Category: Featured Articles

Burnout & work stress eases when employees are given a say

The effect of burnout on perceived work stress can be somewhat mitigated if employees have more control over their own work and receive support from colleagues or superiors.

Stress and overload in the workplace are often considered a cause of burnout. Indeed, a recent study shows that work stress and burnout are connected. However burnout has a much greater impact on work stress than vice versa. “This means that the more severe a person’s burnout becomes, the more stressed they will feel at work, such as being under time pressure, for example,” said Professor Christian Dormann, researcher. Employees suffering from burnout should be timely provided with adequate support in order to break the vicious circle between work stress and burnout.

Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced performance. “The most important burnout symptom is the feeling of total exhaustion — to the extent that it cannot be remedied by normal recovery phases of an evening, a weekend, or even a vacation,” said Dormann. “To protect themselves from further exhaustion, some try to build a psychological distance to their work, that is, they alienate themselves from their work as well as the people associated with it and become more cynical,” added Dr. Christina Guthier. She conducted the study as part of her doctoral thesis.

For the joint publication researchers evaluated 48 longitudinal studies of burnout and work stress comprising 26,319 participants. The average age in the initial survey was about 42 years, 44 percent of the respondents were men. The studies from 1986 to 2019 came from various countries, including predominantly European countries as well as Israel, the USA, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, China, and Taiwan.

Stopping the downward spiral and reducing the effect of burnout on work stress

The results challenge the common perception that work stress is the driving force behind burnout. “Burnout can be triggered by a work situation, but that is not always the case,” Dormann pointed out. Once burnout begins, it develops only very gradually, building up slowly over time. Ultimately it leads to work being increasingly perceived as stressful: The amount of work is too much, time is too short, and work stress is too great. “When exhausted, the ability to cope with stress usually decreases. As a result, even smaller tasks can be perceived as significantly more strenuous,” explained Guthier, a researcher for this study. “We expected an effect of burnout on work stress; the strength of the effect was very surprising,” she noted. The effect of burnout on perceived work stress can be somewhat mitigated if employees have more control over their own work and receive support from colleagues or superiors.

According to Dormann, a new research area is emerging on the basis of this unique data because the strong boomerang effect of burnout on work stress has not yet been investigated. Key questions that need to be addressed are: how can the effects of burnout on perceived work stress be reduced and how can the development of this vicious circle be prevented? Dormann and Guthier suggest that the place to start is with management behavior. Employees should have the opportunity to give feedback on their work stress at any time and be appreciated. Last but not least, proper recovery could also help to stop the downward spiral.

Read this article on Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201110112522.htm


Dr. Holland offers Therapy for Burnout and Job Stress and she is a psychotherapist providing cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based mental health care.

Dr. Holland understands that successful people are not immune to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and addiction. Yet, many successful people are often hesitant to seek treatment because of their high-profile statuses and stressful career responsibilities. For this reason, Dr. Holland takes great pride in offering a private environment that caters to the needs of these individuals, providing them with a therapeutic atmosphere that offers a sanctuary where they can step away from the stresses of their everyday lives.

Working with Dr. Holland clients can expect to receive unparalleled professional help to uncover, address and heal from the underlying causes of their depression and anxiety, and continued substance abuse. Dr. Holland specializes in providing therapy for substance abuse, depression, anxiety and trauma, and unresolved grief and loss.

Dr. Holland is available for Teletherapy – Online Video Counseling Services — Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support as well as in-person appointment for fully vaccinated clients. Contact Dr. Holland to schedule an appointment at 707-479-2946.

Poor management practices leave employees at increased risk of depression

A year-long study has found that full time workers employed by organizations that fail to priorities their employees’ mental health have a threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with depression. 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, the researchers found.

Lead author, Dr Amy Zadow, says that 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. “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,” says Dr Zadow.

Internationally renowned expert on workplace mental health, ARC Laureate Professor Maureen Dollard, says the study found that while enthusiastic and committed workers are valued, working long hours can lead to depression. Men are also more likely to become depressed if their workplace pays scant attention to their psychological health.

Due to the global burden of depression, which affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide and shows no sign of abating despite available treatments, more attention is now being paid to poorly functioning work environments which could contribute to the problem. High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health.

