Why so many Latina teens in Philly have attempted suicide

A new report sheds light on a startling finding: Latina girls in Philadelphia are more likely than white or African-American girls to attempt suicide. One in seven has attempted suicide and one in five has seriously considered it. Why is this happening and why hasn’t this fact made its way into mainstream discourse about mental health?

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Aneri Pattani explains on this episode of The Why.

One in 7 Latina girls in Philadelphia has attempted suicide, yet their struggles often remain invisible

Every morning when Noelia Rivera-Calderón got to high school, she’d run to the bathroom to throw up.

The first few times, the school nurse suggested she go home. But after that, the staff acted as if it were normal for her to be sick.

Every morning when Noelia Rivera-Calderón got to high school, she’d run to the bathroom to throw up.

The first few times, the school nurse suggested she go home. But after that, the staff acted as if it were normal for her to be sick.

Today, Rivera-Calderón is fighting for girls like her to be seen. She recently led a report from the National Women’s Law Center about the mental health of Latina students in Philadelphia, titled “We Are Not Invisible.”

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Report: WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE: Latina Girls, Mental Health, and Philadelphia Schools

Too many Latina students in Philadelphia are confronting a mental health crisis. Over half of Latina high school girls in Philly feel persistently sad or hopeless. More than one in five considered suicide within the past year. And for LGBTQ Latina girls, the situation is even more dire. That’s why we released WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE: Latina Girls, Mental Health, and Philadelphia Schools.

This new report, co-authored with 13 Latina middle and high school students who live and learn in Philly, sheds light on the mental health challenges faced by Latina girls, toxic perceptions and approaches to mental health, and strategies for schools to do better. Not only are these students shattering the silence around mental health, they’ve created a policy agenda for school and district leaders, as well as elected officials that would create safer, more supportive schools for all students.

Download the report.

Philly’s Latinx girls need more mental health support

Growing up in North Philadelphia in a Latino household, we never talked about mental health. But I knew something was off when, at age 15, I stopped wanting to go to school and was feeling depressed. Like many kids, I turned to my mom first — telling her I wanted to talk to somebody. But the Latino community faces a lot of stigmas when it comes to our mental health.

As a community, only 20 percent of us who have symptoms of a psychological disorder will talk to a doctor about our concerns and, even worse, only 10 percent of Latinos will contact a mental-health specialist, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. That’s why it should come as no surprise that my mom’s response was, “you’re just having a bad day. I have bad days, too.” But I wasn’t just having a bad day. Soon enough, I was skipping school on a regular basis and feeling sad all the time.

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer 

The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus

Subini Ancy Annamma’s The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus portrays the processes and social factors that place the bodies of multiply-marginalised dis/abled women of colour in the criminal justice system, while also putting the voices and experiences of these individuals at the centre of the book. Annamma adopts Beth Ritchie’s (2012) notion of a ‘prison nation’ and situates schools within this in order to understand how a ‘societal goal’ for public education is to fill prisons.

Throughout, Annamma chooses the term ‘dis/abled’ to signify ability as based on social context, continually shifting over time, rather than as a fixed state. In reference to her subjects, Annamma uses the word ‘girls’, though they are well into their teenage, secondary school years. In her discussions, Annamma demonstrates a commitment to intersectionality and DisCrit, which calls for a critical lens that recognises the ways that race and dis/ability are socially constructed interdependently with material, social and political impacts. Annamma employs this lens in order to understand the process behind the creation of the criminal identity in the juvenile incarceration centre and to create a pedagogy of resistance.

Read more about The Pedagogy of Pathologization on LSE’s US website.

Buy the book here. 

What We Risk When We Fail to Protect Black Girls

Last month, the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly elevated the claims against the R&B singer as a serial abuser of women and girls. Kelly was charged in Illinois on Friday with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

But what also became apparent from the docuseries was the number of adults—from Kelly’s manager to parents of the minors he is believed to have violated—who were complicit in his systematic abuse of underage Black girls. Beyond the pain his alleged victims suffered, the docuseries highlighted that these girls were not afforded the protection they deserve as children, much like Black girls at large.

