According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in five adults in the United States suffered from a mental illness in 2011. This federal government report defined mental illness as a person having a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, and included more than 65,000 Americans aged 12 and above.

The rate of mental illness was found to be twice as likely in the 18-to-25-year-old age group, close to 30 percent, than it is in those age 50 and above (about 14 percent). Furthermore, women were more likely to have suffered a mental illness than men (about 23 percent versus 16 percent).

Of the 45.6 million people with a mental illness, about 11.5 million reported a serious mental illness, about 5 percent of the adult population. About 38 percent of adults with a mental illness in 2011 received treatment during the year – and about 60 percent of those with a serious mental illness sought help during that time.

Youth also were studied, and it was found that 2 million adolescents between age 12 and 17 had a major depressive episode in 2011, about 8 percent of the population. Young people who had a major depressive epsidoe were more than twice as likely to use illicit drugs than those who did not (36 percent versus 17 percent).

Rates of mental illness remained stable from the prior year.
PAR is pleased to announce the release of the Standardized Assessment of Miranda Abilities™ (SAMA™).The SAMA is designed to help forensic psychologists evaluate a defendant’s understanding of his or her Miranda rights.

Since the watershed decision of Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, the Supreme Court has continued to define what is legally required for Miranda warnings and waivers. Today, Miranda warnings are required to address five issues:

  • the right to silence;

  • the risk of waiving the right to silence;

  • the right to counsel;

  • the availability of counsel for indigent defendants; and

  • the option to reassert these rights at any time.


In addition, any waiver of Miranda rights must be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently.

Developed by Richard Rogers, PhD, ABPP, one of the leading experts on Miranda law in the U.S, the SAMA includes five measures that assess vocabulary and comprehension of the wording typically used in Miranda warnings as well as the knowledge, beliefs, misconceptions, and reasoning skills that may affect an individual’s choice to exercise or waive his or her rights. Highly valid and reliable, the SAMA provides a clear picture of a defendant’s thinking in regard to Miranda decision-making.

To learn more about the SAMA or any of PAR’s other forensic/legal products, visit www.parinc.com or call 1.800.331.8378.
A new study suggests that people who hold positive attitudes about aging are 44% more likely to recover from a serious disability than those who view aging in a more negative way. The study, led by Becca R. Levy, PhD, director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at the Yale School of Public Health, is described in a research letter in the November 21 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over a 10-year period, Levy and her colleagues studied a group of 598 individuals who participated in a health plan in greater New Haven, Connecticut. All participants were at least 70 years old and free of disability at the start of the study, and all experienced at least one month of disability from active daily life during the follow-up period.

To measure the participants’ attitudes about aging, researchers interviewed them monthly and asked them to complete written assessments every 18 months during the course of the study. In these assessments, participants were asked for five terms or phrases they associated with older people. Their words were rated on a 5-point scale, with 1 being most negative (e.g., decrepit) and 5 being most positive (e.g., spry).

Although the disabilities experienced by the participants varied, the study defined recovery based on the ability to perform four activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, moving from a chair, and walking. These abilities are associated with longer life expectancy and less frequent use of health care facilities.

“This result suggests that how the old view their aging process could have an effect on how they experience it,” said Levy in a November 26 news story on the Yale School of Public Health Web site. “In previous studies, we have found that older individuals with positive age stereotypes tend to show lower cardiovascular response to stress and they tend to engage in healthier activities, which may help to explain our current findings.”

This research suggests that the next step may be interventions that encourage older people to think about aging in a more positive light. According to the authors, “Further research is needed to determine whether interventions to promote positive age stereotypes could extend independent living in later life.”
Dance classes, which have long been seen as simply an extracurricular activity, may have an important influence on the mental health of teenage girls. According to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, teenage girls who took dance lessons reported reductions in their stress levels and psychosomatic symptoms – and these results stayed consistent even 20 months later.

In a randomized trial, girls from age 13 to 18 years with internalizing problems were enrolled in an 8-month-long dance intervention. According to self-reports, 91 percent of the teens reported improvements in their health status and deemed the dance class a positive experience.

One hundred and twelve Swedish girls participated in the study. They all had a history of visits to the school nurse for psychosomatic symptoms (e.g., pain in the head, stomach, neck) or persistent negative affect or tiredness. Half the girls attended twice-weekly 75-minute-long dance classes; the control group was given free movie passes during periodic interviews. The girls’ health problems were not addressed during the dance class.

The teens were interviewed on topics of health, emotional distress, psychosomatic symptoms, negative affect, depression, sleep, and more. Those in the dance group saw reductions in self-reported stress at 8-month and 12-month follow ups compared to those in the control group. Most teens (i.e., 87 percent) also reported good or very good health at the 12-month follow-up. At the 20-month follow-up, the intervention group still reported reductions, well after their dance lessons had ended.

