Recent News Items

Boys Become Criminals by Talking About It First, by Anthony Biglan. New York Magazine, February 25, 2015.  “Tom Dishion and his colleagues were trying to learn more about why some kids become delinquent. He and many other behavioral scientists knew that most adolescents who get in trouble do so with other adolescents. Delinquency is a group enterprise. But Dishion took the research a step further. He wanted to see if he could actually observe the social influence processes that motivate kids to defy adult expectations and engage in criminal acts.”

Skin may help spot Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, by Michelle Roberts. BBC, February 25, 2015.  “Scientists have proposed a new idea for detecting brain conditions including Alzheimer's - a skin test. Their work, which is at an early stage, found the same abnormal proteins that accumulate in the brain in such disorders can also be found in skin. Early diagnosis is key to preventing the loss of brain tissue in dementia, which can go undetected for years. But experts said even more advanced tests, including ones of spinal fluid, were still not ready for clinic.”

Phone support can help ease postpartum depression, by Lisa Rapaport. Reuters, February 24, 2015.  “Phone support can help ease postpartum depression, a small study suggests, offering an option for mothers who are unable or unwilling to seek therapy in person. In the study, women with postpartum depression received telephone counseling from other women who had previously suffered from the disorder and recovered. The new moms found that the conversations helped relieve symptoms.”

Chronic stress may put TBI caregivers at risk for illness, by Janice Neumann. Reuters, February 12, 2015.  “Women caring for partners with traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience enough grief and stress to put their own health at risk, according to a small study of U.S. veterans’ wives and girlfriends. Anger, blame and grief for the loss of the man they once knew were linked to elevated inflammation levels that raise the women’s risk for chronic disease, researchers say, and not being able to turn to their loved one for support only makes things worse.”

A Half-Century of Conflict Over Attempts to ‘Cure’ Gay People, by Stephen Vider and David S. Byers. Time, February 12, 2015.  “The history of treatment of homosexuality shows that psychiatry may need a cure of its own.”

Elementary teachers' depression symptoms related to students' learning, by Society for Research in Child Development. ScienceDaily, February 11, 2015.  “A new study has found that teachers who report having more symptoms of depression had classrooms that were of lesser quality, and that students in these classrooms had fewer performance gains. Researchers looked at 27 teachers and their 523 third-grade students in a Florida school district. Teachers reported the frequency of their symptoms of clinical depression, and students' basic reading and math skills were assessed throughout the year.”

Institutional neglect changes kids’ brain structure, by Reuters. Fox News, January 27, 2015.  “Kids who were raised in a Romanian institution for abandoned children have smaller heads, smaller brains, and different white matter structure than similar kids who were moved into high-quality foster care at an early age. Even those who were moved into foster care by age two have noticeably different brains from children raised in biological families. The findings show that the brain's wiring "is profoundly interrupted and perturbed and changed by neglect,” said senior author Charles A. Nelson of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.”

Psychopathic violent offenders’ brains can’t understand punishment, by University of Montreal. ScienceDaily, January 27, 2015.  “Psychopathic violent offenders have abnormalities in the parts of the brain related to learning from punishment, according to an MRI study led by Sheilagh Hodgins and Nigel Blackwood. "One in five violent offenders is a psychopath. They have higher rates of recidivism and don't benefit from rehabilitation programmes. Our research reveals why this is and can hopefully improve childhood interventions to prevent violence and behavioural therapies to reduce recidivism," explained Professor Hodgins of the University of Montreal and Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal. "Psychopathic offenders are different from regular criminals in many ways. Regular criminals are hyper-responsive to threat, quick-tempered and aggressive, while psychopaths have a very low response to threats, are cold, and their [aggression] is premeditated," added Dr. Nigel Blackwood, who is affiliated with King's College London. "Evidence is now accumulating to show that both types of offenders present abnormal, but distinctive, brain development from a young age."”

More Differences Than Similarities Are Found in Autistic Siblings, by Benedict Carey. New York Times, January 26, 2015.  “Most siblings with a diagnosis of autism do not share the same genetic risk factors for the disorder and are as distinct in their behaviors as any brothers and sisters, scientists reported on Monday in a study that came as a surprise to many doctors, if not to parents.”

Could group care be the new model for pregnancy?, by Joanna Weiss. Boston Globe, January 23, 2015.  “Sometimes advice given during a brief doctor’s visit goes in and out of mind; advice reinforced by your peers can stick. The presence of other women can counter mistrust of the health care system. It can bridge the gap between Western medicine and home-country traditions. And it can counter a disturbing disparity in outcomes between white women and minority women, who are more likely to deliver premature and low-birth-weight babies. Preliminary data from BMC show a 30 percent reduction in preterm births among CenteringPregnancy patients, compared to the general hospital population. About 90 percent of women in Centering groups try breastfeeding — 60 percent more than the patient pool at large.”

