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January/February 2005
NEWS & EVENTS
By Sandy Plone, Ph.D.

Long Term Needs of SARS Patients

Victims of the SARS outbreak in Toronto in the spring of 2003 are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. A physician, Peter Derkach, who evaluated health care workers who contracted the disease noted, “Isolation, fear, lack of human contact – it’s a traumatic experience to have SARS. I’ve never seen the fear factor like this with another disease. Even after they recover, some patients experience night fevers and shortness of breath. See the May 29, 2004 edition of the Globe and Mail.

Psychological services, in the form of short-term counseling, would likely be helpful to reduce some of the emotional impact of such a devastating disease. In a similar vein, there have been reports in recent years about how psychotherapy is a powerful adjunct to treatment of cardiac patients: reducing depression, anxiety, and other psychological difficulties that complicate a person’s recovery and long-term prognosis.

Questions about Raising Self-Esteem

“Efforts to boost the self-esteem of pupils have been shown to increase academic performance and may sometimes be counter-productive”, according to a study released by the American Psychological Society. Achievement increases self-esteem, not the other way around.

Thus, parents can probably help their children more by supporting achievement efforts and concrete successes in ways that are meaningful for the child, in place of simply enhancing their feelings about themselves through reassurance and positive messages about their worth in a more global sense. Mastery, in reality based ways, is a powerful means to improving self-esteem.

See the May, 2004 issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Download the report at: www.psychologicalscience.org/media.

Mental Health Screenings for Children Not Funded

The House of Representatives stopped a plan to federally fund screenings for mental health in schools. Opponents of this funding wanted to prevent school administrators, nurses, and counselors from aggressively encouraging parents to have their children medicated, often on Ritalin. This funding had been added to an appropriation bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. The American Psychiatric Association opposed the funding. See Psychiatric News, October 15, 2004.

In considering a serious diagnosis, such as ADHD for example, or other diagnoses that can lead to medication interventions, a more thorough evaluation by a fully trained mental health professional is indicated.


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