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Oct 04 2023
In an innovative justice diversion project, individuals with serious mental illness were tasked with restoring the landscape of community housing as part of their community-based competency restoration. Participants attended educational workshops, received hands-on training, visited a national forest, and were encouraged to take on leadership roles. After one year, participants had created and taken responsibility for maintaining a successful urban garden. Participants report that gardening has given them a purpose and the ability to create something beautiful, which positively impacts their mental health. Project collaborators also note that the low cost, broad benefits, and easy replicability of the intervention make it a promising new psychiatric treatment modality. To learn more, read the article at Psychiatric Services.
Oct 03 2023
In a unique new study, Boston and Harvard University public health researchers recruited 105 TikTok mental health content creators with diverse professional backgrounds and lived experience to receive evidence-based mental health communication training. Creators received either digital toolkits or toolkits plus live virtual training sessions. While review of digital toolkits alone more significantly increased creators’ use of evidence-based themes in their content, both types of training combined led to greater visibility of evidence-based mental health content across TikTok overall. The project highlights the potential of public-academic collaborations to mitigate mental health misinformation with scalable impacts. To learn more, view the preprint here.
Sep 27 2023
Research suggests that experiencing substance-induced psychosis increases the risk of developing a schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SSD), but less is known about substance use without psychosis. In a study including 10 million people, Canadian researchers found that individuals with an emergency department visit for substance-induced psychosis were 163 times more likely than the general population to develop a SSD within three years. However, visits for substance use without psychosis occurred more often and were associated with a higher absolute number of transitions to SSD. The findings emphasize the importance of early intervention for substance use concerns – with or without psychosis – to decrease risk of schizophrenia and related conditions. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.
Aug 23 2023
A randomized clinical trial of 178 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that written exposure therapy (WET) had similar effects in reducing symptoms as the traditionally used prolonged exposure therapy (PE). Veterans received either five to seven sessions of WET or eight to fifteen sessions of the lengthier PE treatment, and were assessed at baseline, 10, 20, and 30 weeks after the initial treatment session. Improvements in symptom severity from baseline to all later assessments were similar among Veterans receiving WET and PE, with the largest difference favoring WET at 10 weeks. Furthermore, veterans receiving WET were less likely to stop treatment, suggesting it may reduce barriers to engagement associated with other interventions. To learn more, read the article in JAMA.
Aug 04 2023
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first oral medication, Zurzuvae , for the treatment of postpartum depression (PPD). Onset of PPD can occur during the late stages of pregnancy or after childbirth. Previously, PDD medication was only available via IV injection from a health care provider. The effectiveness of Zurzuvae was tested against placebos in two distinct, randomized, double-blind studies for a period of 14 days. In both studies, patients taking Zurzuvae showed a more significant decrease in depressive symptoms at study conclusion, and four weeks after, compared to placebo groups. The approval goes a long way in improving accessibility of PPD treatment for the many individuals the condition affects each year. To learn more, read the news release from the FDA.
Aug 03 2023
Patients with bipolar disorder experience cyclic episodes of mania and depression which makes symptom management challenging. Common treatment practices include antidepressants and mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. An international clinical trial study of 177 patients with Bipolar I in remission from a depressive episode were randomly assigned to continue antidepressant use for 52 weeks or taper antidepressant use after six weeks and begin taking a placebo at eight weeks. Patients continuing antidepressant use were significantly less likely to experience a depressive episode (17%) compared to those taking a placebo (40%). However, 12% experienced a manic episode compared to 6% in the placebo group. Further research is needed to better understand the maintenance of manic and depressive episodes in patients with bipolar disorder. To learn more, read the article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Jul 13 2023
In April 2023, the American Psychological Association (APA) surveyed 2,500 American adults about mental health in the workplace. About 1 in 5 workers (19%) rated their workplace as being very or somewhat toxic. These workers were more than twice as likely to have fair or poor mental health (58%) than those who rated their workplace as healthy (21%). And while a majority of respondents are satisfied with the mental health support they receive from their employer, there are significant areas for improvement. Fewer than half of respondents (43%) reported that their employer provides health insurance with coverage for mental health and substance use disorders. To learn more, see the findings from the American Psychological Association.
Jun 13 2023
Childhood stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) negatively impact the brain development of children as shown in decreased hippocampal volume. However, positive parenting strategies, such as expressions of warmth and support, may help protect against developmental deficits. Researchers compared brain structures and behavioral health of children aged 10-17, as well as youth- and caregiver-reported positive parenting. Children who reported high levels of childhood stress and positive parenting did not show increased behavioral health concerns or decreased hippocampus volumes, as opposed to children who experienced high levels of childhood stress but not high levels of positive parenting. Notably, caregiver-reported positive parenting did not predict either behavioral concerns or hippocampal volume. The findings suggest that positive parenting can be a protective factor against adverse childhood experiences, and demonstrate the importance of including youth perspectives directly in research. To learn more, read the study in PNAS Nexus.
Jun 01 2023
The most recent update of results from SAMHSA’s 2021-2022 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) highlights mental health disparities faced by sexual minority adults, particularly bisexual females. More than half of all bisexual females had any mental illness (AMI) in the past year (53.9%), compared to 38.7% of lesbian and 25.4% of straight females. 43.3% of bisexual males experienced AMI in the past year, compared to 37.5% of gay and 18.1% of straight males. About 1 in 5 (19.5%) bisexual females and 14.4% of bisexual males experienced serious mental illness in the past year. Future surveys will ask respondents about their sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and sexual identity regardless of age in hopes of better capturing the experiences of LGBTQI+ individuals. To learn more, view the report from SAMHSA.
May 26 2023
Compared to the general population, people diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI) face a shorter life expectancy by approximately 10 to 25 years. In May, a virtual roundtable convened 40 individuals – many with firsthand or caregiving lived experience – to address this disparity. Participants drafted an eight-point ranked recommendation to increase the lifespan of people with SMI including, but not limited to, understanding the impacts of trauma, furthering the role of support systems, redefining clinical education, and examining outcomes meaningful to those with SMI. The effort represents an important shift toward highlighting lived experience in identifying research priorities. To learn more, read the article in JAMA.