Air Pollution and Mental Health

New studies have been published indicating there may be a link to air pollution and poor mental health. It is crucial to look deeper into this issue, especially since there is still a lot to understand about how pollutants may affect our brains.

The Findings of The Latest Studies

One study took data from over 1 million Danish citizens and a stunning 150 million further from the United States. Within their findings, the researchers found definite links to insufficient air quality and problems such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders, severe depression, and even schizophrenia. The final theory is that there is a definite link, but the exact nature of it was not nailed down.

How Strong Are the Links Thus Far?

The researchers reviewed claims for United States health insurance customers and noticed that air quality was one of the most common factors associated with those that had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Other findings in the United Kingdom have found links to polluted air and psychotic experiences among teenagers.  Local air quality in Sweden has also shown to cause a variety of problems among children.

Is the Evidence Really Supported?

Scientists working within relevant fields only have limited access to the studies thus far. Even though the links are undeniable at this point, more data will be needed in order to understand the full scope of the issue. For instance, city-wide studies that account for how the overall populous is affected are still in development, as is research that will show how one neighborhood may vary from the next. The studies from the United States are among the most detailed thus far; they have gone as far as gathering data from several different counties within specific cities.  

What Else May Be Causing Mental Health Issues?

Study participants have made attempts to include other factors wherever possible. For instance, income, ethnicity, and even population density are all important to consider. Traffic noise is a common problem that may link pollution and health issues quite closely. With more pollution in the air within a city, sound will be able to travel more easily and disrupt sleep cycles. This in turn will open a wide variety of citizens to all the poor mental conditions that tend to come in the wake of sleep deprivation.

Should the Ties Between Air Pollution and Mental Health Be Taken Seriously?

As mentioned above, the research gives us a good idea of the severity of the issue, but it is not complete. Even so, most scientists looking into the issue agree that there is cause for concern.

Having conclusive evidence that there is indeed some tie between mental health issues and air pollution could ultimately lead to more healthcare options in the future. In some communities where pollution is particularly grave, it is already being covered to a greater degree. It is fair to assume that more treatment options will also become available as we understand the matter even further.

Does Pollution Really Cause Issues in The Brain?

Small pollutants have been proven to pass through the barrier between the brain and the bloodstream. If this occurs, detrimental effects may follow. Some of the risks that researchers have already learned about include feelings of intense stress and physical inflammation.

Imbalances in the chemicals of the brain are also possible. This sounds quite scary, and the potential possibilities certainly are concerning. That said, this is an area in which significant more study will need to take place over the course of the next few years and perhaps even decades. 

What Will Be Done to Secure Better Results?

More studies are underway, with scientists and health care professionals both looking into the link between mental health issues and air pollution. You can expect at least 5 to 10 more years of extensive research if not more.  There are 2 key things that must be addressed regarding this. As the studies go on, we will receive a more detailed view of how pollution will affect the brain over greater stretches of time, as well as what we can do to mitigate the problem.

After a criminal who had been acquitted for two murders on an insanity plea escaped from the forensic psychiatry hospital in Oregon, the institution was hit by a dizzying chain of events that can all be attributed to the escape. Although the escaped patient was re-arrested shortly after without any incident, there were major repercussions to the hospital as a result of the incident. Over the following weeks, there was intense scrutiny on the incident and other issues relating to other local hospitals in local publications. On a daily basis for the next month, local newspapers published articles on hospital matters most of which made it to the front page. In this article, we will give an account of what transpired in the Oregon forensic psychiatry hospital incident and examine the effect of media coverage on how public mental health systems are administered especially when they deal with forensic psychiatry.

There are contradictory forces which shape how people view public mental health hospitals. On one hand, they have provided treatment and care to people who are mentally ill in the society and have been proven to have immense therapeutic benefits to both patients and their loved ones. Governments have been pressured to provide resources to care of the largely unrepresented population of mentally ill patients because the public has a view that mentally ill people can be embarrassing, offensive and occasionally a danger to themselves and other people. These negative views of mentally ill people being treated in state psychiatric hospitals are more reinforced when it comes to forensic psychiatry patients. Although forensic psychiatry patients are not criminals by nature, most of the public views them as such and they are thus treated in a hospital setting that is akin to a prison. Most people describe forensic psychiatry patients as being ‘criminally insane’ showing the stigma this group of patients face from society.

Given how people view forensic psychiatry patients, security in forensic psychiatry institutions is usually given paramount importance. These institutions have complex procedures and policies that are designed to ensure that those who reside and work in these places remain safe and that there is little chance of patients escaping.

We will now focus on issues that are related to the escape at the Oregon forensic psychiatry hospital. In a forensic hospital, the security measures to prevent an escape can be considered to start from relatively relaxed to tight. When in a hospital there is a tight level of security measures to prevent an escape, they usually come at a great personal cost to patients. This cost usually arises in the limitation on how they can smoothly integrate back to the society once they are released. Remember that most forensic patients lack basic skills needed for proper and harmonious living in a community such as choosing friends as well as budgeting and planning their time and cash. In order to learn these skills, patients usually need guidance as well as some exposure to real life community experiences. In order to change the behavior, attitude and, feelings of a forensic psychiatry patient, there is a lot of patience required since there are numerous repetitive simulations of real-life community experiences needed.

When treating forensic psychiatry patients, it is sometimes nearly impossible to create a balance between the security measures required and the therapy treatment needed. For example, it becomes hard to create a setting that allows a patient the freedom and lower supervision they need if the treatment they are being given is to work. A hospital that does not tolerate the escape of patients can manage to get zero escapes but at the same time, they run the risk of being accused of inhibiting the treatment progress of patients due to lack of proper exposure to community life. Such institutions therefore run the risk of being accused of playing a part in perpetuating the failure of success in treatment of forensic patients as well as increasing the despair of patients. This paper will examine the effects of the media attention to the escape of one forensic psychiatry patient from a forensic mental hospital. It will explore how the media attention created by the escape of the patient influenced the decisions of the forensic hospital as it tried to create a balance between the security needs of the institution and the need of forensic patients to experience community life which is essential in the treatment process.

Read the full story here…

Psychological treatment is sometimes called ‘psychotherapy’ or ‘talking therapy’.

It involves talking about your thoughts with a professional to:

  • better understand your own thinking and behaviour
  • understand and resolve your problems
  • recognise symptoms of mental illness in yourself
  • reduce your symptoms
  • change your behaviour
  • improve your quality of life.

Evidence shows that psychological treatments work well for emotional, mental and behavioural issues.

Psychological treatments are useful for people of all ages, including children.

They can help people from different cultural, social and language backgrounds.

You can have psychological treatment in an individual session, as part of a group, or online.

Why get psychological treatment?

Psychological treatments are proven to help with mental illnesses such as:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • eating disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • personality disorders.

They are also used successfully to help people deal with:

  • stress
  • emotional problems
  • grief and trauma
  • relationship problems.

It may take a number of weeks for you to see results from most psychological treatments. Some types of treatment can take a year or more for you to get the full benefit.

They are not a quick fix, but the positive effects are often long-lasting.

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