Research: Partnership History and Mental Health over Time

Study Objective

To describe the mental health of men and women with differing histories of partnership transitions.

Design

Data from nine waves of the British Household Panel Survey, a stratified general population sample, were used to calculate age standardised ratios and 95% confidence intervals for mean General Health Questionnaire scores for groups with different partnership transition histories.

Participants

2,127 men and 2,303 women aged under 65 who provided full interviews at every survey wave.

Main Results

Enduring first partnerships were associated with good mental health. Partnership splits were associated with poorer mental health, although the reformation of partnerships partially reversed this. Cohabiting was more beneficial to men’s mental health, whereas marriage was more beneficial to women’s mental health. The more recently a partnership split had occurred the greater the negative outcome for mental health. Women seemed more adversely affected by multiple partnership transitions and to take longer to recover from partnership splits than men. Single women had good mental health relative to other women but the same was not true for single men relative to other male partnership groups.

Conclusions

Partnership was protective of mental health. Mental health was worse immediately after partnership splits, and the negative outcomes for health were longer lasting in women. Future work should consider other factors that may mediate, confound, or jointly determine the relation between partnership change and health.

Reference

Willitts, M., Benzeval, M. & Stansfield, S. (2004) Partnership History and Mental Health Over Time. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 58(1), pp.53-58. https://jech.bmj.com/content/58/1/53.short.

Rick Astley Songs & Mental Health!

Okay, so you might be wondering how Rick Astley songs are related to mental health.

Well, I was listening to his Essentials album (2019) whilst doing my phys this morning (Army lingo for exercise) and two songs stood out.

  • Song 03: Beautiful Life.
  • Song 05: Cry for Help.

My interpretations:

  • Song 03: This is about giving chance a life and finding the positives, and using them to steer a clear path.
  • Song 05: This is about asking for help or noticing when someone needs help.

Mysteries of Mental Illness (2021): S01E04 – The New Frontiers

Introduction

Mysteries of Mental Illness explores the story of mental illness in science and society. The four-part series traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and gives voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Outline

Cutting-edge treatments for mental illness; profiles of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery, infusions of ketamine and modern electro-convulsive therapy.

Mysteries of Mental Illness Series

You can find a full index and overview of Mysteries of Mental Illness here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 23 June 2021.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Mysteries of Mental Illness (2021): S01E03 – The Rise and Fall of the Asylum

Introduction

Mysteries of Mental Illness explores the story of mental illness in science and society. The four-part series traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and gives voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Outline

The rise and fall of mental asylums in the US; the largest de-facto mental health facility in the US, its detainees and the realities of care both inside and outside.

Mysteries of Mental Illness Series

You can find a full index and overview of Mysteries of Mental Illness here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 23 June 2021.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Mysteries of Mental Illness (2021): S01E02 – Who’s Normal?

Introduction

Mysteries of Mental Illness explores the story of mental illness in science and society. The four-part series traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and gives voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Outline

The fight to develop mental illness standards rooted in empirical science rather than dogma; how science and societal factors mix with the ever-shifting definitions and diagnoses of mental health and illness.

Mysteries of Mental Illness Series

You can find a full index and overview of Mysteries of Mental Illness here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 22 June 2021.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Mysteries of Mental Illness (2021): S01E01 – Evil or Illness?

Introduction

Mysteries of Mental Illness explores the story of mental illness in science and society. The four-part series traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and gives voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Outline

Ancient conceptions of mental illness and the establishment of psychiatry; modern-day stories of mental illness, including an aspiring astrophysicist with schizophrenia a d a boxer with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Mysteries of Mental Illness Series

You can find a full index and overview of Mysteries of Mental Illness here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 22 June 2021.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Mysteries of Mental Illness Documentary Series Overview (2021)

Introduction

Mysteries of Mental Illness explores the story of mental illness in science and society. The four-part series traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and gives voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Outline

The attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness, including its causes and treatments.

Throughout history to today, we have continued to grapple with deceptively simple questions about mental health: what is mental illness? From where does it come? And how can it be treated?

