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Believing You Can Do Something To Improve It Is Linked With Higher Wellbeing

University Of Southern Denmark And University Of Copenhagen, May 11, 2022


The number of people struggling with poor mental health and mental disorders has been rising around the world over the past few decades. Those who are struggling are increasingly facing difficulties accessing the kind of support they need – leaving many waiting months for help, if they even qualify for treatment.

In our recent study, we asked 3,015 Danish adults to fill out a survey that asked questions about mental health – such as whether they believe they can do something to keep mentally healthy, whether they had done something in the past two weeks to support their mental health, and also whether they were currently struggling with a mental health problem. We then assessed their level of mental wellbeing using the Short Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, which is widely used by healthcare professionals and researchers to measure mental wellbeing.

As you’d expect, we found that mental wellbeing was highest among those who had done things to improve their mental health compared with the other participants.

Interestingly, however, we found that – whether or not our respondents had actually taken action to improve their mental wellbeing – people who believed they could do something to keep mentally healthy tended to have higher mental wellbeing than those who didn’t have this belief.

So while it’s most beneficial to take steps to improve your mental health, even just believing that you can improve it is associated with better overall mental wellbeing.The effect of night shifts—gene expression fails to adapt to new sleep patterns McGill University (Quebec). May 7, 2022

Have you ever considered that working night shifts may, in the long run, have an impact on your health? A team of researchers from the McGill University has discovered that genes regulating important biological processes are incapable of adapting to new sleeping and eating patterns and that most of them stay tuned to their daytime biological clock rhythms.

“We now better understand the molecular changes that take place inside the human body when sleeping and eating behaviours are in sync with our biological clock. For example, we found that the expression of genes related to the immune system and metabolic processes did not adapt to the new behaviours,” says Dr. Boivin, a full professor at McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry.

It is known that the expression of many of these genes varies over the course of the day and night. Their repetitive rhythms are important for the regulation of many physiological and behavioural processes. “Almost 25% of the rhythmic genes lost their biological rhythm after our volunteers were exposed to our night shift simulation. 73% did not adapt to the night shift and stayed tuned to their daytime rhythm. And less than 3% partly adapted to the night shift schedule.

“We think the molecular changes we observed potentially contribute to the development of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases more frequently seen in night-shift workers on the long term,” explains Dr. Boivin.