24
Sep 20

Growing Greener

In recent weeks we have seen over 3 million acres of land burned on the west coast of the United States and for the second time in modern history, we have 5 tropical storms formed in the Atlantic. Some may say that this is just chance, but for many who are watching the environment, they can’t help but believe that these all too often occurrences are due to human impact on the environment. As we watch the world change before us, in more ways than one, there are those who are asking the question, “Can we make changes that can have a lasting impact?” Nona Yehia would say it is possible.

We know throughout history that wars have been fought over land and resources. Our environment is changing on a daily basis and we are finding a world that seems to be less hospitable to its inhabitants due to the lack of behavior change in order to help our planet be a healthier place. We continue to cut forests, rely on fossil fuels and use pesticides that end up as run off in our lakes and ponds and we are seeing the results of our poor behavior. The consequences are only going to get worse. Resources will become scarcer, temperatures will continue to climb and clean water will be harder to find unless we make changes. This is a Resource Dilemma. We consciously make the choice to continue to water our lawns and use up precious resources like they will always be there. (Gruman et al., 2017)

As we look to business and government to make a change in the world to value the planet over the all mighty dollar we are beginning to see leaders rise up from the crowd in a hope to make an impact in the world and their environment. A recent news article I saw out of Wyoming in the Chariton Newspaper online, told the story of an architect turned entrepreneur, Nona Yehia, who developed a business called Vertical Roots. The basic premise of the business was that it took a10th of an acre building and grows 10 acres of food in it. The building not only supplies readily available food to local residents and restaurants year round, it does it with no pesticides, zero water consumption and the owner even built the business around hiring those who are underserved in the community. This is a Social Dilemma or taking a space or building that is of little to no use for the good of mankind and turning it into something that is. (Gruman et al., 2017)

Vertical Harvest Farms in Wyoming has 42 employees. 25 of these employees are disabled in some way however, by working with Vertical Harvest Farms they are able to learn new skills and abilities.  They no longer have a job but a career. (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.)  Through her efforts she is changing her behavior and her communities’ behavior, which in turn, gives this out of the way place in Wyoming a sustainable resource that is helping the community thrive. This one building provides local foods for over 80 different businesses in 3 states. These businesses would normally not have this kind of access due to the location of the rural cities and towns. (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.)
It is thinking like that of Nona Yehia and her Co-Founders that will make the biggest impact to regain the ground we have lost in fighting the war on saving our environment.  Vertical Harvest Farms is opening another facility in Maine in 2022 and gives information on how to start a Vertical Harvest facility on their website, verticalharvestfarms.com. (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.). To see how Vertical Harvest started and their first 15 months, check out the video Hearts of Glass. https://www.heartsofglassfilm.com/
The Chariton Newspapers. (2020, September 13). How a Wyoming farmer grows 10 acres of      food on a tenth of an acre.

https://www.charitonleader.com/news/national/video_191f3d0c-2a4f-5830-9b5b-                        0152241921e8.html

 Vertical Harvest Farms. (n.d.). Fact sheet.

http://vertharvest.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/VerticalHarvestFactSheet.pdf

Gruman, J. A.,  Schneider, F. W. , &. Coutts, L.M. (Eds.). (2016). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems 3rd edition. SAGE Publications.


24
Sep 20

The Anchoring Effect in Assessment

 

On a cold February morning in 2018 I woke up around 5 am in a cloud of confusion. My arms and legs were tingling as if I had touched an electrical outlet and I felt insanely sick to my stomach. I look around for my husband but my eyes wouldn’t focus. What was happening? I remembered having similar symptoms when I had a few seizures in high school, but that was ten years ago.

“Mmm,” I yelled. I thought I was yelling my husband’s name but the words wouldn’t come out. Frantic I got up on wobbly legs and ascended down the stairs.

“John,” I yelled again. “Need hospital.” I couldn’t say anything more; those three words had taken all my strength.

