The Birth of a Second Child Deteriorate Parents’ Mental Health: Study Finds
Parents who have a second child normally assume that two can’t be worse than one. But they soon find out that they were wrong as they struggle to cope. One study followed 20,000 parents over 16 years to find the effect that having children has on their mental health. The study found that before having children, a couple have similar levels of time pressure. The birth of a baby increases time pressure for both parents but the increase is greater for women. The arrival of the second child doubled the time pressure for both parents. The situation did not improve with the arrival of the third child, meaning that there are no economies of scale when it comes to children. This had nothing to do with whether the parent works or not.
When the scientists looked at mental health of mothers, they found that it improved with the arrival of the first child and remained steady for a number of years. However, it drastically declined with the birth of the second child. With men mental health improves with the first child and declines with the second child but not to the same extend as women. It became obvious that fathers suffer less time-pressure than mothers over the long term.
One in Six American Kids Have Mental Health Disorders: Study
Results of the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health published in JAMA Pediatrics found that about 16.5% of all American children (between 6 and 17 years old) suffer from at least one mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Half of those kids, whose conditions interfere with healthy growth, do not get any medical attention or counselling from mental health professionals. According to the survey, poor kids and children of single mothers had a 40% chance of having mental health problem compared to rich kid or kids with two parents.
Though the study was not controlled, the scientists could tell that a number of factors contributed to this disparity. Some of the factors are affordability, accessibility of mental health care, individual patient and family characteristics, and the area-specific level of stigma surrounding mental health problems. Some experts believe that the problem is worse than what the study found, since there are children who have never seen any health professionals. Also, the experts believe there are some children who visit doctors for regular check-ups whose mental health problems are overlooked as doctors rush through their appointments. In other cases, parents do not believe their children need help.
Common Heart, BP and Diabetes Meds May Alleviate Mental Illness
One new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, has found that certain heart and diabetes medications may possibly be used to manage mental health problems. The study, that ran between 2005 and 2016, involved 142,691 adult and teenage Swedish patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The major finding is that the patients were less likely to attempt self-harm or to be hospitalized when they were taking statins which control cholesterol, calcium channel blockers which control blood pressure and metformin, an oral diabetes drug.
The scientists looked for similar improvements while giving patients diuretics and they did not find any. That rules out the possibility that the patients improved due to better care and support. Still, they do not claim that the drugs had a direct effect on mental health symptoms. However, statins are known to be anti-inflammatory, Metformin helps to address the way the brain utilizes glucose, while calcium channel blockers target L-type calcium channels in the brain and have been found to control emotional behavior. Therefore, the scientists are calling for randomized controlled trials of the drugs for severe mental illness. If the drugs are found to be effective for treating mental health problems, they can be put to use for that purpose fast since they are already approved and their side-effects and safety records are known.
Adam Lambert Speaks Up on Mental Health
Adam Lambert, the 37-year old former American Idol finalist has been seeking professional help for mental health problem. On February 21, 2019, he wrote on Twitter, announcing that he will be releasing a new song called Feel Something soon, detailing his fight with mental health problems. He claims the depression began when he felt that record label executives were taking away his artistic vision, which resulted in low self-confidence, loneliness and depression. He thanked everyone for their patience and encouragement during his dark days. Now he says he is rising from the dark period of second-guessing his artistic abilities.
Apparently, getting professional help and going on tour with Queen helped Adam to clear his head. He continued, “With a bit of professional help and the support of colleagues, friends and family, I pulled myself out of the darkness. I decided to begin my next album on my own so I wouldn’t be influenced by anything but my passion for music. I reached out to fellow writers and artists that I’d met over the years and began booking sessions with them. I wanted to make the music I wanted to make, and to get in the headspace I was in when I first dreamed of being a singer-before playing industry game started messing with my love for music.”
Bad Behavior in Children may be Signs of Mental Illness
Many parents are experiencing behavior problems with their children such as tantrums, throwing toys, punching, biting, refusing to go to school and being miserable to school. The parents are normally not sure whether this is normal behavior or mental health problems. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics estimates that around 16.5% of all US kids have at least one mental health problem.
