Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News article] New approaches needed for people with serious mental illnesses in criminal justice system — ScienceDaily

New approaches needed for people with serious mental illnesses in criminal justice system — ScienceDaily.

From the 14 October 2014 article

esponding to the large number of people with serious mental illnesses in the criminal justice system will require more than mental health services, according to a new report.

In many ways, the criminal justice system is the largest provider of mental health services in the country. Estimates vary, but previous research has found that about 14 percent of persons in the criminal justice system have a serious mental illness, and that number is as high as 31 percent for female inmates. Researchers are defining serious mental illnesses to include such things as schizophrenia, bipolar spectrum disorders and major depressive disorders.

“It has been assumed that untreated symptoms of mental illness caused criminal justice involvement, but now we’re seeing that there is little evidence to support that claim,” said Matthew Epperson, assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Specialized interventions for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system have been developed over the past 20 years, such as mental health courts and jail diversion programs, Epperson said.

“But we need a new generation of interventions for people with serious mental health issues who are involved in the criminal justice system, whether it be interactions with police, jails, probation programs and courts,” he said. “Research shows that people with serious mental illnesses, in general, display many of the same risk factors for criminal involvement as persons without these conditions.”

: Criminal Justice Center

: Criminal Justice Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for all Ages

 

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The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for all Ages | Publications.USA.gov.

Can be downloaded for free!

A comprehensive reference with helpful charts and personal stories. The guide covers major diseases, aging mental health, reproductive health, nutrition and alternative medicine. It also provices advice on common screening tests and immunizations you may need. (Previous item number: 107W)

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Released: 2008
Pages: 500

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] National Prevention Week – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration

From the press release

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. National Prevention Week 2014 is about Our Lives. Our Health. Our Future. We’ll be highlighting the important role each of us has in maintaining a healthy life and ensuring a productive future.

There are many ways to make a difference. Explore the National Prevention Week website to learn more about how you can get involved, from planning a community event to participating in the “I Choose” Project.

Learn more about National Prevention Week.

 

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May 17, 2014 Posted by | Psychology, Public Health | , , , | 1 Comment

[News article] Early depression, anger may taint love life even 20 years later, study shows

 

Emotions show

Emotions show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 7 May 2014 article at ScienceDaily

Negative emotions people may have suffered as young adults can have a lasting grip on their couple relationships, well into middle age, research demonstrates. The study followed 341 people for 25 years, and found that negative emotions they may have suffered as young adults can have a lasting grip on their couple relationships, well into middle age. The fact that depression and anger experienced during the teen years clung to people, even through major life events such as child-rearing, marriages and careers was surprising, researchers note.

Read the entire article here

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May 8, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Doctors, lawyers and criminal justice agencies need methods to assess vulnerability to violent radicalization. In synergy, public health interventions aim to prevent the emergence of risk behaviours as well as prevent and treat new illness events. This paper describes a new method of assessing vulnerability to violent radicalization, and then investigates the role of previously reported causes, including poor self-reported health, anxiety and depression, adverse life events, poverty, and migration and socio-political factors. The aim is to identify foci for preventive intervention.

Methods
A cross-sectional survey of a representative population sample of men and women aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage and recruited by quota sampling by age, gender, working status, in two English cities. The main outcomes include self-reported health, symptoms of anxiety and depression (common mental disorders), and vulnerability to violent…

View original 122 more words

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dalai Lama: On Science and Emotional Health

 

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Photographed during his visit in Cologno Monzese MI, Italy, on december 8th, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dalai Lama: On Science and Emotional Health.

Excerpt

The Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and exiled spiritual leader of Buddhism in Tibet, discussed his admiration for scientists and made some interesting remarks about emotional health during a recent speech at the National Institutes of Health.

The Dalai Lama was effusive in his praise for scientists. He said (and we quote): ‘I deeply admire my scientific friends’ (end of quote). The Dalai Lama pinpointed the open minded of scientists and what he described as a healthy skepticism about evidence and hyperbole. He also emphasized the capacity of scientists from around the world to work together and ignore differences in geography, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and social class.

The Dalai Lama noted these traits set scientists apart and provided an international, professional role model.

However, the Dalai Lama also said he found some scientists were unhappy despite their gifts and intelligence. He briefly discussed the lack of inner peace among scientists with a sense of humor rather than admonishment. The Dalai Lama’s infectious laugh and self-deprecating humor delighted many NIH staff members who packed an auditorium to hear him.

The Dalia Lama’s discussion about emotional inner peace led to broader remarks about the impact of maternal affection in the life long health of children. The Dalai Lama explained he was pleased that scientific evidence seemed consistent with his personal, long-standing observation of the vital role of maternal love and sincerity in the development of a child’s brain and emotional health.

Similarly, the Dalai Lama noted that he had long observed a perceived link between maternal affection, attention, and sincerity for their children and the development of life long compassion for others. He encouraged behavioral and other scientists to further assess the extent of this relationship.

The Dalai Lama also was moved by a series of drawings from young patients at NIH’s Children’s Inn and underscored his appreciation for the artists. Similarly, he praised a project he saw at NIH’s Clinical Center that seeks to restore the ability to walk for young persons with Cerebral Palsy.

In response to a question from NIH Director Francis Collins M.D., the Dalai Lama confessed he sometimes gets frustrated and irritated – and even occasionally loses his temper. For example, he explained he became angry once during an interview when a New York Times columnist asked him four times to describe his probable legacy. Although the Dalai Lama noted he believed he answered the question the first time, the story revealed even renowned spiritual leaders sometimes can get cross. It also deftly reminded the audience there always is room for improvement in how we manage our lives and work.

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction | NCCAM

Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction | NCCAM

Excerpts from the Web page at The  National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

On this page:

Introduction

Relaxation techniques include a number of practices such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery,biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. The goal is similar in all: to consciously produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of calm and well-being.

Relaxation techniques (also called relaxation response techniques) may be used by some to release tension and to counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques are also used to induce sleep, reduce pain, and calm emotions. This fact sheet provides basic information about relaxation techniques, summarizes scientific research on effectiveness and safety, and suggests sources for additional information.

Key Points

  • Relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for anxiety, depression, and some types of pain. Some research also suggests that these techniques may help with other conditions, such as ringing in the ears and overactive bladder. However, their ability to improve conditions such as high blood pressure and asthma is unclear.
  • Relaxation techniques are generally safe.
  • Do not use relaxation techniques to replace scientifically proven treatments or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

About Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions. When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the “relaxation response.” Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

Go here for the entire article

 

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?.

Excerpts from the 21 February 2014 article

The bacteria in our guts can influence the working of the mind, says Frank Swain. So could they be upgraded to enhance brainpower?

I have some startling news: you are not human. At least, by some counts. While you are indeed made up of billions of human cells working in remarkable concert, these are easily outnumbered by the bacterial cells that live on and in you – your microbiome. There are ten of them for every one of your own cells, and they add an extra two kilograms (4.4lbs) to your body.

Far from being freeloading passengers, many of these microbes actively help digest food and prevent infection. And now evidence is emerging that these tiny organisms may also have a profound impact on the brain too. They are a living augmentation of your body – and like any enhancement, this means they could, in principle, be upgraded. So, could you hack your microbiome to make yourself healthier, happier, and smarter too?

..

“Diet is perhaps the biggest factor in shaping the composition of the microbiome,” he says. A study by University College Cork researcherspublished in Nature in 2012 followed 200 elderly people over the course of two years, as they transitioned into different environments such as nursing homes. The researchers found that their subjects’ health – frailty, cognition, and immune system – all correlated with their microbiome. From bacterial population alone, researchers could tell if a patient was a long-stay patient in a nursing home, or short-stay, or living in the general community. These changes were a direct reflection of their diet in these different environments. “A diverse diet gives you a diverse microbiome that gives you a better health outcome,” says Cryan.

Beyond a healthy and varied diet, though, it still remains to be discovered whether certain food combinations could alter the microbiome to produce a cognitive boost. In fact, Cryan recommends that claims from probiotic supplements of brain-boosting ought to be taken with a pinch of salt for now. “Unless the studies have been done, one can assume they’re not going to have any effect on mental health,” he says. Still, he’s optimistic about the future. “The field right now is evolving very strongly and quickly. There’s a lot of important research to be done. It’s still early days.”

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults

From the 12 February 2014 Full Text Reports item

American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults
Source: American Psychological Association

American teens report experiences with stress that follow a similar pattern as adults, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month. For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.

