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Exploding Demand for College and University Mental Health Services

May 31
A study published in the Toronto Star May 29, 2017 indicates the demand for youth mental health services is exploding.
 
A major survey of 25,164 Ontario university students by the American College Health Association showed that between 2013 and 2016, there was a 50-per-cent increase in anxiety, a 47-per-cent increase in depression and an 86-per-cent increase in substance abuse. Suicide attempts also rose 47 per cent during that period. 
 
On average, the number of counselling appointments increased by 35 per cent.  Because of budget constraints, McMaster University psychiatrist Dr. Catharine Munn said, “We have line-ups out the door and down the hall despite hiring more counsellors, we’re drowning.”
 
The study found there has been a 344-per-cent...

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Is telepsychiatry the new normal? Wait times in Canada are unacceptable.

Apr 18
Telehealth provider MDLive  has become the first company to offer telepsychiatry and other virtual mental health services in all 50 states. MDLive Chief Behavioral Health Officer Dr. John Sharp said “I think it’s going to be one of the new norms; you can’t imagine banking without ATMs or online services anymore”.
 
A study at Fraser University indicated that the median wait times for psychiatric treatment in Canada was 16.8 weeks in 2009. The delay for treatment in 2009 far exceeds what physicians would consider clinically reasonable, said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute Director of Health System Performance Studies.  Simon Fraser did a study in November 2016 of wait times for 10 specialties but psychiatrist was not amongst them...

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Mental Health First Aid – Is it Enough?

Mar 01
At least 1 in 3 Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives and at least 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem in a year (Mental Health Commission of Canada – MHCC). Recently businesses, hospitals, and first-responder groups have begun to recognize the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace and attempt to address this through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

First developed in 2001 at the Australia National University, MHFA was adapted to Canada by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in 2010. MHFA training is an immersive 12-hour course for recognizing mental health concerns and how to approach them. The course uses the acronym “ALGEE” as a way to cover the bases in a mental health intervention.

A...

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Passive Monitoring: Developing New Technology in Mental Healthcare

Feb 14
Currently, the market is inundated with tracking apps where users must look at the information and decide what to do with it.
 
New technology is being developed for passive monitoring, which occurs in the background of a mobile device, tracking movement, the frequency of messaging and more.
 
Passive monitoring has the potential of improving mental health care in a variety of ways, including detection of early warning signs of mental illness. Consider the following situations.
 
Someone has stopped making social connections via their mobile devices, the app would alert key members of the care team.
 
Someone is suffering depression.  With passive monitoring, if someone were in bed and not moving for long periods of time, the app would flag a care provider...

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Depression Costs the Country Billions in Lost Productivity. It's Time we started Helping people Get Back To Work

Jan 17

Written by the Chairman of Mensante's Clinical Advisory Board:

Work is a significant part of daily life. Whether or not a person feels comfortable on the job influences their overall well-being—and our society’s economic health. For anyone suffering from depression, work-related productivity is a key indicator of health status, one we can’t afford to ignore.

Depression-related absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present for work but less productive due to their illness) have staggering economic consequences: absenteeism alone is estimated to...

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Canada Must Fund On-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Just a few cents a year for each citizen!

Jan 06
As we entered 2017, Mensante received an email from the Australian government titled “Setting New Year’s Resolutions for a better 2017." The message referenced several Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses sponsored by the Australian government for many disorders covered by FeelingBetterNow®.  Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is entirely evidenced based. Medications and psychotherapy, primarily CBT, are the only evidenced-based treatment for mental health disorders. 

Before including any tool in our Self-Help Toolbox recommendations, Mensante’s Mental Health Professional Board members use the tool, rather than simply reading an outline or course summary. While the course summaries looked appropriate and we respect the work we have the reviewed developed in Australia...

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Holiday Stress and Accessible Self Care

Dec 15
With the holidays around the corner, everyone is buzzing about a vacation, a break from work, getting ready for social gatherings, and even foreseeing what work may lie after the break. It’s an exciting time for everyone. With the heightened emotions, the inevitable sense of stress arises. One does not have to be a first responder or work in the healthcare field to experience the stress that may be building from finishing projects before the break, financial stress of the holidays, or even having to see relatives who you distinctly remember pinching too hard.

It may be the holidays, but that doesn’t mean the mind or body really get a break. It in these times that self care is important and preventative measures are needed to prevent holiday burnout. A recently released article on Online Mindful Stress...

