Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Amid COVID and racial unrest, Black churches put faith in mental health care

12/1/20 ... -care.aspx

Wilma Mayfield used to visit a senior center in Durham, North Carolina, four days a week and attend Lincoln Memorial Baptist Church on Sundays, a ritual she's maintained for nearly half a century. But over the past 10 months, she's seen only the inside of her home, the grocery store and the pharmacy. Most of her days are spent worrying about COVID-19 and watching TV.

It's isolating, but she doesn't talk about it much.

When Mayfield's church invited a psychologist to give a virtual presentation on mental health during the pandemic, she decided to tune in.

The hourlong discussion covered COVID's disproportionate toll on communities of color, rising rates of depression and anxiety, and the trauma caused by police killings of Black Americans. What stuck with Mayfield were the tools to improve her own mental health.

"They said to get up and get out," she said. "So I did."

The next morning, Mayfield, 67, got into her car and drove around town, listening to 103.9 gospel radio and noting new businesses that had opened and old ones that had closed. She felt so energized that she bought chicken, squash and greens, and began her Thanksgiving cooking early.

"It was wonderful," she said. "The stuff that lady talked about [in the presentation], it opened up doors for me."

As Black people face an onslaught of grief, stress and isolation triggered by a devastating pandemic and repeated instances of racial injustice, churches play a crucial role in addressing the mental health of their members and the greater community. Religious institutions have long been havens for emotional support. But faith leaders say the challenges of this year have catapulted mental health efforts to the forefront of their mission.

Some are preaching about mental health from the pulpit for the first time. Others are inviting mental health professionals to speak to their congregations, undergoing mental health training themselves or adding more therapists to the church staff.

"COVID undoubtedly has escalated this conversation in great ways," said Keon Gerow, senior pastor at Catalyst Church in West Philadelphia. "It has forced Black churches — some of which have been older, traditional and did not want to have this conversation — to actually now have this conversation in a very real way."

At Lincoln Memorial Baptist, leaders who organized the virtual presentation with the psychologist knew that people like Mayfield were struggling but might be reluctant to seek help. They thought members might be more open to sensitive discussions if they took place in a safe, comfortable setting like church.

It's a trend that psychologist Alfiee Breland-Noble, who gave the presentation, has noticed for years.

Through her nonprofit organization, the AAKOMA Project, Breland-Noble and her colleagues often speak to church groups about depression, recognizing it as one of the best ways to reach a diverse segment of the Black community and raise mental health awareness.

This year, the AAKOMA Project has received clergy requests that are increasingly urgent, asking to focus on coping skills and tools people can use immediately, Breland-Noble said.

"After George Floyd's death, it became: 'Please talk to us about exposure to racial trauma and how we can help congregations deal with this,'" she said. "'Because this is a lot.'"

Across the country, mental health needs are soaring. And Black Americans are experiencing significant strain: A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer found 15% of non-Hispanic Black adults had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days and 18% had started or increased their use of substances to cope with pandemic-related stress.

Yet national data shows Blacks are less likely to receive mental health treatment than the overall population. A memo released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this spring lists engaging faith leaders as one way to close this gap.

The Potter's House in Dallas has been trying to do that for years. A megachurch with more than 30,000 members, it runs a counseling center with eight licensed clinicians, open to congregants and the local community to receive counseling at no cost, though donations are accepted.

Since the pandemic began, the center has seen a 30% increase in monthly appointments compared with previous years, said center director Natasha Stewart. During the summer, when protests over race and policing were at their height, more Black men came to therapy for the first time, she said.

Recently, there's been a surge in families seeking services. Staying home together has brought up conflicts previously ignored, Stewart said.

"Before, people had ways to escape," she said, referring to work or school. "With some of those escapes not available anymore, counseling has become a more viable option."

To meet the growing demand, Stewart is adding a new counselor position for the first time in eight years.

At smaller churches, where funding a counseling center is unrealistic, clergy are instead turning to members of the congregation to address growing mental health needs.

At Catalyst Church, a member with a background in crisis management has begun leading monthly COVID conversations online. A deacon has been sharing his own experience getting therapy to encourage others to do the same. And Gerow, the senior pastor, talks openly about mental health.