Findings from Stress in America™: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive Inc., (on behalf of APA) among 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens in the U.S. in August 2013, suggest that unhealthy behaviors associated with stress may begin manifesting early in people’s lives.

Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens versus 5.1 for adults). Even during the summer — between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, 2013, when interviewing took place — teens reported their stress during the past month at levels higher than what they believe is healthy (4.6 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale). Many teens also report feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired (36 percent) and nearly one-quarter of teens (23 percent) report skipping a meal due to stress.

Despite the impact that stress appears to have on their lives, teens are more likely than adults to report that their stress level has a slight or no impact on their body or physical health (54 percent of teens versus 39 percent of adults) or their mental health (52 percent of teens versus 43 percent of adults).

 

 

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February 13, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Are green spaces happy places?

From the 28 January 2014 post at Research the Headlines

by  on 2014/01/28
Green SpaceWhile we know that some of the lifestyle choices we make are good or bad for our health and mental wellbeing, we might be less inclined to think about how the environment we live in affects us. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in how factors in our environment, for example the amount of green space in the area we live, might influence a range of important outcomes, from physical health and stress to mortality. A recent studyhighlighted that although living in areas with more green space has been linked to a range of better health outcomes, much of this work has used information from a single assessment. That creates a problem, as noted by the authors of the study:

“Are people happier and healthier due to the proximity of green space to their homes, or do healthier people move to greener areas?”

By accessing information about people moving to or from greener areas and following those people for 3 years after their move, the new study reported that moving to a greener area not only led to an improvement in mental health, but that this was maintained over time. This positive effect of green space received coverage in a number of media outlets, including the Daily MailGuardian, and BBC News, for example.

What did the research say?

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

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January 29, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

[Pew Analysis] 37 States Increase Mental Health Budgets

From the 21 November 2013 report

After years of state spending cuts, mental health budgets increased in 37 states this year, according to a new report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Arguably the most notable development was that Texas increased mental health spending by $259 million over two years, the largest increase in its history,” NAMI said in a statement accompanying the report. South Carolina, which had cut mental health programs the deepest in recent years, was also among those states to increase funding this year.

Overall, the increased investment in mental health, spurred in part by the deadly shootings last year in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., represents a dramatic reversal from recent years. Between 2009 and 2012, state spending in mental health services dropped by $4.35 billion.

According to NAMI, only six states decreased mental health funding this year – Alaska, Wyoming, Nebraska, Louisiana, North Carolina and Maine.

Aside from money, the NAMI report said states enacted other measures related to mental health. Five states passed legislation to improve the early identification of mental illness in children and youth. Seventeen states adopted laws to tighten restrictions on gun ownership by those considered dangerously mentally ill. And 19 states tinkered with laws pertaining to court-ordered treatment of those with mental illness.

 

November 29, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Non-Specialist Health Workers Play Important Role in Improving Mental Health in Developing Countries

From the 19 November 2013 ScienceDaily article

Non-specialist health workers are beneficial in providing treatment for people with mental, neurological and substance-abuse (MNS) problems in developing countries — where there is often a lack of mental health professionals — according to a new Cochrane review.

Researchers, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, say non-specialist health workers (such as doctors, nurses or lay health workers) not formally trained in mental health or neurology, and other professionals with health roles, such as teachers, may have an important role to play in delivering MNS health care. The study is the first systematic review of non-specialist health workers providing MNS care in low- and middle-income countries.

After examining 38 relevant studies from 22 developing countries, researchers found that non-specialist health workers were able to alleviate some depression or anxiety. For patients with dementia, non-specialists seemed to help in reducing symptoms and in improving their carers’ coping skills. Non-specialists may also have benefits in treating maternal depression, post traumatic stress disorder as well as alcohol abuse, though the improvements may be smaller.

Lead author Dr Nadja van Ginneken, who completed the research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Global Mental Health with funding from the Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD programme, said: “Many low- and middle-income countries have started to train primary care staff, and in particular lay and other community-based health workers, to deliver mental health care. This review shows that, for some mental health problems, the use of non-specialist health workers has some benefits compared to usual care.”

 

Read the entire article here

Cochrane Abstract is here
C
heck with a local academic, health/medical, or public library for free or low cost access to full text.

 

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Behavioral Health United States 2012

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 5.40.36 AMFrom the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration press release

Behavioral Health United States 2012

SAMHSA’s newly-released publication, Behavioral Health, United States, 2012, the latest in a series of publications issued by SAMHSA biannually since 1980, provides in-depth information regarding the current status of the mental health and substance abuse field. It includes behavioral health statistics at the national and State levels from 40 different data sources. The report includes three analytic chapters:

  • Behavioral Health Disorders across the Life Span
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Impairment in Functioning
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Treatment Landscape

 

The volume also includes 172 tables, which are organized into four sections:

  • Behavioral Health of the Population: the mental health status of the U.S. population and prevalence of mental illness;
  • Behavioral Health Service Utilization: providers and settings for behavioral health services; types of behavioral health services provided; and rates of utilization;
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Capacity: number of facilities providing mental health and substance abuse services; numbers of qualified specialty mental health and substance abuse providers; and
  • Payer and Payment Mechanisms: expenditures and sources of funding for behavioral health services.

 

No other HHS publication provides this type of comprehensive information regarding behavioral health services delivery in the U.S. This publication is the only available comprehensive source of national-level statistical information on trends in both private and public sector behavioral health services, costs, and clients. Drawing on 40 different data sources, this publication also includes State-level data, and information on behavioral health treatment for special populations such as children, military personnel, nursing home residents, and incarcerated individuals.

 

 

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Commuting’s Hidden Cost – NYTimes.com

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 7.55.30 AM

Commuting’s Hidden Cost – NYTimes.com.

Excerpts

Millions of Americans like her pay dearly for their dependence on automobiles, losing hours a day that would be better spent exercising, socializing with family and friends, preparing home-cooked meals or simplygetting enough sleep. The resulting costs to both physical and mental healthare hardly trivial.

Suburban sprawl “has taken a huge toll on our health,” wrote Ms. Gallagher, an editor at Fortune magazine. “Research has been piling up that establishes a link between the spread of sprawl and the rise of obesity in our country. Researchers have also found that people get less exercise as the distances among where we live, work, shop and socialize increase.

“In places where people walk more, obesity rates are much lower,” she noted. “New Yorkers, perhaps the ultimate walkers, weigh six or seven pounds less on average than suburban Americans.”

A recent study of 4,297 Texans compared their health with the distances they commuted to and from work.It showed that as these distances increased, physical activity and cardiovascular fitness dropped, and blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference and metabolic risks rose.

The report, published last year in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine by Christine M. Hoehner and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas, provided causal evidence for earlier findings that linked the time spent driving to an increased risk of cardiovascular death. The study examined the effects of a lengthy commute on health over the course of seven years. It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life

….

Read the entire article here

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Emotions in Check May Not Always Benefit Psychological Health

Emotion

Emotion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 28 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

Being able to regulate your emotions is important for well-being, but new research suggests that a common emotion regulation strategy called “cognitive reappraisal” may actually be harmful when it comes to stressors that are under our control. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Context is important,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Allison Troy of Franklin & Marshall College. “Our research is among the first to suggest that cognitive reappraisal may actually have negative effects on psychological health in certain contexts.”

Previous research has shown that cognitive reappraisal — a strategy that involves reframing one’s thoughts about a given situation in order to change its emotional impact — is especially beneficial for the psychological health of people who are highly stressed. But, as Troy and colleagues discovered, the controllability of a given situation seems to be the key in determining whether cognitive reappraisal helps or hurts:

“For someone facing a stressful situation in which they have little control, such as a loved one’s illness, the ability to use reappraisal should be extremely helpful — changing emotions may be one of the only things that he or she can exert some control over to try to cope,” Troy notes.

“These results suggest that no emotion regulation strategy is always adaptive,” says Troy. “Adaptive emotion regulation likely involves the ability to use a wide variety of strategies in different contexts, rather than relying on just one strategy in all contexts.”

These findings have implications for public health, given that stress and impairments in the ability to cope with it are important predictors of psychological health problems. The findings also have important implications for clinicians, given that many existing forms of therapy focus on using cognitive reappraisal as a way of strengthening emotion regulation:

“Our results suggest that therapeutic interventions that seek to improve emotion regulation ability and teach clients to use particular strategies in context appropriate ways would be particularly beneficial,” says Troy. “It may be, for instance, that more active strategies like problem-solving and seeking social support could be particularly beneficial in more controllable contexts.”

