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Friday Roundup – Relationship Happiness, Mental Health for Ebola Outbreak, Alzheimer’s Breakthrough, and Much More!

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Attention lovely readers! We at Healthshire will be providing you with a weekly Friday roundup of the latest in mental health news. Let us do all the work and be your one-stop-shop for all things current!

Friday Roundup – The Latest in Mental Health News

(and other stuff)

Relationships Increase Health and Happiness

According to U.S. News and World Report, the number of people who report not having someone in their lives with which to discuss important issues has nearly tripled over the past 30 years. This is an alarming statistic, given all the research that shows interpersonal relationships can significantly improve psychological and physical well-being.

Studies also find that how you respond to someone else’s good news is just as important as how you respond to bad news. Being authentically supportive, happy, and asking questions deepens the connection between people. If people cannot trust you with good news, they cannot trust you when times become difficult.

According to researcher, Jane Dutton, there are four ways in which you can improve your relationships.

  1. Engage others by communicating support and respect and being an active listener.
  2. Promote another person’s success with guidance, recognition, and support.
  3. Build trust, which can be done by relying on another person to follow through on projects and other commitments.
  4. Have silly moments. Making time for silliness and play elicits positive emotions and is linked to creativity and innovation.

Mental Health Response to Ebola Outbreak

As of a few days ago, the West Africa Ebola Outbreak has affected almost 9,000 people and claimed almost 4,500 lives. As specialists and health officials around the world attempt to combat the deadly infectious disease, mental health professionals are trying to coordinate their own efforts to address the aftermath.

The significant lack of mental health providers in the region is an area of concern. While stopping the deadly virus from spreading is the top priority, mental health issues will become more evident as time passes.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric NewsLiberia,Guinea, and Sierra Leone—the epicenter of the virus outbreak—are working together to establish psychosocial programs focusing on the children and widowed spouses of Ebola victims.

Benjamin Harris, M.D., associate professor at the Dogliotti College of Medicine in Monrovia, Liberia, is the only working psychiatrist in Liberia. He tells Psychiatric News,

“The totality of the response has been quite slow, and the mental health response has even been slower.”

Breakthrough in Understanding Alzheimer’s

A report recently published in Nature finds that researchers from the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at the Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease and various other institutions have successfully grown neural cells with the genes for Alzheimer’s Disease. The culture successfully developed the neurofibrillary tangles and the amyloid-β plaques that are thought to be indicative of the disease. According to the researchers, they have “successfully recapitulated amyloid-β and tau pathology in a single 3D human neural cell culture system.”

Experts of the disease believe this breakthrough can significantly expedite the testing of drugs for Alzheimer’s treatment.

Treating Addiction with Moderation

Abstinence models – which primarily grew out of the 12-step movement – for treating addiction issues are the most traditional and prevalent treatment approaches to substance use. Studies show that over 90% of treatment programs across America base their approaches on 12-step models of abstinence. These abstinence only programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) call for complete avoidance of substances, such as alcohol.

While 23 million people in America deal with addiction issues, only about 2.5 million are receiving treatment. Experts in the field say many people shy away from treatment programs because they fear the abstinence model.

CBS News reports on the growing popularity of programs effectively targeting addiction treatment with a model of moderation and harm-reduction as apposed to abstinence only.

Dr. Adi Jaffe, Clinical Director of Alternatives Treatment Center in Los Angeles, approaches treatment on a continuum of recovery. Jaffe’s moderation model only applies to alcohol abuse at this time. He tells CBS News, “Most people relapse because of regular fluctuations in life and stress. Then they think, ‘If I’ve already screwed up this much, I might as well throw it all away.'” With a program focused on moderation, and treating the underlying issues contributing to substance abuse, however, Jaffe believes people trying to manage alcohol abuse issues can drink without the guilt and shame associated with failing in an abstinence only program.

When Parents Should Seek Help for Children’s Issues

With persistent media attention paid to all the alarming issues (i.e., ADHD, autism, drug abuse, sexual activity, bullying) children face today, parents are increasingly concerned with any issues their children experience. Parents commonly question any troublesome behavior they see occurring in their children, wondering if it’s “normal,” if it’s “just a phase,” if it’s a case of “kids being kids,” or if professional help is needed.

Bonny Forrest, Ph.D., a child psychologist, specialized in pediatric neuropsychology, writes for Fox News, outlining guidelines of behavior parents should pay follow in determining the best course of action for their children. They include paying attention to:

Duration: Are behaviors persistent over weeks or months?

Intensity: Are behaviors present in different settings – such as home and school – or only in one? Are they getting more severe as time progresses?

Overall Impact: Is the family dynamic changing to accommodate the child’s behavior? Do you find yourself needing time off of work to pick up  your child from school or avoiding certain situations because of the behavior?

As a behavior’s duration, intensity, or overall impact become more severe, the more important it is for parents to seek help.

Telling Our Stories

It’s important to share your journey with others. In an effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows and reduce stigma, we are especially interested in hearing about you and your stories related to mental health. Be sure to visit Healthshire’s “Telling Our Stories” section. Spend some time reading the stories or submit your own!

This week’s roundup is dedicated to Hazmat suits. Because…well, you know.

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