These occasional posts will showcase a variety of article links which have caught my interest. They’re in no particular order, but loosely grouped together for ease of reading. New Zealand content included where possible. (Author twitter accounts included where found.)

‘People Can Be Afraid of Anything’ by Kate Horowitz (@delight_monger)

The book explained that features of specific phobias include an immediate anxiety response (like my locked knees or my survey respondent’s tears in Red Lobster), recognition on the part of the phobic person that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, and avoidance of the triggering situation. For those of us with a whale phobia, that last one is usually pretty easy to satisfy. Animal phobias like mine typically crop up when people are around 7 to 10 years old, and there’s usually no triggering event. We’re not afraid of whales because we saw our siblings devoured by whales, or because our fathers choked to death on a piece of whale-shaped ice-cream cake. We’re just afraid.

NZ content – Cyberspace solution to #depressed by Troy Rawhiti-Forbes (@troyrf)

Since last year Zeal, a network of support and advocacy services for vulnerable young New Zealanders, has run a small pilot for Online Crisis Intervention. It is a digital counselling service connecting volunteers in New Zealand with young people in crisis – anywhere – disclosing their problems over social media.

There’s More to Life Than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith (@EmEsfahaniSmith)

Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

Is mindfulness making us ill? by Dawn Foster (@dawnhfoster)

Certain mental health problems increase the risk of adverse effects from mindfulness. “If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a certain chance that you may find meditation too difficult to do, as you may be re-experiencing traumatic memories,” Ruths says. “Once again, it’s about having experienced trainers to facilitate that. We’ve seen some evidence that people who’ve got bipolar vulnerability may struggle, but we need to keep in mind that it may be accidental, or it may be something we don’t know about yet.”

Of course, people may not know they have a bipolar vulnerability until they try mindfulness. Or they might have repressed the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, only for these to emerge after trying the practice.

Conversion therapy: Learning to love myself again by Luke Romesberg (@LukeRomesberg)

I revealed my sexual orientation on a Tuesday. By Friday my parents had arranged a meeting with a therapist. They told me he was a religious counselor. This seemed frightening already. He was going to “fix” me. He would make everything “better.”

NZ content – Help can be hard to find when you grow up takatāpui by Leigh McLachlan (@leigh_mclachlan)

Evolve Youth Centre youth worker Kassie Hartendorp says she sees a huge difference in takatāpui who have whānau support compared to those who do not. She understands this from her own journey.

“My experience of growing up young and being takatāpui is that there was just such a great silence around what it meant to question your sexuality and be attracted to the same gender,” she says.

Creative commons image from Pixabay.