It’s been more than a decade since the Patriot Act increased concerns about the government spying on its citizens, and nearly two years since Edward Snowden revealed that many of those concerns are valid. Now, a survey by Amnesty International of 15,000 people in 13 countries suggests that mass surveillance may be affecting our health. Only 26% of respondents believed the government should be able to spy on its own citizens, with just 29% endorsing spying on people in other countries. Forty-two percent reported that government surveillance affected the way they use the Internet to gain information. The researchers who led the survey worry that such changes might affect how willing people are to seek out or share information about their mental or physical health. Though government surveillance was a concern among the majority of people surveyed, more than half said that such surveillance would not change their willingness to criticize their government.
Political orientations may seem like choices, but a complex cocktail of psychological factors can play a role as well. A new study has found that empathy is linked to an increased likelihood of identifying as an environmentalist, while another study found that openness to new experiences could play a role in environmentalism.
Hard as it may be to believe, Google can’t answer everything, and GPS won’t help you find every place. Researchers are increasingly expressing concerns that smartphones stunt critical thinking by making it too easy to get answers. The constant distractions of cell phones can make it challenging to think more deeply. With answers readily available for many questions, people who cannot find an answer through a smartphone might give up rather than engaging more deeply with the question.
A study of more than 1,000 human trafficking victims has found a high rate of mental health issues among this group. Half reported experiencing sexual or physical violence as a result of being trafficked. Sixty percent experienced symptoms of depression, with 40% reporting signs of posttraumatic stress. Five percent reported attempting suicide in the last month. In 2012, about 21 million people were victims of forced labor.
About 61 million people—or one in four—experience a mental health issue every year. These mental health challenges can affect corporations both small and large, with many businesses steadily working to improve workers’ mental health. The Campaign to Change Direction has drawn mental health issues to the attention of many government agencies and nonprofits, but now corporations are increasingly prioritizing mental wellness. A survey by Employee Benefit magazine found that 31% of respondents report mental health issues as the leading cause of lost productivity on the job.
Creigh Deeds, the senator who was stabbed by his son shortly before the son committed suicide, was named State Legislator of the Year by the American Psychological Association. The award honors his work to improve the quality and accessibility of mental health services.
The Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for neurodegenerative delay (MIND) diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s symptoms, according to a new study. The study found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was decreased by 53% in people who carefully followed the diet, and 35% in those who followed the diet moderately well.
In otherwise healthy women, low vitamin D levels are correlated with higher rates of depression, a study of 185 college students has found. Sixty-one percent of women of color had vitamin D deficiencies, compared to 35% of white women. The study’s authors say that their work doesn’t conclusively show that vitamin D deficiency causes depression. They argue that a follow-up trial on the effects vitamin D has on depression might offer further information.
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