Monday, November 5, 2012

Did you know...?

Data collection is currently in the final stages for Canada's second national mental health survey?
The first survey occurred in 2002 and this is a 10-year follow-up. Data from this survey will provide a fairly unique opportunity to determine whether mental health in Canada (including depression prevalence) is getting better, worse, or staying the same. Data release is expected to occur in 2013 and Statistics Canada will probably publish early results through "the daily." Details about the survey can be found here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Opening Eyes, Opening Minds

Canada has been a leader in some aspects of psychiatric epidemiologic research. One of the earliest psychiatric epidemiologic studies was conducted here: the Stirling County Study. An area where Canada has not yet made a contribution is in studies of the Burden of Mental Illness. Burden studies go beyond estimating prevalance - how many people has a disorders - and examine how they are affected, and for how long. This week, a detailed burden of mental health report was released for the Province of Ontario. I is called "Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report." The report is available on-line: here. Major depression contributes to disease burden through YERFs (year-equivalents of reduced functioning) - and the total disease burden is YERFs + premature mortality (YLL, years of life lost). Major depression alone contributes more burden of disease than any type of cancer, and than all infectious diseases combined.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Possible role of "psychedelic" drugs in the treatment of depression

There have been a few recent studies on this possibility, for example, involving drugs such as ketamine. Another drug that has been tested in some preliminary studies is psilocybin. Such ideas, not surprisingly, elicit a diverse set of reactions and opinions, e.g. see for example, this recent article in Canada's Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is mental health in Canada getting better or worse?

There is reason to hope that mental health might be improving. Most of the common mental illnesses are treatable and diminishing stigma and acceptance of these issues means that more people are seeking treatment. Ideally, this would result in declining prevalence. In Canada, we have some interesting sources of data to examine these questions since several national surveys that have collected data using the same questions since 1994, right up to the current time. Looking at these measures, we were recently disappointed to see that mental health in the population was not improving, at least not when measured using items that rate symptoms. However, there are more people that report being diagnosed with a mood disorder and treatment with antidepressants has continued to increase. An interesting result is that a diminishing proportion of Canadians report that their lives are extremely stressful - this probably means that they are becoming more likely to interpret stress-related symptoms such as depression and anxiety as symptoms of an illness rather than just reactions to life problems. This probably reflects increasing mental health literacy in the population. An abstract for this paper may be found here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do Antidepressants Do More Harm than Good?

A recent narrative review article, that seems to have attracted a lot of media attention, has recently made the claim that antidepressants may do more harm than good. While dialogue about the safety and value of medications is good, it is important to remember that this kind of review is not to be confused with an actual weighing of risks and benefits. Appropriate methods exist for the latter - and these methods were not adopted by these authors. Not all bloggers have fully appreciated this, and at least one blog referred to this paper as a meta-analysis (the authors merely refer to a meta-analysis of animal studies as well as several other previously published human meta-analyses in the review). A critique of the review has been offered by Sareen and Enns.

National Strategy Released

The aforementioned National Strategy has now been released by the Mental Health Commission, and can be downloaded here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A National Strategy!

Something that has been missing from the Canadian landscape has been a national plan for mental health. This partially results from constitutional issues that make health care a provincial responsibility. The Mental Health Commission of Canada will be addressing this deficit next week with its release of a national mental health strategy on Wed May 8th!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stigma - and people speaking out

Living with depression isn't easy, and this condition can affect anyone. One of the many challenges that people face is stigma. The Mental Health Commission of Canada and Bell Canada have a major national initiative underway. Many famous and successful people that have struggled with depression are speaking out about it. This can only help.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Statistics about Mental Disorder Prevalence

There are some statistics that fly around concerning mental health that are not easy to understand or validate. Recently, another blog interviewed me, and wrote up a story on the commonly cited statistic that 1 in 5 people will have a mental illness at some point in their life. The blog posting is quite interesting, and can be found here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Social Accountability Award

Two medical students at the University of Calgary have just received a Social Accountability Award for looking at the usefulness of screening in the Calgary Drop-in Centre. This is a major study that they organized and conducted while in the middle of Medical School. They are just beginning to analyze the data that they have collected. Once results are available, I will post information on the prevalence of depression in this population - one of several conditions that their study examined.