A week later, I walked up the stairs of the parking garage of my local hospital for a neurology appointment in a complete haze. I had never felt so exhausted in my life, and I had two babies, I knew what exhaustion was. The neurologist’s office was a journey across the hospital. I remember walking in the door and feeling my heartbeat pounding in every inch of my body. I signed my name in at the front desk and before I could sit down to compose myself I was called back to a room. The nurse took my weight and put a pulse ox on my finger before taking my blood pressure. Her eyes were startled.

“Your heartrate is just a little high,” she said wide-eyed.

“Oh,” I replied breathless and fidgeting. I couldn’t calm my body and I was in a cold sweat. Was I nervous? This didn’t feel like nerves. Why wouldn’t my heart calm down?

“Um, I’ll be right back,” the nurse said before quickly exiting the room.

I remember wondering what could be wrong with me while taking four deep breathes to try and still my heart. It wouldn’t cooperate.

“How are you doing today?” the doctor said walking in the room with his eyes on me.

“Um, I’m a little nervous I guess. My heart is beating really fast and I’m exhausted.”

“Do you get those symptoms often?” the doctor began to type on his computer.

“Um, no. Not really. I mean, I guess I have anxiety but it doesn’t feel like this.”

“Okay, so tell me what brings you into my office today? I see you were at the ER last week,” the doctor replied.

I could only imagine what the notes said from the emergency room. My husband had told me I was babbling on about nightmares when I was finally able to talk that morning. I began to explain that I wondered if I had a seizure. I mentioned my prior history with seizures that had been witnessed, and began to list all of the symptoms that had occurred the week prior, but the doctor cut me off.

“This doesn’t sound like a seizure to me,” the doctor quickly replied. “Do you have trouble with anxiety?”

At first I was in shock. I knew from prior experience that the symptoms I experienced were textbook seizure symptoms. My eyes welled with tears. The combination of my high heart rate, emergency room babbles and admittance of prior anxiety had done me in. This doctor wasn’t listening to me. He then continued on about anxiety causing my high heartrate and possible fainting episodes.

“How could I faint in my sleep?” I asked, but he ignored my question.

As the doctor went on about whatever mental disorder he felt was the cause of my symptoms, I stood up with tears flowing from my eyes. I then walked out of the office. I knew I was proving his point of emotional instability by bursting out of his office in tears, but at the moment I didn’t care.

Looking back at this experience, I feel the neurologist/psychiatrist I saw that day had been taken hold by the anchoring effect. The anchoring effect is when a doctor’s judgement is clouded by their first impression of a patient’s problem and they are subsequently blinded to any other explanations (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017). Research in social psychology has shown that information gathered early on in an assessment can have a great impact on the understanding of the rest of the information obtained (Gruman et. al., 2017). In my case, the neurologist I saw had already read my emergency room notes and had talked to the nurse in the hallway before seeing me. This is when the anchor of his assessment of anxiety could have been placed. Though throughout our conversation I gave the doctor symptoms that were consistent with seizures and not anxiety (like electrical tingles everywhere and loss of speech or understanding), the doctor was unable to revise his first impression of anxiety due to the anchoring effect.

Instead of listening, the doctor took my high heartrate and fidgety symptoms as confirmation of his original assessment of anxiety by way of the confirmation bias. The confirmation bias is a part of the anchoring effect’s process. A confirmation bias is when physicians or clinicians look for symptoms that confirm their original assessment (Gruman et. al., 2017).

In the last two years since seeing that first neurologist/psychiatrist, I have been diagnosed with epilepsy by two neurologists and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome by a cardiologist (which is a disorder that causes high heartrate while standing). Though anxiety has been a part of my life throughout this process, as it is very scary to experience neurological symptoms at random, it was not the cause of my progressive neurological decline. This experience has made me very aware of the confirmation bias and anchoring effect that can occur in health care, and how imperative it is to advocate for myself. If I had listened to that physician that day, my diagnosis could have been prolonged further or even indefinitely.

 

References

Gruman, J.A.,Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.A. (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 


24
Sep 20

Mental Health, Are We Treating the Whole?

It is no secret that mental health conditions are on the rise, impacting 1 in 5 adults according to the American Psychiatric Association. Since COVID 19 the situation has gotten worse. According to a report published in August 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.” But what can we do to help those dealing with these issues?