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Rethinking Depression: A new drug for depression

Nov 17
The treatment of Depression was revolutionized when Prozac was approved as the first antidepressant by the US FDA in 1987. Antidepressant drugs work on the neurotransmitters of the brain by inhibiting certain signals and increasing the activity of other signals. The popular belief surrounding depression is the Monoamine Hypothesis: that depression is the result of underactivity of monoamines, the specific neurotransmitters that are responsible for different functions in the brain. The effect antidepressants were having on people made sense in this hypothesis: brains with underactivity of monoamines get treated with monoamines, and the result is a happier person. However, a long standing problem with the hypothesis is that antidepressant medication can immediately raise levels of monoamines however the symptoms of depression take on...

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Genetic link between Depression and Cardiovascular Disease

Oct 17
“Depression is much more complex than most people think, and it includes dysfunction at multiple biological levels, from genes to brain regions, and blood circulating through the body,” says Professor Bernhard Baune, Head of Psychiatry at the Universtiy of Adelaide.
 
Dr. Braune and his team recently published a systematic review of genes in relation to depression in the brain in the journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Specifically, the research identified the gene PXMP2 to be a potential candidate that plays a key role in linking depression and cardiovascular diseases.
 
PXMP2 plays a role in the structural support of peroxisome, which break down fatty acids in the body and turning them into energy for the body.
 
Dr. Braune explains PXMP2 is seen to...

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Ontario Students in need of more accessible mental health resources

Sep 27
80% of 18 to 24 year olds in Ontario are registered in colleges or universities. It is around this age bracket that many mental health concerns first begin to appear. The Ontario University and College Health Association (OUCHA) conducted a survey on over 25, 000 students attending Ontario colleges and universities in spring 2016. The major findings are as follows:
  • 65% of students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety some time within the last 12 months
  • 13.7% seriously considered suicide some time within the last 12 months
  • 46% felt so depressed that it was difficult to function some time within the last 12 months
  • 26.1% of students reported some diagnoses or treatment of a mental health concern within the last year
Counsellors see the constant daily struggles faced by students...

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Back to School: Mental Health of Educators

Aug 22
School is just around the corner. At the forefront of this season are advertisements about back to school supplies and academic articles about the stress and mental health concerns of students. Often left behind are the mental health needs of educators and their support network.  Scarcely found in research are reports on the needs of teachers and the prevalence of mental health concerns in the profession.

In 2015, the American Federation of Teachers released a survey reporting the Quality of Worklife among educators. The survey found that over 78% of educators expressed overwhelming levels of stress from the workplace yet only 17% of teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. This provides a glimpse for understanding an important contributor to students’ academic success: teachers’ mental...

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Ontario Government Addresses PTSD Among First Responders

Jul 13
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can arise following the experience or witnessing of a disturbing or distressing event. People who suffer from PTSD can experience mental, emotional, and physical stresses that become highly debilitating and impair the person’s ability to function in social or family life.

Among Canadians, the prevalence of PTSD is about 10% Canadians over the course of their lifetime. Across Canadian First-Responders, this rate doubles to 22% (Center for Suicide Prevention, 2015). This year alone, Canada has seen 8 tragic deaths across first-responders. Four paramedics and four police officers have died of suicide across Canada – and these are the ones we know about.

In April 2016, The Ontario Government responded by amending the Workplace...

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Research suggests our capacity to increase productivity by learning to control the part of our brain most essential to motivation.

Jun 09
Using a new brain imaging strategy, researchers at Duke University shed light on our potential to become more motivated and more productive if we can learn to control the part of our brain,  ventral tegmental area (VTA), most essential to volition.
Scientists took a first step in understanding how to manipulate neurotransmitter circuits involved in volition using thoughts and imagery. 
 
In the study, participants were placed in an MRI scanner and asked to generate feelings of motivation -- using their own personal strategies -- during 20-second intervals. Participants weren't able to raise their VTA activity consistently on their own.  However, when the scientists provided participants with neurofeedback from the VTA, presented in the form of a fluctuating thermometer, participants were...

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Research suggests depression is a systemic disease affecting the entire body.

May 18

The results of a study conducted by an international team of researchers indicate depression is more than a mental disorder as it can be considered a systemic disease affecting our entire body. Results suggest that oxidative stress plays a role in depression and that antidepressant activity may be mediated via improving oxidative stress/antioxidant function.

 

This may explain co-morbidity between depression and a number of diseases including cardio-vascular disease and cancer, and why people suffering from...