Recognizing his power as a pastor, Gerow hopes his words on Sunday morning and in one-on-one conversations will help congregants seek the help they need. Doing so could reduce substance use and gun violence in the community, he said. Perhaps it would even lower the number of mental health crises that lead to police involvement, like the October death of Walter Wallace Jr., whose family said he was struggling with mental health issues when Philadelphia police shot him.

"If folks had the proper tools, they'd be able to deal with their grief and stress in different ways," Gerow said. "Prayer alone is not always enough."

Laverne Williams recognized that back in the '90s. She believed prayer was powerful, but as an employee of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, she knew there was a need for treatment too.

When she heard pastors tell people they could pray away mental illness or use blessed oil to cure what seemed like symptoms of schizophrenia, she worried. And she knew many people of color were not seeing professionals, often due to barriers of cost, transportation, stigma and distrust of the medical system.

To address this disconnect, Williams created a video and PowerPoint presentation and tried to educate faith leaders.

At first, many clergy turned her away. People thought seeking mental health treatment meant your faith wasn't strong enough, Williams said.

But over time, some members of the clergy have come to realize the two can coexist, said Williams, adding that being a deacon herself has helped her gain their trust. This year alone, she's trained 20 faith leaders in mental health topics.

A program run by the Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis is taking a similar approach. The Bridges to Care and Recovery program trains faith leaders in "mental health first aid," suicide prevention, substance use and more, through a 20-hour course.

The training builds on the work faith leaders are already doing to support their communities, said senior program manager Rose Jackson-Beavers. In addition to the tools of faith and prayer, clergy can now offer resources, education and awareness, and refer people to professional therapists in the network.

Since 2015, the program has trained 261 people from 78 churches, Jackson-Beavers said.

Among them is Carl Lucas, pastor of God First Church in northern St. Louis County who graduated this July — just in time, by his account.

Since the start of the pandemic, he has encountered two congregants who expressed suicidal thoughts. In one case, church leaders referred the person to counseling and followed up to ensure they attended therapy sessions. In the other, the root concern was isolation, so the person was paired with church members who could touch base regularly, Lucas said.

"The pandemic has definitely put us in a place where we're looking for answers and looking for other avenues to help our members," he said. "It has opened our eyes to the reality of mental health needs."
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

COVID-19 may exacerbate mental health symptoms among pregnant and postpartum women

12/1/20 ... women.aspx

Though childbirth is often anticipated with optimism and enthusiasm, approximately 10 to 20 percent of pregnant individuals also experience mental health challenges during the weeks immediately before and after birth. Depression, anxiety and trauma-related disorders can all be exacerbated by increased stress related to pregnancy and postpartum experiences. But it's unknown how the stressors of a significant health pandemic can impact these complications.

In a new study published in Psychiatry Review, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital surveyed pregnant women and those who had recently given birth, finding concerning rates of depression, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, which were found to be exacerbated by COVID-19-related grief and health worries.

" We know the perinatal period is already a time in which women are particularly vulnerable to mental health concerns. We primarily wanted to see what factors related to the pandemic might be associated with mental health symptoms."

- Cindy Liu, Ph.D., Corresponding Author, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry

The researchers launched the Perinatal Experiences and COVID-19 Effects Study (PEACE) to better understand the mental health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum individuals within the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among 1,123 of these women surveyed between May 21 and August 17, 2020, the researchers found that more than 1-in-3 (36.4 percent) reported clinically significant levels of depression. Before the pandemic, rates of perinatal depression (depression occurring during or after pregnancy) were generally considered to be 15-20 percent. Furthermore, 1-in-5 (22.7 percent) reported clinically significant levels of generalized anxiety, and 1-in-10 (10.3 percent) reported symptoms above the clinical threshold for PTSD.

In particular, the researchers found that approximately 9 percent of participants reported feeling a strong sense of grief, loss, or disappointment as a result of the pandemic. This group was roughly five times more likely to experience clinically significant measures of mental health symptoms. More respondents (18 percent) reported being "very worried" or "extremely worried" about COVID-19-related health risks. This group was up to over four times more likely to experience clinically significant psychiatric symptoms.

