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#4Mind4Body: May is Mental Health Month

#4Mind4Body: May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month was first marked 70 years ago by Mental Health America. This year’s theme, #4Mind4Body, aims to help people understand how their lifestyle affects their health. The organization suggests “finding the right balance – between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health – to benefit both the mind and body, for everyone.”

hand holding a green ribbon, the symbol for mental health monthThis year’s observance arrives at a critical time as the country faces a year-round mental health crisis.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Additionally, many experts agree there are not enough practicing mental health professionals to care for everyone who needs help.

Mental health advocate Michael B. Friedman in a September MedPage Today article, outlined the elements of what he calls a “mental health apocalypse”:

  • 60% of people with diagnosable mental disorders do not get treatment.
  • In most parts of the U.S., the capacity to treat people with mental illness is simply inadequate.
  • Access to available care is often limited by cost, distance, office hours, stigma, etc.
  • Suicide is on the rise – up 20% since the turn of the century while homicide has declined by more than 10%. Yet, reasons to be hopeful outweigh even the significant challenges.

Yet, reasons to be hopeful outweigh even the significant challenges.

A Breakthrough Year in Mental Health Advances

2018 saw an incredible number of advances in mental health research and treatment that should bring optimism.

  • Written exposure therapy (WET), a treatment during which patients write about their specific traumatic event over five sessions, was found to be as successful in treating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients as cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a widely accepted treatment that takes 12 weekly therapy sessions.
  • New research found that both poor sleep quality and depressive symptoms were associated with increased functional connectivity involving multiple regions in the brain. Identifying these underlying associations has implications for the treatment of depression and poor sleep quality.
  • Researchers have found that by leveraging existing electronic health record data and advancements in statistical modeling, it is possible to significantly improve the prediction of death by suicide and suicide attempts over conventional self-report methods alone.
  • A 2018 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that reducing time spent on social media to 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of depression and loneliness.
  • A rapid form of brain stimulation was found to be successful in treating Treatment-Resistant Depression.
  • Previously under-researched drugs such as ketamine, marijuana, and ecstasy were reviewed as potential treatments for anxiety and depression, among other mental health concerns, and found to be promising. In fact, the FDA recently approved esketamine for treatment-resistant depression and brexanolone for postpartum depression.

woman practicing meditation at her desk as a mental health practiceMental Health Month Is Time to Celebrate Treatment Advances

These advances are cause for celebration. Sharing information about new treatments and research raises awareness that there is new hope for patients to experience remission from their mental conditions.

Accordingly, we recommend getting involved in helping raise awareness and reducing stigma associated with these illnesses.

First, you can download the official 2019 Mental Health Month Toolkit, which includes social media posts, outreach ideas, and additional resources to share.

There are also many mental health nonprofits and other organizations that offer Mental Health Month activities, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

And, you can make a difference on your own. You can be a good ally, advocate for care, and take a stand against stigma. You can share available resources to someone you think may be struggling, like online depression screening.

As Mental Health America is advocating, you can find your balance, and be “fit for your own future.”

Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.

The GeneSight test must be ordered by and used only in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medications. As with all genetic tests, the GeneSight test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. The test results are designed to be just one part of a larger, complete patient assessment, which would include proper diagnosis and consideration of your medical history, other medications you may be taking, your family history, and other factors.

If you are a healthcare provider and interested in learning more about the GeneSight test, please contact us at 855.891.9415. If you are a patient, please talk with your doctor to see if the GeneSight test may be helpful.