• Type:
  • Genre:
  • Duration:
  • Average Rating:

#mentalhealth

Autism and Advocacy

By: April Green/Senior Editor

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

The Importance of Autism Advocacy

Autism awareness and advocacy are important for so many reasons and needs to be a 365-day a year conversation, and not just during Autism awareness month every year during the month of April. The CDC estimates that roughly 1 in 54 children in the United States live with ASD, with boys being nearly five times more likely to be autistic than girls. Now more than ever there is a need to help fight for the betterment of those who live with and are affected by the dynamic of autism. Autism advocacy and awareness helps us strive to meet the overall needs of the autism community. This includes the need for the standardization of care, and the need for more job opportunities for those who live with autism.

As a community, it imperative that we advocate for autism and help those who live with autism learn how to advocate for themselves. One such person who is dedicated to helping those who live with autism learn how to advocate for themselves is autism activist Marcus Boyd. Marcus, who lives with autism, is a voice and advocate who enlightens, encourages, and gives hope, peace, and awareness to those living with or caring for someone living with autism.

When providing support Marcus uses an approach, where he assesses desired goals and builds mutual understanding and trust. He also helps those with autism and individuals that support them to achieve fulfillment and productivity. This is done by teaching the importance of self-advocacy, as well as by helping them understand what supports and accommodation they need. Marcus understands the struggles, pain, and emotional disconnect that you experience because you just want to be accepted. As an advocate, Marcus strives to use his voice and platform to make a difference in the lives of people impacted by autism. Marcus wants the autism community to know that they are not alone and they have someone that is standing in the gap for them.  

To learn more about Autism Activist Marcus Boyd check out his website at https://autismactivistmarcusboyd.com/ or on FB @ Autism Activist Marcus Boyd

April Green

www.exposure-magazine.com

Email: woogreen78@gmail.com

IG: 4aprilgreen

FB: April Green

COVID-19: Mental health in the age of coronavirus

UN News) Since January when the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to be a “public health emergency of international concern”, stress levels everywhere have continued to mount. WHO’s 31-point guidance specifically targets the general population; healthcare workers; health facility managers; childcare providers; older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions; and those who are living in isolation to try and contain the spread of the pandemic.

“Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country”, WHO highlights first, warning against stigmatizing anyone who has or had the virus. 

It also recommended that you seek information updates from trusted sources only and at set times once or twice a day.

“The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried”, said WHO. “Get the facts; not the rumors and misinformation”. 

The website and local health authorities’ platforms can help to separate facts from speculation. 

The UN Health agency also points to the benefits of helping others, such as by phoning neighbors or community members who may need some extra assistance. 

“Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing COVID-19”.

Video Credit: Michigan Wolverines on MLive

Those who help others

The UN health agency reminded everyone to “honour caretakers and healthcare workers…[for] the role they play to save lives and keep your loved ones safe”, while assuring healthworkers that it is normal to feel “under pressure” and emphasizing that stress is “by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak”. 

WHO urged them to rest sufficiently, eat healthy foods, get physical activity and stay in contact with family and friends.

“This is a unique and unprecedent scenario for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses”, said WHO, with the reminder that “this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”. 

Those in charge

WHO advises that protecting staff from chronic stress and poor mental health will provide them with the capacities they need to perform their duties. 

And focusing on the longer term rather than short-term crisis responses, team leaders or health facility managers are encouraged to deliver quality communication and accurate information updates to all staff. 

WHO outlined the benefits in rotating workers from higher- to lower-stress functions and in partnering inexperienced workers with those who are more experienced, to provide reassurance.

Maintaining that the buddy system helps to “provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures”, WHO advocated for outreach personnel to work in pairs and to “initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks”.

Those with children

When caring for children, WHO underscored the importance of helping them to find positive ways to express feelings, such as fear and sadness. 

“Children feel relieved if they can express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment”, the UN health agency maintained, encouraging that if safe, they be kept close to their parents and family. 

If not, regular contact with parents should be maintained, such as twice-daily scheduled phone or video calls.

Caring for the vulnerable

As older adults and people with underlying health conditions who are vulnerable, may become more anxious, agitated and withdrawn during the outbreak, WHO stressed the importance of relaying clear instructions in a concise, respectful and patient way, noting that pictures may also be utilized. 

