MonthFebruary 2017

Reading of the Week: Mood & Anxiety in Four Countries – More Care, Better Outcomes? The Jorm et al. Paper

From the Editor

Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Fund released a report that surveyed 11 countries for the performance of their health-care systems; it received much media attention. Their work helps provide perspective on our system’s strengths and weaknesses.

International comparisons are relevant in mental health, of course. As stigma fades and as evidence-based treatment options have expanded, we can ask: are people with common mental health problems getting better? And are there lessons to learn from our national experiences?

Four countries, one big problem?

This week, we look at a study that has just been published in World Psychiatry, drawing data from four countries. In the paper, Jorm et al. find that – looking at the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders and symptoms – people aren’t better off today. The authors consider several explanations.

This paper hasn’t gather much attention here in Canada. But as we look to increase funding for mental health services, it’s an important and relevant paper.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Violence & Mental Illness

From the Editor

What’s the connection between mental illness and violence?

For years, the Hollywood depiction was black and white: mental illness caused brutal violent behaviour. And maybe society held those views, too – think of the old newspaper headlines talking about ‘psycho killers.’ Times have changed. Hollywood is slowly abandoning the caricatures; newspapers discuss violence against the mentally ill. But to answer this question, of course, we need to look to studies and journals, not the silver screen and journalism, and understand that the relationship between mental illness and violence is much more nuanced.

Hollywood and mental illness: room for improvement

This week, we review two papers. The first, from Psychiatric Services, considers different types of violence and mental illness. No surprise here: like other studies, the authors show that those with mental disorders are more likely to be victims of violence rather than violent to others. But the authors note a larger picture of violence. This short paper is far-reaching in its findings.

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry’s February issue considers violence and schizophrenia (part of the In Review Series). The Quinn and Kolla paper presents a thoughtful review of the literature for evidence-based treatments for violence in schizophrenia.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Gawande’s New Yorker Essay on Primary Care (and, Yes, Mental Health)

From the Editor

How is health care changing?

To answer that question, we look this week not to a medical journal, but to The New Yorker. We consider an essay not on new drugs or imaging, but on the quiet rise of… primary care.

Primary care and the future

Dr. Atul Gawande writes a long essay on the virtues of primary care. Considering how medicine has shifted from acute care to chronic illness, he describes the importance of primary care, drawing on his own training and thinking – and the cardiac issues of his son.

Though this essay doesn’t directly consider mental illness, it is very relevant.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Pushing Past the Headlines – Substances & Health Services, and Medically Assisted Death & Cost Savings

From the Editor

It makes sense that those with substance use problems and mental illness consume more health resources – but how much more? As Canadians opt for medical assistance in dying, what will the impact be on health spending?

Readings don’t necessarily follow a theme. But this week, we push past newspaper headlines to consider two topical issues in more detail, tapping the latest in the literature.

Pushing past the headlines

In the first paper, Graham et al. consider health costs and utilization for people with mental health and/or substance use problems. Spoiler alert: these individuals are much more likely to use health services, resulting in higher costs. That’s not exactly a surprise, but Graham et al. provide a detailed analysis in an area that has been understudied.

In the second paper, drawing from Dutch data, Trachtenberg and Manns estimate the savings from medically assisted death.

Both papers are timely. Both reach interesting conclusions.

DG Continue reading