MENTAL HEALTH

AND

SOCIAL  PSYCHOLOGY ​

'Teenagers’ wellbeing seems to have little effect on GCSE performance'

UCL- Jerrim

DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2022.2054941

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28 April 2022 (Article)

Data collected from 4000 students in England from PISA (Programme of International Assessment) were analysed and 11 pupils were asked about their mood states using a four-point scale. Their responses were divided into three groups: low levels of well-being (the least happy 20%), high levels of well-being (the happiest 20%) and those who were in-between. Then, the link between well-being and exam performance is compared. The findings suggested that there is a minor difference between the grades when compared with well-being scores. Students' emotions were considered largely unrelated to their academic performance. It is concluded that the policy and practice should concern the emotions of students in their own rights, instead of associating them with future academic outcomes. 

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'State school pupils just as happy with their lives as private school counterparts'

UCL- Henderson

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08 April 2022 (Article)

A longitudinal study including over 7700 participants has been following the lives of a group of people in England born in 1989-90s since secondary school. It was demonstrated that there is no difference in life satisfaction between the private and state school pupils. Although private schools embraced better resources, the insignificant difference in life satisfaction might be explained by higher academic stress in private schools which cancels out the privilege of having better resources. The researcher added that the results could be different in contemporary society, where students from private schools are equipped with better mental health support, especially after the pandemic. 

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'How to Cope with Social Anxiety Caused by Returning to the Office'

Bond University- Sander

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29 March 2022 (Article)

Since anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in Australia, professor Sander raises the question of how returning to the office might impact people. With anxiety and depression rates skyrocketing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sander emphasizes the importance of paying attention to this issue as people begin to return to in-person work. She argues that practising mindfulness, namely being present at the moment and taking regular breaks, is of utmost importance when dealing with social anxiety, as it can have a positive impact on emotional exhaustion, psychological detachment, and stress. Besides practising mindfulness, she recommends organizations provide easy access to counselling, so that employees can be supported and comfortable in their transition to in-person work.

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'News of War Can Negatively Impact Mental Health: Here’s How to Cope'

University of Bristol- Ahmed

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21 March 2022 (Article)

Studies show that even people who are far away from the actual conflict suffer as a result of the news and images they are witnessing, due to our brain’s tendency to look for threats in order to protect us from potential threats. Therefore, exposure to bad news can increase levels of anxiety and perpetuate negative thinking, leading to long-lasting feelings of distress. In light of the war in Ukraine, researchers recommend acknowledging and engaging with the feelings, since speaking about what you’re going through may disrupt the stress cycle and help feel more grounded. Furthermore, taking action by volunteering might also help, as it can tackle feelings of helplessness and give you a sense of reward. Finally, it is encouraged to try to shift your mind from tragic news and create a more resilient and positive mindset by focusing on yourself and doing some of the things you like.

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'Children and Young People's Wellbeing'

University of Oxford- Skripkauskaite et al.

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15 February 2022 (Article)

The COVID-19: Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children during Epidemics (Co-SPACE) study and its partner studies were conducted to understand parents' coping styles during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies parents could apply to improve their children's mental health. Results suggested that primary-aged children are particularly vulnerable to changes that have taken place during the lockdown. Similarly, children from low-income households and those with special educational needs and neurodevelopmental disorders experienced more difficulties throughout the pandemic. The study could be useful in supporting particular families as the pandemic enters the next stage. 

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'Musical preferences unite personalities across the globe'

University of Cambridge- D.M. Greenberg et al.

DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000397

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10 February 2022 (Article)

Two musical preference assessment methods were used to assess more than 350,000 participants across the world by Greenberg and his colleagues. The MUSIC model which identified five major musical styles (Mellow, Unpretentious, Sophisticated, Intense, and Contemporary) were applied to conceptualise musical preferences.    The findings suggested that links between personality traits and musical preferences are universal. For example, extraversion is positively correlated with contemporary music with upbeat and danceable features, and such association is particularly strong across the equator, where most countries have warmer climates. This finding is important as it argues music has potential to reduce social division and could be used as a tool to bridge people from different cultural backgrounds. 

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'Smokers become lonelier than non-smokers as they get older'

UCL- Philip et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2021.100302

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07 January 2022 (Article)

Contrary to the common impression of smoking as a social activity, the current longitudinal study (conducted over 12 years) have suggested the opposite: smokers tend to have reduced social contacts and experience high levels of loneliness compared to non-smokers.

