Seoul, July 15 (IANS) South Korea's ICT ministry said on Thursday the country plans to invest nearly $26.2 million over the next three years to research digital treatment for depression in a move to find new ways to help the growing number of people suffering from the mental disorder.The number of depression patients in South Korea reached 790,000 in 2019, up 5.9 percent on-year, and the number is expected to rise as the pandemic restricts social activities and triggers economic uncertainty.Digital treatment methods, such as games and virtual reality software, have recently drawn attention as a possible alternative to treat and prevent mental health disorders without direct physical care.The Ministry of Science and ICT said it has earmarked 14 billion won until 2024 for the research programme, while the private sector will invest 14.9 billion won, reports Yonhap news agency.The research aims to develop a digital service that offers personalised depression diagnoses based on real-time collection and analysis of user data, as well as a service that provides preventative measures against the disease by using smartphones and other mobile devices.Experts across various fields, from artificial intelligence to mental health, will take part in the research, including Kim Hyung-sook, a cognitive science professor at Hanyang University.Naver Cloud, the cloud arm of South Korea's internet giant Naver Corp., will also participate in the program to build a cloud infrastructure for the digital platforms.--IANSna/
Washington, June 26 (IANS) More than 30 per cent public health workers have reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because of the prolonged demand for responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To evaluate mental health conditions among the health care workers, the agency conducted a nonprobability-based online survey during March 29 to April 16, 2021.
Among 26,174 respondents, 53 per cent reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition in the preceding 2 weeks.
About one in three each reported symptoms of depression (32.0 per cent), anxiety (30.3 per cent), PTSD (36.8 per cent), while nearly 10 per cent reported of planning suicide.
The highest prevalence of symptoms of a mental health condition was among young workers below 29 years (47.4 per cent) and transgender or nonbinary persons of all ages (65.5 per cent) and those being unable to take time off from work.
"Implementing prevention and control practices that eliminate, reduce, and manage factors that cause or contribute to public health workers' poor mental health might improve mental health outcomes during emergencies," the CDC said, in its weekly MMWR report on Friday.
Most (92.6 per cent) respondents reported working directly on Covid-19 response activities; the majority (59.2 per cent) worked more 41 hours in a typical week since March 2020. Workers who could not take time off had a two-fold greater risk of reporting at least one mental health condition than those who could take time off.
"The prevalence of all four mental health outcomes and the severity of symptoms of depression or PTSD increased as the percentage of work time spent directly on Covid-19 response activities and number of work hours in a typical week increased," the CDC said.
Sydney, June 24 (IANS) Working for organisations that fail to prioritise employees' mental health can increase the risk of being diagnosed with depression by threefold, finds a study.And while working long hours is a risk factor for dying from cardiovascular disease or having a stroke, poor management practices pose a greater risk for depression, found researchers from the University of South Australia.Poor workplace mental health can be traced back to poor management practices, priorities and values, which then flows through to high job demands and low resources, said lead author Amy Zadow, in the study published in the British Medical Journal."Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression," Zadow said.While enthusiastic and committed workers are valued, working long hours can lead to depression, affecting an estimated 300 million people worldwide. Men are also more likely to become depressed if their workplace pays scant attention to their psychological health.High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations' failure to support workers' mental health, said researchers.A separate paper co-authored by internationally renowned expert on workplace mental health, ARC Laureate Professor Maureen Dollard and published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology earlier this month, found that low psychosocial safety climate (PSC) was an important predictor of bullying and emotional exhaustion.PSC is the term used to describe management practices and communication and participation systems that protect workers' mental health and safety."We also found that bullying in a work unit can not only negatively affect the victim, but also the perpetrator and team members who witness that behaviour. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result.The study investigated bullying in a group context and why it occurs. Sometimes stress is a trigger for bullying and in the worst cases it can set an 'acceptable' level of behaviour for other members of the team. But, above all bullying can be predicted from a company's commitment to mental health, so it can be prevented, Dollard noted.--IANSrvt/sdr/
New York, June 20 (IANS) Increased screen time among young adults during the Covid-19 crisis correlated with a rise in pandemic-related mental distress, according to a research.A survey led by researchers from the Saint James School of Medicine in Saint Vincent, Caribbeans, found that nearly half of participants exhibited mild to moderate depression, with more than 70 per cent ranging from mild to severe depression.Seventy per cent of participants also experienced mild to severe anxiety, and slightly more than 30 per cent could potentially meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).The increase in time spent viewing entertainment on a screen both prior to and during the pandemic was associated with a boost in anxiety scores. Students scored higher than non-students in pandemic-related distress."This study highlights that the pandemic did not simply affect people physically, but emotionally and mentally, with various groups being impacted to a greater extent than others," said Michelle Wiciak, researcher from the Saint James School of Medicine."It reiterates that there is an increased need for mental health support during disastrous times," Wiciak added.The research will be presented at the World Microbe Forum, taking place online from June 20 to 24.The survey was based on 294 responses collected from participants ranging 18 to 28 years old.Screen time use was not different between genders. Still, there were gender differences in average scores in depression, anxiety and distress from Covid-19."The study is unique in having evaluated mental health status as a function of screen time," said Wiciak."Since the pandemic shifted work and education to online, we wanted to gain more insight into that transition's impact. We did find unexpected results, potentially paving the way for future research and various protective factors, which can be vital in keeping a person healthy during tumultuous times," added Wiciak.--IANSrvt/ksk/
