Category Archives: Mental Health

“What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World” – Kaiser Health News

senior changes

by Bruce Horowitz

“Imagine this scenario, perhaps a year or two in the future: An effective COVID-19 vaccine is routinely available and the world is moving forward. Life, however, will likely never be the same — particularly for people over 60.

That is the conclusion of geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists. Experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, everything will change, from the way older folks receive health care to how they travel and shop. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with one another.

“’In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,’ said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. ‘We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.’

“Older adults are uniquely vulnerable because their immune systems tend to deteriorate with age, making it so much harder for them to battle not just COVID-19 but all infectious diseases. They are also more likely to suffer other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases, that make it tougher to fight or recover from illness. So it’s no surprise that even in the future, when a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available — and widely used — most seniors will be taking additional precautions.”

Click here to continue reading this article at Kaiser Health News.

“How to Ask if Everything Is OK When It’s Clearly Not” – The New York Times

OKLauren Martin

by Anna Goldfarb

“In a perfect world, when you’re checking in with someone who’s struggling, you’d have your conversation together in a calm, private setting. Phones and devices would be silenced and stashed out of sight. Food and drinks tend to put people at ease, so you’d nosh on snacks or sip a beverage together, too.

“But this, of course, isn’t a perfect world, and we’re still in the throes of a pandemic, so this idyllic social scenario may not be possible anytime soon. So it’s even more important you choose the right moment to check in, as it will determine the quality of the interaction you have.

“While we may not be able to be physically present when we approach a troubled friend, we can create an atmosphere — and cultivate the right mind-set within ourselves — so the other person will feel comfortable opening up when they need support most.

“When you chat with a friend, … “

Continue reading this article at The New York Times,click here.

“New State Fact Sheets Highlight Key Data About Mental Health and Substance Use Needs and Capacity” – Kaiser Family Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn are taking a toll on mental health for many Americans, with large shares of the public saying that related worry and stress is having a negative effect on their mental health.

KFF analysis and series of state fact sheets examine mental health and substance use disorder needs in the states and capacity to meet residents’ needs prior to the pandemic, which is expected to place additional strains on the system. Average weekly data for June 2020 found that 36.5% of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 11.0% in 2019. Louisiana (42.9%), Florida (41.5%) and Oregon (41.3%) have the highest shares reporting such symptoms, while Wisconsin (27.2%), Minnesota (30.5%) and Nebraska (30.6%) have the lowest.

The analysis highlights the wide range of needs and resources across states. For example:

  • The share of adults with any diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder ranged from a high of 25.3% in Utah to a low of 16.1% in New Jersey in 2017-2018. Utah also has the highest prevalence of adults with serious mental illness (6.4%), while New Jersey has the lowest (3.6%).
  • Nationally, more than a third (34.3%) of adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. This includes about half of those in Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia, and less than a quarter of those living in Tennessee, Vermont, South Dakota and Washington State.
  • Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and has increased in almost every state over time. Age-adjusted suicide rates are about three times as high in New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming as they are in the New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
  • Deaths due to drug overdose increased nearly fourfold nationally from 1999 to 2018. West Virginia and Delaware have the highest age-adjusted overdose death rates – more than five times the rate in South Dakota and Nebraska, which have the lowest rates.

The state fact sheets compile key information on mental illness prevalence; substance abuse and related deaths; suicide; mental health workforce; unmet need and barriers to care; private insurance coverage and costs; and Medicaid benefits.

They are designed to allow policymakers, health care professionals, patient groups and journalists to quickly assess the mental health and substance use landscape in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The fact sheets draw on dozens of indicators in KFF’s State Health Facts data collection related to mental health and substance use disorder. The data collection allows quick comparisons across states and allows for the creation of custom reports for select states and indicators.

This work was supported in part by Well Being Trust. We value our funders. KFF maintains full editorial control over all of its policy analysis, polling and journalism activities.

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.

“‘It just weighs on your psyche’: Black Americans on mental health, trauma, and resilience” – STAT: Daily Recap

wears on youCRYSTAL MILNER/STAT

Photos and interviews by Crystal Milner

I’m feeling it, my friends and family are feeling it: the weight of this moment is immeasurable. Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This has been compounded by the tragic deaths of Black men and women — lives cut short at the hands of police and vigilantes.

“Ahmaud Arbery shot while jogging. Breonna Taylor killed in her home. George Floyd suffocated as the world watched. Rayshard Brooks asleep in a Wendy’s parking lot. Robert Fuller found hung from a tree in Palmdale, Calif. We lament the Black lives lost, past and present.

“Repeated trauma and stress have real effects on health, both physical and mental. Though the dialogue surrounding mental health is changing, it’s often considered a taboo subject in the Black community. Navigating the intersections of Black identity has always been layered and complex. With these ideas in mind, I photographed family, friends, and others in my community of Southern California and spoke with them about how being Black in the U.S. affects them, especially right now. Here are their stories and portraits.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety.

“Poll: Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years” – AP

unhappy 3

by Tamara Lush

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — “It’s been a rough year for the American psyche. Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years.

“This bold — yet unsurprising — conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that.

“The survey, conducted in late May, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.”

Click here to read this AP article in its entirety.