 

In the past, when it came to mental health conditions, medical professionals were solely focused on understanding and treating the biological functions thought to be causing the illness. This approach called the biomedical model approach, viewed mental health conditions as being diseases of the brain, and sought to treat them solely by the use of medications. However, as suggested in Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems this might not necessarily be the best approach.

 

It is believed that mental health conditions are affected by more than just biological factors. Psychological traits and social circumstances are also contributing factors and thus why the biopsychosocial model approach is now often implemented by medical professionals today. The biopsychosocial model approach, as its name suggests, believes that the best way to determine and treat illness is by a combination of not only biological factors but also psychological and social factors as well. When addressing issues of mental health, we need to look at the whole picture and treat not only the biochemical imbalances in the brain but also the psychological traits and social circumstances contributing to the mental health condition(s). Some of those psychological and social influences can include, childhood psychological trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, suffering a loss at a young age such as the loss of a parent or sibling, gender identity, social class, and race and ethnicity.

 

Rather than taking a biomedical model approach that focuses solely on biological functioning to explain and treat an illness, we should take a biopsychosocial model approach a treat the whole person.

 

References

Mental Health 2020: A Presidential Initiative for Mental Health. (2019). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Advocacy/Federal/Mental-Health-2020-A-Presidential-Initiative-for-Mental-Health.pdf

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 24–30, 2020. (2020, August 13). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

BJ, D. (2013). The biomedical model of mental disorder: A critical analysis of its validity, utility, and effects on psychotherapy research. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23664634/

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

Bhandari, S. (2020, June 30). Causes of Mental Illness. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-causes-mental-illness

Mechanic, D., & McAlpine, D. (2002, April 30). The Influence of Social Factors on Mental Health. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/0470846410.ch17


24
Sep 20

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

Coronavirus Disease has spread rapidly and widely nationwide. The disease infected more than 30 thousand people and resulted in seven hundredths deaths (Xie, L., 2020). Human to human transmissions were identified and the number of confirmed cases kept increasing. The impact of COVID-19, lead to a psychological impact that resulted in immediate mental health problems. People suffered from the life-threatening infections, as they witnesses other patients suffering as well.

Let’s face it 2020, hit us with a curve ball when COVID-19 impacted the world. With the number of infected cases rapidly increasing, we watched people suffer from the virus. However, not only was the virus affecting health. The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in people experiencing high levels of stress that potentially lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic disorder(article). The epidemic affected people, mentally and physically, leaving us with only high levels of stress and anxiety.

With the cases of covid-19, increasing, COVID-19 affected work environments. Especially those that were front line with the virus such as hospital. Medical students judged the outbreak more serious than non-medical students. However, researcher shows that medical students experienced fewer mental health problems than non-medical students (Xie, L., 2020). Medical professionals were trained on psychological mechanism during epidemics that constructed an effective psychological support system (Xie, L., 2020). Although medical health professional were more prone to the virus since they were working front line. However, since they had psychological trainings, this led to fewer impacts on their mental health. Therefore, it is proven that  psychological mechanisms lead to effective coping during a pandemic.

The field of psychology, has many benefits that help people cope with mental health disorders. When COVID-19 took a nationwide hit, people were experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety that lead to an arises in mental health disorders. However, research shows that if people are educated on psychological mechanisms this led to fewer cases of mental health.  Therefore, it is important to educate people on psychological mechanisms because it leads to positive impacts on their mentally.

References

Xie, L., Luo, H., Li, M., Ge, W., Xing, B., & Miao, Q. (2020). The immediate psychological effects of coronavirus disease 2019 on medical and non-medical students in china. International Journal of Public Health, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s00038-020-01475-3


24
Sep 20

The Perception of Failure

Within The Hopelessness Theory of Depression (HTD; Abraham, Metalsky, and Alloy, 1989) there are two important factors that may increase the chances of depression development in an individual. The first, is a vulnerable person. The second, is negative environmental circumstances (Gruman, Shneider, and Coutts, 2017, p. 109). 