The researchers recruited participants for the PEACE survey primarily via word-of-mouth, using posts on email lists and in social media groups. They noted that as a result, the sample population was fairly homogenous: 89.9 percent were white, 92.1 percent were at least college educated, and 98 percent were living with their spouse or partner. The household income for 45 percent of the participants was over $150,000.

"People who are working from home, who have maternity leave, or who simply have the time to do a survey like this are disproportionately white and well-off," Liu said. "That is a limitation to this work. Through a survey, we can get in-depth information very quickly, but we are missing the perspectives of various important segments of the population."

The researchers used standardized measures for evaluating COVID-19-related health worries and experiences of grief. "We were looking for associations that inform what we can do as clinical providers to better support families during this time," said co-author Carmina Erdei, MD, of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine. "We wanted to know what is being taken away when a new mother is not able to participate in the usual rituals around birth and welcoming a new family member. The survey responses offer valuable insight into that and help guide what we as health care professionals can do better."

The researchers were able to examine how previous mental health diagnoses, as self-reported by the respondents, impacted these rates. They found that those with pre-existing diagnoses were 1.6-to-3.7 times more likely to have clinically significant measures of the three conditions analyzed. But elevated psychiatric distress was observed in participants regardless of their mental health histories.

Qualitative data gathered through the survey have also provided the team with striking insights into the perinatal experience, but these findings have not yet been analyzed systematically. The researchers note that the mental health experiences of those surveyed match what they observed clinically during the early months of the pandemic, when many of the usual perinatal supports, like assistance from a partner, family member or peer group, were limited due to fears surrounding COVID-19 infection risks and halting of support services.

"Obstetric practices weren't able to screen for mental health symptoms as well, all while people's mental health was under the most pressure," said co-author Leena Mittal, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry. "Mental health supports have persisted and come back in new ways, and the amount of innovation surrounding delivering group and individual care, especially using virtual platforms, is phenomenal. On the psychiatry side of things, we have never been busier, and individuals and families who feel they need mental health care should seek it."


Brigham and Women's Hospital

Journal reference:

Liu, C.H., et al. (2020) Risk factors for depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in perinatal women during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Psychiatry Research.
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Three leading organizations join hands to address global challenges in dementia

12/1/20 ... entia.aspx

To address the growing public health crisis of dementia, three leading organizations announced funding for 23 small-scale pilot projects as part of this year's Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders.

The Alzheimer's Association, Global Brain Health Institute, and the UK-based Alzheimer's Society have united to address global challenges in dementia, including access to care, stigma, brain health risk factors, and other key issues through a competitive funding program for emerging leaders in brain health and dementia--the prevalence of which is expected to triple worldwide to 152 million by 2050.

" Dementia is a global health crisis that continues to grow. The Alzheimer's Association, Global Brain Health Institute and Alzheimer's Society are thrilled to partner to fund these pilot projects, which will investigate innovative approaches to awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in various corners of the world."

- Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer's Association Chief Science Officer

The COVID-19 pandemic--which is straining health systems, increasing social isolation, and disproportionately affecting people living with dementia and their caregivers--is demanding a reimagination of service delivery. The Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders program provides fertile ground for such innovation.

The 2020 awards--23 in total--will drive pilot projects that address disparities in dementia diagnosis, treatment, and care for vulnerable populations and their families.

Several of this year's projects focus on arts and dementia care, including a music program for older adults, a virtual program that engages participants in fine arts or performance arts, and an interactive radio program that highlights older voices. Art is an entertaining and generally accessible tool that may be an outlet for individuals living with dementia, and has the potential to reduce stress and decrease stigma associated with the illness.

Additionally, many of this year's projects focus on flexible, low cost and scalable ways to deliver services to diverse populations, including in Latin America, a region disproportionately affected by dementia. These include a study of digital technology to support cognitive assessment and dementia diagnosis in Cuba, the establishment of a clinical and research network in Peru, and development of a book to guide communication skills for caregivers in Brazil.

This year's awards span 15 countries across five continents, including Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Cuba, Denmark, France, Ireland, Israel, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, Turkey, UK, and USA. The 23 awardees will join an overall portfolio of 88 pilots in 28 countries.

