The Adler School social media team is blogging with updates and reaction throughout the next two days (Sept. 19-2o) from ”The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward” in Chicago, hosted by the Adler School Institute on Social Exclusion. Posts are written by attendees, each summarizing speakers, presentations and observations from the conference. Follow more conversation on Twitter (#ISE2012).
In our second conversation of the day, we had presenters discuss community, violence and nutrition as it applies to not only our physical health, but our mental health as well.
Jennifer Ahern [Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley] discussed collective efficacy and its association with violent crime, youth firearm carrying, dating violence victimization, and adolescent suicide attempts. Describing collective effficacy as a shared belief in members’ collective ability to produce desired results, Ahern presented data that connected neighborhood collective efficacy and violent crime in New York City. The marginal modeling approach was utilized to estimate relations on the additive scale that are relevant to public health.
An important key to the findings: where strong norms against smoking are present, high collective efficacy is associated with less smoking. Causal challenges to mental health and difficulties with translating research were discussed.
Dr. Alex Richardson [Senior Research Fellow, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford; Founder/Director, Food and Behaviour Research] presented on the importance of nutrition for mental health and the fact that “things are changing, but they’re not changing for the better.”
There is a desperate “legacy” that we’re leaving on our children: The food they eat is damaging their behavior, learning abilities, and mood. While nutrition has been seen to dramatically improve a child’s handwriting and coloring abilities, it is often the first thing that is ignored in the world of mental health. Specifically, omega-3 fats are essential for the structure of cell membranes and have been found to improve vision, intelligence, social skills, motor skills, reading, and spelling. Nutrition really matters to brains as well as bodies, so let’s start eating more fish!
More research can be found at http://www.fabresearch.org and by reading “They Are What You Feed Them” by Dr. Alex Richardson.
- Dana Whitt, The Adler School of Professional Psychology