Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!
Dozens of technology companies have created apps and websites that market text, voice or video chat therapy for people seeking help with spells of depression, anxiety or other mental anguish. Other apps expand beyond therapy with tips and advice on meditation and mindfulness.
“The potential is there,” said psychiatrist John Torous, who directs the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. “The question is, what actually works? … This is a problem that’s been around since humanity has been around. In a matter of months, we are going to write some code, put it on a phone app and eradicate suicide?”
Extraordinary focus by all segments of society is required to respond to the nation’s opioid crisis. Now is the time to channel the efforts of the scientific community to deliver effective—and sustainable—solutions to this formidable public health challenge. Recognizing this opportunity, Congress added $500 million to the base appropriation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), starting in fiscal year 2018. The NIH will invest these much-needed resources to support science that advances national priorities for addiction and pain research with a bold new trans-NIH initiative called Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL). In this Viewpoint, we outline the initial components of this cross-cutting, interdisciplinary program. More than 25 million US adults are affected by daily pain.
More than 2 million individuals in the United States have an opioid use disorder (OUD), most starting with opioid analgesics prescribed to them or procured from diverted medications, but once addicted, often shifting to illicit heroin or synthetic opioids. The scope of this crisis is staggering, but scientific advances offer strategies that can help the nation overcome it.
These data suggest the need for targeted interventions in children with psychotic experiences in order to prevent disordered eating behaviors in later adolescence. Future research is necessary to further elucidate the association between psychosis and disordered eating in order to improve the therapeutic interventions available for children with these risks.
The first study to use fully automated virtual reality therapy guided by an avatar therapist provides proof of concept for how some psychological therapies may be delivered in the future.
I read a paper yesterday on psychiatric bed policy with a focus on OECD nations. The OECD has extensive data collection on their member nations and one of the metrics they collect is the number of psychiatric beds per 1,000 inhabitants. I have demonstrated some of this data before. For the purpose of this post I downloaded it to create the two graphs above that were used in the paper. One of the authors main points was transinstitutionalization – in this case sending people with serious mental illnesses to jails rather than psychiatric hospitals. They demonstrate the rough inverse correlation between psychiatric beds and the rate of incarceration. Throughout my career available psychiatric beds has always been a problem. It has been a favorite topic on this blog. I was interested in whether or not this group of authors had anything new to say.
Thank you for your time and have a nicr weekend!