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Pandemic is putting kids in mental health crisis

Depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled, help needed, warn clinical psychologists

The new study is a meta-analysis, pooling together data from 29 separate studies from around the world, including 80,879 youth globally. The new findings show that depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled in children and adolescents when compared to pre-pandemic times.

“Estimates show that one in four youth globally are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms while one in five have clinically elevated anxiety symptoms,” says Dr. Nicole Racine, PhD, a postdoctoral associate, clinical psychologist and lead author of the paper. Further alarming, these symptoms are compounding over time.

The study — which incorporates 16 studies from East Asia, four from Europe, six from North America, two from Central and South America and one from the Middle East — also shows that older adolescents and girls are experiencing the highest levels of depression and anxiety.

“We know from other studies that rates of depression and anxiety in youth tend to ebb and flow with restrictions,” says Dr. Sheri Madigan, PhD, co-author of the paper. “When more restrictions are imposed, rates go up. Being socially isolated, kept away from their friends, their school routines, and social interactions has proven to be really hard on kids.”

“When COVID-19 started, most people thought it would be difficult at the outset but that kids would be better over time, as they adjusted and got back to school. But when the pandemic persisted, youth missed a lot of milestones in their lives. It went on for well over a year and for young people that’s a really substantial period of their lives.”

For many adolescents that loss was especially impactful. “Once you enter adolescence you begin differentiating from your family members and your peers can actually become your most important source of social support,” says Racine. “That support was greatly reduced, and in some cases absent altogether, during the pandemic.”

Older teens in particular have missed out on significant life events such as graduations, sporting events and various coming of age activities. “These kids didn’t imagine that when they graduated, they’d never get to say goodbye to their school, their teachers or their friends, and now they’re moving on to something new, with zero closure,” says Racine. “There’s a grieving process associated with that.”

As more of the population becomes vaccinated and an end to the pandemic seems near, the question arises: how will our children and adolescents fare? Will they bounce back from this traumatic time, or will the mental health impacts linger?

“At this point we don’t know the answer to that,” says Racine. “I think for most children who have experienced elevated mental health symptoms, some of that will resolve. But there will be a group of children for whom that isn’t the case. For them, this pandemic may have been a catalyst, setting them off on a trajectory that could be challenging. And there’s another group of children who had mental health difficulties pre-pandemic. They might really struggle long term.”

For now, though, the elevated mental health symptoms in youth are rising and that’s a problem that must not be underestimated, Madigan warns. “We’re continuing to see compounding effects of the pandemic,” she says. “It’s disjointing for kids because they can’t predict what their environment is going to look like, and we know when their world lacks predictability and controllability, their mental suffers.”

The study recommends that more mental health supports should be put in place to help children and adolescents in this time of need.

“Long before the pandemic we had a youth mental health system that was stretched and lacking resources,” says Racine. “A potential doubling of mental health difficulties will overwhelm that system without a significant increase in resources.”

Madigan agrees, “If we want to mitigate the sustained mental health effects of COVID-19, because of the chronic stressors our youth experienced, we have to prioritize recovery planning now. Not when the pandemic is over, but immediately. Because kids are in crisis right now.”


Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD

Dr. Holland is a psychotherapist practicing in Sonoma County 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.

College students experiencing depression, anxiety, loneliness at peak levels

depression and anxiety in young people continues to increase, now reaching its highest levels, a sign of the mounting stress factors due to the coronavirus pandemic, political unrest, and systemic racism and inequality

A survey by a Boston University researcher of nearly 33,000 college students across the country reveals the prevalence of depression and anxiety in young people continues to increase, now reaching its highest levels, a sign of the mounting stress factors due to the coronavirus pandemic, political unrest, and systemic racism and inequality.

“Half of students screened positive for depression and/or anxiety,” says Sarah Ketchen Lipson, a Boston University mental health researcher and a co-principal investigator of the nationwide survey published on Februray 11, 2021, which was administered online during the fall 2020 semester through the Healthy Minds Network. The survey further reveals that 83 percent of students said their mental health had negatively impacted their academic performance within the past month, and that two-thirds of college students are struggling with loneliness and feeling isolated — an all-time high prevalence that reflects the toll of the pandemic and the social distancing necessary to control it.