About 50% of them are not getting any professional help either because they have not access to mental care (there is a nationwide shortage of child psychiatrists). Also, parents fail to recognize symptoms of mental illness and sometime deliberately avoid getting treatment. Many parents still worry that their children will carry a label of the diagnosis all their lives so they tend to avoid getting treatment. When they take their children to the doctor, they do not fully disclose the problem. The cost of mental health treatments is very high especially for families without insurance so that too contributes to the problem.
The data is not entirely correct as kids with ADHD, depression and anxiety are treated by their pediatricians or family doctor and never see a mental health professional. It is not clear whether the survey took that into account.
No-frills Therapy Aims to Halve the Male Suicide Rate in the UK
Every week, all over the UK, various groups of men meet for two hours for some straight talk in Andy’s Man Clubs. A ball goes around the group and the guy with the ball is the one who shares his experiences for the week. Problems of the week at work, with the family, with money, with service providers, and struggles to fight substance abuse are all shared in a warm, matey environment. It’s plain-speaking therapy. The others listen and nod.
Andy’s Man Clubs’ motto is “It’s Okay To Talk” and the logo is a hand making the “OK” sign. The club was started in 2016 by Luke Ambler after his brother-in-law Andy committed suicide due to lack of sharing. Now the club, named after Andy, provides an environment where it is safe for men to share thoughts and feelings. There is no hierarchy. The rules are simple: no religion, no medicine and no mental health professionals. It is just ordinary men who want to simply speak normally about what is happening in their lives to other men who offer understanding and support. Some of them facilitate the discussion by asking a few questions but they are there for the same reason. The aim is to halve the male suicide rate in the UK where suicide is the largest single killer of men under the age of 45.
US Food and Drug Administration Approves a Nasal Spray chemically Similar to Ketamine to Treat People with Depression
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, The US Drug and Food Administration (FDA) approved Spravato, a nasal spray manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Spravato is for patients who cannot get relief from depression with at least two antidepressants. Because of safety concerns, the approval orders that patients should be monitored for two hours after receiving a dose.
The FDA approval is based on a study in which patients who took the drug experienced a greater improvement in their depression levels than patients on placebo treatments. Some of the trial patients experienced side effects like anxiety, lethargy, increased blood pressure, dizziness, disassociation, vomiting, feeling drunk and other side-effects. The long-term effects are not yet known.
Esketamine, the drug in Spravato nasal spray, works on receptor systems that are different from current anti-depressants. It seems to work in cases where other medications fail to work. The effects are almost immediate yet with other depression medications will take weeks to bring relief.
Australian psychiatrists already see a huge opportunity for Australia. The University of Sydney is already using the drug in emergency departments to bring fast relief to acutely depressed and suicidal patients. They believe that Australia cannot afford to wait the traditional five years while the US tests the drug. The psychiatrists do not know what makes ketamine effective, but they suspect that it rejuvenates brain and nerve cells.
Judge Rules Against an Insurer for Denying Treatment for Mental Health Patients for Profit
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, a federal judge decided against United Behavioral Health, a unit of UnitedHealthcare, saying the company denied treatment to thousands of people, because it focused on its bottom-line more than people’s health. The judge scolded the company’s medical directors for lying under oath. The company has been discriminating against people seeking treatment for mental health and substance abuse. It ignored effective treatment of members’ underlying conditions by deliberately drafting guidelines to “limit coverage to acute signs and symptoms.”
The case was a class action on behalf of at least 50,000 people who were denied coverage by United Behavioral Health, America’s largest managed behavioral health care organization. The judge took more than a year to present his 106-page decision. He found federal violations and violation of state laws in Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois. He blasted the company’s medical directors and other expert witnesses, naming each one and shredding them as not credible and ignoring their testimony.
People who champion mental health issues equate this ruling to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that found racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. This decision is viewed as one of the most important and most thorough rulings ever given at federal level against an insurance company in connection with mental health issues.
Keira Knightly: How the Phrase ‘Man Up’ Has Caused a Mental Health Crisis
The actress Keira Knightly says it is important to hold open conversations about mental health issues. At the age of 22 she had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She believes that high-profile celebrities should inspire others by speaking up about the mental health struggles they faced throughout their lives. While it is not easy, it has to be done since young people look up to celebrities and they can be inspired by the stories of triumph over mental health problems.
Keira is aware that most people cannot afford good quality mental health care like her. She also believes that government could be investing more in mental health care.