The researchers plan on expanding their person-by-situation approach to the study of other emotion regulation strategies like acceptance, distraction, and suppression.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 28, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Pathologizing the Human Condition

There are times where I believe medications are the only answer to moderate to severe mental conditions.

 

Light bedtime reading

Light bedtime reading (Photo credit: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious)

 

However, as one of the comments stated, is the exponential increase in diagnoses largely due to the influence of BigPharma???

 

From the 1 Sept 2013 article by Dan Peters at the Health Care Blog

 

The American Psychiatric Association recently published a new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The DSM-5 is what medical, mental health, and chemical dependency professionals use to diagnose developmental, mental health, substance abuse and dependence, learning, and personality “disorders.” Now in its 5th edition, the DSM was first published in 1952. At that time, the DSM was 129 pages containing 106 diagnoses.

Now, 61 years later, the DSM-5 consists of approximately 950 pages and roughly 375 diagnoses. The DSM-5, while researched far more than previous editions, is based on the medical model or the model of disease. Simply put, the medical model finds the causes of disease and illness and then prescribes a treatment to cure the disease or illness. This means a person has a pathology or pathogen that needs to be treated and cured.

Without going into detail about some of the changes in the newest edition of the DSM, some diagnostic categories have been added and some diagnosis “thresholds” have been lowered. This means that you need fewer symptoms to “meet diagnostic criteria.” Here are some examples of concerns with the new DSM-5:

  • Temper tantrums will now be diagnosed as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Normal forgetting will now be diagnosed as Minor Neurocognitive Disorder
  • Gluttony will be diagnosed as Binge Eating Disorder
  • Grief will be diagnosed as Major Depression
  • First time substance users and college partiers will get a diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder
  • Everyday Worry will be diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

And what’s the number one treatment for all of these diagnoses? Medication.

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

LSD and Other Psychedelics Not Linked With Mental Health Problems, Analysis Suggests

Well, I still don’t feel inclined to try any…despite my FB profile.

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Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

From the 19th August 2013 article at ScienceDaily

The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person’s risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.

“After adjusting for other risk factors, lifetime use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote, or past year use of LSD was not associated with a higher rate of mental health problems or receiving mental health treatment,” says Johansen.

Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

……….

Read the entire article here

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Uninsured Mentally Ill

From the 10 August 2013 post at League of Bloggers for a Better World

Here’s a scary fact: A single hospital admission for a mentally ill patient paid for by the taxpayer-financed state medical-assistance program costs more than a year of private outpatient care. It makes little financial sense, yet it happens every single day in America.

Everyday, a mentally ill person is admitted to an ER in the throes of a psychiatric emergency, desperately needing care and having nowhere else to go. No psychiatrist, no therapist, no case manager, no nothing. So they rely on ER doctors and nurses- and tax payers. But after the patient gets emergency care, they are back on their own. Until it happens again.

So why do these patients lack proper, long term psychiatric care that could provide regular treatment? Why do they end up in this endless cycle? The answer is simple, yet still disturbing- they have no health insurance.

Psychiatrist Christine Montross wrote an article,”The Woman Who Ate Cutlery,” about this quandary that many mentally ill people who lack health insurance face on a regular basis. The article was featured in the New York Times on August 3, 2013.

From NYTimes.com:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — M is a 33-year old woman who swallowed silverware. Each time she ingested utensils, she went to the emergency room so that doctors could remove them from her esophagus and stomach.

Then the hospital transferred M to the psychiatric unit, where she was assigned to my care. When I met M she had already been hospitalized 72 times.

M’s case is dramatic. But she is one of countless psychiatric patients who have nowhere to turn for care, other than the E.R.

It is well known that millions of uninsured Americans, who can’t afford regular medical care, use the country’s emergency rooms for primary health care. The costs — to patients’ health, to their wallets, and to the health care system — are well documented. Less visible is the grievous effect this shift is having on psychiatric care and on the mentally ill.

How could this cycle of self-injury be disrupted? M and other psychiatric patients who turn to emergency rooms for care need regular outpatient appointments with a doctor they know and trust who can monitor their symptoms and assess the efficacy of their often complicated medication regimens.

Sadly, M’s history of recurrent hospital admissions is not uncommon. Recently I treated a 65-year-old man caught in a chronic cycle of homelessness and suicide attempts who had been in and out of the E.R. 246 times. If M had insurance, or enough money to pay out of pocket, she might see a therapist every week for an hour and a psychiatrist once or twice a month.

For full article, go to nytimes.com.

 

August 10, 2013 Posted by | health care, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 reasons why music would be great for digital health

From the 26 July 2013 KevinMD entry

 | TECH | JULY 24, 2013

Music as a healing mechanism has been accepted for over 50 years. Music is a source of primal memory similar to that of smell. It has been used in brain injury patient management, as well as to promote wellness, manage stress alleviate pain, promote physical rehabilitation, and enhance memory in Alzheimer’s Disease patients.I have appreciated the power of music my whole life and as a physician and musician, realized its healing potential early on in my medical career. I burned CDs of the music chosen by my patients to be played during their surgery (usually performed with light sedation) and gave it to them as a surprise at their office follow-up visit.

I will lightly touch on some reasons why music would be a great digital health technology.

1. There are scientific studies to provide evidence of efficacy. There are very few digital health technologies that are mobile technologies which have been proven to be efficacious. Since music has been digital for decades, it is a natural for adoption as a mobile health tech tool. Here’s a nice bibliography on the uses of music therapy. Areas such as mental health, special education and Autism, and pain management have been subjects of studies.

Read the entire article here

 

July 26, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prisoners Doing Yoga May See Psychological Benefits

yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

 

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Yoga can improve mood and mental wellbeing among prisoners, an Oxford University study suggests, and may also have an effect on impulsive behaviour.

The researchers found that prisoners after a ten-week yoga course reported improved mood, reduced stress and were better at a task related to behaviour control than those who continued in their normal prison routine.

‘We found that the group that did the yoga course showed an improvement in positive mood, a decrease in stress and greater accuracy in a computer test of impulsivity and attention,’ say Dr Amy Bilderbeck and Dr Miguel Farias, who led the study at the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at Oxford University. ‘The suggestion is that yoga is helpful for these prisoners.’

Dr Bilderbeck adds: ‘This was only a preliminary study, but nothing has been done like this before. Offering yoga sessions in prisons is cheap, much cheaper than other mental health interventions. If yoga has any effect on addressing mental health problems in prisons, it could save significant amounts of public money.’

If yoga is associated with improving behaviour control, as suggested by the results of the computer test, there may be implications for managing aggression, antisocial or problem behaviour in prisons and on return to society, the researchers note — though this is not measured in this initial study.

Dr Bilderbeck, who practices yoga herself, cautions: ‘We’re not saying that organising a weekly yoga session in a prison is going to suddenly turn prisons into calm and serene places, stop all aggression and reduce reoffending rates. We’re not saying that yoga will replace standard treatment of mental health conditions in prison. But what we do see are indications that this relatively cheap, simple option might have multiple benefits for prisoners’ wellbeing and possibly aid in managing the burden of mental health problems in prisons.’

Sam Settle, director of the Prison Phoenix Trust, says: ‘Almost half of adult prisoners return to prison within a year, having created more victims of crime, so finding ways to offset the damaging effects of prison life is essential for us as a society. This research confirms what prisoners have been consistently telling the Prison Phoenix Trust for 25 years: yoga and meditation help them feel better, make better decisions and develop the capacity to think before acting — all essential in leading positive, crime-free lives once back in the community.’

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education.

With the school system failing them, many children are turning to drugs. Heard this one before, right? Well, how about the part where the pusher is your pediatrician, and the fed is subsidizing?

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Terrifying.

A recent NYT article spot lighted increasing psych diagnoses in children for the purpose of acquiring “brain boosting” pharma creations to increase academic performance. The purpose is to make a child more competitive on a college application, and increase funding for a school district as test scores rise. Children are being force-fed drugs instead of given the attention they need or the freedom to be creative and learn discipline on their own as pharmaceutical “solutions” are abused as steroids for the brain. Worse yet, the behavior is sanctioned by those in authority, who are supposed to advocate for their well-being–their parents, doctors and the federal government…

..

Education is a highly competitive arena, whether it’s a student vying for a scholarship or admission to their college of choice, or a district teaching to standardized test scores and praying for funding. The Obama administration’s lauded “Race to the Top” initiative even goes so far as making funding an actual competition–schools submit innovative proposals for education reform in an effort to win federal money.

