Tag Archives | Mental Illness

Should you get paid sick days for mental health?


Sophie Weiner writes at Hopes&Fears:

New York City has only recently adopted a policy mandating paid sick days for workers, but there are few other places in the country make that guarantee. And while Americans are still fighting for laws that will protect their jobs when they have the flu, it’s even harder to get time off for a mental health problem, even as mental illness reaches epidemic proportions.

In many places, it’s not widely accepted that mental illness is as valid a reason to miss work as purely physical illness. But should it be? And if so, how should it be handled?

We asked experts in mental health advocacy, employee rights and public health care if employers should treat mental illness the same way they treat physical illness when it comes to paid leave.

Brenda Roberts, Deputy Associate Director, Pay & Leave,U.S. Office of Personnel Management

The Federal Government supports employees who may be experiencing mental health concerns and need to take time away from their work responsibilities to seek medical attention.… Read the rest

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Guns, Trump and Mental Illness


Ben Debney writes at CounterPunch:

One of the few people to shamelessly state his true feelings about the recent Oregon school shootings was GOP front-runner Donald Trump, whose comments on MSNBC were not widely circulated beyond that forum for reasons that do not warrant sustained reflection.[1] They did however surface on at least on website, where they were reported in detail.[2]

In this instance we should be grateful that Donald Trump says openly what a lot of people say in private, and those who have to bear the brunt of the stigma against past and present sufferers of mental illness actually have an opportunity to respond directly.

According to the Newsmax website, Trump had said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program that there were ‘already strong laws on the books where firearms are concerned’, but that ‘you’re always going to have problems’ on account of the fact that ‘we have millions of sick people all over the world.’

Since there were ‘millions of sick people all over the world,’ as Trump put it, the Oregon shootings were nothing special.

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Hoax Hunter: Taryn Wright Busts People Who Fake Illnesses Online

The strange part of cyberculture where people fake serious illness via the Internet, for money, sympathy or some less tangible benefit, is fairly well known (see our earlier coverage). But now there is a cyber-vigilante hunting them down. Taryn Wright, self-styled hoax hunter, explains why she does it, at Fusion:

Three years ago, on Mother’s Day, I read a Facebook post about the tragic death of a young trauma surgeon in Saskatchewan. Dana Dirr, pregnant with her eleventh child, had been in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Rushed to the very hospital where she saved people on a daily basis, Dana delivered her baby Evelyn and then passed away.

dana dirr

As if that wasn’t awful enough, the family’s seven-year-old son, Eli Dirr, was in the final stages of a long battle with cancer and wasn’t expected to live for much longer. Dana’s husband, Canadian Mountie J.S. Dirr, posted a long, emotional tribute to his wife just hours after her death.

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24-year-old Woman Suffering From Depression Granted Right to Die in Belgium

Mary Lock (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Mary Lock (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Well this is sure to be controversial…

Newsweek titled their article, “Healthy 24-year-old granted right to die in Belgium.” But I’m not so sure that someone who’s wanted to die so badly for so long should be considered “healthy.”

According to the article, the woman in question, Laura, has suffered from suicidal thoughts her entire life. She’s received therapy from the mental health industry, but what happens when nothing works?

Eilish O’Gara via Newsweek:

Doctors in Belgium are granting a 24-year-old woman who is suffering from depression but is otherwise healthy the right to die as she qualifies for euthanasia under the Belgian law, even though she does not have a terminal or life-threatening illness.

The 24-year-old woman, known simply as Laura, has been given the go-ahead by health professionals in Belgium to receive a lethal injection after spending both her childhood and adult life suffering from “suicidal thoughts”, she told local Belgian media.