“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 behavior. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result. In this study we 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 behavior 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,” Prof Dollard says.

The global costs of workplace bullying and worker burnout are significant, manifested in absenteeism, poor work engagement, stress leave and low productivity. The extent of the problem was recognized in 2019 with the International Labour Organization (ILO) implementing a Global Commission on the Future of Work and calling for “a human-centered approach, putting people and the work they do at the center of economic and social policy and business practice.”

“The practical implications of this research are far reaching. High levels of worker burnout are extremely costly to organizations and it’s clear that top-level organizational change is needed to address the issue,” Prof Dollard says.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE on Science Daily: “Companies who pay scant attention to workers’ psychological health leave employees at higher risk of depression, research finds.” www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210623100300.htm.


Dr. Holland offers Therapy for Burnout and Job Stress and she is a psychotherapist providing cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based mental health care.

Dr. Holland understands that successful people are not immune to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and addiction. Yet, many successful people are often hesitant to seek treatment because of their high-profile statuses and stressful career responsibilities. For this reason, Dr. Holland takes great pride in offering a private environment that caters to the needs of these individuals, providing them with a therapeutic atmosphere that offers a sanctuary where they can step away from the stresses of their everyday lives.

Working with Dr. Holland clients can expect to receive unparalleled professional help to uncover, address and heal from the underlying causes of their depression and anxiety, and continued substance abuse. Dr. Holland specializes in providing therapy for substance abuse, depression, anxiety and trauma, and unresolved grief and loss.

Dr. Holland is available for Teletherapy – Online Video Counseling Services — Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support as well as in-person appointment for fully vaccinated clients. Contact Dr. Holland to schedule an appointment at 707-479-2946.

Unresolved disputes can lead to long term health issues

Unresolved disputes can lead to long term health issues

Relationship Therapy

New study reveals the long term impact of an unresolved argument on overall health and well-being.

A recent Oregon State University study found that when people feel they have resolved an argument, the emotional response associated with that disagreement is significantly reduced and, in some situations, almost entirely erased.That reduction in stress may have a major impact on overall health, researchers say.

"Everyone experiences stress in their daily lives. You aren't going to stop stressful things from happening. But the extent to which you can tie them off, bring them to an end and resolve them is definitely going to pay dividends in terms of your well-being," said Robert Stawski, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Resolving your arguments is quite important for maintaining well-being in daily life."

Researchers have long been aware of how chronic stress can affect health, from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety to physical problems including heart disease, a weakened immune system, reproductive difficulties and gastrointestinal issues. But it's not just major chronic stressors like poverty or violence that can inflict damage.

"Daily stressors -- specifically the minor, small inconveniences that we have throughout the day -- even those have lasting impacts on mortality and things like inflammation and cognitive function," said Dakota Witzel, lead author and a doctoral student in human development and family studies at OSU.

For the study, Stawski and Witzel used data from the National Study of Daily Experiences, an in-depth survey of more than 2,000 people who were interviewed about their feelings and experiences for eight days in a row. The researchers looked at reports of both arguments and avoided arguments, defined as instances where the person could have argued about something but chose to let it slide so as not to have a disagreement. They then measured how the incident affected the person's reported change in negative and positive emotions, both for the day of the encounter and the day after it occurred.

The measure of how an experience affects someone emotionally, an increase in negative emotions or a decrease in positive emotions, on the day it occurs is known as "reactivity," while "residue" is the prolonged emotional toll the day after the experience occurs. Negative and positive affect refer to the degree of negative and positive emotions a person feels on a given day. Results showed that on the day of an argument or avoided argument, people who felt their encounter was resolved reported roughly half the reactivity of those whose encounters were not resolved. On the day following an argument or avoided argument, the results were even starker: People who felt the matter was resolved showed no prolonged elevation of their negative affect the next day.

The study also looked at age-related differences in response to arguments and avoided arguments and found that adults ages 68 and older were more than 40% more likely than people 45 and younger to report their conflicts as resolved. But the impact of resolution status on people's negative and positive affect remained the same regardless of age. The researchers had several explanations for older adults' higher rate of resolution: Older adults may be more motivated to minimize negative and maximize positive emotions as they have fewer years remaining, which is consistent with existing theories of aging and emotion. They may also have more experience navigating arguments and thus be more effective at defusing or avoiding conflict.