The total funding of approximately $575,000 (£440,000, €486,000) includes about $25,000 (£19,100, €21,100) for each individual award to enable the recipients to pilot test a project and then, if successful, seek further resources to scale up their work.


Alzheimer's Association
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Working from home has negatively impacted physical health and mental health, study finds

12/3/20 ... finds.aspx

What impact has working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had on our health? In a new study, researchers from USC have found that working from home has negatively impacted our physical health and mental health, increased work expectations and distractions, reduced our communications with co-workers and ultimately lessened our productivity.

The study finds that time spent at the workstation increased by approximately 1.5 hours, while most workers are likely to have less job satisfaction and increased neck pain when working from home. It also illustrates the differential impact of working from home for women, parents, and those with higher income.

Nearly 1,000 respondents participated in the survey regarding the impact of working from home on physical and mental well-being. Authored by Ph.D student Yijing Xiao, Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Dean's Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Gale Lucas, a research Assistant Professor at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and Shawn Roll, Associate Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, the study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Becerik-Gerber and Lucas are co-directors of The Center for Intelligent Environments at USC.

The survey was conducted during the early days of the pandemic. Responses regarding lifestyles, home office environments, and physical and mental well-being revealed the following about that first phase of the pandemic's "work from home" period:

Over 64 percent of respondents claimed to have one or more new physical health issues
Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed experienced one new mental health issue
Female workers with annual salary less than 100k were more likely than male workers or workers with higher income to report two or more new physical and mental health issues
Female workers had higher incidence of depression
Parents with infants tended to have better mental well-being but also a higher chance of reporting a new mental health issue
Having toddlers was affiliated with physical well-being but was also associated with more physical and mental health issues
Living with at least one teenager lowered the risk of new health issues
Nearly 3/4 of workers adjusted their work hours and more than 1/3 reported scheduling their work hours around others
Workers who adjusted their work hours or schedule work around others were more likely to report new physical or mental health issues
Pets did not appear to have impact on physical or mental health
Workers decreased overall physical activity and physical exercise, combined with increased overall food intake
Decreased physical and mental well-being was correlated with increased food or junk food intake
Only one-third had a dedicated room for their work at home; at least 47. 6 percent shared their workspace with others

The authors suggest that having a dedicated work from home space would mitigate a number of negative impacts.

The quality of your home workspace is important; having a dedicated workspace signals to others that you are busy, and minimizes the chances of being distracted and interrupted. Increased satisfaction with the environmental quality factors in your workspace, such as lighting, temperature, is associated with a lower chance of having new health issues. In addition, knowing how to adjust your workspace helps with physical health."

Burcin Becerik-Gerber, study's corresponding author


University of Southern California
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Biological diversity increases life satisfaction

12/5/20 ... ction.aspx

Under the current pandemic conditions, activities out in nature are a popular pastime. The beneficial effects of a diverse nature on people's mental health have already been documented by studies on a smaller scale. Scientists of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, the iDiv, and the University of Kiel now examined for the first time whether a diverse nature also increases human well-being on a Europe- wide scale.

To this end, the researchers used the data from the "2012 European quality of Life Survey" to study the connection between the species diversity in their surroundings and the life satisfaction in more than 26,000 adults from 26 European countries. Species diversity was measured based on the diversity of avian species, as documented in the European breeding bird atlas.

" Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species diversity. According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species."

-Joel Methorst, doctoral researcher at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, the iDiv, and the Goethe University in Frankfurt

Birds are well-suited as indicators of biological diversity, since they are among the most visible elements of the animate nature - particularly in urban areas. Moreover, their song can often be heard even if the bird itself is not visible, and most birds are popular and people like to watch them. But there is also a second aspect that affects life satisfaction: the surroundings. A particularly high number of bird species can be found in areas with a high proportion of near-natural and diverse landscapes that hold numerous greenspaces and bodies of water.

"We also examined the socio-economic data of the people that were surveyed, and, much to our surprise, we found that avian diversity is as important for their life satisfaction as is their income," explains Prof. Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese, director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, professor at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, and member of the iDiv. This result becomes particularly obvious when both values increase by ten percent. Fourteen additional bird species in the vicinity raise the level of life satisfaction at least as much as an extra 124 Euros per month in the household account, based on an average income of 1,237 Euro per month in Europe.

