Tagstigma

Reading of the Week: The Advocates – Beattie on Her Illness (Lexpert), Goldbloom on Progress Made (CBC Radio)

From the Editor

Sick with depression, he decided that the burden was too great. The suicide attempt failed, but after he was admitted – when I met him on the inpatient ward – he told me that his family wouldn’t visit. He explained that they couldn’t accept that he had mental illness.

He was right.

Times have changed, but stigma continues. This week, we consider the comments of two advocates.

In the first selection, lawyer Beth G. Beattie describes her illness and her fears. She also discusses her decision to speak out. Noting how few lawyers talk about mental illness – in part, because of the fear of job loss – she has written for a law publication. “The profession is in desperate need of role models, namely, lawyers who live with mental illness and are well established in our positions and prepared to share our stories.”

A waiting crowd in front of a microphone and podium

In the second selection, the University of Toronto’s Dr. David Goldbloom, a CAMH psychiatrist, remembers the silence on the topic of mental illness not so long ago. In an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, he notes that the silence was due to “secrecy, shame, stigma.” He weighs the progress that’s been made in recent years and he mulls the work to be done, particularly to reach “all communities.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Can Machine Learning Improve Psychotherapy? The New JAMA Psychiatry Paper; Also, Santa Ono on His Mental Illness

From the Editor

“Compared with treatment of physical conditions, the quality of care of mental health disorders remains poor, and the rate of improvement in treatment is slow. Outcomes for many mental disorders have stagnated or even declined since the original treatments were developed.”

Are there two sentences more disappointing to read? One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem this year – and yet we have basic problems with quality (and access).

Could AI and machine learning help?

In the first selection, we consider a new JAMA Psychiatry paper which opens with the two sentences above. The University of Cambridge’s Michael P. Ewbankand his co-authors don’t simply bemoan the status quo but seek to change it – they “developed a method of objectively quantifying psychotherapy using a deep learning approach to automatically categorize therapist utterances from approximately 90  000 hours of [internet-delivered CBT]…” In other words, by breaking therapy down into a couple of dozen techniques and then employing machine learning, they attempt to match techniques with outcomes (patient improvement and engagement), with an eye on finding what works and what doesn’t. And, yes, you read that right: they drew on 90 000 hours of therapy. They show: “factors specific to CBT, as well as factors common to most psychotherapies, are associated with increased odds of reliable improvement in patient symptoms.”

machinelearninginmarketing-1621x1000Can computers (and machine learning) improve human therapy?

In the second selection, we consider the comments of University of British Columbia President Santa Ono about school and the stresses of school. Ono speaks about his own struggle with depression. “I’ve been there at the abyss.”

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: “All Aboard the Bipolar Express” – Beth Beattie on Her Illness & Her Decision to Speak Out

From the Editor

“I was a victim of mental-health stigma – both societal and self-imposed.”

Lawyer Beth Beattie makes that observation in her essay about her experience with bipolar. Her piece – which was just published by The Globe and Mail – is moving and thoughtful.

Bipolar Express: Beattie writes about her journey

In this Reading, we highlight her essay, and comment further on the importance of people speaking out about their illness.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Hospitalizations and Ethnicity (and Stigma)

From the Editor

Younger and sicker.

This week, we look at a new paper published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry considering ethnicity and hospitalizations. Drawing on Ontario data, researchers looked at psychiatric hospitalizations for people of Chinese and South Asian descent, finding that they were younger and more ill at the time of admission.

Hospitalizations, ethnicity… and access

Lead author Maria Chiu of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences told the Toronto Star:

Cultural factors play a big role in these findings. While Asian people tend to have stronger family support, they are also faced with a higher level of stigma and it prevents people from seeking help early. Families may try to cope and keep the illness within the family until there is no choice but to go to hospital.

This paper is well designed. It’s also important, speaking to larger issues about access, stigma, and ethnicity.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Big Study on a Big Problem: Stigma & Mental Health, and More

From the Editor

Stigma. Suicide prevention.

This week we consider these weighty topics with two excellent papers.

The first, written by Patten et al., looks at the perception of stigma in those receiving mental health care in Canada. The second is a “viewpoint” that asks what we need to do to reduce suicide rates – which, across the West, has not decreased in the past decade.

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Dr. David Goldbloom’s “Walrus Talk” in Calgary: What Will It Take?

Walrus Talk – March 21, 2016

My name is David Goldbloom and I’m a psychiatrist in Toronto at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. And I’m here to ask you an important question about mental health in our country: What will it take?

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Reading of the Week: Biron’s Illness and Recovery

From the Editor

Drug breakthroughs, better imaging, less invasive procedures. There are many amazing health-care stories from the past three decades but perhaps the most important one is decidedly low tech: the decline of stigma about mental illness, allowing millions of Canadians to discuss their problems and seek care.

That’s not to suggest that stigma doesn’t exist, of course. In November, we considered the Dabby et al. paper from The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, which showed bias even on the part of psychiatrists and psychiatric residents. Though the problem continues, it’s difficult not to believe that we have turned a significant corner: late last month, for instance, Bell Canada Let’s Talk campaign managed to raise more than $6 million in a single day.

In terms of reducing stigma, it helps immeasurably when people come forward and discuss their mental health illness. I remember talking to a patient who had struggled with her diagnosis. Inspired by Olympian Clara Hughes, she posted on Facebook that she has Bipolar. In my office, she wept when describing the outpouring of support – from friends and families, yes, but also from strangers.

Stigma still exists; it takes great courage to come forward – but it’s incredibly important that people do.

This week’s Reading is one person’s story of mental illness and recovery, and his choice to tell his story.

He also happens to be the President and CEO of my hospital. And I’ve never been prouder to work at The Scarborough Hospital.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Psychiatry’s Dirty Little Secret?

Stigma has repeatedly been identified as a major barrier to help seeking for mental health problems across various disorders and across the lifespan. Stigma is also an obstacle to community reintegration and rehabilitation in people suffering from severe mental illness. Moreover, people with psychiatric diagnoses suffer the effects of discrimination in health care settings. Not only do people with mental illness have diminished access to primary care, there is evidence to suggest that physicians perform fewer physical examinations and laboratory investigations, provide less preventive health care, and undertake fewer therapeutic interventions in this population. Researchers are increasingly framing the problem of stigma as a public health issue.

So begins a new paper that considers stigma and mental health.

This week’s Reading: “Explicit and Implicit Attitudes of Canadian Psychiatrists Toward People With Mental Illness” by Dr. Layla Dabby et al., which was just published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

This paper shows that members of the public demonstrated relatively negative explicit attitudes towards mental illness. In fact, Canadians reported a desire for greater social distance from the patient with schizophrenia as opposed to the patient with diabetes, even though the study describes the patient with schizophrenia as well-controlled by medication. Wow.

Except here’s the twist in the tale. The paper actually didn’t look at the public. The paper looked at psychiatrists and residents of psychiatry. In other words, the relatively negative explicit attitude wasn’t from the uninformed small businessman in Edmonton or the teacher in Halifax; it reflects the biases of people like… me.

Is this psychiatry’s dirty little secret? Continue reading