"If older adults are really motivated to maximize their emotional well-being, they're going do a better job, or at least a faster job, at resolving stressors in a more timely fashion," Stawski said. While people cannot always control what stressors come into their lives -- and lack of control is itself a stressor in many cases -- they can work on their own emotional response to those stressors, he said. "Some people are more reactive than other people," he said. "But the extent to which you can tie off the stress so it's not having this gnawing impact at you over the course of the day or a few days will help minimize the potential long-term impact."

Read this article on Science Daily: Oregon State University. "Want a longer, healthier life? Resolve your arguments by day's end." www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210325084833.htm.


Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD

Dr. Holland is a psychotherapist practicing in Santa Rosa California, providing cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based mental health care, proven effective with depression and anxiety, life transitions; pregnancy, parenting, ageing, loss, and caring for a parent or loved one during a health crisis or decline.

In-person and Online Video Counseling Services are now available. Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support to meet your needs. Contact Dr. Holland to schedule an appointment at 707-479-2946.

New Study Highlights Importance of Talk Therapy During Pandemic

Ongoing pandemic stresses leaves some people more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Even at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, people around the world became more fearful of what could happen to them or their family. A new university study of 1040 online participants from five western countries explores people’s response to the stresses of the escalating pandemic, finding more than 13% of the sample had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related symptoms consistent with levels necessary to qualify for a clinical diagnosis.

With ongoing economic and social fallout, and death toll of more than 2 million, the team of psychology researchers warn more needs to be done to cope with the potential short and long-term spike in PTSD cases resulting from the pandemic — as well as related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, psychosocial functioning, etc.

“While the global pandemic does not fit into prevailing PTSD models, or diagnostic criteria, our research shows this ongoing global stressor can trigger traumatic stress symptoms,” says lead researcher Associate Professor Melanie Takarangi. “We found that traumatic stress was related to future events, such as worry about oneself or a family member contracting COVID-19, to direct contact with the virus, as well as indirect contact such as via the news and government lockdown — a non-life threatening event,” says co-author Victoria Bridgland, who is undertaking a PhD studying the triggers of PTSD.

PTSD is a set of reactions, including intrusive recollections such as flashbacks, that can develop in people exposed to an event that threatened their life or safety (e.g., sexual assault, natural disaster). “Our findings highlight the need to focus on the acute psychological distress — including the perceived emotional impact of particular events — associated with COVID-19 and build on other research from the past year that demonstrates the damaging psychological impact of COVID-19 on mental health,” says Ms Bridgland.

Comprehensive long-term documentation of COVID-19 related traumatic stress reactions will allow health professionals to help people who could otherwise fall through the cracks, the research team concludes. The online survey examined a range of responses to common post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as repeated disturbing and unwanted images, memories or thoughts about the COVIC-19 pandemic. COVID-19’s psychological fallout has been dubbed the “second curve,” predicted to last for months to years, the paper notes.

“Notably, while most of our participants reported experiencing some form of psychological distress and 13.2% of our sample were likely PTSD positive when anchoring symptoms to COVID-19, only 2% of our total sample reported they had personally tested positive to COVID-19, and only 5% reported that close family and friends had tested positive. It therefore seems likely that the psychological fallout from COVID-19 may reach further than the medical fallout,” the paper concludes.

Read this article on ScienceDaily: “PTSD link to pandemic fears.” ScienceDaily, 22 January 2021. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210122102024.htm


Teletherapy – Online Video Counseling Services

Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support

It’s no question that these are very trying times for all of us, so I want to let you know that you are not alone. No matter what is coming up for you right now it is important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. I invite you reach out to me to see how we can start getting you on the path to feeling better now.

Contact Dr. Holland to schedule an appointment at 707-479-2946.

Friends who are interconnected make the best friends

Having a network of people who know one another helps to make social support more beneficial

It's good to have friends and family to back you up when you need it -- but it's even better if your supporters are close with each other too, a new set of studies suggests.Researchers found that people perceived they had more support from a group of friends or family who all knew and liked each other than from an identical number of close relationships who were not linked.The results suggest that having a network of people to lean on is only part of what makes social support so beneficial to us, said David Lee, who led the study as a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at The Ohio State University.

