Friday Roundup – Smoking and Mental Health, Police Officer Training in Mental Illness, and Religion Protects Against Depression

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!

Smoking and Mental Health, Police Officer Training in Mental Illness, and Religion Protects Against Depression

The Latest  in Mental Health Research (and other stuff)

Mentally Ill Less Likely to Quit Smoking

People with mental illnesses were found to be significantly less likely to quit smoking than those without a mental health condition between the years 2004-2011. According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, decline rates were greater in individuals who were receiving mental health treatment, but were still greater than people without a mental illness.


The 2004-2011 Medical Expenditure Survey Panel was used by researchers at the Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance to evaluate patterns and trends in smoking behaviors between people with and without mental health disorders. They also used the 2009-2011 National Drug Use and Health Survey to analyze smoking trends between adults who did or did not engage in mental health treatment services.

Benjamin Le Cook, Ph.D., M.P.H, lead researcher, and his team found that adults without mental illness exhibited a significant decrease in smoking (from 19% in 2004 to 16% in 2011) and only a slight decrease in individuals with a mental illness (25.3% to 23.8%). Notable in the results was the finding that individuals with a mental health disorder who received treatment were more likely (37%) to have ceased smoking compared to adults who did not receive treatment (33%).

As reported in APA’s Psychiatric News, Cook commented on the study’s findings, particularly on the seeming effects of mental health treatment. “We can say that people in treatment have quit and have continued to abstain, so there is a positive effect. The rates are still low, so there is clearly a lot of room for specialty mental health providers to do a better job helping patients quit smoking.”

Crisis Intervention Training for Officers Improves Care for Mentally Ill

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for police officers ensure they are more knowledgeable about mental health and are more likely to acquire professional services for people with mental illnesses when encountered in their line of work compared to their untrained peers.

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Recently published in Psychiatric Services in Advance, Michael Compton, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the Department of Psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reported that CIT training increased knowledge, skills, and attitudes about mental illnesses among police officers.

Police officers who received CIT training were also more likely to obtain appropriate treatment resources for subjects with mental health issues as opposed to arresting them. This was found to be particularly true in instances where physical force was necessary to control individuals. Compton and his colleagues concluded that CIT training was efficient in carrying out its purpose, as a method of diverting appropriately from the criminal justice system.

Spirituality and Religion May Protect Against Depression in the Brain

As recently reported in JAMA Psychiatry, religion or spirituality may be involved in protecting individuals with an increased risk of depression from its development by possibly thickening the cortices of the brain.

Researchers, led by Lisa Miller, Ph.D. and Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., from Columbia University studied 103 individuals with either a high or low familial risk for depression. Significance of religion or spirituality for the subjects was evaluated at two points during a period of five years.

Individuals who places an increased value on religion or spirituality were found to have thicker cortices of the brain than those people who did not. Brain cortices were found to be particularly strengthened in individuals who found religion or spirituality as highly significant and who also had a high familial risk for depression.


The researchers concluded, “Our findings therefore may identify a neural pathway through which the personal importance of spirituality or religion protects against major depressive disorder in people who are otherwise predisposed to developing it.”

The study also has implications for mental health professionals who may consider using patients’ religion or spirituality as a healthy means of combatting depression.

Telling our Stories

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 story” section. Spend some time reading the stories or submit your own! Recently, Healthshire partnered with a local mental health clinic to provide intensive outpatient services to two individuals with addiction issues. Many individuals bravely came forward to share their experiences about the complex issues that arise with substance use. You can read  their submitted stories here.

This week’s roundup is dedicated to the 20-year anniversary of the lady who got McDonalds to pay her $2.9 million for a cup of spilled coffee. #americandream


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