Mental Health in the News

Mental Health Month Events from the LA Dept. of Mental Health

By | Blog, News

From LA County:

We’re pleased to announce the heart of our campaign We Rise!  —

This year our campaign focuses on empowering youth to take ownership of their wellbeing and transform talk into action – for themselves, friends and family, and the larger community.  The launch event will be a Rally on Saturday, May 19th from 2-5pm with speakers and performers including Grammy-winning artist Common and will mark the opening of #WeRiseLA, a ten-day immersive cultural experience with art, performances, panels and powerful interactions to explore the wide range of issues related to mental health.  Major events and activities are posted and more will be added in the coming days.

#WeRiseLA will be open to the public on weekday evenings and weekends all day with a full program of special events, performances and screenings.  On the weekdays, the site will be filled with more 1,200 middle and high school students from schools throughout the county.  Event educators will help students explore the experience with age-appropriate curriculum and special activities.  On Memorial Day, May 28th, our Closing Event will feature programming specific to veterans and their families.   

The good work done in recent years to promote conversations around mental health and stigma has led directly to the core theme of this 2018 campaign: What each of us can do to take care of ourselves, to help others, to help break down barriers and to increase access to care and promote wellbeing.

Going forward our #WhyWeRise ( campaign, which will continue throughout the coming year and beyond, will reach a wider audience with the message of creating community to support wellbeing.

Please help us spread the word about We Rise and Why We Rise throughout the County and hope to see you there!

Capitol Connector: House Committee Continues Work on Opioid Package and More Policy News

By | Blog, News | No Comments

Have a look at the latest issue of Capitol Connector, published by the National Council for Behavioral Health.
This issue includes features on the State of Health Care in the US, House Committee work on Opioid Package, the Behavioral Health Information Technology Bill passing the Senate, an update on Mental Health First Aid, as well as their Advocacy Corner and Happenings on the Hill.

Read the current edition here.

AIM Funded Researcher, Dr. Katie McLaughlin, Provides an Update On Her Work Helping Teens With Stress

By | Blog, News

Exposure to stress plays a role in the development of most mental health problems.  Experiences of stress increase during adolescence, and adolescents become more vulnerable to the negative mental health effects of stress.  Yet the mechanisms underlying this elevated risk are poorly understood.  In an ongoing study funded by AIM for Mental Health, we are examining how exposure to stress influences emotion, behavior, cognition, and brain function in ways that place adolescents at risk for developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.  We are using innovative tools to study these pathways, including monthly assessments of stress, mental health, and brain function and information gathered from mobile phones and wearable devices about emotions, physical activity, and social behavior.  Preliminary results have documented increased activity in brain networks involved in identifying and responding to threats on months when adolescents experience higher levels of stress than is typical for them.  This study is the first to document stress-related brain plasticity operating at this timescale.  These changes in threat-related brain activity, in turn, predict later increases in depression and anxiety.  Identifying these types of mechanisms underlying stress vulnerability is critical for developing novel intervention approaches to prevent the onset of mental health problems in adolescents and to treat these conditions once they emerge.

Because our study involves monthly visits with each adolescent for one year, we learn an enormous amount about their lives.  One 15 year old girl in our study experienced an enormous amount of stressors within her family, at school, and in her peer relationships.  Over the course of the study she developed serious symptoms of depression and frequent thoughts about suicide.  Because she was in our research study and we were tracking these types of symptoms, we were able to intervene quickly to connect her with a therapist in Seattle who provides evidence-based treatment for adolescent depression and suicidal thoughts.  This treatment was effective, and by the end of the study she was no longer depressed or suicidal.

The teen confided, “I thought that feeling hopeless and like a failure was something that I would always live with.  Being in the study and talking to the interviewers each month helped me realize that I could change the thoughts that were causing me to feel this way. I have a new perspective and skills I can use when I start feeling suicidal and depressed.  I am happier and healthier now.”

How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy

By NPR | News

For the first time, a generation of children is going through adolescence with smartphones ever-present. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has a name for these young people born between 1995 and 2012: “iGen.”

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