Around one in four people suffer from mental illness; an American is more likely to need services from psychiatry than from any other medical specialty. Yet a diagnosis of a mental disorder still carries a stigma that a heart condition or other physical ailment does not, largely because mental illness has been so poorly understood for so long.

Many Americans’ diagnoses have grown more acute during the coronavirus pandemic, and people who had been previously undiagnosed – including many who remain so – are now suffering for the first time from depression and other illnesses that have been exacerbated by the present-day crises. One of the most critical barriers to treatment is the stigma of mental illness.

Mysteries of Mental Illness Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Peter Yost … (4 episodes, 2021).
  • Producer(s):
    • Alex T. Ostroff … associate producer (4 episodes, 2021).
    • Peter Yost … producer (4 episodes, 2021).
    • Anna Auster … co-producer (2 episodes, 2021).
  • Writer(s):
    • Peter Yost … (4 episodes, 2021).
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
    • Tom Bergmann … (4 episodes, 2021).
  • Editor(s):
    • Anna Auster … (4 episodes, 2021).
  • Production:
    • GBH.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (2021) (USA) (TV).
  • Release Date: 22 June 2021 to 23 June 2022.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

What is Weathering Hypothesis?

Introduction

The weathering hypothesis was proposed to account for early health deterioration as a result of cumulative exposure to experiences of social, economic and political adversity.

It is well documented that minority groups and marginalised communities suffer from poorer health outcomes. This may be due to a multitude of stressors including prejudice, social alienation, institutional bias, political oppression, economic exclusion and racial discrimination. The weathering hypothesis proposes that the cumulative burden of these stressors as individuals age is “weathering,” and the increased weathering experienced by minority groups compared to others can account for differences in health outcomes. In recent years, the biological plausibility of the weathering hypothesis has been investigated in studies evaluating the physiological effects of social, environmental and political stressors among marginalised communities. This has led to more widespread use of the weathering hypothesis as a framework for explaining health disparities on the basis of differential exposure to racially based stressors. Researchers have also identified patterns connecting weathering to biological phenomena associated with stress and aging, such as allostatic load, epigenetics, and telomere shortening.

Origins

The weathering hypothesis was initially formulated by Dr. Arline T. Geronimus to explain the poor maternal health and birth outcomes of African American women that she observed in correspondence with increased age. While working part-time at a school for pregnant teenagers in Trenton, New Jersey, Geronimus first noticed that the teens who came to the school tended to have far more health problems than her classmates at Princeton University. She thus began to wonder whether the health conditions of the teens at that clinic may have been caused by their environment. Subsequent research on the disparity in maternal health between African American and white women led Geronimus to propose the weathering hypothesis. She proposed that the accumulation of cultural, social and economic disadvantages may lead to earlier deterioration of health among African American women compared to their non-Hispanic, white counterparts. Geronimus specifically chose the term weathering as a metaphor for the effects she perceived that exposure to stress was having on the health of marginalised people. While the weathering hypothesis was initially proposed based on observations of patterns in maternal health, academics have expanded its application as a framework to examine other health disparities as well.

Geronimus’ Research

While conducting research in the Department of Public Health Policy and Administration as a graduate student at the University of Michigan in 1992, Geronimus noticed a trend in disparities between the fertility of African American women versus their white counterparts. She noted that while the average white woman experiences her point of highest fertility and lowest risk of pregnancy complications or neonatal mortality between her 20’s and 30’s, this generalisation did not apply to African American women. Instead, among African American women, teen mothers are most likely to have healthy pregnancies and offspring. The data indicated a widening disparity in black-white infant mortality as maternal ages increase. Subsequently, Geronimus proposed the “weathering hypothesis,” which she initially conceived as a potential explanation for the patterns of racial variation in infant mortality with increasing maternal age.