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'The importance of moving social policy from mental illness to public wellbeing'

University of Cambridge- Fisher

DOI: 10.1017/S0047279421000866

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6 December 2021 (Article)

In light of the high rates of mental health problems and the ineffective interventions, the study proposes that social policy should shift its focus from the idea of “disease” to a focus on access to social contexts that favour psychological wellbeing. In this regard, the author highlights nine key areas for social policies to create optimal conditions for wellbeing: material conditions (e.g. housing, nutrition, and sanitation), meaningful work, child development and parenting, social relatedness, connection with and for nature, active communities, comprehensive primary health care, education, as well as the ideal environment. 

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'Cultural trauma is a fundamental cause of health disparity'

University of California- Subica et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114574

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17 November 2021 (Article)

The research study considers the effects of the cultural trauma (colonization, genocide, hate crimes, etc.) experienced by minority groups (e.g. indigenous people, refugees, and sexual minorities) throughout history. The researchers found that cultural trauma has an impact on social factors such as socioeconomic status, stigma and racism, which further widen the mental and physical health disparities because of the unequal access to health services. This increases the minority groups’ overall risk of illness (e.g. cholera, HIV/AIDS) despite medical and technological progress. 

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'New research casts doubt on claims that people have ‘rose-tinted glasses’'

University of Bath- Burton et al., 2021

DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104939

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28 October 2021 (Article)

A new study examining the previous literature has detected some potential flaws in the methodology that provides evidence for the general 'optimistic bias' about the future, which was widely claimed to account for financial crises, people’s failure to look after their health, or inaction over climate change. The original paradigm, known as ‘the update method’, is typically done with emotion-arousing events and asks participants to estimate the chance of experience each of the life events and re-estimate it after seeing actual statistics. In the current study, researchers found that 'optimistic bias' was still present when using neutral events such as the chance that 'the next passing car is black', which raise doubts for the validity of this paradigm.

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'Psychological factors impact adherence and violation of pandemic restrictions'

UCL- Alex Lloyd et al.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-98772-5

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28 September 2021 (Article)

The current study on 442 participants has revealed that low level of personal adherence to latest covid-19 guidelines could be attributed to the preference towards immediate rewards, which may lead to an overlook of the long-term benefits of obeying social distancing, the end of this pandemic. The results has addressed the impact of personal cognitive characteristics on individual behavioural decisions.

Social Distancing

'Improved Risk Estimation of Bipolar Spectrum Disorders in Adolescent Offspring of Bipolar Parents'

University of Oxford- Charles D. G. Keown-Stoneman et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101083

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02 September 2021 (Article)

The study focused on the risk factor of family history on predicting the likelihood of getting bipolar disorders, which has been proven to be of high heredity. Data was collected from real-world clinical practice in Canadian and Swiss population. It provides evidence that the current risk estimation method of bipolar spectrum disorder has a 70% accuracy.

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'Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Eating Disorders'

University of Oxford- Maxime Taquet et al.

DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2021.105

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03 August 2021 (Article)

Comparing the rates of eating disorder before and during the pandemic, the study have suggested a heightened percentage of population in the USA suffering from anorexia nervosa, along with a greater chance of suicidal thoughts or attempts. Such a pattern is expected to be similar in the UK.

Image by Annie Spratt

'Helping People with Psychosis Feel Less Distressed May Help Reduce the Risk of Self-harm'

University of Oxford- Angharad N.de Cates et al.

DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2021.06.021

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19 July 2021 (Article)

A recent research suggested that lessened presecutory symptoms (e.g., persecutory ideas, auditory hallucinations) may help reduce self-harm and suicide attempts of individuals with psychosis. Cross-sectionally, auditory hallucinations and suicidal phenomena were moderated by suicidal ideation.

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'Autistic individuals may be more likely to use recreational drugs to self-medicate their mental health'

University of Cambridge - Weir, E, Allison, C, & Baron-Cohen, S

DOI:10.1016/S2215-0366(21)00160-7

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1 July 2021 (Article)

A mixed-method research carried out by Autism Research Centre in Cambridge has compared the substance use of autistic and non-autistic adults. Quantative results revealed that autistic indivdiduals are less likely to  use substance, e.g. smoking, binge drinking, drug intake. Whereas, what qualitative data tell us is a less hopeful future, i.e., the tendency of autistic adults to use recreational drugs for self-medication of autistic symptoms is almost nine times higher than normally-developing peers. This could suggest the lack of high-quality healthcare of current healthcare systems to provide adequate support for such clinical or sub-clinical populations.

