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Once again, Psychologists across Canada are celebrating February as Psychology Month. Sponsored by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the purpose of the event is to highlight for Canadians "how psychology works to help them live healthy and happy lives, help their communities flourish, help their employers create effective workplaces, and help their governments develop good policies."

To mark the month, many Psychologists have made their time available for public information talks on Mental Health during the month. Dr. Stevens will be joining other Psychologists to sponsor an educational event on learning disabilities for staff at their local hospital. Thank you to the Peel Chapter of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario.

Messages from the Canadian Psychological Association:

  • Psychological treatments are less expensive than, and at least as effective as, medication for a number of common mental health conditions.
  • Psychology researchers help us better understand how we change as we age.
  • Psychology helps us understand what makes for a successful and satisfied workforce.
  • Research shows psychological treatments work better than medication for most types of anxiety.

For more information about how Psychology works, see the Psychology Works Fact Sheets web page. To find out about public events in your area, check out the Canadian Psychological Association's community events page.

 

Bell Canada is holding Bell Let's Talk Day on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. If you have a Bell cell plan then participation is easy as the carrier will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every text message, mobile call, and long distance call by subscribers on January 25. You don't have to be a Bell subscriber, though. This year there are other ways for people to get involved. For example, Bell is counting tweets with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag that day and will add 5¢ for every one. Also, their FaceBook page offers other ways for people to participate.

While raising funds for mental health is a fantastic initiative, don't lose sight of the other goal of the day and that is for all Canadians to be able to have conversations about mental health.

 

A press release by the Manitoba Liberal Party proposes that Psychologists be covered under the provincial Medicare plan, Manitoba's equivalent to OHIP. The first part of the plan would see Psychologists across the province funded in a similar way to Physicians. Critical priority areas such as services for children, pregnant women and individuals with depression and PTSD would be covered by Medicare.

For more information, see the press release.

To let your politicians know that mental health is as important as physical health and that as a Canadian access to a Psychologist is important to you, visit the Canadian Psychological Association's Mind Your Mental Health advocacy page and follow the prompts.

 

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s 2015 Mental Health Week is from 4-10 May.  You can participate on social media by posting relevant information using CMHA’s hashtag #GETLOUD or #MentalHealthWeek or #mentalhealth or #psychology. Visit www.mentalhealthweek.ca for more information. CMHA's message: "We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being."

 

As part of an increasing trend worldwide, family physicians in the Netherlands have been advised to use antidepressants as a first line of treatment for patients with severe depression only. For other patients with depression symptoms, the published best practice guidelines recommend psychotherapy as the initial treatment of choice. (TheBMJ. 2012;344:e4211)

 

In February, 2005 the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care asked the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) to make recommendations as to whether psychotherapists or psychotherapy should be regulated in the province. The purpose of regulating or licensing would be to protect the public. Several jurisdictions already have laws that regulate psychotherapy. These include California, Colorado, Florida, and New York. Other jurisdictions, like Ontario, are considering regulating psychotherapy. These include the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

 

A two-year study reported in the September 2005 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry supports a widely held belief that effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder includes helping patients achieve stable rhythms in daily life. The specific treatment focused on helping patients maintain daily routine and gain balance and stability in their personal and social lives. Patients who had this treatment were less likely to relapse over the next two years than patients who had therapy with a different focus. It was especially important for this intervention to be done early. (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:996-1004)

 

A series of studies at Duke University Medical Center in the USA reveals that physical exercise can be used as a treatment for depression and can help reduce relapse. In one study 156 patients with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder were divided into three groups. One group had an exercise program only, a second group had SSRI antidepressant medication only, and a third group had both treatments. After four months of treatment, patients in all groups had improved and there was little difference between the three groups. It appears that for these patients, the specific exercise program was as effective as antidepressant medication. After 10 months, however, there was a lower relapse rate in the exercise group than the medication group. (Psychosomatic Medicine. 2000;62:633-638)

 

When two groups of volunteers were exposed to a stressful task, the group that had first reflected on important personal values had a lower stress response. It appears that reflection on things that are personally important helps to buffer the effect of stress. The experiment by Cresswell and colleagues is reported in the November 2005 issue of "Psychological Science." Participants who had thought about an important area of their life, such as religion or a social issue, before the stressful task had lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, after being placed in the stressful situation. Not only does this offer another tool for the stress management tool kit, but it also highlights the effect of thoughts on body chemistry. (Psychological Science. 2005;16:846-852)