"The more cohesive, the more dense this network you have, the more you feel you can rely on them for support," said Lee, who is now an assistant professor of communication at the University at Buffalo. "It matters if your friends can depend on each other, just like you depend on them." Lee conducted the study with Joseph Bayer, assistant professor of communication, and Jonathan Stahl, graduate student in psychology, both at Ohio State. Their research was published online recently in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

The researchers conducted two online studies. In one study, 339 people were asked to list eight people in their lives that they could go to for support in the last six months. Participants rated on a scale of 1 to 7 how much support they received from each person. (Most were listed as friends or family members, but some people also named co-workers, romantic partners, classmates or roommates). Crucially for this study, participants were also asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 how close each possible pair of their eight supporters were to each other (from "they don't know each other" to "extremely close.") Based on those answers, the researchers calculated the density of each participant's network -- the closer and more interconnected their friends and family were to each other, the denser the network.

Results showed that the denser the networks, the more support that participants said they would be able to receive from them. "We found that our support networks are more than the sum of their parts," said Bayer, who is a core faculty of Ohio State's Translational Data Analytics Institute. "People who feel they have more social support in their lives may be focusing more on the collective support they feel from being part of a strong, cohesive group. It's having a real crew, as opposed to just having a set of friends."

A second study, involving 240 people, examined whether the density of a social network mattered in a specific situation where people needed help. In this case, participants were asked to list two different groups of four people they could go to if they needed support. One group comprised four people who were not close to one another and the other group consisted of four people who were close with each other. Participants were then asked to imagine a scenario in which their house had been broken into and they went to their network for support. Half the people were told to think about going to the four people who were not close to one another, while the other half imagined reaching out to their four connected supporters. Results showed that those who imagined going to their tight-knit group of friends or family perceived that they would receive more support than did participants who thought about going to their unconnected friends. The results also offered preliminary evidence of two psychological mechanisms that could help explain why people feel better supported by a tight-knit group of friends.

In answers to survey questions, participants suggested that they thought of their group of close friends or family as one entity. They also were more likely to see a closer-knit group as part of their own identities. Both of these factors were related to perceiving more support, results showed. The researchers said the results of both studies show it isn't just the number of friends and family you have in your network that is important.

"You can have two friends who are both very supportive of you, but if they are both friends with each other, that makes you feel even more supported," Stahl said. On a practical level, that means it is important which friends we think about when we most need help or when we are feeling lonely in the midst of daily life. "Focus on those friends who are connected to each other," Bayer said. "That's where we really perceive the most support."


Read this article on Science Daily: Ohio State University. "Why some friends make you feel more supported than others: People feel most backed when their network is connected." ScienceDaily, 7 October 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201007085609.htm.


Therapy for Relationship Issues

Relationships require work and over time will inevitably face challenges large and small. Everyday stressors can put strain on any relationship, particularly intimate relationships. When major sources of stress arise, the stability of the relationship can become vulnerable. When each participant in a relationship is willing to address the issue at hand and participate in developing a solution, most relationship problems are manageable. But, when challenges are left unaddressed, tension can increase, poor responses develop and the health and longevity of the relationship are in jeopardy.

Whether you are having difficulty with a partner, business associate, family member, neighbor or acquaintance, Dr. Holland’s comprehensive therapy program will provide you with the tools you need to reshape and redefine your relationship. Over the course of your sessions with Dr. Holland you will learn alternatives to destructive communication patterns that will help you to build a harmonious, thriving rapport of love and respect. 

Individualized Teletherapy Sessions are Available - Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support. Contact Dr. Holland for more information and for help, or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.

Pets improve mental health and reduce loneliness amid COVID stressors

Owning a Pet Shown to Relieve Stresses Caused by COVID Restrictions

Sharing a home with a pet appeared to act as a buffer against psychological stress during lock-down, a new survey shows. Most people who took part in the research perceived their pets to be a source of considerable support during the lock down period. The study (UK) -- found that having a pet was linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness. Around 90 per cent of the 6,000 participants had at least one pet. The strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species with the most common pets being cats and dogs followed by small mammals and fish.

