Post Of The Week – Thursday 27th March 2014

1) Young People And Mental Health

A couple of conversations I have had with people this week have brought the issue of young people and mental health to the fore. In the AS course, we have been looking at abnormality. Laura pointed out that if conditions like anorexia are so dangerous to significant numbers of people, it is reasonable to ask why we don’t talk more about mental health in school. The health issues on which we do spend time are clearly important but not as dangerous. My response was that delivering good mental health through the tutor programme is very difficult. In a sixth form Psychology class, people are there because they have opted in and the teacher is an expert. This would not be the case in a main school tutorial lesson. The second conversation was not really a conversation at all but an assembly. The Executive team, in delivering an assembly about sixth form life, did a dramatisation of student stress by asking people on stage to perform impossible tasks and then shouting at them. It was a memorable image. This is all topical because this week, MindEd has been launched.

MindEd aims to remove some of the ignorance and stigma surrounding mental illness by giving structured and practical advice to professionals working with young children. You can read an article by its clinical lead, Dr. Raphael Kelvin, here.

It is clear that depression will become a major health burden in the next 20 years across the world. Creating mentally healthy environments for children and young people and training people in spotting the warning signs of mental illness will be an important way of combatting this global trend. We might reasonably ask what we are going to do about it.


2) The Best Psychology Websites You Probably Never Heard About

This is a link to an article with links to several websites about psychology.

Some of them have a research focus: you can volunteer to be a participant in online surveys. My favourite is Correlation Or Causation? which includes links news stories which imply causation when there is only correlation. It offers commentary on some of these.


3) Hannah Critchlow – Naked Neuroscience

We should always be interested in role models within the science community. Here is an article about Dr. Hannah Critchlow

She’s part of the Naked Neuroscience programme: I posted a link to their latest podcast as part of the AS Abnormality module. They do some great stuff. Go to their page and have a listen.


4) van Ijzendoorn Speaks

This is an article by Marinus van IJzendoorn. He’s the researcher who along with Pieter Kroonenberg produced the meta-analysis of variations in attachment types within and between cultures which we look at as part of Early Social Development for PSYA1.

In this article, van IJzendoorn talks about some of his more recent work into the interaction between genes and environment, specifically looking at childhood resilience to adversity. This is interesting in that it puts the research we look at into cultural differences into the broader perspective of how we are to understand how the genes people are born with interact with the environment around us. This has relevance to the work we are doing in both AS and A2 in understanding both what the different approaches in Psychology have to say and how a coherent understanding of a psychological issue requires us to combine different approaches.


5) Gay genes? Yeah, but no, well kind of… but, so what?

This article uses as its starting point a piece of research which looks at concordance rates for homosexuality in MZ and DZ twins.

Along the way to a valid conclusion, it makes some very good moves which take us through the debate about nature and nurture. There’s a particularly good one about buns coming out of the oven.


6) The Myth Of The First Three Years

This is a book by John Bruer, who happens to be speaking at a conference in London tomorrow. Bruer’s contention is that, partly under the influence of Bowlby and partly as a result of assumptions within our culture, we exaggerate the importance of early childhood experience. In particular, we assume that experiences of the first three years are significant, lifelong and irreversible. Bruer suggests here that this isn’t what the neuroscience tells us.

I’ve posted before about the work of Pat Crittenden on applying Ainsworth’s ideas to a therapeutic framework. More generally, we have looked at Ainsworth’s ideas about the importance of early attachment in later development. This research provides an interesting contrast. It is useful to consider in the context of the influence of childhood on later, romantic relationships.


7) Craiglockart

We’re commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War this year. Important contributions were made to the development of treatment for mental disorders during the First World War. Here, Claudia Hammond talks about Craiglockart Hospital where many distressed and shell shocked soldiers were sent, including the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.


8) A Couple On Depression

This article suggests that using Botox is related to raised mood. Read it to find out why.

This one is about social groups.–+ScienceDaily%29

The big idea is that just being in a group as opposed to the quality of relationships entailed in group membership has an impact on well-being. It reminds me of some of the work of Kelly McGonigal which suggests that stress helps us because it makes us reach out and connect.


9) Bruce McEwen On Stress

There is some complicated science in here but I like it. It takes us through some of the issues we look at in AS Stress and explains in much more depth and detail than we can manage in AS. It’s the sort of thing that impresses me.


10) Brain Training

This article compares the popularity of brain training now with the development of physical exercise in the 1980s. It suggests that the effectiveness of such training may be exaggerated.


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