The Local Optimist Digest #19

The call for routine anxiety screeners, a nudge to swap screen time with exercise, and the cognitive rewards associated with playing a musical instrument.

Welcome to The Local Optimist Digest, your crib sheet for the latest news in mental health. Whether you want to know how the government is (or is not) investing in our wellbeing, discover the latest research on how the mind impacts the body, or find out which celebrities are helping destigmatize the conversation by opening up about their own mental health struggles, we’ll be covering it all here every week. This week, we're looking at the US health panel's call to incorporate anxiety screeners into routine primary care, the benefits that stem from swapping screen time with exercise, and the cognitive rewards of learning to play a musical instrument.

Joice Kelly / Unsplash

US health panel calls for routine anxiety screening in adults

For the first time in history, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of medical experts appointed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, recommends that adults under the age of 65 get screened for anxiety. The task force’s draft recommendations are aimed to help primary care clinicians identify early signs of anxiety during routine care, using questionnaires and additional screening tools. However, some primary care clinicians are nervous that adding yet another screening test to the long list of clinical tasks, without additional resources and support, may lead to clinician burnout, a reality already prevalent throughout professions across the U.S. health care industry. READ.

Stop scrolling, start moving: switch 30 minutes of social media per day with exercise for mental health benefits

Researchers at the Ruhr-Universitätt in Bochum, Germany, investigated the effects of reducing social media use (SMU) and increasing physical activity, or both, on emotional well-being. In the two-week experiment led by Julia Brailosvskaia, Ph.D., the team recruited 642 social media users and placed them in four experimental groups to test their hypothesis. What they found: modest changes in social media use and physical activity could help protect and enhance mental health conveniently and affordably. READ.

Instagram influencer gives people a reason to live

Coco, an influencer from Wales, who has gained a large social media following stemming from her positive-centric content posts, has published her messages on billboards across the UK. Aiming to create content that gives people a purpose to want to stay alive, Coco is working to show that mental health messaging does not always have to be expressed through negative language. By working to spread positive messaging throughout the city of Cardiff, Coco hopes to remind people they are loved, worthy, and enough. READ.

Cue the Music: playing an instrument is linked to better cognition

Being able to play a musical instrument is unquestionably rewarding. Yet, new research published in Psychological Science suggests the rewards of playing an instrument go far beyond the excitement of performing in front of your friends. Those who pick up a guitar, flute, trombone, or other instrument are also often found to perform better on cognitive tests in comparison to their peers. READ.

Michael Buckner / Variety

Ted Lasso: more than just an Emmy® Awards winner

Coming off of Ted Lasso’s win for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 74th Emmy® Awards, two of the developers of the show, Bill Lawrence and Jason Sudeikis, spoke to why the show focused on mental health throughout the second season. In their backstage interview, Lawrence highlighted Sudeikis’s continued efforts in the writers’ room to incorporate a variety of mental health conversations and messaging into the characters’ storylines throughout the show. WATCH.

Taller Salud

In the immediate wake of Hurricane Fiona, Taller Salud, a feminist community-based nonprofit in Puerto Rico dedicated to improving women’s access to healthcare, reducing violence in community settings and fostering economic development through education and activism, is coordinating hurricane relief efforts across the island. The nonprofit is accepting donations of items and monetary donations via PayPal or on its website. Learn more about how to help HERE.

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