Author Interviews, Environmental Risks / 26.07.2019 Interview with: Patricia Pendry Ph.D. Associate Professor of Human Development Graduate Faculty in Prevention Science Washington State University CAHNRS Pullman, WA 99164 What is the background for this study? Response: Over the last decade, university students have reported increasingly high levels of academic stress, depressive symptomology, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. This is a serious problem as students who report these symptoms tend to have lower GPAs and are more likely to drop out of college. Since academic stress is considered an inevitable part of college life, it is important that we identify effective academic stress management programs. One stress management approach that has been enthusiastically received by University administrators and students is the use of campus-based Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs). Established in nearly 1,000 U.S. college campuses to date, most AVPs provide the general student population the opportunity to engage in 5-30 minutes of petting of animals in small-group settings. While students much enjoy these types of programs, relatively little sound scientific evidence is known about the efficacy of such programs to actually reduce stress. We thus embarked on a study that experimentally teased out the effects of hands-on interaction from the effects of waiting in line while watching others engage in hands-on interactions, sitting quietly without social media or other stimuli, or watching pictures of the same animals on students’ level of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone that has been linked to various physical and mental health outcomes. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Education, Mental Health Research / 16.04.2019 Interview with: Lina Begdache, PhD, RDN, CDN, CNS-S, FAND Assistant Professor Health and Wellness Studies Department GW 15 Decker School of Nursing Binghamton University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: College students engage in activities such as binge drinking, abuse of ADHD medications as "study drugs" or use of illicit drugs during a critical brain developmental window that supports maturation of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) necessary for emotional control, cognitive functions and regulation of impulsive behaviors. These activities not only affect brain function, thus mental health and cognitive functions, but may dampen brain development with potential long-lasting effects. As for findings, we were able to identify neurobehavioral patterns that associate with mental wellbeing and mental distress in young adults. Based on evidence from the literature, we constructed conceptual models that describe how one behavior may lead to another until virtuous or vicious cycles set-in.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science / 21.08.2014 Interview with: Ashley Merianos, PhD, CHES Health Promotion & Education Program University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio   45221-0068 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Merianos: Our study found that college students are unhappy and have difficulty with stress management. Specifically, the majority (61.0%) of participants reported having high stress, and were most stressed about school, lack of time, and with their future career. Although high levels of stress were reported, most (72.0%) students reported low frequency in using stress management techniques. Our study shows that students who reported low happiness reported higher stress levels and lower emotional closeness to others. (more…)
Cannabis, Mental Health Research / 08.05.2014

Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, Interview with: Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, MD MedicalResearch: Why did you decided to study this topic? Dr. Ahuja: Severe mental illness is more common among college students than it was a decade ago, and the number of college students presenting for psychiatric care both on and off campus has dramatically increased. The rates of cannabis use have also been increasing among college students in the United States since the mid-1990s. The concomitant use of cannabis and other substances among general samples in psychiatric treatment has been linked to poorer clinical outcomes including increased hospitalizations, increased symptomatology, poorer treatment adherence, higher treatment resistance. However, before doing this study, there was no research that examined the effect of cannabis and other substance use disorders on the scholastic and general functioning of college students in psychiatric care. (more…)