Study to examine role of arts, humanities in improving mental health and well-being

Published on May 8, 2013 at 12:50 AM 

An innovative study led by The University of Nottingham is to investigate whether arts and humanities can help improve the mental health and well-being of patients and carers alike.

The five-year project will examine the role that music, storytelling, photography, sculpture and other activities might play in assisting mental health service users and those who look after them.

The initiative builds on the work of Nottingham Health Humanities and its International Health Humanities Network and will centre on the concept of ‘mutual recovery’ – promoting social, cultural and emotional connectivity between patients, professionals and informal carers to gain mental health benefits for all parties involved in health, social or adult education delivery.
The study comes as part of a quiet revolution to challenge the overreliance of pharmaceutical and psychotherapy solutions which critics argue have not delivered the step-change needed to support mental health patients.
Professor Paul Crawford, who is leading the research and holds the world’s first chair in health humanities, said: “The target-driven, production line culture of our healthcare system has done tremendous damage and we are seeing management by remote control, where managers often don’t have a clue what’s happening as demonstrated by the recent scandalous situation at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
“This system is making it increasingly difficult for practitioners to be compassionate because they are under intense pressure to perform and many are suffering from burnout and struggling with their own mental health. When considering the attributes that modern-day healthcare is frequently accused of lacking, it is all too easy to overlook one of the most precious of all: humanity.” Click here to read more. 

Health Alerts: Depression might affect how this vaccine works

Untreated depression may stifle vaccine
Depression might lower the effectiveness of the shingles vaccine, a new study found.
The research showed that adults with untreated depression who received the vaccine mounted a relatively weak immune response. But those who took antidepressants showed a normal response to the vaccine, even when symptoms of depression persisted.
Shingles, an acute and painful rash, strikes 1 million Americans each year, mostly older adults. Health officials recommend that those over 60 get vaccinated. The condition is caused by reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster.
In the new study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers followed a group of 92 older men and women for two years. The authors of the study speculated that treatment of older people with depression might increase the effectiveness of the flu shot and other vaccines as well.
LEARN MORE:, search for “shingles vaccine”
 Click here to read on. 

Playing Video Games Tied To Happiness, Emotional Wellness in Seniors

By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 6, 2013

Playing Video Games Tied To Happiness, Emotional Wellness in SeniorsMake room for grandma and grandpa on the couch in front of the big screen.
New research finds that older adults who play video games report higher levels of emotional well-being — what most of us call happiness.
In the study, researchers from North Carolina State University asked 140 people aged 63 and older how often they played video games, if at all.
Sixty-one percent of study participants reported that they played video games at least occasionally, with 35 percent of participants saying they played at least once per week.
Researchers then administered a battery of tests to assess all participants’ emotional and social well-being.
Investigators discovered participants who played video games, including those who only played occasionally, reported higher levels of happiness, or well-being.
Those who did not play video games reported more negative emotions and a tendency toward higher levels of depression.
Click here to continue reading. 

Researchers Study Learned Helplessness In Flies And Discover The Roots Of Depression

When faced with impossible circumstances beyond their control, animals, including humans, often hunker down as they develop sleep or eating disorders, ulcers, and other physical manifestations of depression. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology show that the same kind of thing happens to flies. 

The study is a step toward understanding the biological basis for depression and presents a new way for testingantidepressant drugs, the researchers say. The discovery of such symptoms in an insect shows that the roots of depression are very deep indeed. 

“Depressions are so devastating because they go back to such a basic property of behavior,” says Martin Heisenberg of the Rudolf Virchow Center in Würzburg, Germany. 

Heisenberg says that the idea for the study came out of a lengthy discussion with a colleague about how to ask whether flies can feel fear. Franco Bertolucci, a coauthor on the study, had found that flies can rapidly learn to suppress innate behaviors, a phenomenon that is part of learned helplessness. To continue reading, click here.  

