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Apr 02 2021
Between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of U.S. adults reporting recent symptoms associated with an anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to a new report from the CDC. The percentage of adults with an unmet need for mental health care also increased during this period, from 9.2% to 11.7%. Young adults (ages 18-29) and individuals without a high school education experienced the most significant increases in both mental health symptoms and unmet need for care, suggesting these populations may be particularly susceptible to the mental health effects of the pandemic. For more information, see the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Apr 02 2021
Because it is difficult to quantify the experience of psychosis, progress toward understanding its biology has been limited. A new study indicates that mice may be a scientifically useful model. When exposed to ketamine and trained to expect a reward when they heard a specific sound, mice behaved similarly to humans experiencing auditory hallucinations. The mice also showed increased levels of dopamine during the study activity and resumed normal behavior after being treated with the antipsychotic haloperidol, a further similarity to humans. If further research proves that the mouse model is reliable it may be a valuable new avenue to increase our understanding of conditions like schizophrenia. For more information, see the study in Science.
Mar 10 2021
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 65 studies involving nearly 100,000 healthcare workers across the globe has provided a more complete picture of the pandemic’s mental health impacts. Combined data from these studies, representing individuals in 21 countries, showed that 21.7% of health care workers experienced depression, 22.1% experienced anxiety, and 21.5% experienced PTSD between December 2019 and August 2020. Participants included nurses, doctors, and other health care workers or support staff. Although the findings are limited by variability in data availability across regions, this analysis provides important context for understanding health care worker needs. To learn more, see the study in PLOS One.
Mar 03 2021
Among individuals with schizophrenia, conditions like diabetes and hypertension may be linked to cognitive impairment symptoms. A systematic review and meta-analysis examined 27 studies including more than 10,000 people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders to measure the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and cognitive function. Several CVD risk factors, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure showed a significant association with cognitive impairment. The findings emphasize the role that heart health may play as a protective factor against some symptoms of schizophrenia disorders, and the importance of maintaining physical health when managing a mental illness. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.
Mar 03 2021
The Helping Our Native Ongoing Recovery (HONOR) study conducted a three-month intervention in three American Indian and Alaska Native health care organizations to determine if providing incentives for alcohol abstinence would be a culturally appropriate and effective treatment model for this population. All study participants received treatment as usual and were randomized either to the contingency management group, receiving incentives for alcohol abstinence, or the control group, receiving incentives regardless of alcohol use. Participants in the contingency management group were more likely on average to maintain alcohol abstinence, indicating that an incentive model may be effective in this population. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.
Feb 11 2021
Early childhood developmental patterns may predict adverse mental health reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and other major life events, according to new research. Researchers analyzed longitudinal data for 291 participants who were enrolled in a long-term study of social and behavioral development when they were 2 years old. Study participants — all of whom turned 18 years old in 2020 — who had experienced consistent patterns of behavioral inhibition (fearfulness of new people and objects), social wariness and excessive worry throughout childhood and adolescence showed elevated anxiety during the first months of the pandemic. Interventions to address these behaviors early on may help prevent symptoms from worsening when stressful life events occur. To learn more, see the study in Longitudinal Psychiatry.
Feb 04 2021
New research suggests that burnout contributed significantly to job dissatisfaction among nurses even before the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on national data collected in 2018, 31.5% of nurses who left their jobs in 2017 reported burnout as a reason for leaving. Of nurses who had considered leaving their jobs, even more — 43.4% — reported burnout as a key decision factor. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated levels of stress and exhaustion among health care workers, and measures must be taken to ensure the well-being and sustainability of the nursing workforce. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.
Feb 04 2021
Transgender adults in the U.S. are significantly more likely to have a diagnosed substance use disorder compared to cisgender adults. Using deidentified medical claims data, researchers compared substance use disorder diagnoses (SUDDs) of 15,500 transgender adults and 47,000 cisgender adults. Multi-substance SUDDs were 4 times more common among transgender adults than cisgender adults and any-drug SUDDs were over 3.6 times more common. As transgender individuals face specific social and structural issues that can impact mental health and access to care, health care efforts should consider the unique needs of this population as well as investigate and address barriers to high-quality treatment. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.
Jan 21 2021
More and more people are seeking psychiatric care in emergency departments, leading to strains on staff and resources — and this trend will likely continue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Association for Emergency Psychiatry (AAEP) supports the use of psychiatric emergency clinicians (PECs), which include non-prescribing mental health professionals such as licensed clinical social workers and clinical psychologists, to help meet this growing need. The AAEP recognizes the training and expertise of PECs in addressing psychiatric crisis situations, and offers recommendations for integrating them into emergency department care across the country. To learn more, see the article in Psychiatric Services.
Jan 18 2021
Peer support is an important part of mental health recovery, and its availability in school settings may be a lifeline for teens experiencing mental health issues for the first time. According to a recent national poll, more than three-quarters of parents (76%) believe peer leaders in schools would better understand students’ mental health challenges than teachers or counselors. Most (72%) also think access to peer support in schools would encourage students to speak up when they need help. Although parents raise concerns about training and the emotional toll on young peer leaders, overall support may inspire a new strategy to address student mental health. To learn more, see the report from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.