More than 90 per cent of respondents said their pet helped them cope emotionally with the lockdown and 96 per cent said their pet helped keep them fit and active. However, 68 per cent of pet owners reported having been worried about their animals during lock-down, for example due to restrictions on access to veterinary care and exercise or because they wouldn't know who would look after their pet if they fell ill.

Lead researcher, Dr Elena Ratschen from the Department of Health Sciences University of York said: "Findings from this study also demonstrated potential links between people's mental health and the emotional bonds they form with their pets: measures of the strength of the human-animal bond were higher among people who reported lower scores for mental health-related outcomes at baseline. We also discovered that in this study, the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not statistically differ by animal species, meaning that people in our sample felt on average as emotionally close to, for example, their guinea pig as they felt to their dog. It will be important to ensure that pet owners are appropriately supported in caring for their pet during the pandemic."

Co-author, Professor Daniel Mills said: "This work is particularly important at the current time as it indicates how having a companion animal in your home can buffer against some of the psychological stress associated with lock-down. However, it is important that everyone appreciates their pet's needs too, as our other work shows failing to meet these can have a detrimental effect for both people and their pets."

Dr Ratschen added: "While our study showed that having a pet may mitigate some of the detrimental psychological effects of the Covid-19 lock-down, it is important to understand that this finding is unlikely to be of clinical significance and does not warrant any suggestion that people should acquire pets to protect their mental health during the pandemic."

More than 85 million households are estimated to own at least one pet in the U.S.

The study also showed that the most popular interaction with animals that were not pets was bird watching. Almost 55 per cent of people surveyed reported watching and feeding birds in their garden.

READ this article on Science Daily: "Pets linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness during lock down, new research shows." ScienceDaily, 26 September 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200926145210.htm.


Dr. Holland & Olive

"Pets, especially dogs and cats, have been proven in studies to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and ease loneliness. Pets naturally encourage exercise and renew a sense of playfulness in pet owners. Some studies clearly show that owing a pet can improve your cardiovascular health. Psychological studies show that caring for an animal can help children grow up feeling more secure while increasing their likelihood of staying active. As I well know, pets also provide valuable companionship for adults of all ages. For me, interacting with my new canine companion Olive brings a real sense of joy and unconditional love that goes both ways."

While we individually and collectively continue to navigate social restrictions imposed by COVID , it is important for everyone’s mental health and emotional well-being to find new, healthy ways to maintain social connections. Virtual communication including phones and video chats with friends and family can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. And when people find it too difficult to maintain a positive sense of well-being, reaching out to a mental health professional can help. Dr. Holland offers Teletherapy to fit individual needs including; short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support. Contact Dr. Holland for more information and to help get you on the path to feeling better. Or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.

COVID-19 restrictions increased loneliness among adults

New study says loneliness is a real factor during COVID-19 restrictions

Loneliness is a significant public health issue and is associated with worse physical and mental health as well as increased mortality risk. Systematic review findings recommend that interventions addressing loneliness should focus on individuals who are socially isolated. However, researchers have lacked a comprehensive understanding of how vulnerability to loneliness might be different in the context of a pandemic.

In the new study, researchers used an online survey to collect data about adults during the initial phase of COVID-19 lockdown from March 23 to April 24, 2020. 1,964 eligible participants responded to the survey, answering questions about loneliness, sociodemographic factors, health, and their status in relation to COVID-19. Participants were aged 18 to 87 years old (average 37.11), were mostly white (92.7%), female (70.4%), not religious (57.5%) and the majority were employed (71.9%).

The overall prevalence of loneliness, defined as having a high score on the loneliness scale (ie., a score of 7 or higher out of 9), was over a quarter of respondents: 26.6%. In the week prior to completing the survey, 49% to 70% of respondents reported feeling isolated, left out or lacking companionship. Risk factors for loneliness were being in a younger age group (aOR: 4.67 -- 5.31), being separated or divorced (OR: 2.29), meeting clinical criteria for depression (OR: 1.74), greater emotion regulation difficulties (OR: 1.04), and poor-quality sleep due to the COVID-19 crisis (OR: 1.30). Higher levels of social support (OR: 0.92), being married/co-habiting (OR: 0.35) and living with a greater number of adults (OR: 0.87) were protective factors.

