MonthMay 2022

Reading of the Week: Screen Time and Kids’ Mental Health – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Carol Smith on Her Grief (Wash Post)

From the Editor

Gaming. Apps. Streaming videos.

Children today have endless options at their fingertips, allowing them to entertain themselves for hours – which means less time for reading, playing, and physical activity. What effect does this have on their mental health? That question has sparked much debate: some argue that screen time is inherently problematic while others feel that it opens doors for creativity and connection to others. But what does the literature say? 

In the first selection, Rachel Eirich (of the University of Calgary) and her co-authors consider screen time and behavioural problems in children with a new systematic review and meta-analysis, just published in JAMA Psychiatry. Pulling together 87 studies, they focus on several variables. The big finding? “This study found small but significant correlations between screen time and children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior problems.” We look at the study.

And in the second selection, continuing our consideration of the first update to the DSM series in nine years, journalist Carol Smith mulls DSM-5-TR and the new diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder. In The Washington Post, she writes about her personal experience with grief: she lost her son when he was just 7. “I never thought to ask for help. I wish I had.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Lived Experience & Psychosis – the New World Psych Paper; Also, the Evidence for Cannabis (QT) and Bob Bell on Psychotherapy (Globe)

From the Editor

“Something as basic as grocery shopping was both frightening and overwhelming for me. I remember my mom taking me along to do grocery shopping as a form of rehabilitation… Everything seemed so difficult.”

So comments a patient on the experience of a relapse of psychosis.

Typically, we describe psychosis with lists of symptoms. But how do patients understand these experiences? In a new World Psychiatry paper, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli (of King’s College) and his co-authors attempt to answer this question with a “bottom-up” approach. As they explain: “To our best knowledge, there are no recent studies that have successfully adopted a bottom-up approach (i.e., from lived experience to theory), whereby individuals with the lived experience of psychosis (i.e., experts by experience) primarily select the subjective themes and then discuss them with academics to advance broader knowledge.” We discuss their paper.

In the second selection, we consider a new Quick Takes podcast. Dr. Kevin Hill (of Harvard University) reviews the cannabis literature and weighs the evidence. He notes the hazards of CBD, the lack of evidence for cannabis and sleep, and his fondness for the Chicago Bears. “There are very strong proponents for cannabis and there are people who are entirely sceptical about it. And the answers to a lot of these questions are somewhere in the middle.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Robert Bell (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors advocate for the expansion of public health care to cover psychotherapy. Dr. Bell, who is a former Deputy Minister of Health of Ontario, makes a clear case drawing on international examples. “Canadians understand that good health requires mental-health support, and co-ordinated investment in mental-health treatment would pay dividends in reducing the impact of mental-health disability on the economy.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Exercise & Depression – the New JAMA Psychiatry Paper; Also, Passes & Inpatients (CJP) and Dr. Khadilkar on Suicide (JAMA Neuro)

From the Editor

We often tell our patients about the importance of exercise. But how much exercise? And is this advice really evidence based?

In the first selection from JAMA Psychiatry, Matthew Pearce (of the University of Cambridge) and his co-authors consider exercise and depression with a systematic review and meta-analysis, drawing on data from more than 190 000 people. They conclude: “This systematic review and meta-analysis of associations between physical activity and depression suggests significant mental health benefits from being physically active, even at levels below the public health recommendations.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, we look at a new research letter by Natalia Docteur (of the Sunnybrook Research Institute) and her co-authors. In The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, they consider passes for inpatients, wondering about the effect on length of stay and re-admissions. Interestingly, they conclude: “Overall, passes were associated with poorer post-discharge outcomes including prolonged length of stay and increased psychiatric readmissions.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Amole Khadilkar (of Indigenous Services Canada) writes about his mental health problems. In a deeply personal essay, he notes the challenges of residency and warns against the culture of stoicism. “This is an important lesson to anyone who may be contemplating suicide during what seems like an irreversibly hopeless point in their life. You never know what the next day, the next month, or the next year may bring.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG


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