According to the study, a diverse nature therefore plays an important role for human well-being across Europe - even beyond its material services. At the same time, the researchers draw attention to impending health-related problems. "The Global Assessment 2019 by the World Biodiversity Council IPBES and studies of avian species in agricultural landscapes in Europe clearly show that the biological diversity is currently undergoing a dramatic decline. This poses the risk that human well-being will also suffer from an impoverished nature. Nature conservation therefore not only ensures our material basis of life, but it also constitutes an investment in the well-being of us all," adds Methorst in conclusion.


German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

Journal reference:

Methorst, J., et al. (2020) The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe. Ecological Economics.
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

COVID-19 lockdown measures negatively impact children's mental health

12/9/20 ... ealth.aspx

The first lockdown led to a significant increase in symptoms of depression among children, highlighting the unintended consequences of school closures, according to a new study from the University of Cambridge.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government implemented a national "lockdown" involving school closures and social distancing. There has been widespread concern that these measures would negatively impact child and adolescent mental health. To date, however, there is relatively little direct evidence of this.

The most direct way of measuring the association between the onset of lockdown and children's mental health is to follow the same individuals over a length of time and look for changes - so-called 'longitudinal' changes.

To test whether changes in emotional wellbeing, anxiety and depression symptoms occurred during lockdown since their initial assessment, a team at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, examined data from mental health assessments on 168 children (aged 8-12 years) before and during the UK lockdown. These assessments included self-reports, caregiver-reports, and teacher-reports.

The results of their study are published today in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Relative to their own pre-pandemic scores, children tended to show more symptoms of depression during lockdown. Even though these symptoms are variable across children, the impact of lockdown can still be seen because the effect size is large. The researchers used the variability in scores to estimate how big an increase this is.

" To give an indication of how large this effect is, imagine ranking the children into 100 'centiles' depending on their scores. A child in the 50th centile would be exactly at the middle of the distribution. But a child at this position before the pandemic, could expect to be at the equivalent of the 77th centile during the lockdown. Put differently, if you randomly selected a child from the sample there is a 70% chance that their depression symptoms were worse during lockdown than before the pandemic."

- Senior author, Dr Duncan Astle, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

"National lockdowns with mass school closures are unprecedented, so going into this crisis, no one could say definitively what impact it would have on children," said Giacomo Bignardi, a PhD student at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.

"Our study is one of the first to follow the same children over time during lockdown and suggests that symptoms of depression among children got much worse during this period. This effect was independent of children's age, gender and family socio-economic status."

The team found only very small and not statistically significant changes in children's scores for emotional problems and anxiety during lockdown.

Dr Astle added: "Childhood is a period where mental health may be particularly vulnerable to reduced peer interaction and loneliness. Now that children have returned to school, their wellbeing, socialization and enjoyment are crucial. Teachers may need additional resources and training to help them support children with low mood.

"Even before lockdown resources for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services were stretched thin - and that was against a backdrop of worsening mental health among children. Our findings suggest that lockdown measures will likely exacerbate this. The education sector will bear the initial brunt of this."

The researchers say that how the lockdown measures impact children's mental health may depend on a variety of factors. A recent study found that loneliness in children was associated with subsequent mental health problems, particularly depression. Also, during lockdown children had fewer opportunities to engage in play and other fun activities that help improve mood.


University of Cambridge

Journal reference:

Bignardi, G., et al. (2020) Longitudinal increases in childhood depression symptoms during the COVID-19 lockdown. Archives of Disease in Childhood. doi.org10.1136/archdischild-2020-320372.
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Alzheimer Europe launches new report on dementia, recommends future priorities across Europe

12/9/20 ... urope.aspx

At an online European Parliament workshop hosted by Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP (Finland), Alzheimer Europe launched a new report "Dementia as a European Priority - A Policy Overview" which takes stock of dementia policy at an EU level and sets out recommendations for future priorities across Europe.

As the European Union is about to agree a new long-term budget and the details of the EU4Health and Horizon Europe programmes are being finalised, Alzheimer Europe reflects on the place of dementia as a political priority in Europe in recent years.

This includes the different ways in which dementia policy and research have been supported by the three institutions of the EU, as well as some of the high-profile coordination and research projects which have been made possible as a result of EU funding.