An anonymous California superintendent pontificated that “diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.” Poor children are being prescribed stimulants at increasing rates, and Medicare is paying the bill. If we are not directly funding public education in this country, we are indirectly doing so in efforts to respond to the problem….

 

 

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

NIMH · Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCaltech

Am wondering if murder, planning to murder, and domestic violence are brain disorders…
If so, or even probably so, this is a real wake up call for prison reform…

 

NIMH · Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCaltech.

From the 23 April 2013 item at the National Institute of Mental Health

A rethink is needed in terms of how we view mental illness, stated National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a recent TEDx talkat the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.

Deaths from medical causes such as leukemia and heart disease have decreased over the past 30 years. The same cannot be said of the suicide rate, which has remained the same. A vast majority of suicides—90 percent—are related to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.

Insel believes part of the problem is that mental illness is referred to either as a mental or behavioral disorder. “We need to think of these as brain disorders,” he said, adding that for these brain disorders, behavior is the last thing to change.

Insel walked the audience through recent advances in neuroscience, including the Human Connectome, which indicates that mental illness may be more of a neuronal connection or circuit disorder. The earlier these circuits are identified, he said, the earlier preventive treatments could be used to save the lives of people with mental illnesses.

“If we waited for the ‘heart attack,’ we would be sacrificing 1.1 million lives every year in this country,” he said. “That is precisely what we do today when we decide that everyone with one of these brain disorders, brain circuit disorders, has a behavior disorder. We wait until the behavior emerges. That’s not early detection, that’s not early prevention.”

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding Disorders at the Cellular Level

From the Scout Report summary

http://www.g2conline.org/2294

The Genes to Cognition website addresses the world of modern neuroscience through lectures, fact sheets, papers, and other materials that cover depression, autism, bipolar disorder, and a range of other disorders. This particular resource is a video of a conversation with Dr. Daniel Pine on the different approaches to understanding disorders. More specifically, Pine speaks about how researchers are looking into how we might understand neurological disorders on the cellular level. Along with this conversation, the site also has links to several other related lectures. At the bottom of the page, visitors can view an interactive 3D model of the brain, complete with 29 structures that can be rotated for detailed viewing. [KMG]

 

 

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

The closing of a mental health facility in Newtown

From the 26 January 2013 article at KevinMD.com

..Fairfield Hills Hospital [was] a state run mental health facility located in Newtown, about 3 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School. The hospital closed its doors in 1995.

To tell the tale of Fairfield Hills Hospital is to tell a tale of two nations. The first, a new economic and financial superpower, a country with an increasingly aspirational middle class toiling in a system that rewarded their hard work with a level of wealth and a standard of living never seen before in human history.  The second, a country struggling to balance the opposing pressures of a demographic bubble and crushing debt levels the likes of which have also never been seen in human history.

At its height, Fairfield Hills Hospital housed more than 4000 patients and had its own residency training program in psychiatry. …

… But most importantly, it had a large inpatient psychiatric facility. Many of the patients were temporary and often involuntary residents. But many others were long term residents. Very often they were mentally handicapped wards of the state, who could not live independently and had no one to take care of them. Others were severely mentally handicapped or individuals who represented a threat to themselves or others. …

What subsequently happened to Fairfield Hills Hospital is largely emblematic of what had befallen mental health care and in another sense, public funding in America. The soaring expenditures of maintaining grand inpatient mental health facilities, and maintaining thousands of employee benefits including generous health care and pensions became increasingly difficult to continue in the face of a decreasing tax base. This coincided with the decreasing emphasis on institutionalization and greater emphasis on community based models of care ….

 

Read the entire article here

 

January 28, 2013 Posted by | health care, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

Frontiers publishes systematic review on the effects of yoga on major psychiatric disorders

From the 25 January 2013 EurkAlert

Yoga on our minds: The 5,000-year-old Indian practice may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints

Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication, according to a systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders.

Published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry, on January 25th, 2013, the review of more than one hundred studies focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.

Yoga in popular culture

Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the United States alone, according to a survey by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in popular belief.

“However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” wrote the authors in their study. “Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”

Read the entire article here

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Free Webcast] Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would  pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.

Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.

Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.

Here’s some information about the Webcast directly from the Institute of Medicine web site

Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
Topics: Global HealthChildren, Youth and FamiliesSubstance Abuse and Mental HealthPublic Health
Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
Boards: Board on Global HealthBoard on Children, Youth, and Families

This workshop will be webcast. Register to attend in-person or register to watch the webcast.

  [My note...registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they've reached seating capacity]

Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem.  As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)?  4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?

The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.

 

*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).

“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”

 

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

Economic Environment During Infancy Linked With Substance Use, Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence

Us unemployment rates 1950 2005

Us unemployment rates 1950 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While correlation doesn’t equate cause/effect…there just may be something here…

From the 31 December 2012 article at ScienceDaily

The larger economic environment during infancy may be associated with subsequent substance use and delinquent behavior during adolescence, according to a report published Online First by Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

“The results demonstrate a strong correlation between the unemployment rate during infancy and subsequent behavioral problems. This finding suggests that unfavorable economic conditions during infancy may create circumstances that can affect the psychological development of the infant and lead to the development of behavioral problems in adolescence,” the authors note.

According to the study results, exposure to a 1 percent deviation from mean regional unemployment rates at the age of 1 year was associated with an increase in the odds ratios of engaging in marijuana use (1.09), smoking (1.07), alcohol use (1.06), arrest (1.17), gang affiliation (1.09), and petty (1.06) and major theft (1.11). No significant associations were noted with the use of hard drugs and assaultive behavior, the results indicate.

“Although the past does not necessarily predict the future, it provides important lessons. Our findings suggest an important static risk factor that mental health professionals may want to take into account when dealing with children exposed to the current economic crisis,” the authors conclude. “We hope that the study inspires mental health professionals to look for potential causes and explore interventions that can mitigate some of these long-term consequences.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

January 2, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Social Medicines’ Do Benefit Health and Wellbeing

Seems to be a mix of personal responsibility and government/social policy

From the 6 November 2012 article at Science Daily

‘Social medicines’ are beneficial to the health and wellbeing of individuals and the population. By combining social and biological information from UK Longitudinal studies (life-course studies) researchers have identified that the more ‘social medicines’ you have, the better your physical and mental health. These include a stable family life, stress-free childhood, alcohol-free culture for young people, secure and rewarding employment, positive relationships with friends and neighbours, and a socially active old age…

..

The booklet is available to download free of charge from the ICLS website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/icls/publications/booklets. Hardcopies are also available on request…

Researchers from the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health (ICLS) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are releasing a plain English guide to their research demonstrating how ‘Life gets under your skin’ as part of the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science in November.

A stable family life where children have secure routines, including being read to and taken on outings by their parents, is more likely to result in them being ready to take in what will be offered at school (school-readiness). Getting a flying start at school is one of the most important pathways towards wellbeing later in life.

An environment free of constant bombardment with cigarette and alcohol advertisements helps adolescents avoid the first steps towards addiction. People with more friends have higher levels of health and wellbeing — and researchers have found this to be almost as important as avoiding smoking over the longer term. A supportive social network can make all the difference as people confront the problems of aging, helping them to maintain a high quality of life for many years.

The booklet demonstrates how social policy related to family life, education, employment and welfare can have beneficial effects for the health of individuals. It also shows how multi disciplinary, longitudinal research can deliver findings valuable to the individual, society and the economy.

 

 

 

November 6, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More than Good Vibes: Researchers Propose the Science Behind Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)

 

From the 29 October 2012  Brigham and Women’s Hospital press release

 

BOSTON, MA—Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness.  Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.

In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.

This new model of mindfulness is published in the October 25, 2012 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The model was recently presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama in a private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”

The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.

The S-ART framework explains the underlying neurobiological mechanisms by which mindfulness can facilitate self-awareness; reduce biases and negative thoughts; enhance the ability to regulate one’s behavior; and increase positive, pro-social relationships with oneself and others-all-in-all creating a sustainable healthy mind.

The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.

In other words, these processes begin with an intention and motivation to want to attain mindfulness, followed by an awareness of one’s bad habits. Once these are set, a person can begin taming him or herself to be less emotionally reactive and to recover faster from upsetting emotions.

“Through continued practice, the person can develop a psychological distance from any negative thoughts and can inhibit natural impulses that constantly fuel bad habits,” said David Vago, PhD, BWH Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, and lead study author.

Vago also states that continued practice can also increase empathy and eliminate our attachments to things we like and aversions to things we don’t like.

