Schools would be a good place for programs to screen for mental health issues in students, and to educate about mental health to lessen the pervasive stigma. Some states are making programs mandatory, but elsewhere schools and personnel may resist, seeing mental health as outside the normal role of teachers. Experts discuss how inventive programs are overcoming obstacles.
Dr. Kimberly Kendziora, Managing Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Dr. Michael Murphy, psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Companies instituting open offices without walls often claim they improve collaboration and interaction. Studies now show that the opposite is true—that workers put on headphones and interact via email rather than in person in order to shut out distractions and stress. Experts discuss.
Dr. Ethan Bernstein, Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School
Ashley Dunn, Director of Workplace, Dyer Brown Architects, Boston
More than 31 million people are injured and require hospital care each year… and a new study has figured out that non-fatal injuries cost nearly two trillion dollars annually. Medical costs account for only about 170 billion of it… while permanent disability costs more than 200 billion. The biggest cost is in the loss of quality of life as a result of injuries–researchers put that total at nearly one and a half trillion dollars a year. Falls, being struck by an object, and car crashes account for about half the injuries…and experts say they’re almost all preventable.
About three million children are diagnosed with scoliosis or back curvature every year, and now researchers have found a possible cause. A study in the journal Nature Communications shows that children with severe scoliosis are twice as likely as children without the disease to carry a gene that makes it hard for their bodies to process manganese in the diet. Scientists say modifications in the diet may help, but they caution against manganese supplements for now, because too much manganese is also dangerous.
If you thought volunteering to help out a co-worker is a good thing… think again. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that it’s better to wait to be asked before you help. Scientists say helpers who jump in without being asked often don’t have a good handle on what they’re doing, so they don’t get much gratitude for it… and the person being helped starts feeling incompetent. Better to stick to your own business, researchers say… until you’re asked.
And finally… what kind of person swears the most? According to a study in the journal Language Sciences, it’s people who are highly intelligent. Researchers say people with a large vocabulary and who are fluent in language are good at creative swearing… and they’re not afraid to use it. Scientists also say people who swear a lot are honest with others… and more true to themselves.
Just about anyone can report a parent to a child abuse hotline. It’s meant to protect children, but all too often, parents are reported when no abuse or neglect exists in order to retaliate for a divorce or some other grievance. And though the world is actually safer for children than it used to be, some parents are reported for merely letting children play outside or walk to school without an adult in attendance, what was once thought of as normal. Some activists say this robs children of independence. An expert and a woman who went through an unjustified child abuse investigation discuss.
Corey Widen, mother reported to child abuse hotline, Wilmette, IL
Rachel Ruttenberg, Executive Director, Family Defense Center, Chicago
Doctors used to think the appendix was useless… but now we know it’s important to the immune system. And it turns out it may also be important in the development of Parkinson’s disease. A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine tracked nearly two million people in Sweden—some for as long as 50 years. It shows that people who’ve had their appendix out are about 20 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s. The study also shows that protein clumps found in the brains of Parkinson’s patients are found in the appendix as well.
Scientists have discovered some of the reasons why people with obesity have a higher risk of asthma. A study in the Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology shows that inflammation in airways is greater in people with obesity. They’re also are more likely to over-respond to allergens in airway muscles… causing the airways to narrow. Researchers say the discoveries may improve asthma treatment.
And finally… makers of smoke alarms may be thinking of changing what they sound like. An alarm’s high-pitched squeals may wake up adults… but they don’t wake up kids. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that more than half of children age five to eight sleep right through a standard smoke alarm for five minutes or more. But the sound of their mother’s voice wakes them up fast. When mom’s hollering to wake up, the average kid was sitting bolt upright, wide awake… in four seconds.
People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often can’t face their trauma, which is necessary for psychotherapy to work. It is a big reason PTSD is so difficult to treat. Scientists are leading clinical trials into the use of the banned drug MDMA in connection with therapy to help break this hurdle, and the results so far have been outstanding in curing PTSD.
Dr. Michael Mithoefer, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina and Medical Director, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation clinical trials
Charlotte Harrison, Senior Clinical Research Associate, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation