Science and Research Update
 April 2014
In This Issue
Recent Research Findings You Can Use
Featured Articles
Clinical Trials
Quick Links
NAMI New Jersey thanks the NIMH Outreach Partnership Programfor giving us access to the latest research on mental illness to disseminate throughout the state of New Jersey.
NAMI New Jersey will send out regular Science Updateto highlight some of the advances in mental health research through the year.
Every issue will include a "Recent Research You Can Use" articles as well as links to featured articles and clinical trials. 

Please distribute this newsletter widely! 

Recent Research Findings You Can Use  
In this guest column, the team of David C Mohr, Ph.D., Professor in Preventive Medicine-Behavioral Medicine,Center for Engineering and Health - Institute for Public Health and MedicineMedical Social Sciences and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, will be discussing CBITs, or the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, and their advances in psychiatric treatments.



A recent blog post by Tom Insel, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health discusses how technology is changing the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Dr. Insel discusses various methods: videoconferencing and telephone psychotherapy, web-based interventions, and mobile technologies, that are currently being used in the service of reducing mental illness. At the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University, we are involved in the development and evaluation of many of these methods and have found them to be effective to help manage and treat the symptoms of several mental disorders. At this time, however, a bulk of our work has focused on the treatment and prevention of depression and I will discuss this work in more detail.


In a trial comparing telephone-administered cognitive-behavioral therapy to face-to-face treatment, we found that both treatments were effective at reducing depressive symptoms with no difference between them.  Furthermore, people receiving the telephone-administered therapy were able to form a strong connection with therapists, suggesting that the telephone-therapy does not undermine the therapeutic alliance. We have also found web-based treatments can effectively reduce depressive symptoms. Many web-based interventions, however, include many lessons and tools and encourage people to return to the site repeatedly over several weeks. In the absence of human support, sustaining this level of activity can be difficult, and we have paired many of our web-based interventions with brief weekly contact from a therapist or coach. This contact can help people stay motivated and learn the content and skills provided via the web-based intervention. Indeed, those who received telephone calls from a coach were more likely to use the web-based intervention and persisted with it for a longer period of time.


We are increasingly moving from web-based interventions to mobile platforms (i.e., smartphone applications) to move therapeutic skills from the confines of the therapy office or one's own home into people's daily interactions. People have responded positively to receiving regular automatic text messages that reinforce themes from therapy and these messages appear helpful at reducing depressive symptoms overtime. A further mobile application that provided suggestions to help people manage their mood throughout the day was also beneficial at reducing depressive symptoms with a small group of pilot users. As such, we are continuing to develop several applications focused on helping support people to use mood management techniques throughout their day.


Similar resources have been development for the self-management of schizophrenia. A smartphone system designed by one of our collaborators, Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, which we developed, targets medication adherence, mood regulation, sleep, social functioning, and coping with systems. As support for these systems grow we hope they will be more widely available for more people who might benefit from them.


Technological interventions are by no means replacing face-to-face psychotherapy. However, for those who have substantial barriers to accessing face-to-face services or might benefit from the additional support of having self-management tools available throughout the day, these resources serve to significantly impact the treatment of mental illness. If you're interested in learning more and staying updated about our resources you can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@CBITs_NU), you can also learn more about our research studies at this link. No one solution exists to eliminate the burden placed on people's lives by mental illness. However, expanding the options of available resources expands the possibility that those in need will receive help. 

Featured Articles
The following articles have been selected by the National Institute of Mental Health and are some of the cutting edge research in mental health.


Girls Thrive Emotionally, Boys Falter After Move to Better Neighborhood; Complex Take-home Message for Public Housing Policy


Girls in public housing benefited emotionally from a move to a better neighborhood while boys fared worse than if they'd stayed in the poor neighborhood, a study partly funded by NIMH has found. Rates of depression and conduct disorder markedly increased in boys and decreased in girls. Boys also experienced significantly increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Nine Eating Disorders Myths Busted


Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D.,  a NIMH grantee  at the University of North Carolina, debunked nine myths about eating disorders at the NIMH Alliance for Research Progress  Winter Meeting, February 7, 2014 in Rockville, MD. Among her key messages:

  • Eating disorders do not discriminate; they affect males and females, young and old.
  • You can't tell by someone's size whether they have an eating disorder.
  • Families do not cause eating disorders - they can be patients' best allies in treatment.
  • Both genetic and environmental factors influence eating disorders.
  • Eating disorders are serious biologically-influenced mental illnesses, not passing fads.
  • Complete recovery is possible.


A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that 38.3 percent of the 15.2 million American adults who had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year did not talk to a healthcare provider or an alternative service provider. 




NIH releases comprehensive new data outlining Hispanic/Latino health and habits


A comprehensive health and lifestyle analysis of people from a range of Hispanic/Latino origins shows that this segment of the United States (U.S.) population is diverse, not only in ancestry, culture, and economic status, but also in the prevalence of several diseases, risk factors, and lifestyle habits. These health data are derived from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), a landmark study that enrolled about 16,415 Hispanic/Latino adults living in San Diego, Chicago, Miami, and the Bronx, who self-identified with Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or South American origins. These new findings have been compiled and published as the Hispanic Community Health Study Data Book: A Report to the Communities. The numerous findings described by the HCHS/SOL researchers confirmed some existing knowledge while also uncovering some new health trends. Data is reported on symptoms of depression and anxiety. The HCHS/SOL project was led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with additional funding from six other Institutes.  



The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of a national public education campaign to prevent youth tobacco use and reduce the number of kids ages 12 to 17 who become regular smokers. The Real Cost campaign is the FDA's first of several planned tobacco education campaigns using the new authority granted under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year. 

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