To read more about this study, visit the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Hallucinations, a new book by Oliver Sacks, MD, hit store shelves (and e-readers) this month, and—like many of his other books—it is sparking conversations not only in the scientific community but also more widely among the reading public.

Sacks is a clinical neurologist and professor at New York University School of Medicine. He is best known for his books that examine case studies from his own research and practice, including The Mind’s Eye, Musicophilia, Uncle Tungsten, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the 1990 feature film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams).

In this new book, Sacks asserts that, contrary to popular belief, hallucinations are not the sole purview of the mentally ill. In fact, they are surprisingly common among individuals with sensory deprivation (e.g., blindness) or medical conditions such as migraine, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s. Many healthy people experience hallucinations in the moments before sleep or upon waking, according to Sacks. Strong emotions associated with major life changes can trigger hallucinations, for example, when a bereaved spouse experiences a “visit” from his or her lost loved one. And of course, hallucinations can be a side effect of medication or intoxicants.

Hallucinations is a collection of fascinating stories, anecdotes, and case studies. Sacks describes a woman who hears not spoken voices, but music; a man who smells roast beef when he feels a migraine coming on; and a respected botanist who walks into his lab, only to see himself already at work. Drawing on history, art, religion, and popular culture, Sacks seeks to describe and better understand the experience of hallucination. As a clinician and researcher, he also delves into the biology of the brain and the neurological reasons behind many types of hallucinations.

With this book, Sacks hopes to ameliorate some of the stigma associated with hallucinations. In a recent interview with Slate magazine, he said, “I think there’s a common view, often shared by doctors, that hallucinations denote madness—especially if there’s any hearing of voices. I hope I can defuse or de-stigmatize this a bit. This can be felt very much by patients. There was a remarkable study of elderly people with impaired vision, and it turned out that many had elaborate hallucinations, but very few acknowledged anything until they found a doctor whom they trusted.”

In a 2009 TED Talk entitled “What Hallucination Reveals About Our Minds,” Sacks provides an introduction to his subject, along with some background on the work that led to his recent book. The 20-minute TED Talk is available free online, so take a look—and let us know what you think. PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
A new study from researchers at Northwestern University helps to better understand the powerful impact words have on infants.

While babies were watching the researchers intently, an experimenter used her forehead to turn on a light. She then allowed the infants to play with the light themselves to see if they would imitate this novel action. In a second group, the experimenter announced what she was doing, naming the activity with a nonsense word (“I’m going to blick the light”), before using her forehead to turn on the light. In this group, the infants were more likely to imitate the behavior. Researchers believe that the subjects in the study were more likely to see the behavior as an intentional event when it was paired with language, and thus, imitate it.

This points to the idea that infants as young as 14 months of age coordinate what they know about human behavior with their knowledge of language when they choose which actions to imitate. Infants’ observation skills, when paired with language, heighten their ability for understanding of intentions and actions. Without language to convey meaning, infants do not imitate these “strange” actions, allowing language to unlock a bigger world of social actions.

To read more about this study, see Developmental Psychology.
Imagine seeing someone’s life turn around before your eyes. A woman who has struggled, financially and emotionally, is preparing for a long-awaited job interview. She has come quietly into a shop and is browsing through a selection of professional clothing. For the first time in her life, she tries on a business suit and emerges tentatively from the dressing room. Looking in the mirror, her face suddenly changes. She has a new look of confidence because she can see it now: She can imagine herself in a professional environment. She is ready to take her life in a new direction. This woman is what Dress for Success is all about—and she is the reason that PAR is delighted to support the DFS Tampa Chapter.

Founded in 1997, Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organization offering services designed to help clients find and retain good jobs. At the Tampa chapter, Dr. Heather Ureksoy, a member of PAR’s Research and Development team, has been an active volunteer, serving not only as a volunteer coordinator and shop manager but also organizing an apparel drive here at PAR that garnered more than 300 articles of gently used professional clothing for women making a fresh start in the job market. In October this year, Heather organized an Excess Inventory Sale to raise funds for the purchase of more plus-sized suits for the DFS boutique. During the two-day sale, PAR employees donated their time to work at the event, while others came to shop.

“Our clients are referred to DFS through various service agencies in the Tampa Bay area,” Heather explains. “In 2012 so far, we have suited approximately 950 clients—and we have also expanded our career center to accommodate more mock interviews, résumé consultations, and technology classes.”

Since its inception almost 35 years ago, PAR has been giving back to the community, and employees are actively engaged in a wide range of community service projects. When Heather came to PAR two years ago, she was happy to be part of an organization that supported her volunteer work. “I knew I wanted to do something to give back,” she says, “but I had no idea how much I would love it! PAR provides a paid day off for employees to do volunteer work. Bob and Cathy [Smith, founders of PAR] have created a real culture of giving throughout the company.”

