Tag: Simon

Reading of the Week: Online DBT – the New JAMA Paper; Also, Prediabetes and Preaddiction, and Greenberg on the Delusional Ones (Acad Psych)

From the Editor

He cut himself out of frustration with a break-up. She came to the ED with suicidal thoughts after losing her job.

Some patients need help with ongoing self-harm and suicidal thoughts – but access to care is challenging, particularly for dialectal behavioural therapy. Could a simple intervention help? Could it be delivered virtually?

In the first selection, Dr. Gregory E. Simon (of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute) and his co-authors detail a pragmatic randomized trial that evaluated two low-intensity outreach programs, aiming to reduce risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviour. In this new JAMA study, they conclude: “Compared with usual care, offering care management did not significantly reduce the risk of self-harm, and offering brief online dialectical behavior therapy skills training increased the risk of self-harm among at-risk adults.” We look at the study.

In the second selection, Thomas McLellan (of the University of Pennsylvania) and his co-authors note the failings of substance treatment and then mull a way forward: considering the approach to diabetic care and the concept of prediabetes. Should we embrace preaddiction? They write: “the diabetes example shows that an early intervention approach can work given a comprehensive, sustained effort.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Norman R. Greenberg (of Yale University) contemplates his patient’s psychosis and his approach. Drawing on an old Hasidic tale, this resident of psychiatry stops debating with his patient; he chooses to listen to him instead. He writes: “I may not always be able to convince others of my perspective, I hope that I am able to convince others that we share similar goals and that I care about them.”


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Reading of the Week: Yoga vs CBT – What’s Best for Anxiety? (JAMA Psych) Also, COVID & Mental Health (Lancet Psych) and Whitley on Cannabis Stigma (Van Sun)

From the Editor

Anxiety disorders are common, and often disabling to our patients. While treatments have improved, there is unmet need – and the desire to find new, scalable interventions. Increasingly, our patients look to different types of treatments, like yoga. But is trendy effective? Is yoga the not-so-new intervention we need?

Dr. Naomi M. Simon (of New York University) and her co-authors look at the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder with a sophisticated study. They compare yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) against a psychological control condition, and against each other. So how do the treatments compare? “Kundalini yoga can reduce anxiety for adults with generalized anxiety disorder, but study results support CBT remaining first-line treatment.” We look at the big study and its big implications.


What have we learned about COVID-19 and mental health? In the second selection, we consider a new editorial from The Lancet Psychiatry. Mulling the state of the literature after almost a year of the pandemic, they write: “The good news is that by October, 2020, mental health was top of the charts in terms of published papers and preprints on the effects of COVID-19. The bad news is that the quantity of papers is not matched by quality.”

And in our final selection, we consider an essay by Rob Whitley (of McGill University). He notes that 27% of Canadians had used cannabis in the last year, about half of them for medical reasons. He worries about the stigma around medical cannabis and champions more public education. “This can help create a climate of acceptance and inclusion for the growing number of Canadians with mental illness who use cannabis to improve their well-being.”

On another note: in a past Reading, we featured an essay by Toronto filmmaker Rebeccah Love who wrote about her mental illness. Her new film, “Parlour Love,” has its premiere this Saturday at 7 pm EST through Zoom. In this short, powerful film, she draws from her own experiences of bipolar mania and psychosis, and paints a portrait of a woman in crisis. RSVP – palmpremiere@gmail.com.


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Reading of the Week: COVID and a Mental-Health Second Wave; Also, Harry Potter & Suicide Prevention (CJP), and Bennett on Bipolar (Walrus)

From the Editor

There are more COVID-19 cases in the community – and in our hospitals and ICUs. What does it mean for mental health?

This week, we have three selections.

In the first, published in JAMA, Dr. Naomi M. Simon (of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine) and her co-authors write about the pandemic and the implications for mental health. They argue that there will be a second wave of mental health problems. “The magnitude of this second wave is likely to overwhelm the already frayed mental health system, leading to access problems, particularly for the most vulnerable persons.” Are they right – and what’s to be done?


In the second selection, we look at a research letter from The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Paula Conforti (of the University of Toronto) and her co-authors consider a CBT intervention for school-age children to reduce suicidality and increase wellbeing. There’s a twist in the plot: the intervention is based on a Harry Potter novel. “This study found that a teacher-delivered, literature-based CBT skills curriculum was feasible and associated with reduced suicidality (ideation and behavior) in middle school-aged youth.”

Finally, in our third selection, we consider an essay by Andrea Bennett. In this Walrus essay, the writer discusses the possible link between bipolar and creativity. The essay is deeply personal. “I don’t dream about not being bipolar, because I don’t know where my self ends and where the illness begins – and if there is even really a difference.”


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