Health Disparities

In the context of the weathering hypothesis, individual health is dynamic and shaped over time by social, economic, and environmental influences. These social determinants dictate what different demographics are exposed to as they develop and age. Racism and discrimination are two specific social determinants that lay the foundation for systemic inequality in access and upward mobility. This entrenchment of social inequities disproportionately impacts minorities and communities of colour, who remain in environments of poverty that have significantly more stressors than those of wealthier, predominantly white communities. These stressors – and the associated burden of coping with them – manifest as physiological responses that have detrimental effects on individual health, often leading to a disproportionately high occurrence of chronic illness and shorter life expectancy in minority communities. Multi-ethnic studies have yielded significant data demonstrating that weathering – accumulated health risk due to social, economic and environmental stressors – is a manifestation of social stratification that systemically influences disparities in health and mortality between dominant and minority communities.

Maternal Health

Maternal mortality is three to four times higher for Black mothers than white mothers in the United States. Infant mortality is also twice as high for infants born to non-Hispanic Black mothers compared to infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers. Additionally, there are racial disparities for negative birth outcomes like low birth weight, which has been found to influence risk of infant mortality and developmental outcomes after birth, and preterm birth. Across all women, older maternal age is associated with higher rates of these negative outcomes during pregnancy, but studies have consistently found that rates rise more rapidly for Black women than white women. The weathering hypothesis proposes that the accumulation of racial stress over Black women’s lives contributes to this observed pattern of racial disparities in maternal health and birth outcomes that increase with maternal age. Research has consistently identified an association between preterm birth and low birth weight in Black women and maternal stress caused by experiences of racism, systemic bias, socioeconomic disadvantage, segregated neighbourhoods, and high rates of violent crime. There is biological evidence of weathering, including the finding that Black women have shorter telomeres, a biological indicator of age, when compared with white women of the same chronological age. Though increased socioeconomic status serves as a protective factor against negative birth outcomes for non-Hispanic white mothers, disproportionate rates of preterm birth and low birth weight for non-Hispanic Black mothers have been found at every education and income level. The weathering hypothesis has also been used to explain this trend because upward socioeconomic mobility is associated with increased exposure to discrimination for women of colour.

There is modest evidence supporting the effects of weathering on mothers from other minority groups, including for high birth weight outcomes among American Indian/Alaska Native women. Research has started to explore whether the weathering hypothesis could also explain racial disparities in the outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies, but so far the findings are inconsistent.

Mental Health

Research shows that mental health disparities among marginalized communities exist. Daily discrimination faced by marginalised groups have been found to be associated with increased depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness. Low-income communities are more likely to have severe mental illnesses, which is frequently heightened by the inaccessibility to quality healthcare. Researchers found that persisting epigenetic changes lead to increased risk of postpartum depression as a result of adverse life events and cumulative life stress among Black, Latinx, and low-income women. In a study assessing African American men, experiences of racism were linked to a poorer mental health state.

Intersectionality of Systems of Oppression

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the interconnected nature of different systems of oppression, the layered effects of which can be seen in the healthcare system. Research indicates that lower class status and increased depressive symptoms are associated with higher levels of biological weathering among Black individuals in comparison to white individuals. In a study exploring disparities in mental health, researchers found that Black sexual minority women reported higher frequencies of discrimination and decreased levels of social and psychological well-being than their white sexual minority women counterparts. Black sexual minority women had decreased levels of social well-being and increased levels of depressive symptoms in comparison to Black sexual minority men. African American women are also more likely to contract COVID-19 than African American men and white women. The prevalence of medical racism and sexism (lack of quality healthcare, harmful experimentation, etc.) has led to negative relationships with healthcare systems and increased risk of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes among African American women. Existing research show how systems of oppression work together to oppress marginalized groups within the healthcare system and, as a result, these groups disproportionately experience negative health effects.

Criticism and Related Theories

Arline Geronimus faced significant pushback for the weathering hypothesis, including from members of the medical community who believed there was a genetic or evolutionary explanation for racial differences in health outcomes. There was some early criticism regarding the quality of her data, though the evidence of weathering and health disparities has grown since. Others pushed back against the weathering hypothesis because its application to racial disparities in maternal health seemed to contradict what advocacy groups had been saying about the negative consequences of teen pregnancy on young mothers. A further criticism of this theory believes that Geronimus and others have not sufficiently demonstrated a link between weathering and racial and gender disparities in life expectancy.