What then, makes a person vulnerable? 

The way one interprets information is important. The individual negatively interprets situations in their life. This is deemed the “pessimistic explanatory style”, this negative interpretation style may be explained by the learned helplessness model of depression which basically states people give up after a while of attempting to better the situation if they perceive to repeatedly fail (Gruman, et al., 2017, p. 108).

The Hopelessness Theory of Depression can give us insight into the why, but also can guide us in the development of future interventions. If an individual can challenge and prove these thoughts wrong, it may empower them to make additional challenges to other thoughts they had held to be true but are in fact not.

Socially, learned helplessness could be discussed with regards to climate change, recycling, environmental issues and the like as well. People may believe that their actions to recycle or reduce energy consumption are futile which may lead to a reduction in the beneficial actions around the environment.

References:

Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Alloy, L. B. (1989). Hopelessness depression: A theory-based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96(2), 358–372. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.96.2.358

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Mac Giollabhui, N., Hamilton, J. L., Nielsen, J., Connolly, S. L., Stange, J. P., Varga, S., Burdette, E., Olino, T. M., Abramson, L. Y., & Alloy, L. B. (2018). Negative cognitive style interacts with negative life events to predict first onset of a major depressive episode in adolescence via hopelessness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000301


24
Sep 20

Escaping the Pandemic

Have you ever wanted to just escape everyday responsibilities and seek refuge in a fantasy world? Ever find yourself daydreaming fueled by nostalgic memories? Ever listen to a song, play a videogame, binge watch a show, go on a long vacation, appreciating the beauty of nature, or find yourself immersed in a movie and question where did the time go? Sometimes you can feel overloaded by reality. Everyone feels the need to occasionally escape reality. We all utilize various escape strategies to help cope with the harsh realities life has to offer. Sometimes this can happen out of sheer boredom or when coping with stress. Emotional letdowns are inseparable from human existence. There is no question life is stressful, making coping strategies essential when getting through the day to day. The world has become more and more fast-paced leaving less time for leisure activities. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic many people finding themselves out of work. As a result, more and more Americans are finding themselves engaging in activities to escape from the stress of seeking employment. Others find themselves with much more leisure time, leading to more methods of escape. Unfortunately, the reality of living during COVID-19 gave all a taste of what it is like to be home more often.  The question is, are all escape methods bad for the human psyche, or can they be beneficial?

Escapism, as defined by the American Psychological Association, “the tendency to escape from the real world to the delight or security of a fantasy world”. The word “Escapism” has a stigma associated with it, that it is unhealthy or causes someone to spend too much time unproductively. Some methods of escape are unquestionable unhealthy such as drugs and alcohol which involve a detachment from reality. Unhealthy coping strategies can lead to addictions and have detrimental psychological and physiological effects. Many activities when done in access can lead to addiction. That old saying, “too much of anything is bad”, rings a bell.

So, what about some healthier methods of escape? Hobbies that are often seen as healthy are reading, listening to music, and traveling. What about gaming (playing videogames)? It is an ongoing debate if gaming is more harmful than beneficial. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 160 million+ Americans play online videogames and researchers have found between 0.3 and 1.0 percent of those would qualify for an internet gaming disorder. An important distinction to point out is those who are passionately engaged in gaming and those who are playing as an unhealthy coping resource. Obviously, playing video games for 20+ hours a day is bad, but in moderation, it is a fun, social, and engaging leisure activity.

Videogames, gaming culture, merchandise, and Esports (electronic sports) has seen a surge of popularity, especially during the pandemic. As people find themselves at home more often due to COVID-19 they find themselves more engaged online. Gaming has become its own social network where millions of people login online and engage with one another. Most games have some form of online component these days. “It’s proven that social interaction, now readily available through online connectivity in video games, leads to better health outcomes”. (Miller H) Videogames have been tremendously helpful for those with disabilities that prevent them from carrying out daily functions. Ablegaming, a charity whose mission is to “improve the quality of life of those with disabilities through the power of gaming” has helped modify controllers, adapting to a range of different physical disabilities that prevent people from being able to use a controller. (ablegamers.org) Videogames are a way for those with disabilities to forget what they cannot do. Loneliness is an epidemic on itself and Ablegamers helps those stay connected who cannot. Everyone has the responsibility to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and escaping online is a method where you can stay connected, stay social, but not spread the virus.

