Improving mental health by training the suppression of unwanted thoughts

By ZULKAYDA MAMAT AND MICHAEL C. ANDERSON: Complete Post through this link…


Anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and depression markedly increased worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. People with these conditions experience distressing intrusive thoughts, yet conventional therapies often urge them to avoid suppressing their thoughts because intrusions might rebound in intensity and frequency, worsening the disorders. In contrast, we hypothesized that training thought suppression would improve mental health. One hundred and twenty adults from 16 countries underwent 3 days of online training to suppress either fearful or neutral thoughts. No paradoxical increases in fears occurred. Instead, suppression reduced memory for suppressed fears and rendered them less vivid and anxiety provoking. After training, participants reported less anxiety, negative affect, and depression with the latter benefit persisting at 3 months. Participants high in trait anxiety and pandemic-related posttraumatic stress gained the largest and most durable mental health benefits. These findings challenge century-old wisdom that suppressing thoughts is maladaptive, offering an accessible approach to improving mental health.

Smart Ass Cripple: So Sue Me

BY MIKE ERVIN: Complete Post through this link…

Thirty-three years ago, on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. But even today, stories abound of disabled folks being forced to assert the power of the ADA to fight inaccessibility problems that should have been addressed a long time ago. Sometimes government entities are the most blatant violators. 

When it comes to living up to their responsibilities under the ADA, these agencies seem to have a “so sue me” attitude. Rather than at least try to comply with the ADA because it’s the right thing to do, they’ll wait around to be sued before paying much attention. Thus, decades have passed—and even more decades will pass—with a lot of the exclusionary barriers the ADA was supposed to obliterate still rearing their ugly heads.

There are so many examples of government entities adopting a “so sue me” ADA strategy that trying to keep up with them would make you dizzy.

Scientists Unveil Cheaper and More Effective Depression Treatment

From University of Exeter: Complete Post through this link…

A promising new therapy for depression has demonstrated initial results that suggest it may be both more effective and cost-efficient than the current gold standard, CBT.

A promising new therapeutic approach for depression appears to be more cost-effective and potentially more effective than the existing gold standard of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

A pilot trial conducted by the University of Exeter and supported by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) revealed that Augmented Depression Therapy (ADepT) might represent a major leap forward in treating depression. The findings were recently published in the journal EClinical Medicine.

A core feature of depression is anhedonia (reduced interest or pleasure) and well-being deficits, but current depression psychotherapies like CBT fail to adequately target these components. ADepT has been developed to pay just as much attention to building well-being as it does to reducing depressive symptoms.

Fentanyl-laced stimulants driving ‘fourth wave’ in overdose deaths

By Lois M. Collins: Complete Post through this link…

Meth and cocaine among growing number of substances laced with the synthetic opioid.

A “fourth wave” of overdose deaths in the U.S. has been largely driven by mixing stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine with fentanyl, creating a 50-fold increase in related deaths since 2010.

That finding in a study just published in the journal Addiction shows the public health challenge and deadly risk posed as first opioids and now stimulants are increasingly laced with the illicitly made synthetic opioid fentanyl, according to researchers from the University of California Los Angeles.

The number of overdose deaths in the U.S. crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time in 2021. That’s a terrible “first” that three-fourths of the time included the synthetic opioid. Now “polysubstance overdoses” that also involve fentanyl dominate.

How to calm your nightmares

by Katy Jakle: Complete Post through this link…

Whether bad dreams stir you awake occasionally or routinely, these pre- and post-nightmare strategies can help alleviate them.

Nightmares are an almost universal experience. They can begin as young as age two and a half, and the majority of adults report having nightmares at least occasionally. While many people have infrequent, one-off nightmares, many others have repeated nightmares with a common theme or focus. As you can see in the following illustrations, there is considerable variety in the content and impact of nightmares; do any of these seem similar to your experiences?

  • Work has been very stressful for you, and you have a nightmare in which you accidentally send an important email before you were supposed to. You awaken with a pounding heart, shortness of breath and intense fear. You reassure yourself that the events in the dream aren’t real, but you spend a while thinking about whether you made any recent mistakes that might get you in trouble.
  • More than once, you’ve had a nightmare in which your sibling has died in a car accident. In the dream, you receive the call and have to console their partner and children. You feel panic, fear and deep sadness. Upon awakening, you feel upset and afraid, but also relieved that the loved one is alive. While this nightmare hasn’t been too disruptive to your sleep, you wish you never had to experience this grief again, even if its source is imaginal.
  • You wake up in a panic after a recurring nightmare that resembles a traumatic experience you’ve had in real life. Right when it’s almost unbearable, you wake up in a sweat, the images sharp in your mind. When it happens, you are upset and awake for more than an hour, sometimes the rest of the night. You dread going back to sleep. You are starting to delay your bedtime and watch TV late at night as a distraction. You’ve noticed yourself feeling fatigued and tense during the day.