Lipson, a BU School of Public Health assistant professor of health law, policy, and management, says the survey’s findings underscore the need for university teaching staff and faculty to put mechanisms in place that can accommodate students’ mental health needs.

“Faculty need to be flexible with deadlines and remind students that their talent is not solely demonstrated by their ability to get a top grade during one challenging semester,” Lipson says.

She adds that instructors can protect students’ mental health by having class assignments due at 5 pm, rather than midnight or 9 am, times that Lipson says can encourage students to go to bed later and lose valuable sleep to meet those deadlines.

Especially in smaller classroom settings, where a student’s absence may be more noticeable than in larger lectures, instructors who notice someone missing classes should reach out to that student directly to ask how they are doing.

“Even in larger classes, where 1:1 outreach is more difficult, instructors can send classwide emails reinforcing the idea that they care about their students not just as learners but as people, and circulating information about campus resources for mental health and wellness,” Lipson says.

And, crucially, she says, instructors must bear in mind that the burden of mental health is not the same across all student demographics. “Students of color and low-income students are more likely to be grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID,” Lipson says. They are also “more likely to be facing financial stress.” All of these factors can negatively impact mental health and academic performance in “profound ways,” she says.

At a higher level within colleges and universities, Lipson says, administrators should focus on providing students with mental health services that emphasize prevention, coping, and resilience. The fall 2020 survey data revealed a significant “treatment gap,” meaning that many students who screen positive for depression or anxiety are not receiving mental health services.

“Often students will only seek help when they find themselves in a mental health crisis, requiring more urgent resources,” Lipson says. “But how can we create systems to foster wellness before they reach that point?” She has a suggestion: “All students should receive mental health education, ideally as part of the required curriculum.”

It’s also important to note, she says, that rising mental health challenges are not unique to the college setting — instead, the survey findings are consistent with a broader trend of declining mental health in adolescents and young adults. “I think mental health is getting worse [across the US population], and on top of that we are now gathering more data on these trends than ever before,” Lipson says. “We know mental health stigma is going down, and that’s one of the biggest reasons we are able to collect better data. People are being more open, having more dialogue about it, and we’re able to better identify that people are struggling.”

The worsening mental health of Americans, more broadly, Lipson says, could be due to a confluence of factors: the pandemic, the impact of social media, and shifting societal values that are becoming more extrinsically motivated (a successful career, making more money, getting more followers and likes), rather than intrinsically motivated (being a good member of the community).

The crushing weight of historic financial pressures is an added burden. “Student debt is so stressful,” Lipson says. “You’re more predisposed to experiencing anxiety the more debt you have. And research indicates that suicidality is directly connected to financial well-being.”

With more than 22 million young people enrolled in US colleges and universities, “and with the traditional college years of life coinciding with the age of onset for lifetime mental illnesses,” Lipson stresses that higher education is a crucial setting where prevention and treatment can make a difference.

One potential bright spot from the survey was that the stigma around mental health continues to fade. The results reveal that 94 percent of students say that they wouldn’t judge someone for seeking out help for mental health, which Lipson says is an indicator that also correlates with those students being likely to seek out help themselves during a personal crisis (although, paradoxically, almost half of students say they perceive that others may think more poorly of them if they did seek help).

“We’re harsher on ourselves and more critical of ourselves than we are with other people — we call that perceived versus personal stigma,” Lipson says. “Students need to realize, your peers are not judging you.”

Read this article on ScienceDaily:Boston University. “Depression, anxiety, loneliness are peaking in college students.” www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210219190939.htm


Therapy for Anxiety and Depression, PTSD, Trauma

In these situations, Dr. Holland can help you manage and prevent anxiety using the latest research-based methods to help you get results quickly, providing tools and strategies that work to bring you relief. With these practical tools, Dr. Holland can help you reduce your reliance on medications, if that is your goal. Anxiety, depression and panic are all very responsive to the treatment approaches that are available today. 

Contact Dr. Holland to get help with anxiety today.