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'People more afraid of catching COVID-19 are more judgemental, study finds'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Robert K. Henderson, Simone Schnall

DOI: 10.1177/14747049211021524

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3 June 2021 (Article)

Researchers studied participants' judgement on scenarios of moral transgressions and found individuals who are more worried about being infected tend to overgeneralize their concerns over moral perceptions of social situations, despite being unrelated to the pandemic.

Judge Gavel

'New mothers twice as likely to have post-natal depression in lockdown'

UCL - Sarah Myers, Emily H. Emmott

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648002

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11 May 2021 (Article)

A recent study found the portion of mothers who give birth to babies during the Covid-19 first lockdown in London (47.5%) suffered from post-natal depression were twice of that before pandemic (23%). Those with more than one child were hardest hit.

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'Substance use and depression more closely linked for generation Z teens'

UCL - Suzanne H. Gage, Praveetha Patalay

DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.03.002

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23 April 2021 (Article)

Compared to the millennails (born in 1991-92) in Bristol area, the susbtance abuse behaviour of generation Z adolecents (2000-02) is more stronger associated with depression.

Inpatient Drug Abuse Treatment

'Autism rates have increased and show differences in ethnic minorities and links to social disadvantage'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Carrie Allison et al. 

DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0054

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29 March 2021 

Black and Chinese pupils were 26% and 38% more likely to be autistic respectively and autistic children were much more likely to face significant social disadvantage. This study highlights the need for more attention to the unrecognised and differing needs of autistic children from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.

Autism Therapy

'Boys who play video games have lower depression risk'

University College London & Kandola, A. et al. 

DOI:10.1017/S0033291721000258

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19 February 2021 

Boys who regularly play video games at age 11 are less likely to develop depressive symptoms three years later while girls who spend more time on social media appear to develop more depressive symptoms.

Friends Playing Video Games

'New study shows mental health of ICU staff should be immediate priority' 

King’s College London

DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.03.20208322

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13 January 2021 (Article) 

A more severe mental health issue is found among ICU clinicians than nurses and doctors by a self-report questionnaire. This is probably due to the higher exposure to (potential) Covid patients, leading to heightened stress from the worries of catching and passing on of the disease. 

Hospital Staff

'The Emerging Evidence series explores the impact of coronavirus on young people’s mental health'

UCL and the Evidence Based Practice Unit

Click image to read article - UCL

30 June 2020

Teenage Boy on Mobile Phone

'Children and young people from low income backgrounds show elevated mental health difficulties throughout lockdown'

University of Oxford - Led Project

Click image to read article - University of Oxford

14 September 2020

Image by Chinh Le Duc

'Threatening' faces and beefy bodies do not bias criminal suspect identification, study finds'

University of Cambridge- McElvaney & Mareschal

DOI: 10.3758/s13421-021-01268-w

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20 April 2022 (Article)

The stereotype of the threatening or criminal appearance has long been a disadvantage in the judicial system. The aim of this study was to test whether people will be falsely identified as a criminal because of their threatening appearance. In contrast to the hypothesis, the findings of three experiments suggested that when identifying criminal suspects, there is no bias towards selecting people with muscular bodies or threatening facial expressions. 

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'Pandemic ‘shielding’ led to two-fold increase in depressive symptoms in older people'

University College London & University of Manchester- Di Gessa & Price

DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2022.44

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04 April 2022 (Article)

The study aimed to investigate the effect of shielding taking place during the pandemic on the mental well-being of older people in England. 5000 adults over 50 participated in the study and the data were collected from the first eight to nine months of the pandemic. Results demonstrated that among all the old people who were shielded throughout the first 8/9 months of the pandemic, 42% reported more depressive symptoms, compared to 23% among those who were never shielded nor stayed at home. The researchers recommended that extra care should be given to address the mental health issues of those who shielded or stayed at home. 

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'Conformity Outweighs Reciprocity in Socially Anxious People'

University of Bucharest- Bică

DOI: 10.1007/s12144-022-03021-1

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25 March 2022 (Article)

This study shows that people with social anxiety can be excessively compliant in group contexts. Participants completed a Survival task (in order to make the group more cohesive) with 5 other participants and then completed a monetary Prisoner’s Dilemma Session against an unrelated person B, who was always cooperative and fair when distributing the money. The experiment aimed to find out whether the anxious would reciprocate the fairness toward person B and go against the group norm or if they would conform to their peers and follow the norms. The results show that socially anxious individuals tend to follow the group’s unfair behaviour, even if that means mistreating a stranger. This study is particularly interesting because while the general population usually follows the norms of reciprocity, highly anxious people tend to follow conformity more.

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'One in three young people say they felt happier during lockdown'

University of Cambridge & University of Oxford- Soneson et al.