“The result of practice is a new You with a new multidimensional skill set for reducing biases in one’s internal and external experience and sustaining a healthy mind,” said Vago.

The S-ART framework and neurobiological model proposed by the researchers differs from current popular descriptions of mindfulness as a way of paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. With the help of functional MRI, Vago and his team are currently testing the model in humans.

This research was supported by the Mind and Life Institute, Impact Foundation, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (5-R21AT002209-02).

 

 

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oklahoma Looks for Ways to Keep Mentally Ill Ex-offenders Out of Prison

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 23 October 2012 article at Stateline Daily

 

Central to that program is ensuring that participants leave custody already signed up for Social Security Disability and Medicaid, which immediately provides them with some income and health care and – crucial for them – psychiatric medication and counseling.

By comparison, unless they are disabled in some way, typical inmates leaving prison in Oklahoma do not qualify for either Social Security or Medicaid benefits. Usually, they are given a lift to the bus station, a ticket to anywhere they want to go in the state, $50, and sometimes a handshake.

Lowering Recidivism

If the measure of success is keeping mentally ill ex-offenders out of prison, the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Re-Entry Program has been a success. The recidivism rate over a three-year span for those participating in the program is 25.2 percent, compared to the 42.3 percent rate for a comparable prison population before the program started in 2007. On the basis of those results, the program earned an innovation award this year from the Council of State Governments.

Law enforcement is positive about the program as well. “Anything that keeps them on their medication and in treatment is a positive step,” says Phil Cotten, acting director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

Not the least of those extolling the program are its beneficiaries, some of whom have no doubt about the boomerang route their post-prison life would have followed without the re-entry experiment…

..

Criminalizing Mental Illness

Like every other state, Oklahoma has seen a correlation between the emptying of its psychiatric hospitals in the sixties and seventies and its ever-increasing prison population. According to Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, half of its prisoners have a history of or currently exhibit some form of mental illness (resulting in a threefold increase in the number of prisoners receiving psychotropic drugs between 1998 and 2006). Some call it the criminalization of mental illness. In a different time, many of the symptomatic mentally ill ended up in psychiatric wards; today they go to prison, a situation that Robert Powitsky, the chief mental officer of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, calls a “travesty.”

“The new front-line mental health workers are law enforcement officers and the new psychiatric hospitals are the prisons and the jails,” says Powitzky, who has spent most of his four-decade long career as a psychologist in prison systems. “It’s wrong, it’s just plain wrong.”…

 

October 23, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Suicide Prevention Plan: 10/15/2012 [NLM Director’s Comments ]

From the Director’s page

Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

comprehensive plan to reduce the number and impact of suicides in the U.S. recently was announced by the U.S. Surgeon General…

..

The Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention is available at surgeongeneral.gov.

Meanwhile, a helpful introduction to suicide symptoms is provided by the American Society of Suicidology in the ‘overviews’ section ofMedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page. A helpful guide about what to do if someone is suicidal is provided by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Research and Education in the ‘prevention/screening’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Research and Education also provides a helpful website, ‘Considering suicide? How to Stay Safe and Find Treatment’ in the ‘coping’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. From the suicide health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page, type ‘suicide’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘Suicide (National Library of Medicine).’ Links to health topic pages devoted to depression, mental health and behavior, as well as social/family issues are accessible within ‘related topics’ on the right side of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

As the Surgeon General’s report notes, improving prevention to offset a sobering rate of suicide is gaining new momentum in medicine and public health. We wish the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention every success.

Before I go, this reminder… MedlinePlus.gov is authoritative. It’s free. We do not accept advertising …and is written to help you.

 

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Does True Love Wait? Age of First Sexual Experience Predicts Romantic Outcomes in Adulthood

Please read the entire article, there are many factors that need to be “teased out” in future studies (as the author emphasizes).
A fascinating read, nonetheless.

From the 17 October 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

It’s a common lament among parents: Kids are growing up too fast these days. Parents worry about their kids getting involved in all kinds of risky behavior, but they worry especially about their kids’ forays into sexual relationships. And research suggests that there may be cause for concern, as timing of sexual development can have significant immediate consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health.

But what about long-term outcomes? How might early sexual initiation affect romantic relationships in adulthood?

Psychological scientist Paige Harden of the University of Texas at Austin wanted to investigate whether the timing of sexual initiation in adolescence might predict romantic outcomes — such as whether people get married or live with their partners, how many romantic partners they’ve had, and whether they’re satisfied with their relationship — later in adulthood…

Read the entire article here

 

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

War causes mental illness in soldiers

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems there is still debate (see related articles).

 

From the 19th September 2012 EurekAlert

One in every two cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers remains undiagnosed. This is the conclusion reached by a working group led by Hans-Ulrich Wittchen et al. They report their study in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(35): 559), which is a special issue focusing on the prevalence of psychological stress in German army soldiers. In a second original article, results reported by Jens T Kowalski and colleagues show that more female soldiers contact the psychosocial support services provided by Germany’s armed forces than their male colleagues (Dtsch Arztbl Int 2012; 109 (35): 559).

Wittchen et al. draw attention to the fact that thus far no information has been available on how commonly soldiers have traumatic experiences during deployments to Afghanistan and develop PSTD. In their study, 85% of all soldiers deployed overseas reported at least one distressing event, but usually several such events. Overseas deployment is associated with twice or four times the risk of PTSD for soldiers. In international comparison, the prevalence of PTSD is notably lower in German soldiers, at 2.9%, than in soldiers from other countries who are deployed in the same regions. However, the estimated proportion of undiagnosed and untreated cases of PTSD is 45%.

Kowalski et al. explain that it is not only Afghanistan from where soldiers return in a traumatized state but also Kosovo. The number of Kosovo returnees with mental problems in their study increased significantly compared to the number of traumatized soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The study is based on hospital data of all German army psychiatric wards; these data evaluated the psychiatric morbidities between January 2010 through June 2011. The most common diagnoses were adjustment disorders, PSTD, and mild and moderate depressive episodes.

 

###

http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128487

http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128488

Accompanying Editorial: http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128486

 

 

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

How Early Social Deprivation Impairs Long-Term Cognitive Function

 

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear...

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 17 September 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

A growing body of research shows that children who suffer severe neglect and social isolation have cognitive and social impairments as adults. A study from Boston Children’s Hospital shows, for the first time, how these functional impairments arise: Social isolation during early life prevents the cells that make up the brain’s white matter from maturing and producing the right amount of myelin, the fatty “insulation” on nerve fibers that helps them transmit long-distance messages within the brain…

When isolation occurred during a “critical period,” starting three weeks after birth, cells called oligodendrocytes failed to mature in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region important for cognitive function and social behavior. As a result, nerve fibers had thinner coatings of myelin, which is produced by oligodendrocytes, and the mice showed impairments in social interaction and working memory.

 

 

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-control may not be a limited resource after all

 

From the 12 September 2012 article at EurekAlert

So many acts in our daily lives – refusing that second slice of cake, walking past the store with the latest gadgets, working on your tax forms when you’d rather watch TV – seem to boil down to one essential ingredient: self-control. Self-control is what enables us to maintain healthy habits, save for a rainy day, and get important things done.

But what is self-control, really? And how does it work?

In a new article in the September 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto and Brandon Schmeichel of Texas A&M University argue that the prevailing model of self-control may not be as precise as researchers once thought. Rather than being a limited resource, self-control may actually be more like a motivation- and attention-driven process.

Research on self-control has surged in the last decade and much of it has centered on the resource model of self-control. According to this model, originally proposed by Roy Baumeister and colleagues, self-control is a limited resource – if we exercise a lot of self-control by refusing a second slice of cake, we may not have enough self-control later in the day to resist the urge to shop or watch TV.

Over 100 papers have produced findings that support this model. Research has found, for example, that people who are required to manage their emotions show impaired performance on later tasks, such as solving a difficult puzzle, squeezing a handgrip exerciser, and keeping items in working memory.

But Inzlicht and Schmeichel point out that a newer crop of studies are yielding results that don’t fit with this idea of self-control as a depletable resource. Recent studies have shown that incentives, individual perceptions of task difficulty, personal beliefs about willpower, feedback on task performance, and changes in mood all seem to influence our ability to exercise self-control. These results suggest that self-control may not rely on a limited resource after all.

To accommodate these new findings and get at the mechanisms that underlie self-control, Inzlicht and Schmeichel propose an alternative model that describes self-control as a process involving motivation and attention.