Keira is currently promoting her post-second world war drama The Aftermath in which one of the major themes is the tendency of men to hide their true emotions especially during the post-war era of the 1940s. She says these days people still repress their emotions since they are told to “man up.” The taboo against discussing emotions therefore continues and it has contributed immensely to a mental health crisis. Keira believes that men should particularly be encouraged to speak about what they are going through and society must break down taboos around conditions such as PTSD. She says sometimes she cannot cope and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Shocking High Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Pregnant British Women Aged 16 To 24: Study
Around 67% of pregnant British women under-25 show signs of mental health problems, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open. The problems include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Only 20% of women over 25 have similar problems. Already there is increasing awareness of low access to mental health care among young people. While services exist that target pregnant teens, the mental health aspect remains unmet. According to Dr. Lockwood, lead author of the study, research has been focusing on postnatal depression yet there is a wide range of mental health problems during pregnancy.
The study involved 575 women (10% were under 25) during their first antenatal check-up. They were assessed using a “gold standard” psychiatric interview method used by the NHS. Some of the issues that contributed to the mental health problems that the under-25s faced included lack of accommodation, being single, unemployment, unplanned pregnancy, and a history of physical or sexual abuse. Professor Louise Howard, a senior author of the study, says the findings were shocking and recommends that they be tested in a larger sample of young pregnant women. The NHS already has long term plans to provide more psychiatric care to pregnant women but there are resource challenges involved.
Mental Health Care Plan Consultations Always Leave Some People Feeling Worse
Graham Panther wrote about how he dreads going to the annual GP consultation for his mental health cover that gives him 10 Medicare-subsidized sessions with a therapist. He delays the renewal every year because he cannot stand the consultation with the GP and misses out on hundreds of dollars in Medicare rebates. Here is why. He says the first time he was diagnosed with a mental health problem at the age of 18, he accepted it since it was a way of explaining things. At least he knew that his behavior was not deliberate but was caused by mental health issues.
He attends therapy sessions every year. For him to renew his Medicare cover for mental health he has to go through a questionnaire with the GP and he dreads that visit. He has to answer a lot of probing questions, and some answers lead to even deeper questions. At the end of the questionnaire the GP tallies the scores and gives him feedback, “You are severely depressed.” It is this feedback that makes him feel worse because despite the therapy sessions and his coping strategies, his way of being in this world is still considered sick and disordered.
Graham Panther is co-founder of The Big Feels Club, an international club of people who are sad or scared most of the time.
Exercise as a Way to Improve Mental Health
Exercise is well-known for helping to alleviate depression, boost the mood, improve sleep and relieve stress. Unfortunately, most professionals generally do not make the link between physical health and mental health. One woman whose life used to be dominated by anxiety, paralyzing fear and intrusive thoughts says she found relief from running. She feels like running uses up some of the adrenaline that is caused by anxiety. It gave her hope, independence and a sense of inner strength and managed to stop her panic attacks, reduce her intrusive thoughts and to remove the looming sense of doom.
Exercise alone cannot cure mental health problems. However, a number of studies, including a recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal in January 2019, found a close link between exercise and reduction in depression. It might help if people with severe mental health problems combine exercise and professional health. Yet people are not exercising enough. By the time people leave school, most of them have stopped exercising and as adults they give excuses such as too little time or money. Dr. Sarah Vohra says most of the young people that she sees for mild anxiety or depression are not active at all. They spend most of their time in front of the screen.
Hip Offices are Part of the Mental Health Crisis in America
Redesigning office space to make it more laid back and having mental health days are not helping the mental health crisis in America, says Aaron Harvey, a partner and cofounder of Ready Set Rocket. Because of America’s obsession with work and performance, about 32 millionAmerican employees experience mental illness each year and only 50% seek professional help.
Many companies have created hip offices where employees can relax and play after work but that has not removed burnout since employees cannot disconnect from work long enough to rest and recover. Technology makes that worse as it blurs the demarcation between home and office. As a result, organizations are suffering through absenteeism, presenteeism, and loss productivity due to mental illnesses. Aaron Harvey believes that organizations need to invest in systems that promote employee mental health.
From experience, he has learned that for a long time he suffered from stress and burnout without talking about. Talking about it helped because then he had to come up with solutions. He believes that the systems that an organization puts in must make it normal to discuss mental heath problems with one’s manager and for the organization to respond with solutions that support the employee on all levels of mental health. The solution is not in ping-pong or pool tables and coffee machines, but in changing organizational culture.
