For many high school students, standardized testing can be one of the most stress inducing pieces of the admissions process. As the admissions cycle of 2020-2021 began amid COVID-19, ACT and SAT scores were no longer considered in order to grant admission to students. Some schools are considering bringing the test requirements back. So, while approaching the topic of removing standardized testing, I asked myself an objective question: What does standardized testing do to students’ self-esteem and future test performance?
Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental health issue in America today, with roughly one in five adults having some kind of anxiety disorder (ADAA, 2020). COVID-19 has changed the way people think about anxiety, and rightfully so. Anxiety has become a serious discussion point across the board as so many more people have felt mental health issues in relation to the pandemic. During the pandemic adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms rose to over forty one percent (Varhatian, et al. 2021). The world has changed over the past eighteen months, and with that change, so too has changed the way we view the world and each other.
In our world that is digitally flooded, how do we find a balance to curb tech fatigue and ensure we are taking care of our mental health? I know it may be hard to believe but there is a resurgence of analog media and objects with sales of printed books, vinyl records, polaroid photos, puzzles, fountain pens and other analog tools all on the rise. But you may ask why, given that these are all available digitally, likely they take up less space, and are more accessible. Surprisingly, or not, those who are drawn toward analog are not doing it to dismiss technology; rather people are drawn to it to complement technology that is used every day, at work and at home
The Tech Innovation Network or TIN, is a unique network made up of clinicians, mental health providers, educators and wellness service providers. The TIN is spear headed by NMHIC as a guide for those in the mental health and wellness sectors on how to implement and streamline technology utilization for their specific client or patient population. The TIN team, based within NMHIC, conducted both semi-structured interviews and an anonymous online survey designed using key stakeholder input from October 2020-March 2021 to better understand how behavioral health and wellness services were impacted by COVID-19 and get a pulse on technology use, lessons learned and best practices from mental health service providers.
Anger is a feeling that we have all experienced at many points in our lives, especially over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anger not only affects our social interactions, but also our overall health and well-being. Anger is also a healthy emotion that can be channeled into action and drive positive change. However, it is also an emotion that we experience and respond to very differently on an individual level. The question is, what makes us experience anger so differently? Why are some of us able to regulate our emotions more than others? I dug deeper into some of the factors that cause these differences such as gender and age.
What comes to mind when you think about hypnosis? Typically, one might think of magicians, being put to sleep, or exhibiting some silly behavior, such as clucking like a chicken, that is triggered by a word or phrase. If these thoughts came to mind, that is okay, you are amongst friends! However, I am here to debunk a few myths and provide some insight into the efficacy of hypnosis.
In an era in which loads of information on almost any topic is available at our fingertips within minutes, most of us are comfortable– confident even – with most of our decisions. But what if our views are skewed, our interpretations are flawed, and we are wrong about the reasons behind our actions? Perhaps alarmingly, there is evidence that this may be more likely than we think. Factors such as conformity, choice-blindness, and confirmation bias influence our behavior daily.
Sleep is associated with several mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and the relationship is bidirectional – poor sleep contributes to the development of many mental health disorders and many mental health challenges hinder healthy sleep. Across all populations, sleep deprivation, which is defined as 6-hours of sleep or less, impacts our attention span, memory, mood, immune function, and impulse control in the short-term, but has several long-term consequences, as well.
With a looming mental health epidemic amidst the global pandemic, treating trauma has never been more pertinent or more important. But with inadequate conventional treatments for PTSD, what are we to do? MDMA-assisted psychotherapy holds incredible promise as a novel treatment, especially for those who do not respond to conventional treatment. Phase 3 clinical trials which included data collected by 80 therapists at 15 sites in the US, Canada, and Israel are expected to be reported on later this month and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is undertaking a plan to make MDMA- assisted therapy an FDA approved prescription treatment by 2023.
Like many people at the beginning of the pandemic, I assumed I could use this newfound free time at home productively. Maybe pick up a new hobby, or even stick to a workout routine. However, as the lockdown went on it became apparent to myself and many others that finding the motivation and space (both physically and mentally) was far more difficult than previously thought. Moreover, aside from the physical repercussions of falling out of shape over quarantine, I experienced fluctuations with my mood and attitude. I didn’t realize it previously but working out often helped my mental state, allowing me to be more focused and engaged in general.
We are more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and most, if not all of us, have experienced some form of fatigue—pandemic fatigue, tech fatigue, emotional fatigue. All these factors play into our creativity and productivity. How can we boost our creativity at work given all these factors? One solution – walking.
With repeated tragedies in the headlines, a lot of people are feeling fear, anxiety, and grief. Many of us, I suspect, could use some help handling those difficult emotions and thoughts in the wake of continued gun violence in our state and across the country. Mindfulness cannot undo the damage done by senseless actions of violence, but it is one tool to help us cope.
Feeling comfortable in one’s space can act as a grounding mechanism to reduce such stress. The relationship between spatial comfortability and stress is an important concept which is involved in every one of our lives, whether we know it or not. Investigating the various ways in which we can create a comfortable space, whether it be physically or mentally, is key in understanding the effects that architectural and organizational decisions within various communities, facilities, or environments have on mental stress.
When I really listened, the theme that I heard was that people built their resiliency over time and with infinite patience and compassion from those they trusted most and (perhaps more importantly) for themselves. They asked themselves what they truly needed in the moment of and were able to create space between the quick thoughts. Hence, they were able to refocus to the present moment, seek reassurance from themselves and those they trusted that they were okay, and then solve the situation or challenge.
The upcoming holiday season will be unspeakably difficult, amidst a pandemic many will miss the time surrounded by family and friends, we are also mindful of loved ones lost. Our thoughts turn to the 8th anniversary of the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including Avielle Rose Richman, 19 of her classmates and 6 educators.
Urvi Sanghvi, founding member of the Avielle Foundation, wrote a blog piece on the legacy of grief and trauma in the aftermath of survival and recovery following a challenging experience. Urvi reminds us that compassion and kindness are more important than ever and the importance of looking after ourselves and others as we move forward.
Coming into this school year, I was unsure what to expect. My past two years at the University of Washington were fun, exciting, academically challenging, and, well, in-person. This year, though, posed new challenges as we transitioned to a completely virtual campus. There wasn’t a “How to do Online School” handbook or an experience that I could relate with to make anything easier. We were all thrown into it. But with practice I was able to organize my life around COVID-19 guidelines while also having a somewhat authentic college experience, as much as one could at least.
NMHIC has created an Inside Out Viewing Guide to help the community start conversations with youth between 5 – 14 years old (adults welcome as well!) about emotions and responding to trying circumstances.
While virtually every person has been affected by the pandemic, students have suffered an exceptionally great deal of uncertainty, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and instability. Personally, the effects of remote learning, social isolation, and the general uncertainty surrounding my education, social, and professional life have caused my mental health to deteriorate.
Recently, many virtual reality (VR) offerings have begun to pivot to offer their solutions in 2D. In layman’s terms this means you can now view the experience from a browser as well as in a VR environment. Some content developers have already launched browser-based options and others have put this in their development roadmap. This pivot covers several issues for mental health patients as well as the general population consumers of wellness or mental health tech.
The integration of technology into most workplaces has been occurring at a slow but steady pace. Until COVID-19 hit, that is. The reliance on technology is a critical component of the transition to working from home, right at the epicenter of telework, and technology also comes with pros and cons. Thankfully, many tech platforms come equipped with several bells and whistles, both for amusement (read: creative and funny Zoom backgrounds) and to enhance functioning and performance.