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Workplace Stress Management Made Easy with FeelingBetterNow

Mar 28
Stress at work may be one of the few guarantees in life, aside from death and taxes. A 2010 survey found that over 1 in 4 people (that’s 3.7 million Canadians), considered most days to be ‘quite a bit’ or ‘highly stressful’, with the majority attributing work issues as the leading cause. Teachers unfortunately are not exempt; data from the Ontario College of Teachers in 2015 indicated that nearly 2 in 5 early-career teachers are concerned about job security, and 1 in 5 did not find their workload to be manageable. Stressful working conditions are also the second most commonly cited reason for leaving the teaching profession, according to a 2005 survey (source: Professionally Speaking, June 2006).
With...

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Mental Health Commission of Canada releases new report studying implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

Oct 30
On October 15, 2015 the Mental Health Commission released its Interim Report on the Implementation of National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. 
 
Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) President and CEO Louise Bradley said “This week, 500,000 Canadians will not make it to work because of a mental health problem or illness. By 2041, the cost of lost productivity due to mental illness is estimated to be $16 billion every year;” and she added, “by improving the management of mental health in the workplace productivity losses can be decreased by as much as 30%”
 
Preliminary findings include:
  • Participating organizations have achieved 65% of the specified elements in The Standard at the interim phase in the project;Read more...

Screening for Mental Health on its own will not change health outcomes

May 05
The web is full of online mental health assessments.   These assessments differ in a variety of ways; some require the individual to pre-identify their problem area, some are not clinically based, some are free, some don’t identify the severity of the problem, and some of the sites offer general information about mental health problems. All the assessments have one thing in common; they do not link the assessment to any care plan.   There is no immediate link to a personalized clinically based action plan for self-care or collaborative care with a mental healthcare profession. Basically, you are just left hanging.
 
Don Thomson, President of SOS Resource Group, which specializes in analyzing health, wellness and disability management services, says “an assessment that tells you have a...

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Identifying Molecular Markers for Major Depression

Apr 30
Studies over many years have shown the importance of early intervention in treating mental disorders.  More attention now is being placed on identification of the early warning signs of a mental health problem such as poor concentration, irritability, difficulties in decision making and social withdrawal.  
 
New scientific studies are showing we are closer to finding tests and imaging that would reveal depression biomarkers and potentially allow for very early identification of predisposition to depression.
 
Researchers at University of Oxford found that the sequencing of the amount of mtDNA and mean telomere length—two components of the genome suspected to be associated with adverse life experiences—revealed a significant association between major depression and the...

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Psychotherapy in Canada: "What is not insured, is simply not accessible"

Apr 10
Psychotherapy in Canada: "What is not insured, is simply not accessible"

I recently read an insightful letter by Dr. Alain Lesage, MD, MPhil, written to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), regarding the lack of accessibility of in-person psychotherapy for many in Canada, due to the lack of coverage for the cost of those services under our publicly funded health care system. You can read his full letter here, although you may need to have subscriber access to do so.

Dr. Lesage made an excellent point in noting that the need for medications for mental health treatment in Canada was covered, while the need for psychotherapy was not; this is according to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey on community mental health. You can read the report on that study here: http://statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2013009/article/11863...

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Large-scale Canadian Study Shines Light on Individuals' Mental Health Information Preferences

Jan 05

Spoiler Alert: Not everyone needs to or even prefers to obtain information about mental health management from in-person care provider sources!

A recent large-scale study with over 1,000 participants, authored by members of the Mobilizing Minds Research Group at York University was designed to identify which channels and formats of information were most likely to stimulate young adults to take a proactive role in their mental health care and achieve best outcomes. The results showed indicated that maximal impact could be obtained by a combination of books and workbooks recommended by a mental healthcare professional and an active new media online approach to education, self-assessment, therapy recommended by peers. All groups indicated they preferred information about alternative ways to reduce anxiety or depression rather...

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UK Minister of Health Encourages better Mental Health Management on the Web

Dec 01

Speaking at a conference in November 2014, Norman Lamb, the Minister of Health in the UK said the current system of in-person treatment must be augmented to include web-based treatment, including computerized web-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as part of a new government strategy for how mental illnesses are dealt with by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Allowing people to bypass traditional GP referrals to get help via the internet or over the phone would encourage hundreds of thousands of patients to seek treatment. He encouraged the use of online treatment including cognitive behavioural therapy, apps, counselling and peer support networks.

Minister Lamb’s comments highlight the importance of meeting young people where they are – on the web and on mobile devices. He also...

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