Physical activity improves symptoms of depression, making change possible

Physical activity improves symptoms of depression, making change possible

The beneficial effect of physical activity on depression is confirmed by a new study. Researchers discover that physical activity not only reduces depressive symptoms it also increases the brain’s ability to change, which is necessary for adaptation and learning processes.

“The results show how important seemingly simple things like physical activity are in treating and preventing illnesses such as depression,” says study leader Dr. Karin Rosenkranz.

Exercise program promotes motivation and togetherness

People with depression often withdraw and are physically inactive. To investigate the effect of physical activity, researchers enlisted 41 people, who were undergoing treatment at the hospital, for the study. The participants were each assigned to one of two groups, one of which completed a three-week exercise program. The program, which was developed by a sports science team, was varied, included fun elements, and did not come across as a competition or test, but instead employed teamwork from the participants. The other group took part in a control program without physical activity.

The study team ascertained the severity of the depressive symptoms, such as a loss of drive and interest, lack of motivation and negative feelings, both before and after the program. The brain’s ability to change, known as neuroplasticity, was also measured. It can be determined externally with the help of transcranial magnetic stimulation. “The ability to change is important for all of the brain’s learning and adaptation processes,” explains Rosenkranz.

Ability to change increased — symptoms decreased

The results show that the brain’s ability to change is lower in people with depression than in healthy people. Following the program incorporating physical activity, the ability to change increased significantly among participants, reflecting the same markers as healthy people. At the same time, depressive symptoms decreased in the group. “The more the ability to change increased, the more clearly the clinical symptoms decreased,” says researchers. These changes were not so pronounced in the group who took part in the control program. This shows that physical activity influences symptoms and the brain’s ability to change. “We cannot say to what extent the change in symptoms and the brain’s ability to change are causally linked based on this data,” says the doctor. “It is known that physical activity does the brain good, as it, for instance, promotes the formation of neuron connections. This could certainly also play a role here.”

Read this article on Science Daily: Ruhr-University Bochum. “Physical activity jolts brain into action in the event of depression.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2021. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210804123610.htm.


Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD

Dr. Holland is a psychotherapist practicing in Sonoma County 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.

Burnout & work stress eases when employees are given a say

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

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.

Outbeat Radio Interview with Jenny Holland, PsyD

Join in as co-hosts and wives, Dr. Dianna L. Grayer and Sheridan Gold interview JENNY HOLLAND, ADAM BROWN, and their 3 kids. AMELIA 18 years old, ADDISON 15 years old, and NOAH, 12 years old, all identify with the LGBTQI+ community. Listen in as you learn from the parents and their kids how they navigate the world.

LIVING PROOF – JUNE 20121

Outbeat Radio Interview with Jenny Holland, PsyD

“Our family was recently asked to be interviewed for pride week. We have three children. One of them identifies as trans, one of them identifies as somewhere on the LBGTQI A+ spectrum, and the other is uncertain. Our friends, Sheridan and Dianna have noticed our positive parenting and wanted to talk to our family about it on their radio show. Living proof on Outbeat Radio.” ~ Dr. Holland

Living with uncertainty, pain and compromised physical ability

Living with uncertainty, pain and compromised physical ability

Living with a chronic or life-threatening illness or injury takes a cumulative toll on a person’s emotional and mental health, whether it is lifelong asthma, diabetes, a cancer diagnosis, a disability, or organ failure. Similarly, a sudden injury can leave in its wake life-altering changes and daily struggles that permanently challenges a person’s sense of well-being. Emotional adjustment to life altering changes such as these can cause coping problems due to the chronic stress and uncertainty presented by facing the unknown or having to live with a chronic illness.

