective factors apply to black youth,” Bridge said.

Bringing care into the community

What barbershops can teach about delivering health care
Aaron E. Carroll, The New York Times, May 21
High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease, the most common killer of men in the U.S. Yet it’s been hard to get patients to comply with recommendations and medications. A recent study achieved promising results through an intervention that used barbers teamed up with pharmacists to identify at-risk clients and treatment for those who needed it. The study suggests that health care need not take place in a doctor’s office — or be provided by a physician — to be effective. It also suggests the value of building on trusting relationships and delivering health interventions in settings like barbershops that that foster confidentiality and camaraderie.

first person

My ‘sunken place’: Having to call police when I know it could be deadly for my black patients
Jennifer Adaeze Okwerekwu, STAT, May 21
A few weeks ago, I watched a crisis unfold on Twitter. A black woman posted what looked like a suicide note. Her followers scrambled to help her. One woman, also black, tweeted that anyone who knew her personally should call a suicide helpline. Send help, the woman tweeted — but don’t call police. That last bit stuck with me. As a psychiatry resident, I often staff a crisis line. And if the crisis warrants it, I have to send the police. But I am also a black woman, and knowing that police interventions can be violent, and even deadly, I have to silence the screaming voice inside of me that says, “Don’t do it.”