Teens Who Skimp On Sleep Now Have More Drinking Problems Later, by Maanvi Singh. NPR, January 16, 2015.  “Sleep-deprived teenagers find it difficult to focus in class, and they're more likely get sick. They are also more likely to develop problems with alcohol later on, according to a study published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study included teens who suffered from conditions like insomnia as well as those who simply weren't getting enough sleep. Teenagers ages 14 through 16 who had trouble falling or staying asleep were 47 percent more likely to binge drink than their well-rested peers. Sleep problems were linked to even more issues with alcohol later on.”

Stress is 'barrier to feeling empathy for strangers' BBC, January 15, 2015.  “In this study, researchers treated mice with a stress-blocking drug and watched their response when confronted with other mice in pain. They found that the mice became more empathetic and more compassionate to strangers, reacting in a way they would normally react to familiar mice. When the mice were put under stress, they showed less empathy towards other mice in pain. Tests in undergraduate students using the same drug showed exactly the same effect, the study said.”

New Apps Give Teens Easier, Persistent Access To Mental Help, by Lorraine Sanders. NPR, January 13, 2015.  “A growing technology sector is creating coaching, counseling and monitoring services for teens and young adults fighting eating disorders, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. The programs promise to open new avenues for those who want or need more mental health care but — because of high service costs, logistical hassles, struggles with stigma or other obstacles — would not otherwise get it. Many focus on crisis intervention — including DoSomething.org's Crisis Text Line, which provides teens free, round-the-clock access to trained counseling and referrals — as well as Mood 24/7, which lets people send a daily text message about how they feel to a doctor, therapist or loved one.”

When Campus Rapists Don’t Think They’re Rapists, by Victoria Bekiempis. Newsweek, January 09, 2015.  “Nearly one-third of college men admit they might rape a woman if they could get away with it, a new study on campus sexual assault claims. Of those men, however, far fewer will admit this if the word rape is actually used during the course of questioning. Approximately 32 percent of study participants said that they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if ‘‘nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.’’ Yet only 13.6 percent admit to having “any intentions to rape a woman” under these same circumstances. With the exception of one survey that was not counted because of inconclusive answers, all of the men who admitted to rape intentions also admitted to forced intercourse intentions. (Worth noting: Though the legal definition of rape varies from state to state, these researchers are using the widely agreed upon definition of the word as “intercourse by use of force or threat of force against a victim’s wishes.”)”

Alcohol poisoning kills 6 people a day, by Jen Christensen. CNN, January 07, 2015.  “By the end of today, an average of six people will have died from alcohol poisoning, and it's a "surprising group" that's dying more than any other, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That adds up to an average of 2,221 people in the United States -- a conservative estimate, according to the CDC — dying annually, making it one of the leading preventable causes of death. The numbers come from death certificate data collected from 2010 to 2012.”

Myths and Facts About Self-Injury, by Kirstin Fawcett. U.S. News, December 26, 2014.  “Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is “the direct, deliberate damage of one’s body without the intention of suicide, and for purposes that aren’t socially sanctioned,” such as tattoos or piercings, says Peggy Andover, a professor of psychology at Fordham University and president of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury. There's not one underlying reason why people engage in NSSI. But psychologists generally agree it serves as a method of emotional regulation: People use it to cope with sadness, distress, anxiety, anger and other intense feelings or, on the flipside, emotional numbness.”

Music Training May Improve Attention, Cut Kids’ Anxiety, by Traci Pedersen. Psych Central, December 25, 2014.  “Musical training may help children focus their attention, control their emotions, and lower their anxiety, according to a new study by psychiatrists at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The study is the largest investigation of the link between playing a musical instrument and brain development, according to the authors. Using a database from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development, the team was able to analyze the brain scans of 232 children aged six to 18.”

7 Mental Health Resolutions for 2015, by Alexandra Sifferlin. Time, December 25, 2014.  “When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, our self-improvement efforts often focus on getting a better body. And we ignore that other, equally important part of our wellbeing: our mental health. MORE 'The Finest': Thousands Mourn Slain NYPD Officer Ramos NBC News Outage Outrage: North Korea Internet 'Paralyzed' Again NBC News 2014's Most Awesome (and Awful) Space Pictures NBC News Eminem Comes Out As Gay In 'The Interview' (VIDEO) Huffington Post Chris Freytag: 55 Tips to Lose Weight for Good Huffington Post Certain health hazards come with warnings, like cigarettes or alcohol, but less obvious ones, like loneliness and rejection, can take just as great toll, says psychologist Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts. Research shows social isolation is linked to shorter lifespans, yet we often ignore our emotional hygiene. “If our dental hygiene were as poor as our emotional hygiene, we’d be all gums and no teeth,” says Winch.”

High socioeconomic status increases discrimination, depression risk in black young adults, by Massachusetts General Hospital. ScienceDaily, December 18, 2014.  “An investigation into factors related to disparities of depression in young adults has found that higher parental education -- which has a protective effect for white youth -- can also increase the risk of depression for black youth. The MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) study published online in the Journal of Pediatrics also found that, among high-socioeconomic-status black youth, greater perceptions of being discriminated against cancelled out the protective effects of parental education”

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