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mental health

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According to World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” (1)

Keeping the balance

The old Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” (“a healthy mind in a healthy body”) emphasizes the importance of the physical exercise in keeping the mental well-being. There are studies that show how a healthy eating habit and regular exercise can help to maintain the balance of mental and physical health.

Regular and healthy meals, proper exercises, getting enough sleep, finding a vocation, and a fulfilling relationship, seeing a movie, listening to the music, reading a book, hanging out with friends, taking a trip, getting a massage, or getting a hug, stroking a pet, having a hobby remain the basic methods to cope with stress, but sometimes is not enough, or may seem hard to achieve.

In our world full with stressors of all kinds, school or work responsibilities, unemployment, financial problems, family duties, family troubles, divorce, the search for a partner, the break-ups, losing a loved one, or a physical illness can prevent us from doing regular exercises, due to lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of physical strength.

Signs you may need to talk to a physician or a therapist

If you often find yourself not feeling in the mood to get out, or you don’t want to be part of social activities, if your mood swings are frequent, and the feelings of sadness, fear, worry are persistent, if you experience memory loss and confusion, delusions, or hallucinations, these might be signs of a mental condition. Other symptoms may include: eating or sleeping disorders, a decrease of school or work performances, inability to cope with daily activities, substance abuse, unexplained physical ailments, defiance of authority, truancy, theft, or vandalism. (2)

Mental health therapists

The first step is to see your general practitioner, he or she might give you a referral to a mental health therapist: a psychologist, a clinical counselor, a psychoanalyst, or a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrists diagnose and treat condition like schizophrenia, dementia, depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder. They prescribe medication, but do not offer counseling, generally they work with a psychologist or a counselor.

The psychologists diagnose and treat conditions like relationship problems, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, learning difficulties. They are allowed to prescribe medication only in a few states, but they usually work with a psychiatrist.

There are all kind of counselors: marital and family therapists, career counselors, relationship counselor, drama therapist, or speech therapist, or counselors who work with social care to help people with disabilities.

If you have a mild mental condition, a counselor can help you to cope with it, offering guidance for you to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. If you suffer from a mental disorder, you will be referred to a psychologist or to a psychiatrist. At BetterHelp you can find therapists from many states and with a wide range of specializations. Also you can find a lot of useful information about mental health.

Be careful, if you are in a crisis, if you want to hurt yourself or to hurt other people, or someone else shows these symptoms, do not use the internet, call 911 for urgent help.

  1. https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health-resources#types-of-providers

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Telehealth and telemedicine are considered synonymous. In both situations it’s about the physical distance between the patient and the health care provider. Both uses information and communication technologies to deliver and exchange medical information (or any kind of data related to health) in order to achieve diagnosis, treatment plan and prevention of disease and injuries. Telemedicine includes also research and evaluation and continuing education of health care providers.  However, a refined definition regards telemedicine as a service delivered by physicians only, while telehealth can be provided by “health professionals in general, including nurses, pharmacists, and others.” (1)

The way patients see telemedicine or telehealth showed improvements since the beginning of this century

In an early study from 2000, telemedicine was used to deliver specialist oncology/haematology care. Patients were satisfied with their teleconsultations, but also expressed concerns regarding the limitations of such a service. (2)

Another study, published in 2004, has shown a better perception of telemedicine. According to the authors: “Despite concerns regarding its confidentiality and its ability to approximate the social stimulation of in-person nursing visits, patients in these pilot trials seemed satisfied with home telecare and appeared ready to accept its widespread use. “ (3)

Also, a study released in 2011 concluded that “[…] brief use of a Web-based telemedicine service has a significant positive effect on patients’ perceptions of this service. Therefore, as patients do not have prior experience with innovative telemedicine services, offering patients a risk-free way to explore and experiment with the service can increase the development of accurate perceptions and user needs.” (4)

A recent study, published in 2018, used telehealth for type 2 diabetes management. The patients were pleased by telehealth improved access to care. Lots of them said they would prefer telehealth care rather than their regular appointments at the doctor’s office. However, “they would not want it to fully replace their contacts with their doctor, especially when it comes to discussing more serious health issues.” (5)

A short history of telemedicine

It can be said that telemedicine started in the early 20th century when electrocardiograph data were transmitted over telephone wires. Then, in the 1960s telemedicine was used for military and space technology sectors.

Also, consultations between specialists of a psychiatric institute and general practitioners of a state mental hospital were made through television.

It is interesting to mention that in 1925, Hugo Gernsback, a radio pioneer, published an article about a device called the “teledactyl” (tele, far; dactyl finger, from the Greek). That device would permit doctors to see their patients through a viewscreen, and to touch them from miles away with robot arms. That article predicted telemedicine, we can say. (6)

Nowadays telehealth has multiple uses

Although the reimbursement method is not very clear, the telehealth is reaching more patients, some of them being willing to pay a fee for the teleconsultation.

However, 38 states plus District of Columbia require private insurance companies to pay for telehealth. (7)

Intended to be used in disadvantaged areas, like poor or developing countries, with lack of medical care, telehealth has begun to spread over the world, as the access to the internet and to the specialized gadgets and devices becomes more affordable. The patient is able to measure their blood sugar level, or their blood pressure and the data are transmitted to the health care provider. Also, the video conferences allow the patient to speak directly to the physician or to the counselor.

We already mentioned diabetes type 2 home surveillance. There are also post-surgical follow-ups and post-hospital discharges where telehealth is used to keep in touch with the patients.  Also, telehealth addresses chronic condition, especially in seniors, for whom might be difficult to leave the home. Telemedicine can also be used for a prescription renewal, or for treatment management.  

People may use telehealth for other reasons, like they do not have to pay for the transportation to the doctor’s office, or they do not have time to wait. Teleconsultations are scheduled and the patient gets a reminder to ensure he or she will be online for the appointment.

Telehealth can be useful for behavioral health, or mental health, because the patient feels in a secure environment talking to the counselor from his own home. Be careful, though, if you are in a crisis, or someone is in a crisis, or it’s an emergency, do not use telehealth. Seek for immediate help by calling 911 in the U.S. or 112 in Europe. Every telehealth provider should have a list of numbers to call when there is an emergency.

(1) https://www.who.int/goe/publications/goe_telemedicine_2010.pdf

(2)  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1258/1357633001933925

(3)  https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/15305620050503889

(4)   https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/tmj.2010.0208

(5)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6045870/

(6) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/telemedicine-predicted-in-1925-124140942/?no-ist

(7) http://www.securetelehealth.com/private-insurance.html

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Lil’ Chris, who was found dead last week, had mental health issues and depression, his relatives said.

The 24-year-old singer, whose real name was Chris Hardman, was found in Lowestoft, Suffolk, on March 23.

A statement from his family said: “Chris had struggled with mental health issues and depression in recent years.

“He was committed to helping others find better ways of overcoming this illness and publicly said he wished to find a cure.”

Suffolk Police were called to a house on Union Road on Monday, March 23, to reports a man had died.Lil Chris dead

Fellow musicians and fans paid tribute on social media to Lil’ Chris, who rose to fame in Channel 4’s Rock School in 2006.

The statement said Lil’ Chris was a “huge personality who will be missed by everyone who knew him”.

“He was a hugely creative person who used this side of his personality to make others smile, to cheer people up and to make others feel better.

“A real people person, he would always take the time to stop and talk, no matter who or when and we are proud that he was so well thought of by all who knew him.

“So many commented on what a lovely, well brought up person he was, so polite and kind and a pleasure to know.”

The singer’s family said his funeral would be invitation-only and those attending would be asked to wear green, which was Lil’ Chris’ favorite color.