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Mental health

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CNN

A new study by researchers from MIT and other institutions finds that the number of suicides among adolescents ages 10-19 increased in five states during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Kristen Rogers for CNN. Graduate student Marie-Laure Charpignon notes that “the findings highlight the need to pay attention to any behaviors adolescents show that can signal suicidal thoughts,” writes Rogers.

US News & World Report

Graduate student Marie-Laure Charpignon led a study which found the proportion of overall suicides that occurred among young people increased by 10% in 2020 compared to the average share over the pre-pandemic period, reports Steven Ross Johnson for U.S. News & World Report. “Charpignon says her study’s findings, as well as previous research, raise questions as to whether more suicide prevention and intervention resources dedicated toward helping adults should be reallocated to address mental health issues among youth,” writes Johnson.

NBC News

Graduate student Marie-Laure Charpignon co-authored a new study that found adolescent suicide accounted for a larger share of suicides across 14 states in 2020 and raises “the question of a possible link between teen suicide rates and Covid-related grief” reports Aria Bendix for NBC News. “We can’t deny that this is a massive casualty event, and it may affect kids differently,” said Charpignon.

Popular Science

Using machine learning techniques, MIT researchers analyzed social media sentiment around the world during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and found that the “pandemic precipitated a dramatic drop in happiness,” reports Charlotte Hu for Popular Science. “We wanted to do this global study to compare different countries because they were hit by the pandemic at different times,” explains Prof. Siqi Zheng, “and they have different cultures, different political systems, and different healthcare systems.”

The Economist

A new study by MIT researchers finds that mediation apps may have benefits for users in reducing anxiety and depression, reports The Economist. “Access to the app reduced the share of participants with moderate or severe anxiety by 13 percentage points, or 50%, compared to the control group. The share of participants with moderate or severe depression fell by 14 percentage points, or 47%.”

Fast Company

Writing for Fast Company, Prof. Erin Kelly emphasizes the need for employers to implement management practices that support the health and wellness of employees. “Forward-thinking business leaders can adopt sound strategies to reduce the negative impact common management practices have on employee health and well-being,” writes Kelly.

Fast Company

“The Guardians: Unite the Realms,” a video game developed by Media Lab developer Craig Ferguson, has been awarded Fast Company’s 20201 Innovation by Design award in the Wellness category. The game employs behavioral activation techniques to address mental health, allowing players to advance when they’ve completed tasks such as going on a walk or drawing a picture.

Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Gregg Martin SM ’88, PhD ’92, a retired two-star Army general and former president of the National Defense University, shares his concern for the mental health of Afghanistan war veterans. “While most troops are justifiably proud of what they did at the tactical, local level, they’re now seeing their efforts go up in smoke,” writes Martin. “They’re angry, sad, hurting, and confused, and I fear that the mental health of some of them will unravel so unrelentingly they’ll take their own lives.”

Wired

Wired reporter Matt Reynolds spotlights how several MIT researchers have been studying the neurological impacts of loneliness and social isolation.

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jack Kelly spotlights Ginger, an MIT startup that has created “a smartphone-based technology app helps identify patterns of anxiety, stress and depression.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Rasha Aridi writes that MIT researchers have found that longing for social interaction elicits a similar neurological response to a hungry person craving food. The researchers found that “after a day of fasting, they noted that they were uncomfortable and had intense food cravings. After social isolation, they felt lonely and unhappy and yearned for interactions.”

Fortune

A new study by MIT researchers finds that lack of social contact can lead many people to crave interactions in a similar manner as they do when experiencing hunger, reports Katherine Dunn for Fortune. The researchers found that “10 hours without any social contact, for many people, led to a kind of psychological and physical craving that's on the same level of intensity as 10 waking hours without food.”

Inverse

MIT researchers have uncovered evidence that humans crave social contact in the same way they crave food, reports Ali Pattillo for Inverse. The study, “provides empirical support for the idea that loneliness acts as a signal – just like hunger – that signals to an individual that something is lacking and that it needs to take action to repair that," explains former MIT postdoc Livia Tomova.

Forbes

A new center established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research is aimed at accelerating the development of novel therapies and technologies, writes Katie Jennings for Forbes. The hope is that “we can identify common pathways, either a common molecular pathway that's a chokepoint for a therapy or a common group of neurons or neural systems,” says Prof. Robert DeSimone, director of the McGovern Institute.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Felice Freyer writes about the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Center for Molecular Therapeutics in Neuroscience, which was established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research thanks to a $28 million gift from philanthropist Lisa Yang and MIT alumnus Hock Tan ’75. “The center will develop tools to precisely target the malfunctioning genes and neurons underpinning brain disorders,” writes Freyer.