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Psychosurgeons Using Lasers To Burn The Bad From Brains

Photo: thomasbg (CC)

Photo: thomasbg (CC)

It may sound uncomfortably close to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but nevertheless brain surgeons are using lasers to burn away parts of the brain that they believe lead to mental illness, reports Wired:

A brain surgeon begins an anterior cingulotomy by drilling a small hole into a patient’s skull. The surgeon then inserts a tiny blade, cutting a path through brain tissue, then inserts a probe past sensitive nerves and bundles of blood vessels until it reaches a specific cluster of neural connections, a kind of switchboard linking emotional triggers to cognitive tasks. With the probe in place, the surgeon fires up a laser, burning away tissue until the beam has hollowed out about half a teaspoon of grey matter.

This is the shape of modern psychosurgery: Ablating parts of the brain to treat mental illnesses. Which might remind you of that maligned procedure, the lobotomy.

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Creative People Are More Likely To Suffer From Mental Illness


Vincent van Gogh – Self-Portrait

I suspect that there’s a high percentage of creative people amongst disinfonauts, so sorry I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re 25% more likely to suffer from mental illness than other, non-creative people. The Guardian reports on a new study showing that creatives are more likely to carry genes that raise risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia:

The ancient Greeks were first to make the point. Shakespeare raised the prospect too. But Lord Byron was, perhaps, the most direct of them all: “We of the craft are all crazy,” he told the Countess of Blessington, casting a wary eye over his fellow poets.

The notion of the tortured artist is a stubborn meme. Creativity, it states, is fuelled by the demons that artists wrestle in their darkest hours. The idea is fanciful to many scientists. But a new study claims the link may be well-founded after all, and written into the twisted molecules of our DNA.

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Faking Disease for Online Fame Now a Recognized Medical Condition

Apparently unaware or dismissive of the consequences, there is an epidemic of sorts of people faking serious illness and advertising it on the internet. The Guardian reviews the case of wannabe cancer victim Belle Gibson and beyond:

How would you fake cancer? Shave your head? Pluck your eyebrows? Install a chemo port into your neck? These days you don’t need to. Belle Gibson’s story is a masterclass on faking cancer in the modern age. She fooled Apple, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Penguin. She fooled the hundreds of thousands who bought her app, read her blog and believed that her story could be their story.

Section from Elle magazine, which called Belle Gibson "the most inspiring woman of the year."

Section from Elle magazine spread, which called Belle Gibson “the most inspiring woman you’ve met this year.”


Diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 20, Gibson had four months to live. She blogged her journey of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, treatments she shunned after eight weeks. Instead, she cut gluten and dairy and turned to oxygen therapy, craniosacral treatments and colonic irrigation.

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Woman’s Rare Case of ‘Seasonal OCD’ Cured

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

Agata Blaszczak-Boxe writes at LiveScience:

A rare case of “seasonal” obsessive-compulsive disorder in a woman highlights the complexity of this mental health condition, researchers say. The woman’s OCD symptoms appeared every year when winter began, and then ended as the seasons shifted toward summer.

After living with the condition for a decade, the woman was treated at a clinic and recovered, the case report said.

Psychiatrists “do believe that there is a tie between times of the year and the exacerbation of illness,” said Dr. Howard L. Forman, an attending psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the woman’s case.

Patients with other mental health conditions, such as depression, may also get worse in the winter and feel better again in the summer, Forman said.

The 41-year-old woman came to an outpatient clinic during the month of October.

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Schizophrenia, Depression and Addiction All Linked to Similar Loss of Brain Matter

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

via PsyBlog:

Could there be an underlying biological cause for many mental illnesses?

Diagnoses as different as depression, addictions and schizophrenia are all linked to a similar pattern of gray-matter loss in the brain, a new study finds.

The results hint at an underlying biological cause for these mental illnesses.

Dr Thomas Insel, commenting on the study, said:

“The idea that these disorders share some common brain architecture and that some functions could be abnormal across so many of them is intriguing,”

The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, pooled data from 193 separate studies, which included brain imaging from 7,381 patients (Goodkind et al., 2015).

Patients were experiencing all sorts of different mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, OCD and some anxiety disorders.

Despite this, the researchers identified three structures in the brain which had shrunk across all the different diagnoses.

Continue reading.… Read the rest

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