In the report, Alzheimer Europe also highlights some of its key activities in campaigning for change, as well as the work it has coordinated and participated in, along with its national member associations, to raise the profile of the condition and build an evidence base to make the case for the prioritisation of dementia.

Despite the progress made and the knowledge generated, the report highlights that people living with dementia continue to face a number of challenges. These challenges, which concern wider society too, include the increase in the number of people living with dementia (estimated to double by 2050) and the societal and economic cost of dementia.

As a result, the report sets out a number of recommendations for the EU, outlining specific areas in which dementia should be prioritised across international, health, research and social policy.

Recommendations include:

Prioritizing dementia research in EU Research Programmes (including Horizon Europe), providing a fair allocation of resources and funding for existing programmes and better coordination between programmes
Prioritizing dementia within policies relating to chronic diseases, mental health and ageing, both at an EU and national level
Supporting the Member States to work towards the implementation of the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan on Dementia 2017-2025
Recognizing dementia as a disability and including dementia in disability policies.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Alzheimer Europe's Executive Director, Jean Georges, stated:

"Alzheimer Europe has worked with its members over the past three decades to ensure that dementia is a political priority at the European level. The policy landscape has changed dramatically during this time and we have seen considerable progress as both national governments and the EU have given dementia greater prominence within their health and research policies."

" However, there is much still to do. The European Union and its Member States are on the cusp of historic deals on the EU budget, a greatly expanded Health Programme and the forthcoming Horizon Europe research programme. If we are to build on the knowledge, experience and progress gained in recent years, it is vital that dementia remain a political priority at a European level across health, research and social policy."

- Jean Georges, Executive Director, Alzheimer Europe


Alzheimer Europe
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Mental distress increases among smokers in England during COVID-19 pandemic

12/10/20 ... demic.aspx

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom has conducted a cross-sectional survey in England to investigate the association between smoking habits and psychological distress during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The findings reveal that compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, a deterioration in mental health has occurred among smokers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is currently available on the MedRxiv* preprint server.

There is a growing pool of evidence suggesting that smoking may increase the risk of severe COVID-19, a newly-emerged disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Epidemiological studies have indicated that the prevalence of smoking is higher among individuals with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and other serious mental illnesses. Moreover, people with mental health conditions are more susceptible to be dependent smokers who face major difficulty in quitting smoking and maintaining non-smoking behavior after quitting.

In England, the prevalence of smoking in the general population was 16% during 2014 – 2015. During the same period, about 28%, 34%, and 40% of people with anxiety/depression, chronic mental illness, and serious mental illness, respectively, were found to be smokers.

Studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic have indicated that the restrictions imposed during lockdown have caused a decline in the mental health condition of the general UK population, especially women and young adults. Moreover, it has been found that a significant proportion of smokers have tried to quit smoking during this period.

In the current study, scientists aimed to evaluate the prevalence of mental illness among smokers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to determine whether the prevalence differs from the pre-pandemic period.

Current study design

The Smoking Toolkit Study is a cross-sectional survey conducted monthly on the general adult population in England. The data collected by the survey from April to July in 2016, 2017, and 2020 were used in the current study.

The information about mental health, smoking status, smoking addiction, smoking quitting behavior, and sociodemographic characteristics were collected from a total of 2972 smokers.

Important observations
Smoking status and mental distress

The study findings revealed that compared to previous years (2016/2017), the prevalence of moderate to severe mental distress was higher among past-year smokers and current smokers during the pandemic period.

Moreover, elderly people were less likely to report distress symptoms than younger people (age range: 16 – 24 years).

Smoking status, socio-demographic characteristics, and mental distress

Compared to previous years, the prevalence of moderate distress was higher during the pandemic among young and middle-aged people, women, socioeconomically deprived people, and people with low smoking addiction.

In contrast, a higher prevalence of severe distress was observed during the pandemic among elderly people, women, and people with low smoking addiction.

Study significance

The study findings reveal a clear induction in mental distress among smokers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scientists believe that a deterioration in work and social life due to lockdown-related restrictions in England may be responsible for poor mental health, especially among smokers.