 

I believe we all will benefit from turning off the news from time to time and engaging in some healthy forms of escapism.

 

APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://dictionary.apa.org/escapism

(n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/internet-gaming

About AbleGamers. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://ablegamers.org/about-ablegamers/

Miller, H. (2019, December 10). ‘It’s my escape.’ How video games help people cope with disabilities. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2019/10/14/its-my-escape-how-video-games-help-people-cope-with-disabilities/

 


24
Sep 20

COVID and Stress

At this point, I think all of us can agree that 2020 has been one of the most painfully stressful years in recent memory. This has been mainly due to COVID-19 and its after effects. Not just the virus—though that can certainly be devastating in many cases. No, the distress COVID is causing in our personal and social lives around the globe is almost as bad as the illness itself. In fact, some are calling this widespread distress “COVID Stress Syndrome.”

Five main types of distress related to COVID have been found: fear about catching COVID, stress over the potential financial and economic consequences related to the illness and shutdowns, xenophobia and fear that outsiders are purposefully spreading COVID, traumatic stress from being exposed to COVID (either directly or through nightmares, news articles, etc), and compulsive behaviors related to the sickness (washing hands, checking temperature, etc) (Taylor et al., 2020). Although it has been found that you don’t have to already have pre-existing mental health issues to be susceptible to COVID Stress Syndrome, you are likely to be more susceptible if you do. Although more studies have to be done, preliminary results suggest that those who were previously diagnosed with an anxiety disorder before 2020 tend to be more vulnerable and less able to cope with “CSS” than those with only mood disorders or no previously existing mental health issues (Asmundson et al., 2020).

As many know, PTSD already exists as its own diagnosis. It was first formally recognized as a disorder in 1980, after decades of near-constant war, violence, and disasters afflicted people across the world and psychologists strove to help them. However, while PTSD can certainly be a shared experience, it’s usually not a global experience, and the focus is mainly on the individual’s trauma. The shared global crisis of COVID has shown us that we still don’t understand mass trauma as well as we’d like to. Most people’s stress and fear are also about the future, rather than focused on the past as is typically the case with PTSD. Combined with the fact that COVID is an illness that affects the body (many survivors have permanent scarring in their lungs and hearts), we’re looking at a large and truly unprecedented new form of trauma (Horesh & Brown, 2020).

When we look back on this time in years to come, I don’t think it will be for the most pleasant of reasons. So many stressful events have happened this year in large part due to COVID that it’s already hard to keep track of all of them—and the year isn’t even over yet! However, I do hope that it’s a turning point in the field of psychology. If we’re able to take the shared experience of 2020, learn from it, and apply what we learn to benefit the mental and physical health of all of all of society, I believe we can better prepare ourselves for any future events that may be similar to the shared stress of COVID—like the impending effects of climate change. But that’s a topic for a different time.

 

References:

Asmundson, G. J., Paluszek, M. M., Landry, C. A., Rachor, G. S., McKay, D., & Taylor, S. (2020). Do pre-existing anxiety-related and mood disorders differentially impact COVID-19 stress responses and coping?. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 74, 102271.

Horesh, D., & Brown, A. D. (2020). Traumatic stress in the age of COVID-19: A call to close critical gaps and adapt to new realities. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(4), 331.

Taylor, S., Landry, C. A., Paluszek, M. M., Fergus, T. A., McKay, D., & Asmundson, G. J. (2020). COVID stress syndrome: Concept, structure, and correlates. Depression and anxiety, 37(8), 706-714.


23
Sep 20

Ending the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health – An NFL Story

If you’re like me, then Sunday afternoons in the fall hold a special place in your heart. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, the NFL is back in full swing after what I think we can all agree was an otherwise forgettable year. Week 2 of the regular season saw some incredible plays, improbable comebacks, and one very moving display on the topic of mental health.

