Mental Health Training Improves Prison Safety, and Other News

Inmate's ankles shackledPrisons are notoriously dangerous places, for both guards and inmates. Many inmates are imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses, and most inmates eventually leave prison, so keeping prison life safe and relatively trauma-free can benefit people living on the outside. More than half of prison inmates have mental health difficulties, and prisons are frequently ill-equipped to meet these prisoners’ needs. A new study, though, suggests that mental health training for prison guards makes prisons safer.

Researchers observed life in an Oregon maximum-security prison for nine months, interviewing 23 staff members and 20 inmates with serious mental health issues. Researchers found that when officers underwent mental health training, prisoners were treated more humanely and violence was reduced. Solitary confinement increased violence and mental health concerns, but when prison guards used their judgment rather than rigidly applying prison rules, outcomes were often better for everyone.

Older Brains Benefit From All Types of Exercise

You’ve probably seen dozens of headlines touting specific forms of exercise, and it’s true that exercise can reverse the risk of serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. According to a study of 47 older adults, though, it’s not the type of exercise that matters, but the fact that a person exercises at all. Seniors can benefit from a broad array of physical activities, so choosing something you enjoy makes sense.

Low Social Position Explains Link Between Lack of Money and Poor Health

Americans are known for their class blindness, but this ignorance of class divisions doesn’t remove those divisions. A new study claims that it is low social status, rather than inadequate money, that leads to worse health among impoverished people. The researchers evaluated survey data from more than 40,000 adults, ultimately concluding that the stress of poverty is what leads to poor health, not poverty itself.

Nearly 1 in 5 Adults Suffer Persistent Pain

According to a new analysis by Jae Kennedy, professor of health policy and administration at Washington State University in Spokane, 39 million adults struggle with chronic pain. This amounts to 1 in 5 people. Kennedy notes that persistent pain can give rise to psychological problems and chronic distress.

People With Mental Health Disorders Twice as Likely to Have Heart Disease or Stroke

Researchers studying the effects of mental health challenges on health have found that mental health issues frequently give rise to health concerns. Psychiatric medication use is correlated with a 200% increase in heart disease risk and 300% increase in stroke risk. People who have had a mental health condition at some point in their lives are twice as likely to have a stroke or suffer from cardiovascular disease.

Bonds With Pets Make Military Kids Resilient

Children from military families face long separations from their parents, potentially causing anxiety, attachment challenges, and depression. According to a study of 300 kids in grades 6 through 12, children who have strong bonds with pets experience fewer difficulties related to their parents’ military service or deployment. Researchers speculate that a relationship with a pet could yield better and more proactive stress-management skills.

Low-Carb, High-Fat Diets May Reduce Epilepsy Seizures

More than half of epilepsy patients are able to avoid seizures with drug treatment. About 35%, though, show little improvement. Dietary changes may help this group, according to new research. In ten small studies of various diets, 32% of people on a ketogenic diet and 29% of people on an Atkins diet saw a seizure reduction greater than 50%. Both diets are low in carbohydrates and high in fat.

Quiz: What Mental Disorder Do You Have?

Online “mental illness” quizzes proliferate online, but few are reliable or even remotely scientific. A Guardian editorial pokes fun at this phenomenon with a fake quiz, but behind the editorial is a real concern: by posting these quizzes online, social media posters unintentionally contribute to the stigmatization of mental health conditions by making them into a joke.

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  • Glenn


    October 31st, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    There is a time and a place for rules and strict adhesion to them and then there is a time for using common sense and good judgement and it sounds like those in the prison communities are finally deciding that if they hire the right people then it might be alright to think outside of the box every now and then.

  • Violet


    October 31st, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    I don’t think that exercise benefits are exclusive the old minds only. I think that anyone of any age is going to benefit from the healing that exercise can provide. Just being active is something that the human body is designed for and needs. When we allow the body to do the very things that it was designed to do then we can all witness the trans formative potential and powers of wellness that will then be given to us.

  • Jacob


    October 31st, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    I agree with you about the quizzes. When I see things like this it always makes me think that we are making fun of those who actually do struggle with mental illness in the worst possible way. This is put out there like some fun little quiz where you can learn to diagnose yourself when in reality most of the people taking the quiz probably don’t have any issues at all. But it might stop the person from seeking out help who does actually have problems because they continue to be made to feel like this is something that others are going to joke around about and it adds to the shame that they probably already feel and try to hide.

  • Tia


    November 2nd, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    chronic pain- is that like fibromyalgia?

  • sally


    November 5th, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    We always had pets growing up and the cool thing about having pets is that you never feel like you are alone even during the times when you are because they are going to be there with you.
    I think that there are many areas where pets and pet therapy have been proven to work so well with people in helping them recover from stressful events to simply he;ping alleviate loneliness and I think that you see this with the military kids study as well.
    this gives the children something familiar, something to love when a parent is away, and a source of comfort that might not be forthcoming from anyone or anything else.

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