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New research investigates the effectiveness of perinatal mental health services

King's College London-- Howard, et al.
DOI: 10.3310/CCHT9881
29 July 2022

Women who had been diagnosed with depression in early pregnancy were invited to participate in a behavioural therapy (CBT)-based self-help tailored for women in pregnancy. Findings suggested that tailored guided self-help may be more cost-effective. It is demonstrated that women who received the tailored intervention had a decrease in depressive symptoms, compared to those receiving standard care.


NGOs must rapidly evolve to stay relevant, say NGO leaders

University of Oxford-- Leedham et al.
14 July 2022

Using surveys and interviews, researchers from the University of Oxford explored the concerns and challenges faced by international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). The leaders of INGOs mentioned how immediate large-scale changes are needed for organisations to cope with the humanitarian needs stemming from the fast-changing national relations (e.g. Russian-Ukraine crisis). Also, INGOs would have to get rid of the limits posed by the expectations and demands of donors as well as internal affairs.


Calls for mental health of both parents to be considered during the perinatal period

UCL-- Smythe et al.
DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.18969
27 June 2022

The study analysed 23 studies with data from 29,286 couples who had low-risk pregnancies and discovered that mothers who experienced psychosocial factors, such as early life stressors, were at higher risk of developing a perinatal mood disorder. While for fathers, factors such as unemployment and low social support would lead to a higher risk of perinatal mood disorder. However, recent research suggested that there has been a lack of postnatal check-ups for mothers 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth, and no check-ups at all for fathers. Hence, there is a need for the current model of postnatal care to be reassessed.


Staring at yourself during virtual chats may worsen your mood

University of Illinois at Urbana-- Yates
13 June 2022

The relationship between mood, alcohol and attentional focus during virtual social interaction was explored by employing eye-tracking technology. Researchers found that participants who spent longer time looking at themselves in the conversation had a worse mood after the call when the pre-interaction negative mood was controlled. And those who were influenced by the effect of alcohol spent more time looking at themselves. It supported previous findings which suggested that the more self-focused people are, the more susceptible they are to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.


Children with same-sex parents are socially well-adjusted

University of Cologne-- Mazrekaj et al.
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19105922
20 May 2022

Previous research suggested that same-sex parents were exposed to more environmental stressors related to their sex orientation, which leads to general disadvantaged physical and mental health of same-sex parents and may consequently lead to behavioural problems of their children. However, this study on a 134-participant sample in the Netherlands, in line with many small-sample studies, found that children with same-sex parents have no significantly more emotional and behavioural problems than peers with different-sex parents. The findings also indicated that same-sex parents provided a protective family environment and pass on strong resilience strategies to their children to protect them from prevailing legal hurdles and societal rejection, which serves as a possible explanation for the above phenomenon.


Social isolation in childhood is associated with ADHD symptoms and loneliness in young adulthood

KCL-- Thompson et al.
12 May 2022

Researchers in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at KCL analysed the data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. The potential patterns of developmental trajectories associated with social isolation in childhood were identified. The findings revealed that children who experience social isolation in childhood tend to have specific emotional and behavioural difficulties in later life. More specifically, higher levels of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), internalising problems and lower prosocial behaviour at age five were predictive of the experience of being isolated at age 12. Despite the isolation can be lessened over time, such children were still more prone to have ADHD symptoms, conduct disorder symptoms, loneliness, and lower career optimism in adulthood.


Gaming does not appear harmful to mental health, unless the gamer can't stop

University of Oxford-- Vuorre et al.
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220411
27 July 2022

While previous studies on gaming often analyse diary entries written by gamers, this study collects gaming data directly from 40,000 gamers among major gaming platforms such as Animal Crossing and Apex Legends. The findings revealed that the quality of gaming (but not the duration) affected the mental well-being of gamers. In specific, gamers who gamed for fun benefited from gaming while those who gamed because they feel obliged to felt worse after gaming. This study opened the window to better understand the link between gaming and mental health.


Association of children conceived via infertility treatments with school and mental health outcomes

UCL & University of Helsinki-- Remes et al.
DOI: 10.1007/s10680-022-09623-6
28 June 2022

The study explored the association between medically assisted reproduction (MAR)- containing techniques such as IVF treatment, artificial insemination and ovulation induction, and young people’s educational outcomes and mental health. Compared to those who were naturally conceived, adolescents conceived by MAR have better performance in school and were less likely to drop out. Additionally, it was suggested that adolescents conceived via MAR were more likely to experience mental health problems when family circumstances were accounted for. This implies that socioeconomic background is a crucial factor in explaining the difference.


Pre-school play with friends lowers risk of mental health problems later

University of Cambridge-- Zhao & Gibson
DOI: 10.1007/s10578-022-01368-x
14 June 2022

Data from approximately 1,700 children when they were aged three and seven were collected and analysed by the University of Cambridge. Findings suggested that children with better ‘peer play ability’, the capacity to play successfully with other children, are less likely to demonstrate signs of poor mental health after four years. The link might be due to the peer play supports emotional self-control and socio-cognitive skills, which are fundamentals to better mental health.


Autistic individuals have poorer health and healthcare

University of Cambridge-- Weir et al.
DOI: 10.1186/s13229-022-00501-w
27 May 2022

The research team in the Autism Research Centre (ARC) in Cambridge has carried out the largest study to date to investigate the general wellbeing of autistic individuals. By comparing the self-report life experience of 1,285 autistic individuals to that of 1,364 non-autistic individuals, the survey found that autistic individuals were seven times more likely to report the experience of overwhelming senses, which affects their focus on conversations with healthcare professionals. Autistic adults (in this sample without intellectual deficits) were reported to have more chronic health conditions and received poorer quality of healthcare, relative to non-autistic individuals. The results suggested the existing health inequality of autistic individuals.


How sleep helps to process emotions

University of Bern-- Aime et al.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abk2734
13 May 2022

Emotional processing, especially distinguishing danger from security, is critical for the survival of animals including humans. Extremely negative emotions, such as fear and anxious reactions toward threatening situations, are linked to the formation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a unique and mysterious sleep state where most dreams are accompanied by intense emotional content. The current study has therefore attempted to disentangle how REM sleep operates in emotion processing and obtained interesting findings. The findings on rodents revealed that the brain tends to selectively reinforce the consolidation of memory of positive emotions while dampening the consolidation of negative ones, suggesting the importance of sleep in mental health as well as the promising therapeutic significance of sleep intervention.


Teenagers’ wellbeing seems to have little effect on GCSE performance

UCL- Jerrim
DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2022.2054941
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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