New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) Activist Medha Patkar has moved a PIL in the Supreme Court for decongesting jails across the country by adopting a uniform mechanism to release inmates above 70 years of age, in the backdrop of the prevailing Covid situation in the country.The plea contends that the High Powered Committee (HPC), formed by each state in accordance with the directions issued by the top court in a suo motu case last year, did not include categorisation of prisoners on the basis of their susceptibility to the viral infection, and these prisoners should be released on an urgent basis. "The most susceptible ones here are the aged/elderly prisoners, who have a higher chance of getting infected (specifically septuagenarian prisoners, i.e., above 70 years)," read the plea drafted by advocate S.B. Talekar and filed by advocate Vipin Nair.The plea said that as per the National Prisons Information Portal, the total number of inmates over 70 years of age in all prisons, except for Maharashtra, Manipur and Lakshadweep, as on May 16, 2021 was 5,163, and 88 per cent of Covid deaths occurred in the age group of 45 years and above. The plea claimed that except for Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Bihar, Haryana and Maharashtra, none of the other states has considered releasing the elderly prisoners amid the pandemic.The plea contended that it is pertinent to note that the condition in some of the states such as Gujarat and Rajasthan are the worst in this regard. "Although the HPCs of Rajasthan and Gujarat have directed to release prisoners pursuant to the directions of this court, there is a need to consider the release of the elderly prisoners on the basis of their vulnerability to the infection," the plea said.It further contended that the HPCs in some states have over-emphasised the law and order considerations as against health, and ignored the need for the release of the elderly prisoners.The plea said that the Covid response team of the Imperial College in London has reported that symptomatic individuals in their seventies are 20 times more likely to require hospitalisation than those in their twenties. Patkar sought direction from the top court to the state governments to take immediate steps for the release of the elderly prisoners, either on interim bail or on emergency parole, to safeguard their interests. The plea suggested that such category of prisoners can be shifted to the uncongested prisons with proper medical facilities.--IANSss/arm
While it may sound weird to tell people with depression to go outside and garden, there is a considerable amount of clinical evidence which suggests that spending time with plants improves our mental health, particularly depression. Even spending time with indoor plants works wonders to alleviate both mental and physical stress in people of all ages.
Vinayak Garg, Founder, Lazy Gardener says: "Many researchers have found that gardening or ï¿½green care' stimulates our bodies' natural development of happy chemicals, which may help keep depression and anxiety at bay, with unexpectedly amazing results. Even during this pandemic, each nation is battling a war where the enemy is not visible nor are the weapons. In these times, along with other safety measures, why not turn to the potential benefits of gardening as a way to help in the mental and physical war against coronavirus."
Also, Read► How To Incorporate Exercise In Your Inactive WFH Day
Here are some interesting and the creative way to fight depression and anxiety, suggested by Garg.
Getting Your Hands Dirty!
Getting your hands dirty in the garden boosts your serotonin levels, according to studies. Serotonin is a happy chemical that also serves as a natural antidepressant and immune system booster, lack of which is responsible for depression. When you come in contact with soil, a particular soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, causes serotonin to be released in our brain, making us feel better and happier from within. At the very least, now we understand why people prefer to garden without gloves and always enjoy the sensation of getting their hands into the dirt and compost heap.
De-Stress Therapy at Your Doorstep
Gardening is an awesome diversion from our increasingly technologically driven lives. Spending time gardening and enjoying nature can help us mentally de-stress by keeping us involved. When you directly contribute to the nurturing of the buds and witness the plants grow gradually, believe me, your happiness and contentment will know no boundaries and you'll keep coming back to it. This is a small yet a very powerful exercise to even boost your self-esteem, leaving no space for stress at all.
Building Your Creativity
How about simply finding out how to keep those garden pests away and improving soil quality to keep the garden healthy? How about deciding what kind and colour of a pot will suit your favourite plant the best? Get yourself into it once and this green care will take care of your positivity, creativity, mood upliftment, skill building, and ultimately help you fight depression naturally and gradually.
Building Your Strength
Working in the garden improves dexterity and strength. Digging, raking, and mowing are especially calorie-dense activities and the aerobic exercise involved will easily burn the same amount of calories as a gym workout. During gardening, physical exercise is combined with social contact. You get exposed to nature and sunlight. Sunlight works two way on your body: reduces blood pressure while also increasing vitamin D levels, and the fruits and vegetables grown have a positive effect on the diet. Sounds healthier right?
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