Clearly, Dress for Success is about much more than just finding appropriate clothing for a job interview. “It’s very personal,” says Heather. “The women we serve want to tell their story. They’ve all had some sort of struggle, and they’re getting back on their feet. Tears are shed! It can be exhausting, but it’s so rewarding. And when they find the right suit—their whole face transforms. It’s really beautiful.”

To learn more about Dress for Success, visit www.dressforsuccess.org and click on the Locations link to find your local chapter.
A great deal of research over the years has focused on the devastating effects of bullying on the mental health of its victims. However, a recent study also suggests that children with mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and depression are much more likely to engage in bullying behavior toward others.

Lead author Dr. Frances Turcotte-Benedict, a Brown University masters of public health student and a fellow at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, presented the findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national conference in New Orleans on October 22. Turcotte-Benedict and her colleagues reviewed data provided by parents and guardians on mental health and bullying in the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, which included nearly 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 years.

In the survey, 15.2 percent of children were identified as a bully by their parent or guardian. Children with a diagnosis of depression or ADHD were three times as likely to be identified as bullies; children diagnosed with ODD were identified as bullies six times more often than children with no mental health disorders. The study found no noticeable differences between boys and girls—both were at increased risk for bullying when a mental health disorder was present.

Traits associated with ODD, such as aggression and revenge-seeking, appear to be clear risk factors for bullying. The connection between bullying and ADHD may be less obvious. “Even though, by definition, these children [with ADHD] aren’t angry or aggressive toward their peers, they do display traits that would increase the likelihood of having impaired social interactions,” explains Dr. Steven Myers, a professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, in an October 22 interview with the Huffington Post. “If you’re not really thinking through the consequences of your actions on the playground, you might not have the self-monitoring or restraint to hold back from bullying.”

“These findings highlight the importance of providing psychological support not only to victims of bullying, but to bullies as well,” concludes Turcotte-Benedict. “In order to create successful anti-bullying prevention and intervention programs, there certainly is a need for more research to understand the relationship more thoroughly, and especially, the risk profile of childhood bullies.”

What do you think? Should bullying prevention programs do more to address the mental health problems of the bully? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
It’s an age-old question, but now there’s science to give us an answer.

No, men and women cannot just be friends.

However, the reasons may be more complicated than you imagine. According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, attraction between members of cross-sex friendship is a common event. Furthermore, these “platonic” friendships have potential negative consequences for the individuals’ long-term romantic relationships.

Researchers surveyed more than 80 male-female pals and found that men were more attracted to their female friend than women were to their male friend. Men also tended to consistently (and mistakenly) believe that their female friend was more attracted to them than they actually were. Even if the woman in the pair was involved in a romantic relationship with another person, this did not deter most men – even if their gal pal was taken, this had no impact on their attraction.

Women, though, reported much less desire to date their male friends if they were already involved in a relationship. Younger females and middle-aged participants who reported more attraction to an opposite-sex friend also reported less satisfaction in their current romantic relationship.

In another survey conducted by the researchers, men reported that there was more to gain from attraction in friendships, while women felt that there was more to lose.

Do you have a successful cross-gender platonic friendship? Do you think that men and women can ever really just be friends?
New research has made the famous 1972 marshmallow test even more compelling. The original Stanford University study on delayed gratification, which promised children an extra marshmallow if they could resist the one in front of them for 15 minutes, analyzed whether a child’s ability to delay gratification had any correlation on future success. Today, researchers have taken that information a step farther – finding that a child’s ability to resist temptation isn’t innate, but highly influenced by environment.

Researchers from the University of Rochester gave five-year-olds used crayons and one sticker to decorate a piece of paper. One group of children was told they would receive a new set of art supplies, but never received it. For the second group, however, researchers made good on their promise and provided the children with new crayons and better stickers. Both groups were then given the marshmallow test.

The children who were promised the supplies and never received them waited an average of three minutes before eating their marshmallows. The children who had received the supplies promised resisted temptation for an average of 12 minutes, leading researchers to believe that experience plays into a child’s ability to delay gratification. Wait times reflected not just the child’s self-control abilities, but suggest a child’s reasoning of the stability of the world around them and their understanding of whether waiting to delay gratification would ultimately pay off. According to researcher Celeste Kidd, delaying gratification is only a rational choice if the child believes that the second marshmallow is likely to appear. Though children do not monitor every single action of the adults around them, they do have an overall sense of the reliability or unreliability of the people around them.

The group found that children may have more sophisticated decision-making abilities based on their environments than originally thought.