Such disregard for Black girls and women’s safety has public health consequences. Notably, emerging research implicates this systematic lack of protection in the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black girls and women. This was also evident in the docuseries: One woman said she acquired an STI from Kelly.

Read more at Rewire News

How the StrongBlackWoman impacts black girls’ access to mental health services

In the twenty-first century, adolescent mental health is frequently discussed in the media and within educational institutions. The increase in the number of school shootings, bullying incidents and escalation of suicide rates have brought mental health awareness to the forefront. There has been a cooperative effort from educators, social workers, and healthcare professionals to make mental health resources available for all students. However, the accessibility and types of resources available are inequitable. I argue, that the StrongBlackWoman trope creates challenges for black girls and women in accessing mental health services.

To begin, I want to define the term StrongBlackWoman which I first read about in the book Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability by Stephanie Y. Evans, Kanika Bell and Nsenga K. Burton. In the chapter “When the Bough Breaks: The StrongBlackWoman and the Embodiment of Stress” author Chanequa Walker-Barnes uses research from black feminists before her to define what the StrongBlackWoman is. Specifically, she describes the StrongBlackWoman as “a totalitarian and culturally prescriptive identity characterized by three core features: emotional strength/regulation, caregiving, and independence” (Evans et. al 44). I will be using this definition of a StrongBlackWoman because of the significance in the omission of spacing between the words and its recognition of key characteristics black women practice.

Read more at the Western Union Gazette

High suicide rate among young Latinas may be exacerbated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, experts say

It started in sixth grade.

Sara Martinez said she had no reason to be sad, and yet she was.

In seventh grade, she cut herself for the first time, finding her own blood frightening. She eventually tried to kill herself seven times before her 18th birthday.

“I just wanted the pain to end … self-harm only helped me in that moment,” Martinez said in an interview with ABC News. “Afterwards, I would see the scars and that wouldn’t make me happy, and I would self-harm again.”

Martinez is part of a startling statistic: 1 out of every 10 Latinas has attempted suicide in the past year, 2 out of 10 have made a suicide plan and half of all Latina teens said they’ve felt hopeless, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to people ages 10 to 24.

Read more at Good Morning America.

An Exploratory Essay Confronting the Issues Involving Children with Incarceration Parents and How to Break the Cycle

As a child, my mother would stand on the porch of the third floor projects in the St. Bernard Housing Development and scream my name when it was time to come inside. Worried about what was waiting in the hallways leading to our apartment, she would meet me half way to ensure my safety. You see, trauma was normal growing up, but the hardest part was finding the best way to deal with it.

This November, I’ll be thirty-five years old. To some, it is a time to celebrate, but for me, it is the time I fight to hold back tears because it means another year my dad has been incarcerated. For thirty-five years, I have been denied the opportunity to wake up and say, “Good morning, Daddy,” and “Have a great day.” Instead, I have repeatedly heard, “You have a collect call from an inmate at a Louisiana State Prison.” I have spent my life with my dad behind bars, trying to raise me as if he were present in my life. I cannot tell you what it is like to have dinner with my dad or to attend an event with him. I was never afforded that opportunity.

These are my words and my thoughts on breaking the cycle that children of incarcerated parents often face in New Orleans and how it affected me personally. In addition, this essay will argue for the critical role city and state officials, along with community leaders, have in providing solutions to end the trauma that children with incarcerated parents face. More importantly, this essay provides guidance on how to break the cycle of broken families in New Orleans.

Read more at Loyola Law Review. 

So, Here’s the Thing About Young Black Girls Who Only Play With White Dolls

Research confirms that brown skin girls that only play with white dolls often grow up thinking that being “white” is beautiful, and that being “black” or “brown” is ugly!

And it’s the same for young girls that only play with dolls with straight hair… They often grow up believing that “straight” hair is beautiful, but “kinky” or “natural” hair is not attractive!

But there is an easy way to save young Black girls from this epidemic! Black parents can start buying their children dolls that make them proud of who they are… dolls with a beautiful brown skin tone, and kinky or natural hair — dolls that look like them!

Read more at The Dallas Weekly.