Although, in general, elderly people reported lower distress incidence than younger people, the socioeconomic analysis reveals that elderly people are more susceptible to severe distress than young and middle-aged people.

Moreover, women, socioeconomically deprived people, and people with and without children at home are found to have a higher risk of developing mental distress. These findings indicate that the incidence of mental distress is not equally distributed across society.

Overall, the study findings highlight the need for developing effective smoking cessation support systems for people with mental illness, or for those who are at higher risk of developing mental illness.

Mental health professionals should pay more attention to the smoking behaviors of their patients during the pandemic and should provide the patients with information about smoking cessation services.

Journal reference:

MedRxiv preprint server. Kock L. 2020. Smoking, distress, and COVID-19 in England: cross-sectional population surveys from 2016 to 2020. ... 20245514v1
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

The number of Americans that are depressed or considering suicide has soared because of the COVID lockdowns

12/13/20 ... lockdowns/

As we head into winter, health authorities are telling us to stay at home as much as possible and to keep contact with others at a minimum. They are telling us that we must do this for our own good, but the truth is that the mental health of the American people has been absolutely devastated by the various restrictions that have been imposed since the COVID pandemic first began. Coming into this year, suicide was at an all-time record high in the United States and more Americans were on anti-depressants than ever before. Unfortunately, the COVID lockdowns have made things even worse. The following is an excerpt from a study that was released just a few days ago…

The unfolding of the current coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the worst global public health crisis in recent history, has caused unprecedented medical, social, and economic upheaval across the globe, and inflicted profound psychological pain on many people. The rapid spread of this highly contagious disease resulted in a host of mental health consequences: feelings of uncertainty, sleep disturbances, anxiety, distress, and depression. The wide adoption of restrictive measures, although helpful in controlling the spread of the virus, inevitably resulted in psychological and financial costs that may have long-term psychological sequelae.

A lot of people will never be the same again after this.

Health authorities insist that the lockdowns are helping to prevent the spread of the virus, but they are also crippling people emotionally. If you doubt this, just consider the following numbers which come directly from the CDC’s own website…

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges
related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.* Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019 (1,2). To assess mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the pandemic, representative panel surveys were conducted among adults aged ≥18 years across the United States during June 24–30, 2020. Overall, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic† (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%). The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%), minority racial/ethnic groups (Hispanic respondents [18.6%], non-Hispanic black [black] respondents [15.1%]), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults§ (30.7%), and essential workers¶ (21.7%).

I was absolutely stunned when I read that more than a quarter of all Americans aged 18 to 24 had “seriously considered suicide” in the last 30 days.

That is more than one-fourth!

Sadly, a lot of young people are acting out those thoughts. Over one six week period, one county in Pennsylvania had hundreds of patients come in due to “self-injury or suicidal thoughts”…

It’s not just physical ailments as emergency departments are also being bombarded with the emotional fallout from the pandemic. Over a six-week period this summer in Montgomery County, 400 people went to hospitals because of self-injury or suicidal thoughts.

Young children are being deeply affected emotionally by the COVID pandemic as well.

This week, a brand new study was released in the UK that found “children’s depression symptoms have increased substantially” due to the lockdowns…

A new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge finds that the government-imposed lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic cause significant harm to children’s mental health. The study, published this week in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, was the first of its kind to analyze data on younger children’s mental health before and during the first lockdown in the United Kingdom last spring.

Following 168 children between the ages of 7 ½ and 11 ½, the researchers conclude: “During the UK lockdown, children’s depression symptoms have increased substantially, relative to before lockdown. The scale of this effect has direct relevance for the continuation of different elements of lockdown policy, such as complete or partial school closures.”

What we are putting our children through is inexcusable.

Just the other day, a family was kicked off a flight and banned from United Airlines forever because a two-year-old child did not want to wear a mask.

This is how crazy our society has already become.

And if we can’t handle the COVID pandemic, what are we going to do when global events really start to spiral out of control?

The mental health of Americans was already the worst it had ever been coming into this year, and now people are literally having major meltdowns all around us.

Interestingly, according to one recent survey there is one group of people “that did not experience a mental health decline in 2020”…

According to a Gallup Poll released on Monday, frequent church attendees were the only group in the U.S. that did not experience a mental health decline in 2020.

