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Research Finds Mixed Results in Antidepressant Maintenance Treatment of Bipolar 1

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.

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APA Releases Findings From 2023 Work in America Survey

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

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New Research Suggests Positive Parenting May Protect Youth Brain Development from Effects of Childhood Stress

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.  

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SAMHSA Releases NSDUH LGB Behavioral Health 2021-22 Report

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.    

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Lived Experience-Led Research to Address Early Death in People with Serious Mental Illness

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

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Study Reviews Suicide Intervention for Veterans

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.

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Racism as a Risk Factor for Psychosis

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.  

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Providers and Public Believe Mental Health Workforce Shortage Will Have Negative Impact

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
 

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Initial Research on TikTok's Mental Health Impacts

Apr 19 2023

Current research suggests social media overall may have positive and negative impacts on mental health. A novel study interviewed 16 participants about their experience interacting with mental health content on TikTok to learn about the platform’s specific impacts. The most commonly reported benefits were a sense of self-discovery and social support through a virtual community. While users noted that mental health information was easily accessible, they worried about its credibility. Researchers also warn that the algorithm-driven platform may continuously serve users unwanted or harmful content. Further research is needed to better understand how TikTok affects mental health, including how to maintain its benefits while mitigating drawbacks. To learn more, see the study here

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Interpersonal Therapy for Depression During Pregnancy

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.