Helping Ferguson Residents Overcome Trauma, and Other News

Residents of Ferguson, Missouri demonstrateFerguson, Missouri has turned into ground zero for protests of police behavior after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Since the shooting, Ferguson residents have been subject to a regular stream of trauma. Fear and sadness over race relations and policing disparities, property destruction, protests that have turned violent, and near-constant police presence can be traumatic even to people who have had no direct involvement in the shooting or the subsequent protests.

Trauma can cause posttraumatic stress, chronic anxiety, depression, and a host of other symptoms and conditions. Mental health experts, though, are increasingly advocating for early mental health interventions in Ferguson. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French recently requested that Governor Jay Nixon send at least 400 mental health professionals to the area; Nixon responded by sending a group of counselors. A number of advocacy organizations, including the Association of Black Psychologists and the Community Healing Network, have also teamed up to provide mental health care to struggling locals.

Two Years Later, Sandy Hook Teachers Are Worried Their Mental Health Funds Will Dry Up

After the tragic shooting deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, two years ago, the Department of Education awarded the school a grant to fund mental health care for the community. The funds are drying up, even though the after-effects of trauma live on. A local union of teachers is asking the American Federation of Teachers to lobby for more mental health funding for the school.

Children’s Mental Health Key to Future Employment Prospects

Children who experience mental health problems, a new study has found, are more vulnerable to unemployment later in life. The study evaluated nearly 20,000 children from the British Longitudinal Study of Young People, and found that children who reported higher levels of distress were 40% more likely to experience unemployment as young adults. 

Introducing NPR’s New Show About Human Behavior

A new NPR show, Invisibilia, aims to explore the often-invisible world of human behavior and mental health. The show is slated to launch in 2015, and will explore a host of emotional issues, such as how fear distorts perceptions and why some people are happier than others.

Worry Less, Be Happier – Just By Going to Bed Earlier

According to a study that surveyed 100 young adults about sleep habits and worry, going to bed earlier might improve mental health. Researchers found that people who sleep for longer periods and who go to bed earlier report lower levels of stress and worry. 

Women Caring for Elderly Relations Experience High Levels of Stress and Their Careers Can Be Seriously Affected, According to a New Study

Women often are tasked with caring for elderly and sick relatives, and a new study has found that this caregiving work takes its toll. Researchers interviewed women in academic and administrative jobs, finding that most women in the group devoted at least one day per week to caring for a sick loved one. Women reported stress and anxiety due to the caregiving. It can also sideline women’s careers. The study’s authors also note that many women are reluctant to use flexible work hours to care for loved ones, and that women may not know that they can use these hours for such purposes.

Could Laughing Gas Be Used to Treat Severe Depression?

According to a study of 20 people struggling with depression, a familiar dental tool, laughing gas, may help alleviate depression. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either laughing gas or a placebo. Two-thirds of participants reported a reduction in the severity of their depression symptoms after treatment. While the study only evaluated the short-term effects of laughing gas, researchers are hopeful that this treatment could one day provide rapid relief as depression sufferers wait for longer term treatments to work. 

Sleep Disturbance Linked to Amyloid In Brain Areas Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease

Amyloid is a brain protein that is typically elevated in people with Alzheimer’s. A new study suggests that, among people with sleep disturbances, amyloid proteins may exist in higher concentrations. This could mean that sleep disturbances serve as an early marker for Alzheimer’s, though it’s also possible that sleep disturbances increase amyloid proteins. The study’s authors caution that their research does not necessarily mean that sleep problems among seniors cause Alzheimer’s or increase the likelihood of developing the disorder.

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  • Nate

    Nate

    December 12th, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    No matter where the money has to come from, I think that anyone who could make it possible for these teachers who survived Sandy Hook to continue getting the funds that they need for counseling, they should do it. The terror and the fright that the residents and students of this school must have experienced had to be mind blowing. To simply cut their money because “oh well the funds are drying up,” is, to me, unacceptable.

  • Greg

    Greg

    December 14th, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    So all I have to do is to go to bed earlier to worry less?
    Count me in!

  • Jennifer Y

    Jennifer Y

    December 15th, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    I know that patients in the dental office where I work love to get the laughing gas and you are right- we use it for many common procedures to alleviate patient anxiety. I suppose that I can very easily see how this could help in numerous situations, but as a patient I think that I would need some more information about how long lasting the benefits would be and also how safe would this be to use in this way for this kind of treatment. Lots of questions remain, but still could be promising.

  • harold

    harold

    December 16th, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    I understand that having mental health difficulties from a young age could set one up for some lasting issues later on
    But I would also suggest that there could be times when this also sets up a sort of self fulfilling prophecy for these young people too, telling them that they will struggle later on will lead to just that sort of experience for them

  • Talitha

    Talitha

    December 16th, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    NPR generally does some very insightful programming so I will be curious how this new one strikes listeners and whether we find anything beneficial from it. I actually think that this one sounds pretty promising as to addressing things that many of us are curious about but have never found exact answers for. This could be a revelation for many.

  • bill

    bill

    December 17th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    Anyone who takes care of an elderly family member knows that there are numerous sacrifices that must be made in order to make it all work and quite frankly, there is usually going to be something that suffers as a result.

  • Jon

    Jon

    December 25th, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I guess at some point I just don’t know what to think about our country right now. It is as if we are going backward in terms of our beliefs instead of moving forward and I will be honest with you. That scares me. How long can we continue to go backward while other countries in the world go past us and leave us behind?

  • John

    John

    December 28th, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Thanks for pointing that out about sleep- just makes you realize how important good sleep is and if you lack it how this could also be a marker for other significant health problems in your life

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