Gallup has conducted its November Health and Healthcare Survey annually since 2001. The 2020 results show 34% of Americans consider their mental health “excellent,” and 76% consider their mental health “excellent/good,” both are all-time lows.

But of course you never heard that reported by the big corporate news networks did you?

That is because they only want to do negative stories about Christians. Stories about moral failures of prominent Christians fit their anti-Christian agenda, but anything that is even remotely positive about Christians does not.

The average American watches approximately five hours of television a day, and more than 90 percent of what we watch on television is controlled by just 6 giant corporations.

If you allow anyone to pump propaganda into your mind for five hours each day, it is going to dramatically affect the way that you view the world, and there is a good chance that you will end up depressed and/or suicidal.

There is hope, but it isn’t in what the world is offering. I once wrote an entire book about why people can have hope in these troubled times, but most people have been so brainwashed into running after what the world is offering that they don’t want to listen to the truth.

Sadly, even more people are going to plunge into a state of depression and even more people are going to commit suicide as we move into 2021 and beyond.

Everything that can be shaken is going to be shaken, and most people are not going to be able to handle it when our society literally melts down all around them.
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Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

How has the COVID19 pandemic affected the well-being of pregnant women?

12/24/20 ... women.aspx

When the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) first emerged in December 2019, it caused widespread panic as the number of infections continued to grow. By March, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Since then, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, has spread to 191 countries and territories. To date, it has infected more than 78.19 million people and killed over 1.72 million.

The infection mostly affects the elderly and those with comorbidities. Though pregnant women are less likely to develop severe illness when infected, the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health.

A new study by researchers at the Department of Women and Children’s Health at Uppsala University, Sweden, aimed to determine the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women's mental health and well-being.

The study, published on the pre-print medRxiv* server, found that during the first months of the pandemic, depressive symptoms increased among pregnant women.

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Though there is limited information on the risk of COVID-19 for pregnant women, they are not considered at high risk of severe infection. However, pregnant women have been faced with anxiety and depressive symptoms since the beginning of the pandemic, recent studies have shown.

Some of the factors that underlie these associations include the worry for the baby's health, worry for the pandemic situation, grief for the victims, economic problems, misinformation, social isolation, travel restrictions, and concern about receiving healthcare services as planned.

In pregnancy, depressive and anxiety symptoms may heighten the risk of postpartum depression, impacting the mother and the baby.

The study

The study researchers wanted to determine the pandemic's impacts, including the lockdown orders, on pregnant women. The team used the Mom2B cohort, a national ongoing mobile application-based mother cohort, introduced in November 2019.

All women in Sweden who owned a smartphone, were above 18, and who were pregnant or had given birth within three months were eligible to participate. By the end of October 2020, 1,608 women were enrolled in the study.

The women filled out self-reported screeners of depression, anxiety, and well-being. In March 2020, questions about COVID-19 symptoms and effects on life and health care were included. The phone’s GPS sensor tracked movement data, while mood scores were compared with the months of 2020.

What the study found

The study findings showed that the highest depression and anxiety levels were found in April and October 2020. Well-being scores were highest in January, June, and August of the same year. By March, the google searches regarding COVID-19 peaked.

The symptoms of anxiety and depression were higher among those feeling socially-isolated, but not for those who were infected or with a family member who were sick with COVID-19.

The most common reasons for stress and anxiety during the pandemic include canceled healthcare appointments and the women’s worry about their partners being absent during the delivery.

“Levels of perinatal affective symptoms and low well-being were elevated compared with previous years as well as with months with fewer cases of SARS-Cov-2,” the team explained in the study.

Using this type of application can help pregnant women and other people who are affected by the pandemic. The Mom2B application paved the way to gather data at a national level in real-time, as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Similar applications can help clinicians, healthcare providers, and governments to track and monitor high-risk groups during global health crises. This way, health systems can tailor and adjust measures and the support offered.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.


COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) - ... 7b48e9ecf6

Journal reference:

Fransson, E., Karalexi, M., Kimmel, M., Brann, E., Kollia, N. et al. (2020). Mental health among pregnant women during the pandemic in Sweden, a mixed methods approach using data from the Mom2B mobile application for research. medRxiv., ... 20248466v1
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