Nightmares can be disruptive and draining

A nightmare is an intensely disturbing, well-remembered dream, usually involving fear or anxiety, but potentially also anger, sadness, disgust or other distressing emotions. Nightmares commonly involve threats to security, physical integrity, or survival. Most nightmares occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which predominates in the latter part of the sleep period. Unlike most dreams, nightmares disrupt the sleeping period, and the dreamer is alert soon after awakening. (Some night-time disturbances, such as sleep terrors, resemble nightmare awakenings but differ in important ways; I’ll discuss these in the Learn More section below.) These night-time disruptions often seep into the day. They can be associated with increases in daytime anxiety and physical complaints, as well as fatigue, sleepiness, mood and attentional problems due to interrupted, unsatisfying sleep.

Fentanyl plus stimulants drives ‘fourth wave’ of overdose epidemic in the U.S.

By Kaitlin Sullivan: Complete Post through this link…

The U.S. is in the throes of what researchers have deemed a “fourth wave” of the opioid crisis, a phase characterized by overdose deaths caused by the combination of stimulants and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 for the first time in 2021, fueled by the rise of synthetic opioids, which accounted for 75% of those deaths. Once propelled by prescription opioids and then heroin, the decadeslong crisis was overwhelmed by synthetic opioids in the mid-2010s. 

Now it has taken on a new challenge: so-called polysubstance overdoses, which include more than one drug. 

The proportion of overdoses involving fentanyl and a stimulant — most commonly cocaine and methamphetamine — increased more than fiftyfold from 2010 to 2021, a study published Thursday in the journal Addiction found.

“The roots really did start with overprescribing prescription opioids, but now it is really characterized by stimulants and fentanyl,” said Chelsea Shover, an assistant professor-in-residence at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who co-authored the study.

Resources for Managing and Eliminating Guardianship

Michigan Alliance for Families: Complete Post through this link…

After a student turns 18, they get to make their own decisions. Sometimes a student with a disability has difficulty making decisions and handling all the responsibilities of being an adult. A family member might consider getting guardianship. Before asking for a guardian, it is important to consider other options.

A guardian is someone appointed to make legal decisions for another person (called the ward). Guardianship is the legal proceeding in court. When a court gives powers to a guardian, they take those same rights away from the individual. Once in place, a guardianship can only be removed by a court order.

Because guardianship deprives an individual of their right to be accommodated and supported, it should only be used when necessary. Removing a person’s rights makes them more vulnerable, not less. For that reason, it is important to look at alternatives.

Most people with a disability are able to take care of their own lives without a guardian. There are alternatives to guardianship that can meet the needs of an individual without going to court. Everyone is different, and what works for one situation may not work for another. If you are thinking about a guardianship or its alternatives, you should talk to an experienced attorney in the field.

Supported Decision Making

Every person can make choices and has a right to make decisions. Supported decision-making can give individuals the assistance they need to make decisions for themselves. For example, family members and friends can help point out risks, advantages, and consequences of a decision. Things can be explained in a way that the person can understand, giving them information for making the choice. If someone can get the supports and services they need and want with the help of family and friends, there is no need for guardianship.

Alternatives to Guardianship

HHS Issues New Proposed Rule to Strengthen Prohibitions Against Discrimination on the Basis of a Disability in Health Care and Human Services Programs

From USDHHS: Complete Post through this link…

The Biden-Harris Administration is taking further action on its commitment to promote access to health care and human services for persons with disabilities. Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced a proposed rule that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  The rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, updates critical provisions that help persons with disabilities access health and human services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The rule, originally published in 1977, advances the promise of the Rehabilitation Act and helps to ensure that people with disabilities are not subjected to discrimination in any program or activity receiving funding from HHS just because they have a disability. 

“It’s 2023, yet for many Americans accessing basic health needs is still challenging.  Some persons with disabilities may have to drive hours to get an accessible mammogram or receive the benefit and advancements of our health care system.  This historic proposed rule will advance justice for people with disabilities and help ensure they are not subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving funding from HHS just because they have a disability,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We celebrate the inclusion and access promoted by this landmark civil rights law for people with disabilities, by taking action in this proposed regulation to clarify and strengthen the protections afforded by Section 504, reflecting over fifty years of advocacy by the disability community.”