Dr. Jenny Holland PsyD was once diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer and is now a cancer survivor. She has lived with chronic pain her whole life due to Cerebral Palsy. These experiences give Dr. Holland a unique perspective and a deep understanding of what it is like to live with chronic illness and a life-threatening diagnosis. “As a cancer survivor, I enjoy working with others with cancer to improve quality-of-life while going through treatment, by addressing symptoms that may arise practically and imaginatively,”

Facing a serious diagnosis

When someone undergoes a life-altering health challenge, the immediate reaction can include tears, emotional outbursts, reaching out to loved ones for comfort, or perhaps denial as the newly diagnosed patient chooses to pretend that nothing has changed. Some people may feel emotionally numbed or feel ‘stuck’ as they are unable to process that life has suddenly changed beyond recognition. Some people take the opposite route and leap into action to tackle the health problem head on.

No matter what the reaction, it is important to remember there are no rules for how to respond, nor is there an expectation to what one might feel. Every person’s experience is unique so it is important to allow the process to unfold, and allow yourself to adjust to the situation. A serious health complication is disruptive by nature, and all aspects of what we may consider to be a ‘normal life’ may become challenged. Feelings associated with chronic or life-threatening illness such as cancer, or a major health event such as a stroke, heart attack, long-haul COVID symptoms, or a debilitating injury present challenges, and every individual’s reaction is unique.

You are not alone

There are steps that can be taken to support emotional health during times of crisis and therapies that are designed to help patients cope, and eventually thrive. These therapies can help to ease the stress and anxiety that often accompany serious illness. Working with a trained therapist can help you discover ways to navigate a challenging life situation.

“Living with uncertainty, pain, and compromised physical ability takes a cumulative toll. My practice is process and solution-focused with outcomes aimed at symptom reduction and increased joy,” explains Dr. Holland. “I use a combination of therapeutic approaches and techniques to help patients successfully make the changes they most want to see in themselves. I am here to help.”

Dr. Holland is a psychotherapist 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. She 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.

Study examines benefits of social connectedness

New study seeks to understand how much we feel connected to others we have never met and how that predicts people’s sense of selfless concern for the well-being of others.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who recognize the connections they share with others are more likely to wear a mask, follow health guidelines and help people, even at a potential cost to themselves, a new University of Washington study shows. Indeed, an identification with all humanity, as opposed to identification with a geographic area like a country or town, predicts whether someone will engage in “prosocial” behaviors particular to the pandemic, such as donating their own masks to a hospital or coming to the aid of a sick person.

The study, published March 10 in PLOS ONE, is drawn from about 2,500 responses, from more than 80 countries, to an online, international study launched last April. Researchers say the findings could have implications for public health messaging during the pandemic: Appealing to individuals’ deep sense of connectedness to others could, for example, encourage some people to get vaccinated, wear masks or follow other public health guidelines.

“We want to understand to what extent people feel connected with and identify with all humanity, and how that can be used to explain the individual differences in how people respond during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said author Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, a postdoctoral researcher at the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, or I-LABS, who co-led the study with postdoctoral researcher Nigini Oliveira at the Paul G. Allen School for Computer Science and Engineering.

In psychology, “identification with all humanity” is a belief that can be measured and utilized in predicting behavior or informing policy or decision-making. Last spring, as governments around the world were imposing pandemic restrictions, a multidisciplinary team of UW researchers came together to study the implications of how people would respond to pandemic-related ethical dilemmas, and how those responses might be associated with various psychological beliefs.

Researchers designed an online study, providing different scenarios based in social psychology and game theory, for participants to consider. The team then made the study available in English and five other languages on the virtual lab LabintheWild, which co-author Katharina Reinecke, an associate professor in the Allen School, created for conducting behavioral studies with people around the world.

The scenarios presented participants with situations that could arise during the pandemic and asked people to what extent they would:

  • Follow the list of World Health Organization health guidelines (which mostly focused on social distancing and hygiene when the study was run between mid-April to mid-June)
  • Donate masks of their family’s to a hospital short on masks
  • Drive a person exhibiting obvious symptoms of COVID-19 to the hospital
  • Go to a grocery store to buy food for a neighboring family
  • Call an ambulance and wait with a sick person for it to arrive

In addition to demographic details and information about their local pandemic restrictions, such as stay-at-home orders, participants were asked questions to get at the psychology behind their responses: about their own felt identification with their local community, their nation and humanity, in general. For instance, participants were asked, “How much would you say you care (feel upset, want to help) when bad things happen to people all over the world?”

