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May 24 2023
Caring Letters is a suicide prevention intervention in which individuals receive letters of care and support with the goal of facilitating connection and lowering suicide risk. The Department of Veterans Affairs implemented a Caring Letters program in 2020 for all Veterans who contact the Veterans Crisis Line. A recent study adds to the evidence that the intervention is effective for this population. Researchers interviewed 23 Veterans who received nine letters over one year that included messages of support and mental health resources. Most participants reported that the letters had a positive impact, with some indicating they were more likely to engage with resources. However, they also offered areas for improvement. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
May 01 2023
The social determinants of health framework is commonly used to conceptualize the cultural and structural factors affecting mental health. A new review applies this framework specifically to psychosis-related health outcomes in communities of color, demonstrating that structural factors such as racial discrimination, food insecurity, and police violence are significant risk factors for psychosis within these communities. These findings inform a more nuanced understanding of the increased rates of psychosis and disparities in mental health treatment of Black and Latinx populations across the US – a critical step to developing policies and practice to address these issues. To learn more, read the article in Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.
Apr 25 2023
The mental health workforce is already experiencing a shortage, and by 2025, estimates suggest the U.S. will have 31,000 fewer practitioners than necessary to meet demand. A recent survey of 750 behavioral health workers and 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing found both groups are concerned that the shortage will negatively impact society. More than three quarters (76%) of behavioral health workers worry specifically about the potential loss of life due to workforce shortages. The report advocates for public policy changes to address provider concerns – such as increased caseload and burnout - to improve recruitment and retention of this critical workforce. To learn more, see the report from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
Apr 19 2023
Apr 19 2023
Providing brief and recurrent interpersonal therapy may be an effective strategy in reducing depressive symptoms during pregnancy. A randomized clinical trial of 234 pregnant adults with elevated depression symptoms treated patients with either enhanced usual care (EUC) or MomCare. EUC consists of maternity support services with optional mental health counseling while MomCare is a culturally relevant intervention of weekly, interpersonal therapy sessions with psychoeducation. Overall, participants in the MomCare group showed a greater reduction in depressive scores compared to participants receiving EUC. Future research will focus on whether children born to individuals undergoing the MomCare intervention experience a reduction in risk for their own mental health concerns. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.
Mar 29 2023
Naloxone, commonly known under the brand name Narcan, is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Until this year, all forms of naloxone had been designated as prescription-only. After hearing from an expert advisory panel, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of over-the-counter naloxone hydrocholoride nasal spray nationwide in March. The decision removes a critical access barrier to the life-saving treatment, thereby reducing overdose deaths and the associated stigma. Implementation will be ongoing in the coming months with pending information on the cost of the medication. To learn more, see the news release from the FDA.
Mar 20 2023
Nearly a year since the launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, there is still uncertainty about its role within the mental health system. One goal of 988 is to connect callers in urgent need of support with a mobile crisis team (MCT) in their area. However, a national survey of MCT personnel found that only a third of respondents (32%) indicated that their MCT could be reached by 988. Respondents were most likely to report that their MCT could be dispatched by calling the MCT directly (65%) or through 911 (54%). The findings highlight the need to continuously evaluate and improve 988 integration in communities, as well as the importance of communicating how individuals can reach an MCT if needed. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
Mar 01 2023
The latest results from the APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll suggest that pets are beneficial for owners’ mental health. In a national poll of 2,200 American adults, more than half of all pet owners reported that their pets positively impact their mental health, including 87% of dog owners and 86% of cat owners. Among respondents who indicated a positive impact, over two thirds identified specific benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety (69%), unconditional love and support (69%), and companionship (69%). Despite associated worries of pet ownership, the findings suggest that having a pet is a protective factor for mental health and wellbeing. To learn more, see the poll results from the APA.
Feb 28 2023
Early intervention has been identified as crucial for improving outcomes in the treatment of individuals experiencing first-episode psychosis (FEP). A retrospective longitudinal, cohort study of Medicaid claims data for over 6,000 youth and young adults with FEP examined if early treatment initiation and engagement helped reduce deliberate self-harm (DSH). While treatment initiation within 14 days of diagnosis was found to significantly decrease the risk of DSH, treatment engagement within 90 days of diagnosis was not. Given such findings and that individuals with psychosis are at an increased risk for suicide, developing new treatment plans specifically targeting self-harm could help better meet the needs of patients with FEP. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
Feb 13 2023
In February, the CDC released a trends report analyzing a results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2011-2021. Youth mental health has worsened in the past decade, with 42% of high school students reporting feeling sad or hopeless in 2021 – compared to 28% of students in 2011. Additionally, about 1 in 5 students reported seriously considering suicide and 1 in 10 attempted suicide at least once in the past year. The report further highlights the experiences of adolescent girls characterized by higher rates of reported sadness or hopelessness (57%), attempted suicide (13%), and sexual violence (18%) compared to their male peers. To learn more, see the report from the CDC.