‘Religious Liberty’ Bills Ignite Protests, and Other News

Indiana's state capitol buildingA growing number of businesses have promised to boycott Indiana in response to a new “religious freedom” bill. The bill allows business owners to deny service to customers if their religious beliefs dictate that they must, but both supporters and critics of the bill have said that its real purpose is to help business owners avoid serving the LGBT population. In protest, several entertainers have canceled their tour dates in Indiana, many high-ranking business executives have spoken out against the law, and the governors of Washington, New York, and Connecticut have imposed bans on state-funded travel to the state.

Now, Arkansas seems headed for a similar fight. The state legislature passed a similar bill, and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has promised to sign it if it makes it to his desk. Growing pressure from businesses such as Walmart, which is based in Arkansas, could thwart the bill.

Across the nation, the specter of discrimination still figures prominently in the lives of LGBT people. More than 75% of LGBT students say they’ve been bullied, and LGBT teens are more than twice as likely as other teens to attempt suicide.

New York City to Teens: TXT ME With Mental Health Worries

Teens experiencing mental health crises and thoughts of suicide often don’t seek help. If help is just a text away, though, teens may be more likely to reach out. NYC Teen Text has begun offering text-based mental health interventions for teens in 10 New York high schools. For now, the program is an experiment, but if it works, it could spread to other schools. 

Mental Health Group Wants BMW to Pull Ad Featuring ‘Crazy’ Woman

Treating the lived experiences of people with mental health issues as an easy joke is nothing new, and the National Council for Behavioral Health says BMW is now among the companies that have used mental illness for easy entertainment. The organization asked BMW to pull an ad that it says presents an inaccurate and damaging portrayal of a “crazy” woman. Though BMW has apologized for the ad, it has not said whether it intends to pull it. 

Mental Health Therapy Through Social Networking Could Soon Be a Reality

Advertisements for therapy, crisis assistance, and online counseling are now commonplace on social media, but a new social network hopes to offer preventative mental health care. Panoply, a platform administered by Northwestern University and MIT, is an experimental social network designed to encourage users to be more flexible in the ways they think about their problems. The platform relies on a tool called cognitive reappraisal to help users re-frame their thoughts. The platform’s developers intend to widen its reach soon, though it’s unclear whether Panoply will ever be widely available. 

Serving in Iraq, Afghanistan Not Behind Rising Suicide Rates in Military: Study

The increasing suicide rate among military members has led many mental health advocates to speculate that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have played a role. According to a new survey of nearly 4 million military members, this may not be the case. Those who served in these two wars did not have a higher rate of suicide. Researchers did find that leaving the military increased the risk of suicide, possibly because of the power this move has to disrupt a soldier’s sense of identity. 

Parents ‘Rarely Spot Child Obesity’

Parents play a critical role in the fight against childhood obesity, but a new study suggests parents may not notice when their child needs help. The study, which followed nearly 3,000 UK families, found that only four parents thought their children were overweight. Researchers estimated that 369 children in the study were overweight.

Profiling the Distracted Driver: Young, Female, and Solo

A study that gathered data from more than 1,200 Texas drivers between 2011 and 2013 has resulted in a profile of distracted drivers. Those under 25 are four times as likely as older people to text, with women 63% more likely than men to text and drive. People were also more likely to text while driving when no one else was in the car. During the study, the number of drivers who texted while driving increased from 6.4% to 8.4%. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences May Increase the Risk of Asthma, Study Finds

Though doctors have established a number of correlations between environmental factors—such as early exposure to pollutants—and asthma, much remains unclear about what causes the condition. Drawing on data from more than 92,000 children, researchers have discovered that childhood stress can increase the risk of developing asthma. Children who had at least one adverse childhood experience were 28% more likely to develop asthma. Researchers also found that the most common adverse childhood experience was the separation or divorce of a parent.

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  • delores


    April 3rd, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    I really think that the texting outreach for teens in NYC could be the best thing that has happened to mental health care in many years. It addresses a need that is out there and makes help available in a method that is going to be most appealing to those utilizing the system. I know that there are people who will disagree but I think that this is an excellent idea.

  • Sara


    April 4th, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    I haven’t seen that BMW ad

  • Meredith


    April 7th, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    Any time you take away one’s sense of identity and purpose like so often happens with military men and women, there is probably a very real sense of loss there that the rest of us would have a hard time understanding. When you have always done and been this one thing and then you are no longer associated with that, it takes away your sense of self that you knew, and for many people who then contemplate suicide, it becomes hard to think of life without that role.

  • carlisle


    April 8th, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    We can all see these children who are so blatantly obese and we wonder why there is no one doing anything about it, but i guess that we have the answer here. Parents have a hard time seeing this in their ow children, and even if you do, you don’t want them to feel like they are being deprived of goodies that the other children get to have. So in too many instances the parents are actually fueling the fire because we continue to be blind to the reality in front of us and to do anything about it even when we could step in and do it.

  • Will


    April 9th, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    I was getting ready to ask what the most common adverse effect on kids would be to cause them to have asthma but then I saw that divorce of the parents was listed. Yeah, that has a great deal of impact on a kid emotionally but never would have dreamed it could have a true physical impact too.

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