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June 2011



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Archive for June 15th, 2011


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 15, 2011

A new research abstract suggest that a treatment regimen of cognitive-behavioral therapy can reduce suicidal thoughts among individuals with insomnia.

Researchers discovered about 21 percent of participants with insomnia (65 of 303) reported having suicidal thoughts or wishes during the past two weeks.

Group cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia produced a statistically significant post-treatment reduction in suicidal ideation. Treatment sessions were conducted weekly until the final two sessions, which were conducted bi-weekly.

According to the authors, a growing body of evidence suggests that self-reported insomnia and poor sleep quality constitute modifiable risk factors for suicide.

Sleep complaints are recognized as significant suicide warning signs by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. However, no previous studies had evaluated the impact of a sleep intervention on suicidal ideation.

“This is the first investigation to show that a sleep-targeted intervention has a therapeutic impact on suicide risk specifically,” said lead author Rebecca Bernert, Ph.D. “This suggests that a treatment focus on sleep disturbances may have important implications for the prevention of suicidal behaviors.”

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Hold On To Hope ...


By Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Hope turns up in the strangest places sometimes.
And sometimes you really need it to.

At the end of your tether, strung out, sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to do to make it through even just another day.

Today, I spied a mini-message of hope, stuck onto the bottom of a traffic sign in my neighbourhood, underneath a scrawled texta heart (that’s it in the photo). The whole thing was only a few square centimetres, easy to overlook. And I wasn’t expecting to find it:

“When you’re at the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hang on”

(Surely, this is ‘vandalism’ at it’s best…)

So what might help you to tie that virtual knot?
What helps you hold on when things are tough?
What gives you the strength to hang in there one more day?

Maybe it’s remembering the ones you love – people or pets – living or not – and connecting with them in whatever way you can.
Or getting lost in the flow of something you love to do.
Or maybe it’s as simple as seeing the slant of the morning sun through the trees.

For hope comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it makes grand gestures and writes itself across the sky in letters a thousand feet high. Other times, it’s still and small.

But when it seems hard to believe that it will ever visit you again, or if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, those are the times to build in some safety for yourself – something to help you rise back up from despair.

And if you’re not feeling strong enough to do that alone right now, you can always reach out to others who can help.

Maybe a friend.
Or a mentor.
Or a counsellor.
Or a telephone helpline (like Lifeline in Australia, Contact in the US, Telecare in Canada or TELL in Japan)

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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 15, 2011

A person’s happiness appears to depend more upon the freedom to make choices rather than having money, at least according to a review of data from 63 countries.

In the study, researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand wanted to know one thing: What is more important for well-being, providing people with money or providing them with choices and autonomy?

The investigation helps to fill in gaps in determining the values or attributes that contribute to happiness and life satisfaction among a worldwide sample.

“Our findings provide new insights into well-being at the societal level,” they wrote in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Providing individuals with more autonomy appears to be important for reducing negative psychological symptoms, relatively independent of wealth.”

Psychologists Drs. Ronald Fischer and Diana Boer looked at studies involving three different psychological tests — the General Health Questionnaire, which measures four symptoms of distress (somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression); the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, which tests how respondents feel at a particular moment; and the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which tests for emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of personal accomplishment.

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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 15, 2011

A new psychological study warns that economic disparities seems to make people unhappy.

Over the last 40 years, “we’ve seen that people seem to be happier when there is more equality,” says University of Virginia psychologist Dr. Shigehiro Oishi, who lead the study.

“Income disparity has grown a lot in the U.S., especially since the 1980s. With that, we’ve seen a marked drop in life satisfaction and happiness.”

The findings hold true for about 60 percent of Americans—people in the lower and moderate income brackets.

The psychologists studied survey data for more than 48,000 respondents over 37 years. Researchers examined the relationships among the answers to one question rating happiness on a three-point scale and two indicating the respondents’ sense of how fair and trustworthy their fellow Americans were.

These answers were analyzed alongside the individual’s income and a globally recognized instrument measuring national income equality in each survey year.

Investigators discovered the gap between people’s own fortunes and those of people who are better off is correlated with feelings that other people are less fair and less trustworthy, and this results in a diminished sense of well-being in general.

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Article Date: 15 Jun 2011 – 1:00 PDT

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has launched a new online resource offering information and guidance about returning to work after a period of mental ill-health.

The Work and Mental Health website is divided into four main parts, and is aimed at workers, carers, employers and clinicians. Each section signposts relevant information and provides useful links to resources from other organisations.

The website explains how work can be good for people’s mental health and well-being – and can play a positive part in people’s recovery. It shows how employers may provide effective support at work for people with a history of mental ill-health, and how clinicians can support people returning to work.

The website has been developed by a multiprofessional working group, including psychiatrists, occupational health clinicians, GPs, nurses, psychologists, HR professionals, and mental health service users.