“Engage their family and other support networks” to provide information and help them practice prevention measures, including handwashing, the UN health agency said. And when in isolation, stay connected and maintain daily routines, as much as possible. 
“Keep things in perspective…and avoid listening to or following rumours”, concluded WHO.

Pregnant, breastfeeding women 

Meanwhile, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has recommended that breastfeeding women who become ill should not be separated from their newborns.

While there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted through breastmilk, UNFPA urged mothers who are infected to wear a mask when near their baby, wash their hands before and after feeding, and disinfect contaminated surfaces. 

“If a mother is too ill to breastfeed, she should be encouraged to express milk for the baby, while taking all necessary precautions”, the UN’s women’s health agency said. “Mental health and psychosocial support should be made available to affected individuals and their families”.

Maintaining that the buddy system helps to “provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures”, WHO advocated for outreach personnel to work in pairs and to “initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks”.

April Green

www.exposure-magazine.com

FB: April Green

IG: 4aprilgreen

Natural mood regulation low or even absent in people with depression

University of Oxford) Periods of lockdown during the COVID-19 situation likely to exacerbate problems with mood regulation, say experts at the University of Oxford.

Mood varies from hour-to-hour, day-to-day and healthy mood regulation involves choosing activities that help settle one’s mood. However, in situations where personal choices of activities are constrained, such as during periods of social isolation and lockdown, this natural mood regulation is impaired which might result in depression. New research, published today in JAMA Psychiatry, from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford suggests a new target for treating and reducing depression is supporting natural mood regulation.

This new study looked at 58,328 participants from low, middle and high income countries, comparing people with low mood or a history of depression with those of high mood. In a series of analyses, the study investigated how people regulate their mood through their choice of everyday activities. In the general population, there is a strong link between how people currently feel and what activities they choose to engage in next. This mechanism — mood homeostasis, the ability to stabilise mood via activities — is impaired in people with low mood and may even be absent in people who have ever been diagnosed with depression.

Guy Goodwin, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said, ‘When we are down we tend to choose to do things that cheer us up and when we are up we may take on activities that will tend to bring us down. However, in our current situation with COVID-19, lockdowns and social isolation our choice of activity is very limited. Our research shows this normal mood regulation is impaired in people with depression, providing a new, direct target for further research and development of new treatments to help people with depression.’

One in five people will develop major depression at some point in their life. The current lockdown strategies used by different countries to control the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause even more depressions. About 50% of people will not see their symptoms improve significantly with an antidepressant and the same applies to psychological treatments. The total annual cost of depression in the UK is about £8 billion. A key priority for mental health research is therefore to develop new treatments or optimise existing ones for depression.

Maxime Taquet, Academic Foundation Doctor, University of Oxford, said, ‘By training people to increase their own mood homeostasis, how someone naturally regulates their mood via their choices of activities, we might be able to prevent or better treat depression. This is likely to be important at times of lockdown and social isolation when people are more vulnerable to depression and when choices of activities appear restricted. Our research findings open the door to new opportunities for developing and optimising treatments for depression and this could potentially be well adapted to treatments in the form of smartphone apps, made available to a large population which sometimes lack access to existing treatments.’

Using computer simulations, this study also showed that low mood homeostasis predicts more frequent and longer depressive episodes. Research suggests that by monitoring mood in real time, intelligent systems could make activity recommendations to increase mood regulation and such an intervention could be delivered remotely, improving access to treatment for patients for whom face-to-face care is unavailable, including low and middle income countries.

Importantly, some associations between activities and mood were highly culture-specific, for example, exercise led to the highest increase in mood in high income countries, whereas religion did so in low and middle income countries. Interventions aimed at improving mood regulation will need to be culture specific, or even individual specific, as well as account for people’s constraints and preferences.

On a global scale, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression and the majority of cases, 80 per cent, are in low and middle income countries despite the scarcity of research performed in those countries. Major depressive disorder is a more important cause of disability worldwide than diabetes or lung cancer (in terms of disability-adjusted life years).

This research is supported by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre and the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide

By  Ali WatkinsMichael RothfeldWilliam K. Rashbaum and Brian M. Rosenthal

A top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital that treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide on Sunday, her father and the police said.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, Va., where she was staying with family, her father said in an interview.

Tyler Hawn, a spokesman for the Charlottesville Police Department, said in an email that officers on Sunday responded to a call seeking medical assistance.

“The victim was taken to U.V.A. Hospital for treatment, but later succumbed to self-inflicted injuries,” Mr. Hawn said.