“The Biggest Psychological Experiment in History Is Running: Now What can the pandemic teach us about how people respond to adversity?” – Scientific American

“Research has shown that when faced with potentially traumatic events, about two thirds of people show psychological resilience.”

biggest experimentPhotograph by Ethan Hill

by Lydia Denworth

“The impact of ­COVID-19 on the physical health of the world’s citizens is extraordinary. By mid-May there were upward of four million cases spread across more than 180 countries. The pandemic’s effect on mental health could be even more far-reaching. At one point roughly one third of the planet’s population was under orders to stay home. That means 2.6 billion people–more than were alive during World War II–were experiencing the emotional and financial reverberations of this new coronavirus. “[The lockdown] is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted,” wrote health psychologist Elke Van Hoof of Free University of Brussels-VUB in Belgium. The results of this unwitting experiment are only beginning to be calculated.

“The science of resilience, which investigates how people weather adversity, offers some clues. A resilient individual, wrote Harvard University psychiatrist George Vaillant, resembles a twig with a fresh, green living core. ‘When twisted out of shape, such a twig bends, but it does not break; instead it springs back and continues growing.'”

Read this article at Scientific American in its entirety.

 

“Health experts on the psychological cost of Covid-19” – The Guardian

“On top of the mounting statistics looms a further casualty of the pandemic: our psychological wellbeing. Will we be able to cope with the fallout?”

healthcare workers covid“Health workers receiving applause outside the regional hospital in Málaga, Spain. – Photograph: Jesús Mérida/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock”

by Sean O’Hagan

“On Instagram, a friend posts a photograph of a male nurse in an intensive care ward of an American hospital. He is wearing full protective clothing and holding up a patient questionnaire on which he has scrawled a message for his colleagues. It reads: ‘Just going to hold his hand for a while, I don’t think he has long.’

“On an Irish radio station, a woman reads a poem she has written for a loved one lost to the virus. It is called My Sister Is Not a Statistic. It begins:

Tomorrow, when the latest Deathometer of Covid is announced in sonorous tones,
Whilst all the bodies still mount and curl towards the middle of the curve
Heaped one atop and alongside the other
My sister will be among those numbers…

“On Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, a critical care nurse from Sierra Leone, who works in a hospital in the south of England, describes the frantic chaos of the first few weeks of the pandemic. ‘We didn’t have equipment at all, but our ordinary aprons and gloves… I’d go in there praying and hoping I don’t get infected. Then I’d go home, praying and hoping, and trying to isolate myself from my daughters so I am not passing it on to them.'”

Click here to continue reading this article at The Guardian.

 

 

“lonlieness and the absence of touch” | COVID-19 yields

covid senior despair(Hannah Norman / KHN Illustration)

by Judith Graham

“As states relax coronavirus restrictions, older adults are advised, in most cases, to keep sheltering in place. But for some, the burden of isolation and uncertainty is becoming hard to bear.

“This ‘stay at home awhile longer’ advice recognizes that older adults are more likely to become critically ill and die if infected with the virus. At highest risk are seniors with underlying medical conditions such as heart, lung or autoimmune diseases.

“Yet after two months at home, many want to go out into the world again. It is discouraging for them to see people of other ages resume activities. They feel excluded. Still, they want to be safe.”

Click here to read this Kaiser Health Network article in its entirety.


“Losing Touch: Another Drawback of the COVID-19 Pandemic” – The Scientist

“Affectionate touches tap into the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, reducing the release of stress hormones, bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves linked with relaxation.”

by Ashley Yeager | in The Scientist

“It had been seven weeks since I’d touched another human being. Arms outstretched, I walked quickly toward my dad, craving his embrace. In the instant before we touched, we paused, our minds probably running quick, last-minute calculations on the risk of physical contact. But, after turning our faces away from each other and awkwardly shuffling closer, we finally connected. Wrapped in my dad’s bear hug, I momentarily forgot we were in the midst of the worst global crisis I have ever experienced.

“’Touch is the most powerful safety signal of togetherness,’ says Steve Cole, a psychiatrist and biobehavioral scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.”

To continue reading this article at The Scientist, click here.

New resource for reaching veterans with behavioral health conditions

older veteran behavioral

Click to download this New resource for reaching veterans with behavioral health conditions: In a collaborative initiative with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we helped create a new overview of the programs, services, and agencies helping veterans with a variety of behavioral health issues.

“Losing Touch: Another Drawback of the COVID-19 Pandemic” – The Scientist

“Affectionate touches tap into the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, reducing the release of stress hormones, bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves linked with relaxation.”

HUGS

by Ashley Yeager

It had been seven weeks since I’d touched another human being. Arms outstretched, I walked quickly toward my dad, craving his embrace. In the instant before we touched, we paused, our minds probably running quick, last-minute calculations on the risk of physical contact. But, after turning our faces away from each other and awkwardly shuffling closer, we finally connected. Wrapped in my dad’s bear hug, I momentarily forgot we were in the midst of the worst global crisis I have ever experienced.

“’Touch is the most powerful safety signal of togetherness,’ says Steve Cole, a psychiatrist and biobehavioral scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Like more than 35 million other Americans, I live alone, and with the guidelines of physical distancing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I hadn’t been getting close to anyone to avoid being infected with (or potentially spreading) SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. I’d been working, thankfully, at home and staying connected with friends and family through Zoom and Skype, but those virtual interactions were no replacement for being with loved ones in person.”

Click here to read this article at The Scientist in its entirety.