Tag Archives | Mental Health

Blame it on biology: how explanations of mental illness influence treatment

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Every mental health problem has a biological dimension. How could it not? All our experience and behaviour, normal or abnormal, is founded on our neurobiology.

Researchers have taken great strides towards understanding these foundations and the public has taken note. Increasingly, we explain our problems as products of heredity, brain disease and chemical imbalance, rather than life experiences, adversities and ways of thinking.

Regrettably, these scientific advances have a dark side. As a recent review shows, people who hold biogenetic (biological and genetic) explanations of mental health disorders tend to have some negative perceptions of those who experience them. They view these people as relatively dangerous, unpredictable and unlikely to recover, and seek greater distance from them.

The consequences of these perceptions extend beyond stigma; they also have troubling implications for treatment.

The “therapeutic alliance” between clinician and client is a key ingredient in successful treatment, responsible for better clinical outcomes and lower rates of dropout.… Read the rest

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University of Minnesota owes mistreated psychiatric subjects an apology

University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus
I think they owe a little bit more than a paltry apology.

Carl Elliott via StarTribune:

Thanks to a former Fairview Hospital patient with the courage to speak out about his mistreatment, the University of Minnesota is finally ending a controversial research practice. As of last month, the university will no longer test experimental drugs on mentally ill patients who have been involuntarily confined to a locked psychiatric unit under a 72-hour hold (“U halts recruiting of confined patients,” Sept. 26).

Yet instead of thanking the patient who spoke out, or apologizing for recruiting him under coercive conditions, the university has done its best to discredit him.

In July 2007, Robert Huber came to Fairview for help. He was hearing voices and feeling panicked. His treating psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Olson, used a 72-hour emergency hold to confine Huber to a locked psychiatric unit. Then Olson asked Huber to sign up for a research study testing an experimental drug.

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Male Suicide on Rise as Result of Austerity, Report Suggests

to be or not to be
University of Portsmouth via ScienceDaily:

Young males between the ages of 10 and 24 have committed suicide in growing numbers as a direct result of austerity measures brought in across Europe following the 2009 recession.

According to new research from the University of Portsmouth and Webster Vienna University, more males of all ages are committing suicide in the Eurozone’s poorest countries.

The researchers, Dr Nikolaos Antonakakis and Professor Alan Collins, are urging policy makers to put European citizens’ health before wealth as a matter of urgency.

The research is the first to examine the direct impact of fiscal austerity on suicide rates in the group of countries most affected by the Eurozone crisis — Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Dr Antonakakis, a Visiting Fellow at Portsmouth Business School and an Associate Professor at Webster Vienna University, said: “The Eurozone debt crisis is transforming into a health crisis. Austerity measures were implemented in response to the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent Eurozone debt crisis in an attempt to restore confidence, competitiveness and macroeconomic stability.

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Mindful Dishwashing Can Increase Mental Stimulation and Decrease Anxiety

According to a new study, mindful dishwashing can decrease nervousness by 27% and increase mental inspiration by 25%.

via Psyblog:

Mindful dishwashing can decrease stress and calm the mind, a new study finds.

People in the study focused on the smell of the soap, the feel and shape of the dishes to help them enter a mindful state.

Doing the dishes in a mindful way also increased the pleasurable feeling of time slowing down, the researchers found.

Mr Adam Hanley, the study’s first author, said:

“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher.

I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.”

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Children in Some Communities Have Higher Rates of PTSD than Veterans

india sad
Emily Watson writes at Alternet:

In his 22 years of teaching high school English to East Oakland’s teenagers, Jeff Duncan-Andrade has witnessed kids and their families struggle through all kinds of trauma. He has seen how the constant, unrelenting stress – what researchers are now calling toxic stress – that comes from housing, employment and food insecurity, as well as continued violence in the neighborhood, visits a punishing impact on students and how they learn.

These experiences led Duncan-Andrade, some years ago, to begin looking for ways to better support students and their families — to show students they were valuable members of a community and worthy beyond their test scores. Buoyed by the belief that it is essential to provide kids with the most basic supports (food, shelter, safety) before they can learn, in early August Duncan-Andrade opened the doors of the Roses in Concrete Community School, incorporating his philosophy of involving parents and families to lift up the whole community.

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How the legacy of slavery affects the mental health of black Americans today

The trauma of slavery.  National Archives and Records

The trauma of slavery. National Archives and Records

On July 22, in announcing the federal indictment of Charleston killer Dylann Roof, Attorney General Loretta Lynch commented that the expression of forgiveness offered by the victims’ families is “an incredible lesson and message for us all.”

Forgiveness and grace are, indeed, hallmarks of the Black Church.

Since slavery, the church has been a formidable force for the survival of blacks in an America still grappling with the residual effects of white supremacy.

This was eloquently illustrated in the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre. Americans rightly stood in awe of the bereaved families’ laudable demonstration of God’s grace in action.

But what about the psychic toll that these acts of forgiveness exact?

Events like Charleston put a spotlight on the growing body of literature that looks not only at the United States’ failure to have authentic conversations about slavery and its legacy but also at the mental health impact of forgiving acts of white racism and repressing justifiable feelings of anger and outrage – whether these are horrific acts of terrorism or nuanced microaggressions.Read the rest

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My disabilities do not define me. I am Jim

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allowed access to special education for people with disabilities. Tim Kwee, CC BY-NC

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allowed access to special education for people with disabilities. Tim Kwee, CC BY-NC

I am an educator of educators. I teach others how to be the best teachers. But, I’m also different.

I have learning challenges.

I found my way and my life’s calling thanks to dedicated educators.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I am reminded of my personal journey.

My disabilities could have defined me. But they did not. I do not consider myself dyslexic or learning-disabled.

I am Jim. And here’s the story of how I overcame my challenges and the educators who helped me along the way.

My disability

Born in 1970, I suffered a head injury as a young boy while roughhousing with friends. Perhaps that led to my learning problems. Perhaps it didn’t. Doctors aren’t really sure.

What I do know for sure is that in kindergarten, I could not spell my name – James.… Read the rest

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Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill

KamiSilenceAction (CC BY-NC 2.0)

KamiSilenceAction (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Anti-authoritarian or mentally ill? Psychologist Bruce Levin explores how it’s not uncommon for doctors and psychologists to diagnose anti-authoritarian types with mental illness.

via Mad in America:

Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness

Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.

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How a Sense of Purpose Can Help You Live Longer

Seth Sawyers (CC BY 2.0)

Seth Sawyers (CC BY 2.0)

“Having goals in life and a sense of directedness; feeling there is meaning to present and past life; holding beliefs that give life purpose; having aims and objectives for living” can help you live longer.

Romeo Vitelli via Psychology Today:

a new research study published in the journal Development Psychology(link is external) demonstrates that having a purpose in life is especially important in successful aging.

Conducted by a team of researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, the study examined older adults who were part of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging(link is external)(ALSA). Started in 1992, ALSA has followed over two thousand older Australians for decades to examine how health, emotional well-being, and living conditions have changed over time and to identify factors involved in successful aging.

As part of the broader ALSA study, 1,475 adults were questioned about their sense of purpose in life and whether they had objectives they wanted to achieve.

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