The authors hope that these findings can inform support strategies and help to target those most vulnerable to loneliness during the pandemic.

Groarke adds: "We found that rates of loneliness during the early stages of the lockdown were high. Our results suggest that supports and interventions to reduce loneliness should prioritize young people, those with mental health symptoms, and people who are socially isolated. Supports aimed at improving emotion regulation, sleep quality and increasing social support could reduce the impact of physical distancing regulations on mental health outcomes."


Healthcare institutes all over the country say the coronavirus pandemic can be extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety generated by the idea of a communicable disease and worry over what might happen can become overwhelming and stimulate strong emotions in both adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing certainly helps keep everyone safer but, social distancing can leave people feeling even more isolated and lonely. Teletherapy is proving to have some surprising benefits for people who are isolated, and for people who have social anxiety.

“It can be quite relieving for a person with anxiety to not have to be face-to-face for a therapy session. In fact, teletherapy actually empowers my patients who might experience anxiety, because it creates a sense of ‘safe distance’ from the therapist. This alone, often makes it easier for them to open up and to feel comfortable with the therapy modality.”

Dr. Holland specializes in working with individuals with depression and/or anxiety, those who have experienced trauma, chronic illnesses or conditions associated with aging as well as identity issues.

Individualized Teletherapy Sessions are Available - Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support.

Contact Dr. Holland for more information and for help, or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.

Researchers seek to change behavior by normalizing diversity

"Promoting inclusion and dismantling systemic racism is one of the most important issues of our times."

Scroll Down for Dr. Holland's Perspective on this article

Showing people how their peers feel about diversity in their community can make their actions more inclusive, make members of marginalized groups feel more like they belong, and even help close racial achievement gaps in education, according to a new study. Drawing on strategies that have worked in anti-smoking, safe-sex and energy-saving campaigns, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers decided to try to change behavior by showing people that positive feelings about diversity are the norm.

"In any other domain of public health -- saving for retirement, sustainability, eating healthy -- it's the key thing to communicate: It's the right thing to do, your peers do it, and your peers would actually approve of you doing it as well," says Markus Brauer, the UW-Madison psychology professor whose lab designed the pro-diversity intervention. It's an effect that's reflected in attitudes about ongoing protests over Black people killed by police officers. Exposed to larger crowds, more frequent news coverage and the opinions of friends and neighbors, more people have expressed support for Black Lives Matter groups and activities.

"People are heavily influenced by finding out what their peers have done," Brauer says. "But in the diversity domain, we haven't been trying this." The researchers, who published their findings today in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, conducted extensive focus groups with UW-Madison students. "We asked them -- students of color and white students, students of the LGBT+ community: What actually is it that decreases your sense of belonging? What are the kinds of behaviors that hurt your feelings, that make you feel excluded?" Brauer says. "And then please tell us, what are the behaviors that would make you feel welcome?"

The non-white students felt like they were kept at a distance from white students -- not included in class groups or projects, not included in activities, not invited to participate in simple interactions. "When we asked about what decreased their sense of belonging, they didn't complain so much about racial slurs or explicit forms of discrimination," says Brauer. "It was the distance, the lack of interest, the lack of caring that affected them."

Brauer, graduate student Mitchell Campbell, and Sohad Murrar, a former graduate student of Brauer's who is now a psychology professor at Governors State University in Illinois, used what they learned to choose their messages. "We used a social marketing approach, where we identify a target audience, we decide what our target behavior is, and then we show people how their peers support that behavior," Brauer says. They designed a relatively simple poster, covered in students' faces and reporting actual survey results -- that 93 percent of students say they "embrace diversity and welcome people from all backgrounds into our UW-Madison community," and that 84 percent of them agreed to be pictured on the poster. They also produced a five-minute video, which described the pro-diversity opinions reported by large majorities in other campus surveys and showed real students answering questions about tolerance and inclusion.

In a series of experiments over several years, hundreds of students were exposed passively to the posters in brief encounters in study waiting rooms or hung day after day on the walls of their classrooms. In other experiments, the video was shown to an entire class during their first meeting. Control groups came and went from waiting rooms and classroom with no posters, or watched videos about cranberry production, or other alternatives to the study materials. Then the researchers surveyed subjects to assess their attitudes about appreciation for diversity, attitudes toward people of color, intergroup anxiety, their peers' behaviors and other measures.

