October 20, 2021

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CDC Recognizes Mental Illness as Risk for COVID-19 Complications, Increasing Access to Booster Shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized that people with schizophrenia and mood disorders such as major depression have a heightened risk of severe outcomes if they contract COVID-19, which increases their chances of being admitted to intensive care units, needing to be placed on ventilators and dying from these complications.

The decision, announced October 14, means that people with these mental health conditions will be among the groups eligible for vaccine booster shots, along with people who are over 65, long-term care facility residents, workers whose jobs put them at a high risk of COVID-19 exposure, and those who have other health complications such as heart disease, cancer or respiratory diseases. All of these groups are considered by the CDC to have higher risks of poor outcomes from the virus and thus are being given priority access to booster shots. … Read more at MindSite News

Demand for Mental Health Services Keeps Rising, Psychologist Survey Says

Psychologists who treat depression, anxiety and a host of other mental health conditions say they are seeing a continued surge in demand for their assistance, according to survey results released by the American Psychological Association. More than eight in 10 psychologists said they were getting more requests for help with anxiety and 70% said demand for depression treatment also had increased. Treatment for trauma, sleep disorders, substance disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders all rose in the past year as well, the survey found. Nearly all the clinicians continue to use teletherapy for at least some of their services and about half have now adopted a hybrid approach, seeing some patients in person and some remotely. “These numbers highlight what we have been saying since the early days of the pandemic – we are facing a mental health tsunami,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., the association’s CEO. “We need to continue to support treatment via telehealth, and we must invest in screening, prevention, and innovative interventions to expand access to various levels of care.”


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With Vets Waiting Months for Urgent Mental Health Care, Veteran Affairs Is Changing the Way It Uses Outside Providers

The suicide rate for veterans is almost double that of civilians, but those suffering from depression or other mental health challenges often face a long wait for mental health services. National Public Radio interviewed the wife of one Afghanistan vet with survivor’s guilt. He had come close to suicide this year at least once, but was told that the earliest he could be seen was March of next year. Waits of six months or more are common even though many officers are supportive of mental health treatment: “As a commander, I’m very, very open about the help that I’ve gotten, and I very much encourage my soldiers to go get help,” said one military officer who asked to remain anonymous. To ease the logjam, Veterans Affairs has announced that it may change the way it schedules and pays for mental health visits outside the VA.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

“Summer House” Star with Anxiety Says Show Perpetuated Stigma about Mental Ills

Comedian Hannah Berner said she left the reality TV show “Summer House” in part because she felt that her anxiety disorder and on-air panic attack were being played for laughs and stereotypes, not as an authentic portrayal of someone struggling with mental challenges. She was also hurt, she said in an interview with Forbes.com, by the online trolling and attacks on her after each episode aired. “I knew Instagram was down because my mental health was up,” she quipped in one tweet. She has since gone on to create her own podcast about mental health, Berning in Hell, in which she encourages comedians, reality show stars and entrepreneurs “to open up about their own personal hell.”

AMA: What Doctors Wish Patients Knew About Heavy Alcohol Use During the Pandemic

How often have you heard friends on social media joking about their heavy drinking during the pandemic? Beer, mixed drinks or a bottle of wine can certainly take the edge off COVID-19 frustrations, but the American Medical Association warns that many Americans are progressing to unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption. According to one survey, one in four adults has reported drinking more alcohol to deal with the stress of the pandemic, including a whopping 52% of parents with early elementary school kids. As a result of pandemic isolation, anger and anxiety, “some people became their own bartenders and progressed into heavier drinking patterns to cope,” an AMA brief observes. Two AMA members stress that overdrinking – whether habitual or due to the pandemic – is ubiquitous. Besides isolation, boredom, and loss of social support, the 14% rise in annual alcohol intake is also fueled by unemployment, stressful work on the frontlines and – in something all too familiar to many of us – trying to work at home while caring for young children, managing their virtual schooling “and keeping them entertained all day,” according to the AMA. In the brief, the organization shares some advice about pandemic fatigue and unhealthy alcohol use.

Canadian University Offers Resource Aimed at Preventing Student Suicide

Suicide among college students in the U.S. has tripled since the 1950s, and in 2020  Canada also saw an upsurge in student suicides. At the University of Ottawa alone, five students committed suicide  within 10 months, and one report found international students were at particular risk. To help prevent suicides, the University of Victoria Student Wellness Centre is distributing a digital resource called Let’s Talk about Suicide: Raising Awareness and Supporting Students. Dawn Schell, the center’s manager of mental health outreach and training, explained that international students have fewer supports and less of a community in Canada than other students. “There is no shame ever in talking about suicide,” she said, pointing to a support service called here2talk.ca and an Indigenous helpline for young adults and teens. “You know there is a suicide risk curve, so if we can buy some time, the intense feeling (of wanting to die) may dissipate.”

In the US, if you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Research Roundup – This Week in Mental Health Research

Community College Students: More Mental Health Problems and Less Care The Covid-19 pandemic has been […]

Parts Unknown: Controversial Documentary Explores Anthony Bourdain’s Life and Death

“You’re probably going to find out about this anyway, so here’s a little preemptive truth-telling,” […]

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