“Engaging in self-control by definition, is hard work; it involves deliberation, attention, and vigilance,” the authors write. If we resist that second slice of cake, we may experience a shift in motivation so that we feel justified in indulging ourselves later on. It’s not necessarily the case that we can’t control ourselves because we’re “out” of self-control but rather that we choose not to control ourselves any longer.

At the same time, our attention shifts so that we’re less likely to notice cues that signal the need for self-control (cake = empty calories) and we pay more attention to cues that signal some kind of reward (cake = delicious treat).

In laying out the basic components of this process model, Inzlicht and Schmeichel want to motivate researchers to ask critical questions about how self-control really works. “The idea that self-control is a resource is one possibility, but there are alternative possibilities that can accommodate more of the accumulated data,” Inzlicht says.

Identifying the mechanisms that underlie self-control can help us to understand behaviors related to a wide range of important problems, including obesity, impulsive spending, gambling, and drug abuse. Inzlicht and Schmeichel hope that researchers will ultimately be able to use this knowledge to design effective m..

 

 

September 13, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , | Leave a comment

Learn to understand and interpret your body’s language (holiday stress example included)

 

From KevinMD.com article  by SUSAN BIALI, MD on September 9th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was brought in to speak to the staff of a local university. I gave a two hour workshop, which is even more fun for me than giving a keynote as I get to interact personally with the audience and draw their stories out. One of the sections of the workshop was about listening to your body. Every person’s body “speaks” to them in a different way; it’s important to pay attention to and learn to understand and interpret your body’s language.

 

When your life is off track, your body will let you know. It starts small, whispering to you through minor ailments such as suddenly developing a rash like eczema, or getting mild tension headaches. If you don’t pay attention and make adjustments it will get louder. You might start catching every cold that’s around, or end up with pneumonia.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily caused any and every medical condition you might end up with; there will always be some health situations that we have no explanation for. Yet there’s no question that when you’re out of balance in your life it’s perceived by your body as a stressor, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary consequences (and physical alarm bells). It’s essential to pay attention to this.

While speaking at that university, I asked the audience members if they had any examples of a time their body let them know that something in their life had to change. A small, pleasant-faced woman raised her hand.

“I got diabetes,” she told us. “There’s absolutely no history of it in our family. It was purely due to stress.”

Chronic excess stress could trigger diabetes in a variety of ways: reaching for sugary snacks or other poor food choices to temporarily calm and comfort; lack of time to exercise and maintain a healthy weight; being chronically sleep-deprived (even brief sleep deprivation triggers a pre-diabetic state); or having constantly elevated stress hormones that raise blood sugar.

I asked her what the circumstances were that had made her life so stressful.

“I’m a victim of the sandwich generation,” she said. “I was taking care of my kids, my parents, and everybody else. When I got diagnosed with diabetes, I knew something had to change. I was the person who everyone else came to for Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything. The year I got my diagnosis I told them that if they wanted to eat turkey they could make it themselves, I wasn’t lifting a finger. They didn’t like it at first, but I had no choice. Everything’s so much better now. I made lots of positive changes that were way overdue, and my blood sugar has gone back to normal.”

 

 

 

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Anger or gratefulness it’s up to you

From the 15 August 2012 article at Health Services Authors

Gratefulness could be the best way to happiness and to avoid child’s mental health problems in case of a pathogenic infancy. In France our psychologists developed the concept of resilience. Anglo-Saxon world put the accent on gratefulness as a tool for resilience, paving the way for the happening of a state of mind conducive to happiness. Listen to how Nancy Floy, an acupuncturist from Chicago, got through a very difficult childhood thank to her grand mother’s teaching of gratefulness for yet being still alive after a night of alcoholic chaos perpetrated by her own genitors.
Gratefulness is a very good way of conducting once life, don’t you think? Anyway my three dogs already behave according to this precept: they manifest energetically their joy, eyes full of gratefulness whatever the littlest good I do for them (like for example just giving them a little cup of water when they are thirsty, or appearing in the evening after a full day of absence, nothing more than that makes them very happy ;-)

Thanks to the media HUMANKIND for broadcasting such interesting programs.

The interview of Nancy Floy

The public radio HUMANKIND.

Related articles

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

States Crack Down on Mental Health Prescriptions

 

From the 14 August 2012 edition of Stateline

n the past two years, Illinois has done just about everything it could to reduce the amount it spends on prescription drugs for mental health. It has placed restrictions on the availability of 17 medications used to treat depression, psychosis and attention-deficit disorder. Doctors now have to explain to Medicaid why the drugs are necessary before a patient can get access to them. Then in July, as part of an effort to cut overall Medicaid spending by $1.6 billion, the state capped the number of prescriptions for Medicaid recipients to four a month, even if they previously were taking a broader cocktail of behavioral medications.

In financial terms, there is no question that it has worked. Last year, the state’s Medicaid mental health drug spending budget was reduced by $112 million. The new cap on prescription drugs is expected to save another $180 million.

Up until 2011, behavioral health drug spending made up about a quarter of Illinois’ Medicaid prescription drug costs. The state spent about $392 million that year on drugs for treating mental health patients. In fiscal 2012, the state spent $280 million on mental health drugs.

But what are the implications for quality of care? Some physicians argue that they are disastrous. “It’s a mess,” says Dr. Daniel Yohanna, a psychiatrist at the University of Chicago Medical Center.  “People who were stable on some drugs have been unable to get them. It has created a significant problem.”

Michael Claffey, of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, says the state is aware of the complaints from the mental health community, but adds, “we don’t have unlimited funds. We need doctors to work with us…If a patient needs a drug, they will get approval.”..

..

About half of Medicaid mental health patients had difficulty accessing at least one medication, and about a quarter of them then stopped taking their medications, according to a Psychiatric Services report in 2009 on physicians’ experiences in 10 state Medicaid programs. Physicians reported that many patients experienced an adverse event, such as hospitalization, homelessness or even suicide because they couldn’t get their drugs.  Another study, reported in the May 2008 issue of Health Affairs, showed that between 2003 and 2004, Maine’s prior authorization program for atypical antipsychotics (drugs that treat serious psychoses) resulted in a 29 percent greater risk that patients suffering from schizophrenia would fail to follow their treatment protocol.

Competing studies, on the other hand, suggest that mental health drugs aren’t being properly prescribed, particularly to those under 18, and that imposing restrictions can improve quality of care by requiring physicians to reconsider why they are writing a prescription. I..

In Illinois, Yohanna says he has seen examples of inappropriate prescribing of psychotropic drugs and agrees that “prior approval can help with that.” But he thinks that requiring all doctors to get approval for drugs “is just throwing a blanket on things without really dealing with the worst offenders.” He says a policy like Washington State’s second opinion program would be a good idea, as well as setting up a system where there are fewer restrictions on doctors who had responsible prescribing patterns. Currently Yohanna says, it can take two to three days to get a drug approved.

 

August 15, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Psychotherapy Is Effective but Underutilized, Review Shows

 

From the 9 August 2012 article at Science News Daily

Psychotherapy is effective, helps reduce the overall need for health services and produces long-term health improvements, according to a review of research studies conducted by the American Psychological Association.

Yet, the use of psychotherapy to treat people with mental and behavioral health issues decreased over the last decade while the use of medications to address such problems has increased, according to government and insurance industry data.

“Every day, consumers are bombarded with ads that tout drugs as the answer to their problems. Our goal is to help consumers weigh those messages with research-based information about how psychotherapy can provide them with safe, effective and long-lasting improvements in their mental and physical health,” said Melba J. T. Vazquez, PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association who led the psychotherapy effectiveness review project…

The resolution also states Key findings of the resolution:

[The full resolution may be found here]

• Research demonstrates that psychotherapy is effective for a variety of mental and behavioral health issues and across a spectrum of population groups. The average effects of psychotherapy are larger than the effects produced by many medical treatments.

• Large multi-site and meta-analytic studies have demonstrated that psychotherapy reduces disability, morbidity and mortality; improve work functioning; and decrease psychiatric hospitalization.

• Psychotherapy teaches patients life skills that last beyond the course of treatment. The results of psychotherapy tend to last longer than psychopharmacological treatments and rarely produce harmful side effects

• While medication is appropriate in some instances, research shows that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is often most effective in treating depression and anxiety. It should also be noted that the effects produced by psychotherapy, including those for different age groups and across a spectrum of mental and physical health disorders, are often comparable to or better than the effects produced by drug treatments for the same disorders without the potential for harmful side effects that drugs often carry.

