Prisons 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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