Those that watched last week’s Atlanta Falcons-Dallas Cowboys matchup might remember a touching moment that came shortly after the game ended. During the post-game celebration, Falcons tight-end, Hayden Hurst, ran over to Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, to congratulate and thank the latter’s recent discussion and stance on the subject of mental health and seeking help. Earlier this month, Prescott held a presser in which he opened up about the death of his brother and his own personal bouts with depression. He revealed that his brother Jace, who died of suicide in March of this year, had been struggling with depression ever since their mother passed away from cancer in 2013, and it was something Prescott says they never talked about. He ended his discussion by encouraging everyone to open up to their loved ones about mental health.

Prescott isn’t the only NFL player to use their platform to promote change. Earlier this year, Hurst admitted he had his own struggles with anxiety and depression, which led to a suicide attempt in 2016. When the two found each other after the game, Hurst, clearly touched by Prescott’s message, told him “I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did, came out and talked about (mental health). Me and my mom have a foundation about suicide prevention. Respect the hell out of you for talking about it.” This small but powerful moment really showed that some things are bigger than sports. If you are curious about the article I read and want to learn more, you can find that here.

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and global quarantine and stay-at-home orders, there has never been a more crucial and important time to open up and be honest about your mental health. In an article from The New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that the effects of public health emergencies, like COVID-19, “may translate into a range of emotional reactions (such as distress or psychiatric conditions), unhealthy behaviors (such as excessive substance use), and noncompliance with public health directives (such as home confinement and vaccination)” (Pfefferbaum, 2020). As the health care sector becomes increasingly more vigilant in determining the biological factors impacting the current pandemic, it is equally important to consider the social and psychological factors affecting each of us as well. The author argues that “most Covid-19 cases will be identified and treated in health care settings by workers with little to no mental health training, it is imperative that assessment and intervention for psychosocial concerns be administered in those settings” (Pfefferbaum, 2020). In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, we need not lose sight of the importance and influence of mental health in our lives.

I applaud both Prescott and Hurst for the strides they took opening up on the topic of mental health and using their platform to deliver such an important message. Even the most casual of football fans can appreciate their bravery and passion for change. All it takes is one honest, judgement free conversation with someone you love to create long lasting change. Next time you turn on the game, I hope you remember this story and take a minute to think about mental health and have a discussion with the person sitting next to you. Just like Prescott and Hurst, I too encourage those struggling with mental health problems to seek help and advocate for ending the stigma around the subject.

References:

Pfefferbaum, B. (2020, September 8). Mental Health and the Covid-19 Pandemic: NEJM. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2008017.


21
Sep 20

Social Media and Mental Health

Just the other day my boyfriend was watching the new social media documentary on Netflix. To be honest, I am not even sure what it is titled, but for your sake, I’ll do the google search. It’s called “The Social Dilemma” and if you’re curious (or maybe you will be after reading this) here’s the trailer on for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0. I missed most of the documentary as I was completing the reading for this very class while he was watching it. However, I did walk in on an interesting part during my study break. One of the designers or creators or whoever’s of Facebook was explaining how “Likes” were supposed to be something to spread positivity and make people feel good and involved, but as social media has developed (Facebook included) the “Like” button has in turn done quite the opposite for many.

Social media was created with all of the right intentions. Between the various platforms MySpace, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it, social media was designed for communication, connecting over long distances, sharing about your life, or your friends or your family. In recent years it has become similar to an online, competitive, sport. Who can get the most likes? Who has the most followers? Or friends? Who has the most extravagant lifestyle or the most money? With all of the personal information, specific location, addresses, age, private info, etc., being shared on the internet there are risks that accompany such vulnerability, but this is not about that. This is about what social media does to the minds of kids, young adults, and even “old” adults. We all fall victim to it because chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you have a phone in your hands you withing feet from you, full of social media and ways to stay in contact.