"When we measured 10 or 12 weeks later, the students who were exposed to the interventions report more positive attitudes towards members of other groups and stronger endorsement of diversity," Brauer says. The differences for students from marginalized groups went further. "The students belonging to marginalized groups tell us that they have an enhanced sense of belonging. They are less anxious in interactions with students from other ethnic groups. They tell us that they're less and less the target of discrimination," Brauer says. "They evaluate the classroom climate more positively, and feel that they are treated more respectfully by their classmates."

The researchers tested the effectiveness of their diversity intervention in a series of UW-Madison courses in which white students have historically received better grades than their non-white peers. In course sections that viewed the 5-minute video during their first meeting -- classes including more than 300 students -- the privileged and marginalized students' grades were equal in the end.

"We know the marginalized students experience discrimination; we know their feelings are valid. But we know, too, from the campus climate surveys and our own extensive surveys, that their fellow students report real appreciation for diversity, and tell us that they want to be inclusive," Brauer says. "They stay socially distant, though, because they worry about putting themselves out there. Our experience is that this intervention is changing those perceptions and experiences, and possibly the behavior, of both groups."

It may be the first result of its kind for such a long-running study with so many participants, and the researchers are hopeful that future work will help better reveal whether students actually change the way they treat each other.

"Promoting inclusion and dismantling systemic racism is one of the most important issues of our times. And yet, it turns out that many pro-diversity initiatives are not being evaluated," says Brauer, whose work was supported in part by funding from the office of UW-Madison's vice provost and chief diversity officer. "We really need evidence-based practices, but for a long time we've had no idea whether the things we do in the diversity domain actually have a beneficial effect. We're hoping to change that."


Read this article on Science Daily: University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Showing pro-diversity feelings are the norm makes individuals more tolerant." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125448.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

Researchers are only beginning to delve into the psychology of racial stressors.  As a longtime activist I know that conversations about racism, inclusion and cultural bias are long overdue and something we have neglected to confront in meaningful ways. It will take time to bring racial inclusion to a common ground where we can all flourish and grow.

People experience discrimination in different ways, and struggling with this issue can manifest as anxiety, depression, feelings of emotional vulnerability and a full spectrum of emotional and psychological stresses. The bottom line is we all have a right to be healthy, and that includes mental health.

Teletherapy Available - Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support

Contact Dr. Holland for more information and for help, or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.

 

Teletherapy; a good alternative for therapists & clients

The Unexpected Benefits of Tele-Therapy

Santa Rosa Psychologist Dr. Jenny Holland finds that some patients are thriving under social distancing requirements, thanks to teleconferencing’s surprising appeal.

July 6, 2020, Santa Rosa, Ca. -- Back in March when Gov. Gavin ordered California residents to stay at home and businesses to adhere to mandatory closures, it didn’t seem quite real. And for professionals in the mental health field, not being able to meet patients face-to-face presented some very real problems.  “We had to come up with a viable solution and adapt quickly – for our patients and for our own business viability, or our practices would become obsolete and our patients would suffer,” says Dr. Jenny Holland, Santa Rosa Psychologist.

When counseling patients from her office on Cherry Street was no longer possible, Dr. Holland opted to expand on something that had represented only a fraction of her practice up to that point, Teleheath Video Conference Therapy. “Although I have offered Telehealth Therapy as part of my practice for years, most of my patients preferred to meet face-to-face. And, to be honest, the idea of video conferencing with every one of my patients was a little intimating to me at first. It took some weeks for me to adapt to the process and get comfortable with the technology.”

Healthcare institutes all over the country say the coronavirus pandemic can be extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety generated by the idea of a communicable disease and worry over what might happen can become overwhelming and stimulate strong emotions in both adults and children.

“I am finding that teletherapy is an amazingly effective means of counseling, particularly for teens and young adults who already have a familiarity for interacting online with friends. I am also finding that video sessions are extremely helpful for people with anxiety – something we’re seeing a significant increase in since COVID-19 became a thing.”