Sad Music Can Help Mend Broken Heart

By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 15, 2013

Sad Music Can Help Mend Broken HeartNew research suggest an aesthetic experience that reflects a person’s mood can help calm emotional turmoil. Thus, sad music or books may help someone get through heartbreak.
“Emotional experiences of aesthetic products are important to our happiness and well-being. Music, movies, paintings, or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings, akin to an empathic friend, are more appreciated when we experience broken or failing relationships,” write the study authors.
The sadness and grief following a broken relationship is part of the human condition — a time when we look for a surrogate to replace the lost personal bond.
Prior research has reported that individuals in a negative mood prefer pleasant, positive aesthetic experiences (cheerful music, or comedies) to counter their negative feelings.

However, under certain circumstances, consumers in negative moods might choose aesthetic experiences consistent with their mood (sad music, or tear-jerking dramas) even when more pleasant alternatives are also available.
In the new research individuals were presented with various frustrating situations and asked to rate angry music relative to joyful or relaxing music.
Researchers discovered people liked angry music more when they were frustrated by interpersonal violations (being interrupted; someone always being late) than by impersonal hassles (no internet connection; natural disaster). To read on, click here.

7 Reasons Why We Miss the Signs of Depression


What do a 45-year-old professor, several well-educated parents, a retired psychotherapist, a concerned husband, and a college student all have in common? These are people suffering–or intimately connected to someone suffering–from clinical depression who didn’t know it.
How, in this day and age, with so much information available, is it possible that depression can still go undiagnosed and therefore untreated? Perhaps this is part of the reason why the blog “Depression Part Two” on Hyperbole and a Half  just went viral (besides how extraordinarily creative it is). Here are some reasons why smart people can miss the signs of depression:

1. Depression can creep up on you.

file4221287396229Not all depression is so severe that you can’t stop crying or get out of bed. For many people, the feelings of sadness manifest as a growing disinterest in life’s activities. What used to be fun or interesting seems unimportant or shallow. You don’t feel like going to your friend’s birthday party so you make up an excuse. You feel bored by the books or TV shows that used to appeal to you. You don’t notice how, little by little, you are pulling back from others, spending more time alone, locked in your room.

2. Depression seems to be a logical response to life’s challenges.

Since depression often worsens or can be triggered by loss or stress, you figure that you are responding appropriately to what is indeed a painful time in your life. You may have broken up with a boyfriend, had difficulties at work, done poorly on a school assignment, or moved away from a supportive environment. When you don’t snap out of it, even when your life circumstances appear to get better, you don’t realize that your negative mood state has persisted for months or even years. Click here to read more. 

Raising awareness of Mental Health Issues, please support these events

Canadian Mental Health Association – Ride Don’t Hide 

NEED2 Suicide Prevention,Education & Support – Hilary’sRide 

How Therapy Can Help in the Golden Years

Marvin Tolkin was 83 when he decided that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living. Until then, it had never occurred to him that there might be emotional “issues” he wanted to explore with a counselor.
“I don’t think I ever needed therapy,” said Mr. Tolkin, a retired manufacturer of women’s undergarments who lives in Manhattan and Hewlett Harbor, N.Y.
Though he wasn’t clinically depressed, Mr. Tolkin did suffer from migraines and “struggled through a lot of things in my life” — the demise of a long-term business partnership, the sudden death of his first wife 18 years ago. He worried about his children and grandchildren, and his relationship with his current wife, Carole.
“When I hit my 80s I thought, ‘The hell with this.’ I don’t know how long I’m going to live, I want to make it easier,” said Mr. Tolkin, now 86. “Everybody needs help, and everybody makes mistakes. I needed to reach outside my own capabilities.”
So Mr. Tolkin began seeing Dr. Robert C. Abrams, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan. They meet once a month for 45 minutes, exploring the problems that were weighing on Mr. Tolkin. “Dr. Abrams is giving me a perspective that I didn’t think about,” he said. “It’s been making the transition of living at this age in relation to my family very doable and very livable.” To continue reading, click here. 

Community Resource Database

Click here for resources from the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.