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Scales of Justice, London


Today, the High Court ruled that the London Borough of Hillingdon acted unlawfully when they served Steven Neary, a young man with autism, with a Deprivation of Liberty order. The NAS welcomes the ruling and believes it should serve to demonstrate that local authorities should apply deprivation of liberty safeguards appropriately and with care.

Carol Povey, NAS Director of the Centre for Autism, says,

In this case, we have seen the wrongful application of an important and complex area of the law. It led to Steven Neary being kept away from his home for nearly a year and his father, his main carer, being excluded from the decision making process. The purpose of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards is to prevent people who lack mental capacity from being deprived of their liberty unless it is in their best interests and necessary to protect them from harm. It is important to remember that, with the right support for families, people with autism, like Stephen, can live at home and in their communities.


She continues,

In order that these safeguards are properly imposed on individuals with autism in the future, support staff require appropriate autism-specific training in order to support people in the least restrictive way. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards should be imposed only in instances of absolute necessity.


Recent research by the Mental Health Alliance, of which the NAS is a member, found that this area of law was misunderstood by many local authorities. This case demonstrates that local authorities must ensure proper awareness of the law on deprivation of liberty.



Related Articles

“Update on Steven Neary Case: Dad and Autistic Son Reunited After High Court Judgement”:



Published: June 09. 2011 4:00AM PST

Actor Colin Farrell recently disclosed that his 7-year-old son James has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a neurological disorder caused by a genetic defect. According to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, the condition affects 1 in every 15,000 children born in the U.S.

The condition is most often diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 5, and is often misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy. Children affected by the disorder often have developmental delays and cognitive disabilities, often with severe speech impairment. They have balance problems and jerky movements. Children with Angelman Syndrome typically have a happy, excitable demeanor and are frequently smiling and laughing, with hand-flapping movements. They also tend to have a high fascination with water and crinkly items, such as plastic or wrapping paper.

Physically, the children often have small heads that are flat in the back, protruding tongues and widely spaced teeth. Sleep problems are common and they can experience recurrent seizures. As the children age, they become less excitable and sleep improves, and they have a normal life expectancy. There is no cure or therapy for the condition itself, but the children can benefit from various physical, speech and behavioral therapies.

— Markian Hawryluk, The Bulletin

Source: Angelman Syndrome Foundation, National Library of Medicine


NEW YORK | Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:03am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – There is no solid evidence to support screening toddlers for autism, a new study concludes.

It’s estimated that autism spectrum disorders, which range from mild Asperger’s Syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, affect nearly one percent of kids in the U.S., putting a significant burden on families and society at large.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage routine screening for the disorders.

But the new report, a review of the medical literature, suggests those recommendations are premature.

“We don’t have research evidence to show how well screening works and whether we do more good than harm,” Dr. Jan Willem Gorter, a pediatrician at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, told Reuters Health.

While many screening tests exist — usually based on simple questions about the child’s use of eye contact and gestures — none of them are very accurate, Gorter and colleagues report in the journal Pediatrics.

Often the tests will misdiagnose healthy kids, such as one recent test that yielded false positives a quarter of the time, or they will fail to detect autism.

“The potential burdens on families of receiving a misdiagnosis (either a false-positive or a false-negative) may be enormous,” the researchers write, “and there might be labeling effects that can be hard to remove.”

They found other reasons to avoid screening, too.

For instance, there is no cure for autism, and interventions to help the kids function better on a daily basis often have shaky underpinnings and cost a lot.

Such treatment programs may not be easily available either, the researchers note, adding that offering screening without providing helpful services would be “pointless, and almost certainly unethical.”

“The reality is there are already waitlists of up to a year, or over a year,” Gorter said.

At this point, he added, the best way to help children with autism is probably to make parents understand how their kids communicate and make sure they meet other children.

SOURCE: bit.ly/cxXOG Pediatrics, online June 13, 2011.



Posted: 06/12/11 02:05 PM ET

Kent Melville’s father was skeptical when his son first said that he wanted to use the profits from his successful summer lemonade stand to start his own soda company. Aaron Melville, who teaches business classes at a local college, did not believe his 9-year-old autistic son was ready to run his own business.

Kent was determined to do something to help others with autism, however, which inspired his father to reconsider. Aaron described on a Facebook page for the organization, why he decided to help his son start Kent’s Soda after initially encouraging him to wait until he was older.

Kent pondered that for a minute. He then looked at me and said “Dad, I have everything I need right now, but there are lots of other kids with autism that can’t do the things they want or need. I want to be able to help them get some of the things they want with the money we earn. Can’t we start now? I don’t want to wait.” I had never been prouder. With a tear of gratitude in my eye, I agreed.

Though he has enlisted the help of his parents, students at a local community college, and members of the faculty, The Caledonian Record describes how the young entrepreneur is taking charge of his business.

Kent has chosen the flavors himself, and they currently include root beer, orange, lemonade, raspberry limeade, grape, strawberry and cream soda. Kent plans to add an additional flavor each year. The first one will be root beer mixed with orange.

He has come up with a marketing plans that will include a giant root beer volcano, and rejects others ideas when he doesn’t agree with them.

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