The weathering hypothesis was initially proposed as a sociological explanation for health disparities, but it is closely related to biological theories like the allostatic load model, which proposes that an individual’s exposure to repeated or chronic stress over their lifetime has physiological consequences which can be measured through various biomarkers. Research has tended to discuss allostasis and allostatic load as the molecular mechanism behind the weathering hypothesis, and Geronimus herself went on to study racial differences in allostatic load. Another related theory is the life course approach, which emphasizes focus on cumulative life experiences rather than maternal risk factors as an explanation for birth outcome disparities. Researchers have also been interested in studying the possibility of children inheriting the epigenetic changes which result from their mother’s cumulative life stress, which could relate the weathering hypothesis with transgenerational trauma.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weathering_hypothesis&gt;; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

Magic Medicine (2018)

Introduction

Can magic mushrooms cure depression? This documentary follows the first medical trial to explore the use of psilocybin as a treatment for clinical depression.

Outline

In 2012 a team of medical researchers asked themselves, “what would happen if we gave psilocybin (magic mushrooms) to people suffering from severe depression”? It took them three years to get the necessary permissions to find out.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Monty Wales.
  • Producer(s):
    • Lizzie Gillett.
    • Monty Wales.
  • Writer(s):
    • Monty Wales.
  • Music:
    • Christopher White.
  • Cinematography:
    • Monty Wales.
  • Editor(s):
    • John Mister.
  • Production:
    • Life Cycle Films.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Dartmouth Films (2018) (UK) (theatrical).
  • Release Date: 09 November 2018 (London, UK).
  • Running Time: 79 minutes.
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

The Psychedelic Drug Trial (2021)

Introduction

With exclusive access to a ground-breaking trial, this film asks if psychedelic drugs combined with psychological support can help tackle one of the biggest medical challenges we face – depression.

Outline

The Psychedelic Drug Trial has exclusive access to a ground-breaking new trial at Imperial College London. The trial sees, for the first time ever under controlled conditions, a psychedelic drug tested head-to-head against a standard antidepressant as a treatment for depression.

The film follows a pioneering team of scientists and psychotherapists, led by Professor David Nutt, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris and Dr Rosalind Watts, as they compare the effects of psilocybin (the active ingredient of magic mushrooms) with an antidepressant (an SSRI called escitalopram) on a small group of participants with clinical depression. This is scientific research at its most cutting edge. With over seven million people being prescribed antidepressants each year in England alone, this drug trial is an important milestone in understanding a completely different treatment for depression.

Filmed over 16 months, this film explores both the immediate and long-term impacts of the trial on the lives of participants. It investigates whether psychedelic drugs combined with psychological support could help tackle one of the biggest medical challenges faced today and what it takes to conduct research in uncharted scientific territory.

How do psychedelic drugs measure up against the industry-standard antidepressants that have been popular since the 1990s? The empirical results of the trial are explored alongside the participants’ powerful lived experience.

About the Trial

All psychedelic drug use shown in this programme was part of a carefully controlled clinical trial under the supervision of specially trained psychotherapists.

The trial was run by Professor Nutt, Dr Carhart-Harris and Dr Watts and their team at Imperial College from 2019 to 2020. Fifty-nine participants took part, the trial is now finished.

The psychedelic drugs used in the trial are illegal in the UK and not available for medical treatment. You should always consult your doctor before you stop, change or start any new treatment.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Sam Eastall.
  • Producer(s):
    • Caroline Lai … line producer.
    • Alice Martineau … producer.
    • Anna Murphy … executive producer.
    • Sabine Pusch … edit producer.
    • Caroline Willis … line producer.
  • Writer(s):
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
    • Richard Jephcote … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Zoe Davis … editor.
    • Alex Spence … assistant editor.
  • Production:
    • Grain Media.
  • Distributor(s):
    • BBC Two (2021) (UK) (TV).
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (2021) (UK) (all media).
  • Release Date: 19 May 2021 (UK).
  • Running Time: 59 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.