Since social media is still rather new, at least in the manner and frequency it is currently being used, there are no long term studies to demonstrate the effects it has on our well-being. However, recent studies have shown that extensive use of social media correlates to signs and symptoms of depression. The symptoms most commonly manifest in children and young adults, rearing its ugly head as low self-esteem (Pantic, 2014). Does this truly come to anyone as a surprise? How many kids do you know (or remember from high school) that suffered from self-esteem? If you’ve been out of school awhile, reflect on how bad bullying was, and consider how much easier it would’ve been for the bullies with a phone, screen, and keyboard to hide behind.

As time marches forward more and more people, of all ages, find themselves spending increasing amounts of time behind a screen. Especially given the current circumstances of COVID-19. Research has indicated that as time online increases, communication with family members and friends decreases (Pantic, 2014). This too easily can lead to stronger feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and loneliness. Further research has also found evidence to support the theory that computer use negatively impacts children’s social development (Pantic, 2014). This isn’t to say all computer use is bad. Imagine schooling during this pandemic without electronics for communication and lesson distribution. However, I think we should be more mindful of the time we spend on social media, and our kids, or future kids.

Aside from the natural urge to compare ourselves to our friends, people we know, or people we don’t, there are other reasons social media impacts us so heavily. Social media is wonderful for staying in touch and communicating, but it is also perfect for miscommunication. This miscommunication can result in incorrect conclusions, misinterpretations, and wrong impressions. No wonder it’s so easy to feel lousy after scrolling for too long or partaking in an online “debate” (argument).

I’m sure there are many other factors that play a role in the depressive symptoms associated with social media, but this is a blog post, not a research paper. I’ll leave you with this: when you hop on social media, are you looking to give something to it, or take something from it?

 

 

 

References:

Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657. Retrieved from 10.1089/cyber.2014.0070

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Journals Search Alerts

17
Sep 20

The Impact of Climate Changes on Mental Health

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Global warming has been a present issue nationwide for years.(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Global warming is likely to cause widespread emergencies in the future. These events lead to extreme heat, change in water, coastal storms and extreme droughts. However, global warming presents a bigger threat to humans. Climate change has an impact on a large part of the population, in different geographical that presents threats to public health. The effects of climate change can affect some mental disorders.

There are common effects of climate change that affect those that are more vulnerable. Researches have studied the associated between psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, mood disorder and depression, suicide, aggressive behaviors in compared to climate change and extreme weather (Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020).  Acute events act as a mechanism similar to that of traumatic stress leading too psychopathological patterns. This consequences into extreme exposure of stress and anxiety when there are prolonged weather-related changes. There are cases of mental health that outcomes of climate change range from minimal stress too distress symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Therefore, it can be concluded that climate changes affects certain individual that have a  mental health condition.

We may ask ourselves, who is responsible for these climate changes? Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for the changes that occur. Human activities have altered the atmospheric composition, that produces a greenhouse effect which leads to global warming(Cianconi, Betrò, & Janiri, 2020). Let’s think about how much pollution is produced in the environment for production for our daily needs. Although our activities may simplify our daily life, we are destroying the environment with these harsh toxics. In addition, we are harming ourselves in the long run. We are the ones living in this environment. We breathe the same air that we are polluting. Our ecosystem will face plant and animal extinction if we continue to harsh our environment.

Let’s face it, our human activities are harming our environment. Not only is it harming, the environment but it brings harms to our health, plants and animals. Research has proved that climate changes impacts those who are vulnerable and have a present mental health condition. Climate changes leads to anxiety, depression, stress and sleep disturbances in humans. There is an interconnect between physical health, mental health and over all well-being associated to extreme climate changes. Let’s think about the last time you were extremely hot. You probably got irritated, until you were able to cool off. Now image, someone with a present mental health disorder that cannot associate both factors together. These individuals are more vulnerable and experience higher levels of stress when a change occurs in their environment. However, we should look at the bigger picture, our plants and animals are also suffering from these climate changes. Human must make changes in order to better our environment.

Reference:

Cianconi, P., Betrò, S., & Janiri, L. (2020, March 01). Directory of Open Access Journals. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://doaj.org/article/1e95243cd72f43bcbf7a714bdb53671f

 


Skip to toolbar