Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!
The United States faces a mental health epidemic. Nearly one in five American adults suffers from a form of mental illness. Suicide rates are at an all-time high, 115 people die daily from opioid abuse, and one in eight Americans over 12 years’ old take an antidepressant every day. The economic burden of depression alone is estimated to be at least $210 billion annually, with more than half of that cost coming from increased absenteeism and reduced productivity in the workplace.
In a crisis that has become progressively dire over the past decade, digital solutions — many with artificial intelligence (AI) at their core — offer hope for reversing the decline in our mental wellness. New tools are being developed by tech companies and universities with potent diagnostic and treatment capabilities that can be used to serve large populations at reasonable costs.
Can food be addictive? What does it mean to be a food addict? Do common underlying neurobiological mechanisms contribute to drug and food addiction? These vexing questions have been the subject of considerable interest and debate in recent years, driven in large part by the major health concerns associated with dramatically increasing body weights and rates of obesity in the United States, Europe, and other regions with developed economies. No clear consensus has yet emerged on the validity of the concept of food addiction and whether some individuals who struggle to control their food intake can be considered food addicts. Some, including Fletcher, have argued that the concept of food addiction is unsupported, as many of the defining features of drug addiction are not seen in the context of feeding behaviors. Others, Kenny included, have argued that food and drug addiction share similar features that may reflect common underlying neural mechanisms. Here, Fletcher and Kenny argue the merits of these opposing positions on the concept of food addiction.
Early intervention is a fundamental principle in health care and the past two decades have seen it belatedly introduced into the field of mental health. This began in psychotic disorders, arguably the least promising place to start. The steady accumulation of scientific evidence for early intervention has eventually overwhelmed the sceptics, transformed thinking in psychotic disorders and created an international wave of service reform. This paradigm shift has paved the way to a more substantial one: early intervention across the full diagnostic spectrum. 75% of mental illnesses emerge before the age of 25 years, and young people bear the major burden for those disorders that threaten the many decades of productive adult life. The paradox is that young people aged between 12 and 25 years have had by far the worst levels of access to mental health care across the whole lifespan. Health services are poorly designed, grossly under-resourced and typically unfriendly to, and untrusted by, young people.
With more and more children seeking psychological help, Matt Haig is one of a wave of authors trying to reach troubled youngsters with stories.
CBT includes a variety of modalities and formats. A new meta-analysis of 101 studies suggests group CBT is most effective for symptoms of anxiety in children and adolescents, but questions linger.
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