Mentally Ill People Pay Higher Bills and Banks Contribute to the Problem
Planning how to use the money, making payments, arranging debit orders and other financial management activities are not easy for normal people. It is even worse for people with mental health problems according to a new report from Citizens Advice and it can cost them up to £1,550 per year. Mentally ill people may find it difficult to act under pressure, they have poor memory, they struggle with paperwork, they may avoid dealing with problems and may dislike communicating. So, they end up with unfair deals.
Apparently, poverty and mental health are linked in many ways. Those with debt problems are highly likely to experience mental health problems while those with mental health problems are highly likely to get into financial trouble. That is why UK austerity is having a disturbing impacton the mental health of many people. Sadly, people with debt problems are twice as likely to consider suicide as other people. Luckily banks are beginning to take steps. For example, Barclays advises its customers to put spending caps on accounts and to check their balances on an app. It is not clear if checking balances on an app is going to help people who hate checking balances on the statement. Citizens Advice believes that banks need to do more and they are pushing for laws that allow mentally ill people to exit contracts.
Please Let’s Stop Using the Term “Smiling Depression”
New research has found that up to 40% of depressed people appear happy but inside they feel hopeless and low. Google searches for “smiling depression” have recently increased dramatically and Generation Z are quitting social media in droves of the effects on mental health. Instagram, for example, has become the most damaging platform.
People smile on the outside because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Smiling is a coping mechanism that unfortunately feeds into the stigma. The term “smiling depression” is unfortunate as it fails to acknowledge the many shades and faces of depression. It makes people believe that those who can smile are not ill and that mental illness only manifests in extreme forms. It limits people’s understanding of mental illness and links depression to happiness and pretence. It shows that people do not believe that depression is real.
The closest medical term to “smiling depression” is “atypical depression” which is twice as common in women than in men and it is more chronic than melancholic depression. Sufferers can experience positive moods in positive situations whereas melancholic depression never have mood improvements. Many other symptoms are not typical of depression, but it is depression. Calling it “smiling depression” encourages silence and shame, and increases risks of suicide. It is better to call it what it is so that people can quickly get help.
Prince William Criticizes Football Clubs for Not Caring About Players’ Mental Health
Prince William, who has spoken openly about his own mental health problems together with his brother Harry, criticized football clubs for dereliction of duty for neglecting their players’ mental health at a meeting in Belfast. He is the President of Football Association (FA). He reminded football clubs that some players come from difficult backgrounds and may have many issues to deal with. Therefore, he prefers that they be treated as human beings, not financial assets. Yet football clubs are acting like factories as they are all looking for the next Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, and they don’t seem to care about anyone who else. “
Prince William has observed how players with mental health problems were simply being discarded instead of being supported. Also, a number of players with mental health problems approached FA for support in 2018. FA is aware that not every player earns £100,000 per week, so there could be financial problems. Also, a number of former and current high-profile footballers have spoken up about their struggles with mental issues, including Danny Rose, Aaron Lennon and Stan Collymore. Prince William therefore wants to organize a “Mental Health FA Cup” to raise awareness of the problem.
The Continued Growth of the Anxiety Economy
The anxiety industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry. About 30% of Britons experience anxiety disorders during their lifetime and the NHS Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey published in 2016 found that depression and anxiety affect 1 in 6 people. Unfortunately, there is a mental health care crisis with long waits for services, leading to complications and more pressure on the NHS. There are unwell people who do not meet the threshold for acceptance into established services. There are also severely ill people who cannot be helped because of resource shortages.
This has created an opportunity for businesses that sell domestic anxiety cures online. There is now a thriving business of selling anxiety-relieving products with more than 30 categories of innovative products oriented around anxiety, stress, mood and sleep. Some of the categories are fabric conditioners, skincare products, chocolates, yogurt, fidget spinners, and weighted blankets. Mattresses are being marketed like iPads. iPads are filled with sleep apps. The weighted blanket, a therapeutic aid, has been redesigned as a chic lifestyle accessory. The products are so popular that in 2017, the sleep-health industry was worth $30bn-$40bn.
There is a lot of innovation and clever marketing that is making the products sell and the anxiety industry is growing. Sadly, a lot of the products on the market have never been tested for effectiveness.