Dr. Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients.

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he said.

The elder Dr. Breen said his daughter had contracted the coronavirus but had gone back to work after recuperating for about a week and a half. The hospital sent her home again, before her family intervened to bring her to Charlottesville, he said.

Dr. Breen, 49, did not have a history of mental illness, her father said. But he said that when he last spoke with her, she seemed detached, and he could tell something was wrong. She had described to him an onslaught of patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances.

“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” he said.

He added: “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

In a statement, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia used that language to describe her. “Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department,” the statement said. “Our focus today is to provide support to her family, friends and colleagues as they cope with this news during what is already an extraordinarily difficult time.”

Dr. Angela Mills, head of emergency medical services for several NewYork-Presbyterian campuses, including Allen, sent an email to hospital staffers on Sunday night informing them of Dr. Breen’s death. The email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not mention a cause of death. Dr. Mills, who could not be reached for comment, said in the email that the hospital was deferring to the family’s request for privacy.

Aside from work, Dr. Breen filled her time with friends, hobbies and sports, friends said. She was an avid member of a New York ski club and traveled regularly out west to ski and snowboard. She was also a deeply religious Christian who volunteered at a home for older people once a week, friends said. Once a year, she threw a large party on the roof deck of her Manhattan home.

She was very close with her sisters and mother, who lived in Virginia.

One colleague said he had spent dozens of hours talking to Dr. Breen not only about medicine but about their lives and the hobbies she enjoyed, which also included salsa dancing. She was a lively presence, outgoing and extroverted, at work events, the colleague said.

NewYork-Presbyterian Allen is a 200-bed hospital at the northern tip of Manhattan that at times had as many as 170 patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. As of April 7, there had been 59 patient deaths at the hospital, according to an internal document.

Dr. Lawrence A. Melniker, the vice chair for quality care at the NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, said that Dr. Breen was a well-respected and well-liked doctor in the NewYork-Presbyterian system, a network of hospitals that includes the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“You don’t get to a position like that at Allen without being very talented,” he said.

Dr. Melniker said the coronavirus had presented unusual mental health challenges for emergency physicians throughout New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the United States.

Doctors are accustomed to responding to all sorts of grisly tragedies, he said. But rarely do they have to worry about getting sick themselves, or about infecting their colleagues, friends and family members.

And rarely do they have to treat their own co-workers.

Another colleague said that Dr. Breen was always looking out for others, making sure her doctors had protective equipment or whatever else they needed. Even when she was home recovering from Covid-19, she texted her co-workers to check in and see how they were doing, the colleague said.

[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]

Article may be edited for content

The Mental Health Benefits Of Getting Dressed For Work

By Katie McPherson-Huff Post Life

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has become more aware than ever of the importance of hand-washingdisinfecting surfaces and taking care of our immune systems.

However, while you’re physically separated from your social support systems and your routines are disrupted, minding your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Major mental health organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommend keeping your “getting ready” routines intact as a way to do just that.

So, why do waking up at your usual time, showering and dressing for work will help you stay mentally well? De’Von Patterson, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, said humans like knowing what’s going to happen next and that uncertainty can lead to anxiety.

“A lot of what people are experiencing right now is a disruption of their routine,” he told HuffPost. “When you don’t know what’s coming next, that can be a challenging thing for some people, so a lot of it is about having some semblance of what your day and week looks like. Knowing what’s coming next can be comforting.”

Whether it’s because of the social isolation, lack of productivity, or drop in physical activity, working from home can make you feel anywhere from a little blue to downright depressed. So by waking up at your usual time, getting dressed (in something other than pajamas), and doing your hair and makeup, as usual, Patterson explains that you’re actually getting your brain ready for a better workday.

“There’s something called stimulus control where your behaviors are determined by a certain set of cues,” Patterson said. “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity. If they’re getting dressed, that puts them in the mindset to work or study.”

Ryan G. Beale is a licensed psychotherapist and the CEO of Therapy.Live’s Prepare U mental health curriculum. He explains that getting dressed for different parts of your day is going to help break up the weird time warp that is quarantine.

While you don’t have to wear formal business attire or a work uniform to reap the benefits, it’s important just to get dressed.

“I don’t think it’s critical to put your suit on, but you could go ahead and put on khakis and a polo, something that is different from your lounging clothes,” he said. “It tells your brain something new is about to happen and helps you shift gears. That’s why it’s important to shift throughout the day. The reality is if you don’t, you’re likely going to be in a bit of a Groundhog Day and it can put you in a funk.”