“As Americans grapple with the ever-increasing cost of health care, it is important that consumers and those who make decisions about health care access understand the potential value in both improved outcomes and cost-saving of psychotherapies,” Vasquez said. “APA applauds and continues to support collaboration of psychologists with other health care providers as part of integrated health care teams. Psychotherapies are highly effective, but only when consumers have access to them.”

 

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Lying Less Linked to Better Health

 

From the 4 August 2012 article at Eureka News Alert

Telling fewer lies tied to improved relationships, too, according to study

ORLANDO, Fla. — Telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health, according to a “Science of Honesty” study presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

“Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health,” said lead author Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.”

Kelly and co-author Lijuan Wang, PhD, also of Notre Dame, conducted the honesty experiment over 10 weeks with a sample of 110 people, of whom 34 percent were adults in the community and 66 percent were college students. They ranged in age from 18 to 71 years, with an average age of 31. The just-completed study has not yet undergone peer review and has yet to be published.

Approximately half the participants were instructed to stop telling major and minor lies for the 10 weeks. The other half served as a control group that received no special instructions about lying. Both groups came to the laboratory each week to complete health and relationship measures and to take a polygraph test assessing the number of major and white lies they had told that week.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the link between less lying and improved health was significantly stronger for participants in the no-lie group, the study found. For example, when participants in the no-lie group told three fewer white lies than they did in other weeks, they experienced on average about four fewer mental-health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy, and about three fewer physical complaints, such as sore throats and headaches, the study found. In contrast, when control group members told three fewer white lies, they experienced two fewer mental-health complaints and about one less physical complaint. The pattern was similar for major lies, Kelly said.

Compared to the control group, participants in the more truthful group told significantly fewer lies across the 10-week study, and by the fifth week, they saw themselves as more honest, Kelly said. When participants across both groups lied less in a given week, they reported their physical health and mental health to be significantly better that week.

In weeks when participants told fewer lies, they reported that their close personal relationships had improved and that their social interactions overall had gone more smoothly that week, the study revealed. “Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” said Wang, who is a statistician.

At the end of the 10 weeks, participants in the no-lie group described their efforts to keep from lying to others in their day-to-day interactions. Some said they realized they could simply tell the truth about their daily accomplishments rather than exaggerate, while others said they stopped making false excuses for being late or failing to complete tasks, Kelly said. Others said that they learned to avoid lying by responding to a troubling question with another question to distract the person, she said.

The study sample was 63 percent women, 87 percent white, 4 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian-American and 2 percent of another race. Annual family income for the participants was fairly evenly distributed over a range of less than $25,000 to more than $160,000.

Because the findings are new they will be submitted for scientific review and publication later this year, Kelly said.

###

The “Science of Honesty” project was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.

 

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

DSM-5 will capture the dynamic nature of mental illness

From the 20 July 2012 post at KevinMD.com

Much of the debate over the future edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5) has centered on what disorders will be added, modified or dropped. But lost in the discussion is a change that will align disorders along a developmental continuum—one that looks at them across the lifespan. This shift will provide clinicians with a critical perspective that until now has been missing.

 

Historically, disorders were classified in DSM by symptom manifestation and patient presentation. As a result, they generally were grouped by discreet stages of life, as if there were no connections or implications from one stage to another. In particular, the opening chapter of DSM-IV, “Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence,” segregated such conditions as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, pica, rumination and autism disorder from the rest of the manual. The implication was that disorders in the “child” chapter affect only children and disorders in the rest of the manual affect only adults….

 

he need for these changes is obvious: The real world doesn’t work within distinct boundaries, and clinicians are not best able to understand potential connections, interrelations and ramifications when they only consider a single, narrow point in time. A young girl who lashes out with persistent and significant anger could presage a young adult with similarly explosive behavior, for example. Conversely, a middle-aged man’s extreme anxiety might reflect a difficult recent event, such as a divorce or layoff. But it also might be a problem that first manifested itself decades earlier, in panic attacks or a fear of leaving the house. In both cases, diagnosis as well as treatment will be more clinically useful if the factors involved are evaluated through a longitudinal lens.

This different perspective will especially benefit women, for whom mental disorders are often linked to specific ages or periods of life. We know that young women between 15 and 22 are much more likely to have negative body image than young men and to develop eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, self-harm and,  in the most extreme cases, suicide. But what happens after 22?  Even with treatment, the risk of recurrent depression remains, and it often needs to be assessed in terms of the extra emotional and physical issues many women face throughout their lives—because of lower income, discrimination, sexual harassment and violence….

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Radio: Old Dog, New Tricks? (Mental Health Radio Programs)

[Reblog] RADIO: OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS?

June 11, 2012 · by  · in Mass Media

The British Medical Journal recently highlighted award winning healthcare communication campaign efforts and I was intrigued that a radio program made the list of “imaginative and effective” communication methods.  This effort consisted of 12 phone-in radio programs with 22 clinicians to talk in-depth about different mental health issues.  It was specifically broadcasted to a rural and socially isolated area.  The main purpose: to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

So, we have story telling narratives by our friends and neighbors in a rural and socially isolated region, broadcast for any and all to hear.  Is this innovative?  Any Frasier fan would likely say no.  But with this particular audience, (and not the bustling and heavily populated Seattle) I immediately thought of social norms.  (Without getting too theory heavy, think descriptive norms- what you believe is typical or normal and subjective norms- what your friends/family think.)  So, these fine British clinicians worked to reduce stigma by demonstrating that mental health issues not only exist, but they exist in your community.  Listen up Cornwall as your friends and neighbors talk about their mental health troubles!

Know Your Audience | Now, this could have been a fictional program with actors portraying mental health issues, moving this into an edu-tainment area, or perhaps a standard PSA, which is so often distributed via radio.  But what stood out to me was that this audience was not going to pay attention to a social media campaign or a TV commercial.  They might, however, pay attention to local folks telling their story, their experience with mental health on the radio.    Storytelling can be powerful and when balanced with the clinical expertise or evidence, has the potential to make an impact.  Yes, radio is an old medium.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t find new ways to use it.

I make no claims to be an expert in mental health stigma, but while looking into this issue, I came across a few interesting links.

Canada’s Anti-Stigma Ad Campaign

San Diego’s “It’s Up to Us” Anti-Stigma Campaign Radio Spots

Minnesota’s Twin Cities is building a mental health facility with reducing stigma in mind and in design.

National Alliance on Mental Illness- Stigma Busters

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic

Gunshot wound victim makes it to the trauma ce...

Gunshot wound victim makes it to the trauma center at Valley Care Hospital (Photo credit: ffsetla)

This is one response to how to lower the high murder rate rate in Chicago (5,056 since 2001). The author believes that many victims of violence react with shock in much the same manner as soldiers with PTSD. These victims will most likely grow up angry with greater potential to use violence to solve problems unless they are worked with, much like returning soldiers from a war zone.

The blog post Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic may be found here.

Excerpts

The Real Problem: Trauma

I spent a summer in the ER of a Level 1 trauma center in Chicago. Gunshot victims would come in, and they couldn’t believe what had happened to them. It was traumatic in the truest sense – their bodies were broken and put into shock. But their mind and spirit were as well: it was a jarring experience all around for them. But not only for them. Mothers and aunties and cousins and baby mommas were going crazy too. A light bulb turned on: This situation is traumatic for them too! They need care as well.

And so the idea of “care” was expanding from physical to psycho-spiritual, and from patient to family. Everybody involved was a victim of trauma here.

I began to look into this idea of “trauma” and found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of unfettered moments of shock that continue to reside in the body: the brain and body never return to “normal,” and will erupt in erratic behavior. Think of a geyser here. Hot springs are the result of spontaneous combustion of something that happened in a river far away and a long time ago. What if this is true with humans?

We already know it is. One study on inner-city kids in Chicago showed that children who were exposed to violence or witness a violent act were much more likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior within one year of exposure. PTSD also carries symptoms of depression, which contribute to feelings of meaninglessness in self and the world (thus devaluing another human life enough to take it). This is all very scientific and I want to get to the point:

Our children are being put into shock every single day.

They are experiencing violence as perpetrator, victim, and witness, and they are no less exposed to the trauma. The trauma of being poor….

One Real Solution

Chicago has been called a “warzone” – let’s play with that a moment. Maybe the best thing a small church can do to stop the violence is work with our children like we work with our returning soldiers. (We need to do this better as well). Vets need safe space to talk. They need to give voice to experiences and be able to create new ways of understanding themselves—it’s called moving from “soldier” to “human” again.