Researchers found that an identification with “all humanity” significantly predicted answers to the five scenarios, well above identifying with country or community, and after controlling for other variables such as gender, age or education level. Its effect was stronger than any other factor, said Barragan, and popped out as a highly significant predictor of people’s tendency to want to help others.

The authors noted that identifying with one’s country, in fact, came in a distant third, behind identification with humanity in general and one’s local community. Strong feelings toward one’s nation, nationalism, can lead to behavior and policies that favor some groups of people over others.

“There is variability in how people respond to the social aspects of the pandemic. Our research reveals that a crucial aspect of one’s world view — how much people feel connected to others they have never met — predicts people’s cooperation with public health measures and the altruism they feel toward others during the pandemic,” said co-author Andrew Meltzoff, who is co-director of I-LABS and holds the Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair in psychology.

Since last spring, of course, much has changed. More than 2.5 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, vaccines are being administered, and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially regarding masks, has evolved. If a new survey was launched today, Barragan said, the research group would like to include scenarios tuned to the current demands of the pandemic and the way it challenges us to care for others even while we maintain physical distancing.

For COVID-19 and future humanitarian crises, the ethical dilemmas presented in the study can offer insight into what propels people to help, which can, in turn, inform policy and outreach.

“While it is true that many people don’t seem to be exhibiting helpful behaviors during this pandemic, what our study shows is that there are specific characteristics that predict who is especially likely to engage in such behavior,” Barragan said. “Future work could help people to feel a stronger connection to others, and this could promote more helpful behavior during pandemics.”


Read this article on Science Daily: University of Washington. “Helpful behavior during pandemic tied to recognizing common humanity.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210310204202.htm.


Cognitive behavioral therapy shown to improve job opportunities

If depression is making it more difficult for some unemployed people to land a job, one type of therapy may help, research suggests. In a new study, 41% of unemployed or underemployed people undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) found a new job or went from part- to full-time work by the end of the 16-week treatment for depression.Those who had a job but found it difficult to focus on and accomplish work tasks because of depression said the treatment helped to significantly reduce these problems.

“For the most part, researchers have focused on showing that therapy relieves symptoms of depression,” said Daniel Strunk, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. “But reducing symptoms isn’t the only goal people have when they start CBT. Many are hoping to find a job or improve their productivity at their current job. Here we found that therapy can help people achieve these goals, as well.”

This study involved 126 people who participated in a 16-week course of CBT at the Ohio State Depression Treatment and Research Clinic. CBT teaches coping skills that help patients counteract and modify their negative beliefs, Strunk said. “It works on the idea that people with depression invariably hold these overly negative views of themselves and their futures,” he said. “For example, if an unemployed patient doesn’t get one job they interviewed for, they may think ‘no one is ever going to hire me.'”

In this study, 27 patients were seeking to improve their employment status (land a job or go from part- to full-time) at the beginning of treatment. Eleven of them (41%) had succeeded by the end of the 16 weeks.

“It is hard to say exactly how good this success rate is since we don’t know how many would have gotten jobs without the treatment,” Strunk said. “But the findings were encouraging and suggest that the CBT is having an impact.”

CBT had a clear impact for those who had jobs and reported at the beginning of the treatment that depression was hurting their effectiveness.

“Working patients reported at the end of treatment that they were much more successful at concentrating and accomplishing tasks at their jobs,” he said. Findings showed that one way CBT had this effect was by reducing patients’ “negative cognitive style,” or the extent to which patients view negative events in overly pessimistic ways, according to Strunk.

“CBT helps patients overcome these views by teaching them that the experience of depression is not their fault and that they can take steps to improve their concentration and accomplish work more successfully even when experiencing depressive symptoms,” Strunk said.

Read this article on Science Daily: Ohio State University. “Depressed and out of work? Therapy may help you find a job: Treatment also helps workers be more effective, study finds.” ScienceDaily www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210222164224.htm.


Dr. Jenny Holland PsyD

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.

Teletherapy – Online Video Counseling Services — Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support. Contact Dr. Holland to schedule an appointment at 707-479-2946.