A racist stereotype holds that some so-called “model minorities” are destined to succeed, in contrast to the many minority groups who face oppression that can lead to poor health, higher rates of incarceration, and a pay gap. A BU Today report details the ways in which the pressure to conform to the stereotype of the model minority may undermine mental health.
The story chronicles the tragic tale of Luchang Wang, a Yale University math major who committed suicide. A note Wang left on Facebook suggests she was afraid seeking mental health treatment would cause her to be kicked out of school. Asian-Americans, as well as members of some other model minorities, may feel intense pressure to meet demands posed by their parents, teachers, and a society that believes they are destined to succeed. When reality falls short of expectations, though, the costs can be immense, as Wang’s story demonstrates.
According to a 2014 study of college mental health, about 10% of college freshmen experience depression. The study looked at more than 150,000 college freshmen at 227 schools. When researchers asked students to compare their mental health to that of their peers, they gave themselves a score of 50%—the lowest average the study has ever found.
Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, announced this week that he had signed an executive order removing anti-discrimination protections for the state’s LGBT employees. The move reversed a 2007 order by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Brownback claims he removed the protections to avoid creating additional “protected classes.”
A new report by the Vera Institute for Justice argues that jails have become warehouses for society’s most oppressed and underprivileged groups. The report details the ways in which court fines keep people in jail for longer periods when they can’t afford to pay, and highlights the fact that the number of people incarcerated on any given day has increased by more than 300% in just 20 years. This increase comes at a time when crime is decreasing, not increasing, suggesting the increase in incarceration is a result of social policies, not an increase in criminal activity.
In spite of a recent measles outbreak, some parents still refuse to vaccinate their children, citing concerns about a discredited link between autism and vaccines, as well as fears about allergic reactions, unknown chemicals, and medical dishonesty. The vaccine fight is increasingly pitting parental autonomy against a pressing public health need. For pediatricians, doctor’s visits are ground zero for this battle. Many pediatricians refuse to see parents who don’t vaccinate, suggesting that their children may endanger other children visiting their offices who are unvaccinated, such as infants who are too young to be immunized. And for pediatricians who do accept unvaccinated patients, there’s growing pressure to turn these families away.
A panel of 12 sleep experts convened by The National Sleep Foundation has issued new guidelines about proper sleep duration. In many cases, the recommendations narrowed recommended sleep ranges. The new guidelines suggest newborns need 14 to 17 hours, infants need 12 to 15 hours, and toddlers need 11 to 14 hours. Preschoolers do best with 10 to 13 hours, with school-aged children thriving with 9 to 11 hours. Teens need between 8 and 10 hours, with adults up to age 64 requiring 7 to 9 hours. Older adults need between 7 and 8 hours. This last category marks a new age category for sleep recommendations.
According to a study of 245 LGBT adolescents, coming out in high school may improve mental health. Those who reported coming out in high school had higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression. The study did not explore the reason for the correlation. It could be that coming out improves mental health. Alternatively, students with good mental health or supportive families may be more likely to come out.
Eddie Ray Routh, an Iraq war veteran accused of killing Chris Kyle, the sniper profiled in American Sniper, intends to use an insanity defense at his trial. Routh experiences posttraumatic stress (PTSD), and claims that his condition contributed to the murder of Kyle. Though an insanity defense might help an obviously troubled man avoid prison and get the help he needs, there’s a flip side. By labeling PTSD as a type of “insanity,” millions of people with PTSD could be stigmatized as potential killers.
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