Stefanie Schwartz, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, recommends figuring out what you enjoy about your current getting-ready routine and planning from there.

“It’s individualized, what makes you feel good,” she said. “If makeup makes me feel good, or doing my hair makes me feel good, I’ll do it. If not doing your makeup feels good right now, instead use that time to do something else. Otherwise, it can become a chore and have the opposite effect.”

“For some people, it’ll be, ‘Look, I get to wear my casual clothes I never get to wear this week. Is that something that’s going to make me feel better right now?’”

When it comes to salon visits for your hair or nails, Schwartz recommends continuing your beauty routine at home to practice self-care and taking pride in doing it yourself.

“This may sound really silly, but for those of us who go and get our nails done, this may be the first time we’re having to do that ourselves,” Schwartz said. “Anything small you can do to feel empowered and feel that positivity is great. We can’t go to the hairdresser and cover our grays right now, so we’re learning new skills and that can be empowering, rather than feeling like, ‘Oh great, my nails are a mess and I’m a mess.’”

Ultimately, all three experts agree that you should be flexible with your routine right now and not be too critical of yourself. Even so, they say that sometimes, getting up early and slapping on some mascara really can help.

“It can be really easy to get in a slump and get into anxiety and depression,” Schwartz said. “We’re going through something together, but a lot of this depends on our own personal behaviors.”

This article may have been edited for content

Finding Opportunities for Insight and Growth During Isolation

BY KELLY BARRON

Many among us are suffering now—gravely ill, steeped in grief, or worried sick about how we’ll pay the rent. We’re hunkering down with social distancing, at-home sheltering, and lockdowns as new normals.

Yet, as the boundaries of our physical world contract, the limits of our mental, emotional, and spiritual worlds have the potential to expand.  

How the Creative Greats Have Used Seclusion for Inspiration

For centuries, human beings have used seclusion to birth creativity, for physical, psychological, and spiritual renewal and as a means of understanding fundamental truth.

Allowing Yourself to Look Deep Within

Seclusion also makes room for renewal and insight.  Perhaps more starkly, when we’re secluded, there are fewer excuses to avoid the inner work that our souls yearn for. A lot rises to the surface in difficult times—maladaptive ways of coping and harmful behaviors we only dimly see in the rush of our busy routines. If we’re willing and able, we can lovingly turn toward it all and gently begin the work of healing. 

Whenever you feel the anxiety bubble up stop, and, like a mother attending to a toddler, give it your attention.

  • Take a breath.
  • Put your hand over your heart and soften your belly, giving the anxiety more space to move through you.
  • If it is all too much, turn your attention away.
  • Feel your feet on the ground, listen to the hum of the heater or turn the on the TV, and watch a Hallmark movie. Either way, you’ll have mindfulness as your companion.

This article may have been edited for content

Words Can Change Your Brain

By Therese J. Borchard

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain.

In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centers of the brain into action, according to the authors, and build resiliency.

Conversely, hostile language can disrupt specific genes that play a key part in the production of neurochemicals that protect us from stress. Humans are hardwired to worry — part of our primal brains protecting us from threats to our survival — so our thoughts naturally go here first.

However, a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning. (This is especially with regard to logic, reason, and language.) “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes,” write Newberg and Waldman.

According to the authors, using the right words can transform our reality:

By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action.

And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with.

A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.

The authors’ book doesn’t just dive deep into the research, however. They also offer practical tips and tricks that you can put to use in everyday life. Things like a little secret that will change “your facial expression in ways that will inspire trust in others. You can change the rate of your speech to influence how the other person feels, and you’ll be able to use your body language to convey more meaning than words can ever capture.”

They suggest that by just practicing these strategies for a few minutes a day can result in your thinking more clearly, enhancing your creativity, and being able to converse with others more authentically.

Sounds like interesting stuff, and the fact that it’s all based on scientific research, including brain-scan studies, brings hope that we can all change for the better — if we just put our minds to it!

Scroll to top

Join 87,409+ readers
Subscribe Today

Subscribe Today

RECEIVE EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

$
4.99
/mo
  • Free Digital Magazine
  • Live Streaming Notifications
  • Receive Breaking News Alerts
  • Free e.Book Downloads
  • Receive Product Giveaways