Monthly Archives: October 2011

Making mental health care available to everyone

Heather Rudow October 27, 2011

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson/Released)

In hopes of optimizing our mental health system and making it available to everyone who needs it, Yale University researchers asked that scientists rethink their methods in evidence-based psychotherapy. And, in the latest issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, many scientists came forward with their ideas on the subject:

  • Understanding what works and for whom: Psychological scientists Varda Shoham, of the University of Arizona-Tucson and Thomas R. Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, contend that knowing which treatments work won’t matter unless we know how to target the interventions to the people who will benefit most. “In the absence of such knowledge,” they argue, “we risk treatment decisions guided by accessibility to resources rather than patient needs – the very problem Kazdin and Blase aim to solve.”
  • Integrating several levels of care: Marc S. Atkins and Stacy L. Frazier at the University of Illinois at Chicago argue that “only a comprehensive and integrated public health model can adequately address the pervasive societal problems that underlie our country’s mental health needs.” Adopting such a public health approach will require that we pay attention to all levels of mental health care, distributing resources equally from the prevention to intervention stage of the treatment process.
  • Identifying optimal methods of delivery: According to Brian Yates of American University, we have to find more effective ways to deliver treatment – “methods that use less therapist time, less client time, minimize client transportation costs as well as brick-and-mortar space, and use less of other increasingly scarce and costly resources.”

Source: The Behavioral Medicine Report

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Hormones, not lack of will power, cause dieters to gain weight back

Heather Rudow

(Photo:Flickr/bark)

Diet and weight loss can be a lifelong journey, and successfully maintaining that weight loss is a struggle all its own. Many dieters find that they end up gaining back much of their initial weight loss during the first year, but University of Melbourne scientists have found that hunger hormones might be to blame, not a lack of will power.

The study consisted of 50 participants, who were either overweight or obese, who lost 10 percent of their body weight during a 10-week diet program. On average, each participant lost around 30 pounds.

The participants were given diet counseling and written advice on how to maintain their new weights, however, participants gained an average of 12 pounds back over the course of the year.

But as The Associated Press reports:

“The scientists checked the blood levels of nine hormones that influence appetite. The key finding came from comparing the hormone levels from before the weight-loss program to one year after it was over. Six hormones were still out of whack in a direction that would boost hunger. The dieters also rated themselves as feeling hungrier after meals at the one-year mark, compared to what they reported before the diet program began.”

“People who regain weight should not be harsh on themselves, as eating is our most basic instinct,” study author Joseph Proietto told the AP.

Source: USA Today

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Generation X is not a bunch of slackers

Heather Rudow October 26, 2011

(Photo:Wikimedia Commons)

The 1994 film Reality Bites paints a grim picture for the future of generation X, people born between 1961 and 1981. The comedy follows a group of twenty-somethings (including a 23-year-old Winona Ryder) as they struggle to figure out their next steps post-graduation. The movie encapsulates the same stereotype that many people hold about the entire generation: a bunch of lost, unsuccessful underachievers. But a University of Michigan survey found this is actually an unfair generalization to make. Many gen Xers are, in fact, doing quite well.

Based on the results of the study, which began in 1986 and was comprised of 4,000 gen Xers, lead author Jon Miller said many from this generation are leading active, balanced and happy lives.

“They are not bowling alone,” Miller said. “They are active in their communities, mainly satisfied with their jobs and able to balance work, family and leisure.”

According to the study, 70 percent of gen Xers are spending 40 or more hours working and commuting each week. And, compared with a sample of all adults, they are more likely to be employed and are working and commuting significantly more hours a week than the typical U.S. adult.

Two-thirds of generation X adults are married, and 71 percent have minor children at home. They are also attentive parents; three-quarters of the parents of elementary school children said that they help their children with homework, and 43 percent provide five or more hours of homework help each week.

Generation X is also social. Thirty percent are active members of professional, business or union organizations, and one in three is an active member of a church or religious organization. Ninety-five percent talk on the phone at least once a week to friends or family, and 29 percent say they do so at least once a day.

“In sociologist Robert Putnam’s influential book, Bowling Alone, he argued that Americans were increasingly isolated socially,” Miller said. “But this data indicates that generation X members are not bowling alone. Although they may be less likely to join community-based luncheon clubs, they have extensive social, occupational and community networks. They are active participants in parent-teacher organizations, local youth sports clubs, book clubs and other community organizations.”

The are also active, with 90 percent stating that they participated in at least one outdoor activity, such as hiking, swimming, boating or fishing, and 40 percent engaging in two or more recreation and leisure activities per month.

“Generation X adults are also readers,” Miller said. “Seventy-two percent read a newspaper, in print or online, at least once a week, and fully 80 percent bought and read at least one book during the last year. Nearly half said that they read six or more books in the last year.”

On average, Miller found that gen Xers are happy with their lives, having rated them an average level of 7.5 on a 10-point scale in which 10 equals “very happy.”

Source: University of Michigan

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Siblings can affect your personality even more than your parents

Heather Rudow

(Photo:Flickr/rolands.lakis)

You might have had a friend joke that they suffer from “middle-child syndrome,” but scientists are discovering that a person’s siblings might affect their personality even more than their parents do.

Whether you have a brother or sister as well as your birth order can dramatically impact whether you will be a risk-taker, a smoker, a drinker or an outgoing person, boston.com reports:

“Firstborns and only-children, for example, have a 3-point higher IQ on average compared with those born second … Those differences may seem subtle, but they translate into a 15 to 20 point difference in SAT scores, which could explain why your older sibling got into Harvard or Penn while you had to settle for Dartmouth or Cornell. Parents can devote 100 percent of their child-raising resources to the first child until they must divide those resources when the second child comes along and so on for each additional child. To compensate for the lack of parental attention, the youngest child may develop certain personality traits — like humor, spontaneity, or gregariousness — to shift the spotlight onto themselves. They also tend to take more risks, since they have less to lose … And siblings — especially those close in age and of the same gender — can influence each other’s bad health habits. Younger brothers and sisters are four times as likely to take up smoking, for example, when an older sibling smokes. Drug and alcohol abuse follow a similar pattern.”

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Some children with ADHD not getting diagnosed until they’re teens

Heather Rudow October 25, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/English106)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population and is typically identified by early childhood. But as USA Today reports, some kids can slip under the radar and avoid detection until well into their teen years “because they do not have the type of ADHD that involves running around and creating havoc.”

While children who are boisterous and high energy are easily identifiable as potentially having ADHD, psychologist Ari Tuckman said children who don’t display hyperactive qualities are not always diagnosed. Still, these adolescents usually have difficulty paying attention and are highly distractible.

“The hyperactive kids make themselves known,” Tuckman said. “The inattentive ones fly under the radar.”

Tuckman said he is hopeful that the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new guidelines for diagnosing ADHD will assist pediatricians in diagnosing these individuals with ADHD earlier in life.

Read the rest of the USA Today article

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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