“While we have made significant progress since Section 504 was signed into law nearly 50 years ago, there is more work for us all to live up its promise to the American people,” said HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “Today’s rule is long overdue and a major step forward in the fight to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from or discriminated against in health care and social services across the United States.  Once again, the Biden-Harris Administration is making clear that we must do better and stand up to improve equitable access to health care, free of discrimination.”

“Freedom from disability-based discrimination is a civil right—and in health and human services programs it can be a matter of life and death,” said HHS General Counsel Samuel Bagenstos.  “My office has been privileged to support the Office for Civil Rights as it worked to propose the most comprehensive update to our regulations implementing Section 504 since then-Secretary Califano signed the original 504 regulations in 1977.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the discrimination that too many people with disabilities continue to face, from denial of medical treatment due to ableism, to inaccessible medical equipment and websites, to having no choice but to receive services in institutional settings,” said Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living. “ACL is pleased to have collaborated with the Office for Civil Rights to ensure the rule addresses the most pressing issues and priorities of the disability community.”

Can a Nursing Home Force a Resident’s Family and Friends to Pay the Bill?

From justiceinaging: Complete Post through this link…

Can a nursing home force me to pay the bill for a family member or friend?

Usually not, although there are some exceptions. Many nursing homes try illegal strategies to frighten family members or friends into paying the bill. Don’t be intimidated. Read the question-and-answer discussion below, and consult with a local attorney.

Can a nursing home make me liable through the resident’s admission agreement?

Again, usually not. Federal law prohibits a nursing home from asking or requiring a third party to be a financial guarantor — in other words, a financially liable co-signer. If a resident is not mentally competent to sign an agreement, the nursing home can require the resident’s representative to sign the agreement on the resident’s behalf, but only to make the resident financially responsible. Find the relevant federal law at section 483.15(a)(3) of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Does it matter if the admission agreement says that the family member or friend has “volunteered” to become financially responsible?

No, using the word “volunteer” does not allow the nursing home to avoid federal law. Federal law prohibits a nursing home from requiring or requesting a financial guarantee.

How do nursing homes try to get around the law?

Beware of terms like “responsible party” in nursing home admission agreements. The agreement might try to define a “responsible party” as someone who is financially responsible, instead of just someone who wants to be available to help the resident and (as necessary) make decisions for the resident.

Some of these agreements state that the person signing on behalf of the resident agrees to handle the resident’s money in a certain way, such as paying the nursing home bill first before any of the resident’s other bills are paid or to take certain actions regarding potential Medicaid applications. These types of agreements can be dangerous for representatives to sign because, if the resident owes money, nursing homes sometimes sue representatives personally for failing to comply with specific obligations in the agreement.

Can a nursing home win a lawsuit against me for breach of contract if I signed a responsible party clause?

As explained above, federal law prohibits a nursing home from holding a responsible party personally liable for a resident’s bill. Also, general legal principles say that a representative is not liable for the debts of the person being represented.

That being said, courts sometimes rule in nursing homes’ favor on types of claims based on (for example) the representative’s failure to use the resident’s money to pay the bill or apply for Medicaid, as promised in the agreement. Often this type of ruling for a nursing home happens in egregious situations where the representative used the resident’s money for the representative’s benefit, rather than paying the nursing home. Sometimes, however, courts order representatives to pay the nursing home personally for the resident’s bill even if they have done nothing wrong. It is key to have an attorney advise you of your rights if you are sued for someone else’s nursing home bills.

Here’s how an AI tool may flag parents with disabilities

BY SALLY HO, GARANCE BURKE: Complete Post through this link…

For the two weeks that the Hackneys’ baby girl lay in a Pittsburgh hospital bed weak from dehydration, her parents rarely left her side, sometimes sleeping on the fold-out sofa in the room.

They stayed with their daughter around the clock when she was moved to a rehab center to regain her strength. Finally, the 8-month-old stopped batting away her bottles and started putting on weight again.

“She was doing well and we started to ask when can she go home,” Lauren Hackney said. “And then from that moment on, at the time, they completely stonewalled us and never said anything.”

The couple was stunned when child welfare officials showed up, told them they were negligent and took their daughter away.

“They had custody papers and they took her right there and then,” Lauren Hackney recalled. “And we started crying.”

More than a year later, their daughter, now 2, remains in foster care. The Hackneys, who have developmental disabilities, are struggling to understand how taking their daughter to the hospital when she refused to eat could be seen as so neglectful that she’d need to be taken from her home.

They wonder if an artificial intelligence tool that the Allegheny County Department of Human Services uses to predict which children could be at risk of harm singled them out because of their disabilities.

The U.S. Justice Department is asking the same question.