Last week Nature published a special edition on depression, asking why the burden is so great, how science is helping, where today’s research is headed and what the future may hold.
According to a report on household hunger in Canada, four million Canadians, including more than one million children, has experienced some level of food insecurity. That represents about 13 per cent of all households in the country.
Mental health has far reaching effects and touches virtually every one in some way.
To help raise awareness of mental health issues, the World Health Organization observes World Mental Health Day every year on October 10.
“Mental Health Matters” is the slogan and theme for this year’s International Youth Day, an annual awareness day held by the United Nations to draw attention to social issues related to youth. This year’s theme is meant to raise awareness about youth with mental health issues and help reduce stigma.
Positive life events often lead to a short-term improvement in well-being that eventually subsides. However, researchers have discovered that when people move to greener areas, their mental health improves immediately and the effects don’t subside, but last for years. Additionally, individuals living in greener urban areas show fewer signs of depression and anxiety.
A recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has demonstrated a link between depression and premature death in adults 65 and older with diabetes. The same effect was not found for diabetic older adults without depression or for younger people.
Jillian Peterson, PhD, conducted a study on 142 offenders with a serious mental illness in the United States who committed 429 crimes. The study looked specifically at three major types of mental illnesses including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders and asked participants to provide a criminal history and mental health symptoms for the past 15 years.
The tragic shooting at Ford Hood, Texas highlights the prevalence of mental health issues amongst military veterans and the need for a comprehensive, integrated and evidence-informed mental health strategy for members of the armed forces.
Loneliness isn’t a new phenomenon. Many have experienced it at some point in their lives as a particularly negative state. Not only does loneliness affect individuals’ well-being, recent research from the University of Chicago shows that it also affects physical health. Dr. John Cacioppo, a psychology professor and lead author of the new study, said that loneliness in old age may increase the risk of premature death by up to 14 percent; almost as much as poverty. Extreme loneliness is twice as detrimental to life expectancy as obesity.
A British systematic review, published in Psychological Medicine in February 2014, shows that stigma around mental health is still a problem and prevents many people from accessing much-needed mental health services. According to the study, approximately one in four people have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and bipolar disorder. However, the study found that in Europe and the United States, 75 per cent of individuals with mental health concerns don’t seek or receive treatment, which often results in poor outcomes.