Monday marked a year since 49 people were shot and killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. For survivors and first responders, the aftereffects of the shooting continue. Florida ranks among the worst states in the nation for access to mental health services, potentially exacerbating an emerging mental health crisis among those traumatized by the shooting.
Some first responders developed symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD) following the shooting. Some are reluctant to seek care, citing fears of being viewed as weak or unfit for duty.
According to a report by NPR, even everyday objects can trigger flashbacks and painful memories when they are connected to a traumatic experience. Media outlets replaying coverage from the shooting may trigger even more severe mental health symptoms.
In honor of the Pulse victims, survivors, and first responders, county and city officials in Orlando declared June 12 “Orlando United Day.”
A push by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the largest funder of mental health research in the world, may be crippling clinical trials. The NIMH now encourages researchers to look into the biological underpinnings of mental health conditions, rather than exploring specific diagnoses or treatments. Opponents of this approach say there is little evidence that this move toward “fundamental research” will produce better treatment or substantive insights.
The noise, disruption in routine, and often invasive security procedures that go along with flying can be frightening to autistic passengers, as well as disruptive to their families. Some airports are working to fix this. Ireland’s Shannon Airport, for example, offers sensory rooms, shortened wait times, and late boarding for autistic passengers and their families.
Mental health experts have long advocated for “person-first” language, which avoids labeling people with a diagnosis and separates them from any condition they may have. This language urges phrases such as “person with depression” rather than calling someone a “depressive.” People with substance abuse issues, however, are sometimes left out of this push. Labeling them as addicts conveys moral judgment, neglecting the fact that substance abuse is a health condition. A new change from the Associated Press (AP) may help reverse this trend. The AP Stylebook recommends separating people from their diseases or conditions: “he had an addiction” or “person with a heroin addiction” rather than “heroin addict” or “alcoholic.”
The memory is highly suggestible, particularly in high-stress situations such as criminal trials. Even people fully exonerated by DNA evidence that proves they could not have committed a crime may have false memories of those murders. Some are haunted by guilt, even after learning they are not guilty.
Dental patients who use virtual reality devices to virtually visit a beach have more positive memories of dental procedures. Those undergoing dental procedures while walking a virtual city did not experience the same benefits. Researchers say these findings support a growing body of research suggesting marine environments can reduce stress and anxiety.
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