Public health actions, such as social distancing certainly helps keep everyone safer but, social distancing can leave people feeling even more isolated and lonely. Teletherapy is proving to have some surprising benefits for people who are isolated, and for people who have social anxiety.

“It can be quite relieving for a person with anxiety to not have to be face-to-face for a therapy session. In fact, teletherapy actually empowers my patients who might experience anxiety, because it creates a sense of ‘safe distance’ from the therapist. This alone, often makes it easier for them to open up and to feel comfortable with the therapy modality.”

While most of us are dealing with increased social distancing from one degree to another, it is important for everyone’s mental health and emotional well-being to find new, healthy ways to maintain social connections. Virtual communication including phones and video chats with friends and family can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. And when people find it too difficult to maintain a positive sense of wellbeing, reaching out to a mental health professional can help.

Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD“For people with depression, I've noticed teletherapy is particularly effective. Once a patient and therapist are able to create that virtual connection, we actually share a more intimate space. Even though we may not be in-person, sessions are essentially eye-to-eye and there are fewer distractions. I am finding that video conferencing makes it easier to connect with my patients, and it provides an excellent format for exploring deeper into personal issues.”

Clients are reporting that although they were initially very intimidated and even fearful at the prospect of having a video therapy session, once into the process they say they are finding it easier to connect. One of Dr. Holland’s clients recently emphasized this by saying, “… originally I thought that therapy wouldn't work if it wasn't in person. But I am noticing that you are right here with me. And I'm feeling connected."

To learn more about Dr. Holland’s Teletherapy services or to request an appointment call 707-479-2946 or visit drjennyholland.com.

Increased screen time and sleep loss leads to mood swings in teens

Study emphasizes prevention and early intervention for mood changes due to extended screen time use

Scroll Down for Dr. Holland's Perspective on this article

Sleep patterns around the world have been disrupted as screen time increases and sleep routines change with COVID-19 self-isolation requirements. Negative mood is not unusual in adolescence, but lack of sleep can affect mental health, causing anhedonia (or loss of pleasure), anxiety, anger and significantly increasing the risk of depression, a global study of more than 350,000 teens shows. The results published in Sleep Medicine Reviews connects less sleep with a 55% increased chance of mood deficits and double the risk of reduced positive mood.

From Asia, to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America, sleep clearly was a modifiable risk factor that can improve or depress mood in adolescents, says Flinders University sleep researcher Dr Michelle Short. "Sleep duration significantly predicts mood deficits on all mood states, including increased depression, anxiety, anger, negative affect and reduced positive affect," she says, with less sleep linked to an 83% higher chance or anger, 62% increased risk of depressed mood, and 41% higher risk of anxiety.

"Fortunately, there are many interventions individuals, family, the community and even public policy can encourage to maintain regular sleep in this at-risk population to reduce the likelihood of these problems spilling over into mental health issues needing clinical treatment," she says.

The researchers also recommend increased parental / guardian regulation of sleep and technology use, delayed school starting times, and monitoring academic and other pressures such as out-of-hours tutoring does not impede sleep routine. Dr Short says that "while positive mood doesn't get much attention, it is still clinically relevant as one of the key symptoms of depression in anhedonia (loss of pleasure). It is imperative that greater focus is given to sleep as for prevention and early intervention for mood deficits," the study concludes.

Read this article on Science Daily: Flinders University. "'Loss of pleasure' found in teen sleep study: But easy interventions can improve mental health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200505093127.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

It’s important to remember that while teenagers are individuals with unique personalities with their own opinions, likes and dislikes, some things are constant. No matter how much your teen seems to withdraw emotionally, or insist on being independent, or even how troubled your teen becomes, they still need your attention and to feel loved by you.

It is normal for teens to experience physical and environmental changes that lead to mood swings, irritable behavior, and struggle to manage their emotions. There are many ways you can help your teen find healthy outlets to relieve anger. Exercise is especially effective: running, biking, climbing or even dancing, walking or doing push-ups can help. Even simply hitting a punch bag or a pillow can help relieve tension and anger. Some teens respond really well to the use of art or writing to creatively express their anger.

Regardless of the reason behind your teen’s problems, you can help to put balance back in their life by helping them make healthy lifestyle choices and offering reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles. Contact Dr. Holland for more information and for help, or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.