Our children need to understand themselves not as black or poor orat-risk but as HUMAN first. They need to develop meaning to confront the meaninglessness that surrounds them. This angry and dark world is traumatic for children, and they will grow up angry and dark unless we help them process what they have seen. Finding one’s own voice is critical to meaning-making. Some of them are not soldiers, but they are all in the war.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | health care, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleeping in Vermont Dumpster Shows Psychiatric Cuts’ Cost – Bloomberg

Sleeping In Vermont Dumpster Shows Psychiatric Cuts’ Cost

via Sleeping in Vermont Dumpster Shows Psychiatric Cuts’ Cost – Bloomberg.

Katherine Gluck blurts out to the judge, “I’m guilty.”

Gluck, 47, is charged on this March morning with threatening her former husband with a hammer. Police who arrested her in Burlington, Vermont, know those tired eyes and stringy blond hair. In December, Gluck was charged but not jailed or hospitalized after she slammed a dead raccoon against the front door of City Hall. Her family urged her to get help for her bipolar disorder, which usually involves getting back on medication. She refused.

June 4 (Bloomberg) — Hurricane Irene wiped out the last state-operated psychiatric beds in Vermont nine months ago. As the only U.S. state with no government-operated psychiatric beds, Vermont’s experience reflects a growing realization among mental-health experts and advocates that the decades-long trend toward outpatient care has reached its limit and public outcry against the latest round of cuts is beginning to change the game. Bloomberg’s Tom Moroney reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

Now, court-appointed lawyer Sarah Reed hopes Judge Thomas Devine will send Gluck to a hospital. The odds aren’t good. Hurricane Irene wiped out the last state-operated psychiatric beds in Vermont nine months ago.

Since then, private-hospital emergency rooms have been backed up with mentally ill patients — some handcuffed to ER beds for as long as two days. Dozens of people are turned away each month without being admitted, and calls to Burlington police about mental-health issues increased 32 percent over the prior year.

As the only U.S. state with no government-operated psychiatric beds, Vermont’s experience reflects a growing realization among mental-health experts and advocates that the decades-long trend toward outpatient care has reached its limit — and public outcry against the latest round of cuts is beginning to change the game….

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Access to Mental Health Care and Psychosocial Support within a Fragile Context: A Case Study from Afghanistan

While American service men and women are being treated for war related traumas, let us not forget the effects of war on civilians…

From the PLos Absract 

  • After the fall of the Taliban, the rebuilding of the Afghan health care system, from scratch, provided opportunities to integrate mental health into basic health services through the use of funds that became available during this complex humanitarian emergency.
  • Practice-oriented mental health trainings for general health workers and ongoing clinical supervision in the basic health care system led to substantially increased demand for and access to basic mental health care services.
  • Treatment of mental disorders within the health care system needs to be accompanied by a community-based approach that focuses on psychosocial problems.
  • Addressing service delivery needs in a fragile state has to be accompanied by capacity building and policy development in order to foster structural changes within the health care system.

….

Looking to the Future

The experience in Nangarhar shows that, even within a fragile and resource poor context, it is possible to develop integrated services for mental health and psychosocial support, to rapidly cover an area of more than a million people. It is important to use funds available during a humanitarian emergency to pursue lasting improvements in the health care system [28]. There is an urgent need to develop a system of routine outcome measuring tools that includes both symptom reduction and improvement of social functioning. It is challenging to develop context-specific and low-cost outcome measures, but recent evidence for child psychosocial programmes in post conflict areas demonstrates that it can be done [29]. People with a limited background in mental health care can deliver integrated services, once their tasks are integrated within a system of care that includes focused, competency-based trainings, regular supervision, and refresher training [30]. It is important to strengthen the psychosocial elements of treatment within the health care system, and to ensure that the social context in which the symptoms occur and are maintained, are considered in the treatment plans of health care providers. The most recent version of the BPHS includes the addition of psychosocial counsellors at the district hospitals and comprehensive health centres. Preliminary evidence on the effectiveness of adding psychosocial counselling in primary health care settings in Afghanistan is encouraging [31] Apart from health system–based interventions, the authors have learned the importance of addressing psychosocial problems through activities outside the formal health care sector to strengthen self-help and foster resilience.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

The psychiatric profile of the U.S. patient population across age groups

From the article at the May 2012 issue of Open Journal of Epidemiology

[Abstract]     Introduction: As the U.S. population undergoes continuous shifts the population’s health profile changes dynamically resulting in more or less expression of certain psychiatric disorders and utilization of health-care resources. In this paper, we analyze national data on the psychiatric morbidity of American patients and their summated cost in different age groups. Methods: The latest data (2009) on the number of hospital discharges and national bill (hospital charges) linked with psychiatric disorders were extracted from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Results: National data shows that mood disorders are the largest diagnostic category in terms of percentage of psychiatri-crelated discharges in the 1 – 17 years age group. The proportion decreases gradually as age progresses while delirium, dementia, amnestic and other cognitive disorders increase exponentially after 65 years of age. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders as well as alcohol and substance-related disorders peak in the working age groups (18 – 64 years). From an economic point of view, mood disorders in the 18 – 44 age group has the highest national bill ($5.477 billion) followed by schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders in the same age group ($4.337 billion) and mood disorders in the 45 – 64 age group ($4.310 billion). On the third place come schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders in the 45 – 64 age group ($3.931 billion). Conclusion: This paper illustrates the high cost of psychiatric care in the U.S., especially the large fraction of healthcare money spent on working-age patients suffering from mood disorders. This underlines psychiatric cost-efficiency as a vital topic in the current healthcare debate.

Related article

June 1, 2012 Posted by | health AND statistics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community Services Locator An Online Directory for Finding Community Services for Children and Families

Most communities have education, health, mental health, family support, parenting, child care, and other services that can help children and families. However, locating those services or even knowing which services to look for is often difficult. The Community Services Locator is designed to help service providers and families find available national, state, and local resources that can address child and family needs.

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories | , , , | Leave a comment

Systematic review of beliefs, behaviours and influencing factors associated with disclosure of a mental health problem in the workplace

From the 19 February Full Text Report summary

Background
Stigma and discrimination present an important barrier to finding and keeping work for individuals with a mental health problem. This paper reviews evidence on: 1) employment-related disclosure beliefs and behaviours of people with a mental health problem; 2) factors associated with the disclosure of a mental health problem in the employment setting; 3) whether employers are less likely to hire applicants who disclose a mental health problem; and 4) factors influencing employers’ hiring beliefs and behaviours towards job applicants with a mental health problem….

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

The Dark Path to Antisocial Personality Disorder

From the 7 February 2012 Science Daily news item

With no lab tests to guide the clinician, psychiatric diagnostics is challenging and controversial. Antisocial personality disorder is defined as “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood,” according to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association….

 

 

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stress in America 2011

From the 3 February Full Text Report summary

Source:  American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) newly released report, Stress in America™: Our Health at Risk, paints a troubling picture of the impact stress has on the health of the country, especially caregivers and people living with a chronic illness such as obesity or depression.
The Stress in America survey, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of APA among 1,226 U.S. residents in August and September, showed that many Americans consistently report high levels of stress (22 percent reported extreme stress, an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress). While reported average stress levels have dipped slightly since the last survey (5.2 on a 10-point scale vs. 5.4 in 2010) many Americans continue to report that their stress has actually increased over time (39 percent report their stress has increased over the past year and 44 percent say their stress has increased over the past 5 years). Yet stress levels exceed people’s own definition of what is healthy, with the mean rating for stress of 5.2 on a 10-point scale— 1.6 points higher than the stress level Americans reported as healthy.
While 9 in 10 adults believe that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity, a sizeable minority still think that stress has only a slight or no impact on their own physical health (31 percent) and mental health (36 percent). When considered alongside the finding that only 29 percent of adults believe they are doing an excellent or very good job at managing or reducing stress, APA warns that this disconnect is cause for concern.
“America has a choice. We can continue down a well-worn path where stress significantly impacts our physical and mental health, causes undue suffering and drives up health care costs. Or we can get serious about this major public health issue and provide better access to behavioral health care services to help people more effectively manage their stress and  prevent and manage chronic disease,” says psychologist Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s CEO and executive vice president. “Various studies have shown that chronic stress is a major driver of chronic illness, which in turn is a major driver of escalating health care costs in this country. It is critical that the entire health community and policymakers recognize the role of stress and unhealthy behaviors in causing and exacerbating chronic health conditions, and support models of care that help people make positive changes.”

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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