Taglived experience

Reading of the Week: Health Care Workers’ Mental Health – There’s an App for That; Also, Treating Opioids (BMJ) & Dr. Bhushan on Her Bipolar (LA Times)

From the Editor

With the pandemic dragging on, health care workers report more and more burnout; some complain of depression and anxiety.

What could help? Dr. Sam N. Gnanapragasam (of King’s College London) and his co-authors consider an app designed to provide CBT and mindfulness techniques in a new British Journal of Psychiatry paper. The RCT study involves 16 English sites with over 1000 health care workers. They conclude: “our study suggests that the app was of modest benefit with no adverse effects for a sample of HCWs in England.” We look at the paper.

How to respond to the opioid crisis? In a new analysis paper for BMJ, Dr. Robert A. Kleinman (of the University of Toronto) and his colleagues argue for a different approach to the prescribing of opioid agonist therapy, drawing on the changes made in response to the pandemic. “Embracing a more flexible model of buprenorphine-naloxone dosing would allow better alignment of prescribing practices with the needs and preferences of clients.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Devika Bhushan writes about bipolar disorder for the Los Angeles Times. The essay is very personal: the pediatrician, who serves as California’s acting surgeon general and graduated from Harvard, describes her own experiences. As she notes, during her training, she “had a secret.” Now, however, she speaks openly about her illness. “Today, I live with bipolar disorder as a chronic and manageable health condition.” 

DG

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Reading of the Week: Prevention With Mindfulness for Kids? The New EBMH Study; Also, Ending Seclusion (Psych Services) & Morrison on Her Silence (CBC)

From the Editor

Our patients tell similar stories about their experiences with depression: of strained and lost relationships, of job opportunities that didn’t work out, of the pain of the illness itself.

Could all this be avoided? The attractiveness of prevention is obvious. In the first selection, Willem Kuyken (of the University of Oxford) and his co-authors describe a program focused on those 11 to 16 years of age. In this new EBMH paper, they use mindfulness training. The intervention is randomized, involving 84 schools. They conclude: “In a fully powered, rigorous, cluster randomised controlled trial we found no support for our hypothesis that school-based mindfulness training is superior in terms of mental health and well-being compared with usual provision over 1 year of follow-up in young people in secondary schools.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection from Psychiatric Services, Gregory M. Smith (of the Allentown State Hospital) and his co-authors analyze Pennsylvania’s move to eliminate seclusion and restraint events. Drawing on nine years of data, they conclude: “The findings of this study provide compelling evidence that uses of seclusion and restraints can be reduced or eliminated in both civil and forensic populations, with benefits to both the persons being served and their support staff.”

And, in the third selection, lawyer Helen Morrison considers mental illness and stigma. In this essay for CBC First Person, she notes her own journey and her fears about how people would react to her having bipolar disorder. She finds support with her faith group and others. She writes: “I want people to know that being diagnosed with a mental illness need not be earth-shattering. Faulty brain chemistry should be seen as just another chronic medical condition.”

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: Clozapine Prescribing & Demographics; Also, HBR on Equity in Telemedicine, and Eichler on Her Uncle & His Disappearances

From the Editor

Is clozapine prescribing effected by demographics?

In the first selection, from Psychiatric Services, Natalie Bareis (of Columbia University) and her co-authors consider medication prescriptions for those with psychotic disorders, drawing on US Medicaid data. “Our results indicate significant variation across states and among racial-ethnic groups in prescription patterns of six types of psychotropic medications, even after we had adjusted for multiple patient factors.” Indeed, they find that clozapine is much more commonly prescribed for those who are White. We consider the paper and its implications.

unknownClozapine: a simple molecule but complicated availability in the US?

In the second selection, Dr. Jonathan Rogg (of the University of Texas) and his co-authors consider equity and telemedicine. In a paper for the Harvard Business Review, they describe the services offered in a low-income area of Texas, and the lessons learned. “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a rapid evolution in technology with the potential to help the most disadvantaged patients. Our experience during the pandemic has demonstrated that telemedicine can overcome access-related challenges faced by indigent populations. By allowing them to access care in their homes or even their jobs, it can help them address health issues expeditiously with minimal disruption to their lives.”

Finally, in the third selection from The Globe and Mail, writer Leah Eichler writes about her uncle, who probably had an undiagnosed mental illness. She writes about his disappearances and erratic behaviour. “We like to believe our relationships are solid, that love is somehow inextricably linked to permanence. Missing our loved ones, if anything, highlights how impermanent even our closest relationships can be.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Depression Outcomes: What Matters to Patients (Lancet Psych)? Also, NYT on Mental Health Apps and Startup Culture

From the Editor

“US Food and Drug Administration accepts only three outcome measures as primary endpoints in phase 3 studies to support an indication for major depressive disorder: the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, or the Children’s Depression Rating Scale.”

The editors of The Lancet Psychiatry make this point in in the August issue of that journal. Their concern: the FDA view is very narrow and confined to these three scales.

In the first selection, we look at a new paper from The Lancet Psychiatry. Dr. Astrid Chevance (of the Center for Epidemiology and Statistics Paris Sorbonne) and her co-authors consider depression outcomes. To understand different perspectives, they draw on three groups: providers, patients, and caregivers. For the record, the resulting paper is fascinating and includes outcome measures that aren’t captured by these three scales. We consider the paper and the editorial that runs with it.

depression

In the second selection – also on the topic of depression – Kashmir Hill and Aaron Krolik report for The New York Times on a popular therapy app. They note that Talkspace has good marketing and a growing client base. But should you recommend the app to your patients?

DG

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Reading of the Week: Physician Burnout, Interrupted (NEJM); also, COVID and Schizophrenia (Schiz Bulletin) and a Reader Responds on Inpatient Care

From the Editor

As we come to understand the new normal – a world of PPEs and precautions – we need to consider not just the implications of the virus on today’s work, but tomorrow’s.

In the first selection, we look at a new paper on physician burnout. In The New England of Journal, Drs. Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman (both of Harvard Medical School) argue that burnout will not be remedied by offers of exercise classes and the other usual prescriptions. Drawing on organizational psychology, they call for a fundamentally different approach, built on autonomy, competence, and relatedness. At a time of COVID, “health care professionals are responding with an astounding display of selflessness, caring for patients despite the risk of profound personal harm. Our efforts are recognized and applauded.” Now, they argue, is the moment for action.

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Are people with schizophrenia at particular risk during this pandemic? In the second selection, we consider a new Schizophrenia Bulletin paper by Dr. Nicole Kozloff (of the University of Toronto) and her co-authors, who answer this question with a convincing yes. “We suggest that thoughtful consideration of the implications of COVID-19 for people with schizophrenia may not only reduce the burden of the global pandemic on people with schizophrenia, but also on the population as a whole.” They offer recommendations.

Finally, in the third selection, a reader responds to last week’s Reading. Rachel Cooper (of the University of Toronto) considers the inpatient experience. “Those of us who have spent time on psychiatric units, particularly while on forms (or held involuntarily), can speak to the immense isolation and feelings of violation of having our basic liberties removed. In this time of COVID, those with the privilege of not having had the experience of being in hospital involuntarily are getting a small taste of that isolation.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: “What do you wear on the first day back to work after a psychotic break?” – Zack Mcdermott on his Return to Work

From the Editor

“What do you wear the first day back to work after a 90-day leave of absence because of a psychotic break?”

Lawyer Zack Mcdermott asks this question at the beginning of a moving, honest, and raw essay that was published recently in The New York Times.

zack-and-cindy-1The writer and his mother

In this Reading, we look at his piece and his journey.

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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