DOI: 10.1007/s00787-021-01934-z

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17 February 2022 (Article)

Although the negative effects of the national lockdown on children's mental health during the COVID-19 are well-known, there are groups of young people who report improved mental wellbeing.  According to the findings of the OxWell Student Survey, one in three students (33%) believed that their mental health was improved during the first lockdown. Better mental health is found to be associated with more sleep and exercise, less bullying and closer family relationships. The finding reminds us that the pandemic does not always negatively impacts people's mental health; instead, learning from those who benefit from the lockdown could be insightful to future changes being made under similar circumstance. 

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'Study reveals high rate of possible undiagnosed autism in people who died by suicide'

University of Cambridge- Cassidy et al.

DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2022.21

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15 February 2022 (Article)

Researchers analysed 372 people in England who died by suicide and examined their autistic traits. It was suggested from the interviews with the families that 41% of people who died by suicide had signals of autistic traits, which is 19 times higher than the rate of autism in the UK. The finding highlights difficulties in the UK to obtain an autism diagnosis, which includes a limited number of autism diagnostic services in the UK. With the current study suggesting that undiagnosed autistic people could be at higher risk of dying by suicide, it is therefore urgent for policymakers to enable access for more people to get the autism diagnosis and prioritise suicide prevention within the community. 

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'People with Complex Emotional Needs call for effective community mental health services'

KCL- Trevillion et al.

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-021-03605-4

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27 January 2022 (Article)

A qualitative study was conducted among 30 participants classified as "Complex Emotional Needs (CEN)". Despite some positive regards of their experience with community mental health services, greater improvements are required to address their complicated emotional struggles. In specific, several areas should be enhanced: staff understanding, interpersonal connection, consistency and continuity in care, and adaptability and accessibility in care.

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'Clues to treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder found in recently evolved region of the ‘dark genome’'

University of Cambridge- Erady et al.  

DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01405-6

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23 December 2021 (Article)

The study explores genome regions that might lead to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Previous research has indicated that these two mental disorders are highly heritable, leading researchers to investigate their genetic basis. Upon scanning the genome, researchers identified regions that create proteins associated with the two mental disorders. Interestingly, the identified regions are not conventionally considered as genes, calling for a broader scope of examination in exploring the genetic basis of mental disorders.

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'Using neurofeedback as a means of treating feelings of self-blame in depression'

KCL- Jaeckle et al. 

DOI: 10.1186/ISRCTN10526888

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2 December 2021 (Article)

The study investigates neurofeedback as a therapy for feelings of self-blame in depression. Patients with depression were divided into two experimental groups, of which one received the sole psychological intervention, and the other had additional neurofeedback support. In the neurofeedback group, patients were allowed to view their brain activity using fMRI while determining the most effective strategy of tackling self-blame. Results show that neurofeedback significantly helps with symptoms for non-anxious patients, providing insights into neurofeedback as a method of intervention.

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'Eating disorders are just as likely to start in adulthood as childhood, report finds'

KCL- Davies et al.

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29 October 2021 (Article)

This report analysed two large sample data from the UK Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI UK) and Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) studies, 9000 participants in total. The current report found that over half of the people with life-time eating disorders first experience low weight or binge eating in adulthood and 39 percent experience their first symptom related to bulimia after the age of 18.

Enjoying Lunch

'Genetic risks for depression differ between East Asian and European groups'

UCL & KCL- Olga Giannakopoulou et al.

DOI:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.2099

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30 September 2021 (Article)

A large-scale Genome-Wide Association Study with 190 thousand participants (1.5w depressive individuals and 17.8w controls) suggested that some genetic variants may have differentiated impact on European and East Asian individuals. For example, higher body mass index predicts lower risk of depression for East Asians, contrary to its positive association with European people. This study has extended the picture of genetic research from white people to other populations, but results should be treated with caution due to the limited number of sample.

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'Autistic individuals are more likely to be LGBTQ+'

University of Cambridge- Elizabeth Weir, Carrie Allison & Simon Baron-Cohen

DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101083

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20 September 2021 (Article)

This research aimed to compare the differences on sexual health, orientation, and activity of autistic adolescents and adults between autistic and non-autistic individuals. The results were that autistic people generally are less likely to be heterosexual compared to the normal populations. More specifically, sex differences were also detected within people with autism, where autistic males tend to be bisexual while autistic females are more likely to be homosexual.

3D Balls in Pride Colors

'Impact of COVID-19 Partial School Closures and Mental Health'

University of Oxford- Karen L. Mansfield et al.

