From the Editor

People with mental disorders often have family members who have been touched by illness – a genetic tie, well established in the literature. But what about the influence of peer groups? A small body of literature suggests a connection between social circles and diagnosis. How can we understand this? Are mental disorders contagious?

In the first selection, Jussi Alho (of the University of Helsinki) and her co-authors attempt to answer those questions in a new study for JAMA Psychiatry. They did a cohort study, drawing on Finnish databases, and involving more than 700 000 people. They considered individuals who had a classmate diagnosed with a mental disorder in grade 9. “We found an association between having peers diagnosed with a mental disorder during adolescence and an increased risk of receiving a mental disorder diagnosis later in life.” We analyze the study and its implications.

How have cannabis poisonings increased with the legalization of edibles in Canada? In the second selection, a research letter for JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Nathan M. Stall (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors looked at an 8-year period and focused on older adults, finding 2 322 ED visits in Ontario. “The largest increases occurred after edible cannabis became legally available for retail sale, a phenomenon similarly observed in Canadian children.”

And in the third selection, Caroline Payton Harmon, who is a PhD candidate at Rutgers University, describes the people she met in substance use treatment. The essay, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, is personal and notes the contrasts between those of different socioeconomic backgrounds. “The health-care system sees money and sees patients who are not worth the cost of treatment.”


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