DOI: 10.1002/jcv2.12021

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03 August 2021 (Article)

The study examined the mental wellbeing among secondary school pupils, revealing a greater chance for students with on-site school provision experiencing depression and anxiety during the first national lockdown compared to those who have received remote provision. In specific, female who faced food shortage or accessed mental health support were at greatest risk.

Youth Counseling

'The mental health impacts of being an Olympian'

University of Oxford- David M. Lyreskog

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29 July 2021 (Article)

While sports are often framed as a great way to regulate mental health, statistics have suggested otherwise for elite athletes. During the 2021 Olympics, 45% athletes in elite sports teams have experienced depression and anxiety, not to mention the 14% rate for eating disorders in adolescent elite sports. Such a pattern is observed because professional athletes hold a more performance-based, risk-inducing motivation as they engage in trainings and competitions.

Image by Jonathan Chng

'Depressive Symptoms and Risky Behaviours Among Adolescents in Low-and Middle-Income Countries'

University of Oxford- Julia Ruiz Pozuelo,Lucy Desborough, Alan Stein, Andrea Cipriani

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.05.005

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1 July 2021 (Article)

A new meta-analysis suggests that depressive symptoms of adolescents in low- or middle-income countries may be able to predict the likelihood of engagement in risky behaviours, such as unprotected sex and substance abuse. Unfortunately, these combinations may increase the risk of further psychological and physical health problems that may impose greater life burden.

Street Teens

'Opinion: understanding what feeling ‘empty’ means is important for improving our mental health'

UCL - Shona Joyce Herron, Fabio Sani 

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30 June 2021 (Article)

A four-year qualitative study has collected the experience of the emptiness of 400 people, which shed light on this widespread feeling perceived by not only clinical populations (usually those with borderline personality disorder) but also many people with or without mental health problems. This research allows the proposal of the first definition of the feeling of emptiness. One typical description was 'A bottomless jug'.

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'New mothers twice as likely to have post-natal depression in lockdown'

University of Oxford - Sarah Myers, Emily H. Emmott

DOI: 10.1002/eat.23513

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13 May 2021 (Article)

A correlational study carried out on "Children of the 90s’ population cohort of 14,000 children in the UK" discovered the association that recurrent abdominal pain in childhood, the most common gastro-intestinal complaint of childhood, may potentially leads to the occurence of eating disorders and weight control problems in teenagers.

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'Vulnerable older people more likely to experience depression and anxiety during pandemic'

UCL - Giorgio Di Gessa, Debora Price

DOI: 10.1136/jech-2021-216405

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5 May 2021 (Article)

Older people classified as clinically vulnerable were found to be more likely to experience deterioration in health and social well-being during the pandemic.

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'Heavier social media use linked to more frequent drinking in young people'

UCL - Yvonne Kelly, Linda Ng Fat.

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21 April 2021 (Article)

The study examined the relationship between the frequency of social media usage (during weekdays) and alcohol intake among youngsters of age 10 to 19. The results suggested a higher likelihood for 10  to 15 years old to start drinking, which is illegal, as they used social media more regularly. A similar pattern is observed as teenagers aged 16 to 19 with more frequent social media usage having more serious binge drinking habit. Although the study did not include recent popular social media such as Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, the findings have suggested that social media indirectly influenced drinking patters potentially via negative online experience and advertisement.

Friends Drinking Beer

'High levels of racism could be fuelling poor health among minority groups'

University College London - Ruth A Hackett et al. 

DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-09792-1.

Click image to read article - UCL

09 March 2021 

According to a study carried out by the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), one in five individuals from an ethnic minority group were found to have experienced racial discrimination, which may be associated with higher likelihood to develop poorer mental and physical health after this experience.

Beauty in Pigmentation

'Psychological ‘signature’ for the extremist mind uncovered'

University of Cambridge & Zmigrod. L et al.

https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0424

Click image to read article - University of Cambridge

22 February 2021 

Cognitive dispositions—individual differences in how information is perceived and processed— sculpt individuals' ideological worldviews, e.g., conservatism and nationalism were related to greater caution in perceptual decision-making tasks and to reduced strategic information processing, while dogmatism was associated with slower evidence accumulation and impulsive tendencies.

Psychology Session

'The Voice of God in Revelation and Illness: understanding shared processes and differences through humanities, psychiatry, and experimental neuroscience'

King’s College London

Click image to read article - KCL

18 December 2020

Music Festival

'The proportion of children experiencing a probable mental disorder has increased over the past three years'

NHS Digital & University of Cambridge

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05124

Click image to read article - University of Cambridge

22 October 2020

Colorful Tears