Achieving good mental health and wellness: A List of Cochrane Reviews

It is important for patients and clinicians to be able to access information that will keep them abreast of the advances in health research. An excellent source for that information is the The Cochrane Library, which contains more than 5,300 reviews that are the result of a systematic synthesis of all evidence related to a specific health research question. Below are a few examples of Cochrane reviews concerning developments in the area of mental health research:

  1. Exercise for depression

    Depression is a widespread mental health issue. Unfortunately, it has become a major cause of illness and mortality worldwide. Traditionally, depression is treated with antidepressants, usually in conjunction with psychological therapy. However many people are beginning to explore alternative approaches to this common mental health issue. This Cochrane Review looks at the evidence to date on the effectiveness of physical exercise in managing depression and its consequences. More specifically, it identifies possible explanations as to why exercise may help allieviate depression. The review suggests that, although exercise does not seem to be more effective than psychological or pharmacological therapies, it is still beneficial to the patient when used in conjunction with medications.

  2. Interventions for helping people recognise early signs of recurrence in bipolar disorder

    Traditionally, mood stabilizer drugs have been used to help treat bipolar disorder. However, self-help treatments and psychological treatments that help teach patients to recognize and manage early warning symptoms and signs (EWS) of manic and depressive episodes are becoming increasingly popular among patients. This Cochrane Review examines whether EWS can improve treatment outcomes when combined with mood stabilizers. The results suggest that combining EWS with regular treatment can increase the amount of time between recurrences and decrease hospitalizations. Although more evidence is needed, the researchers recommend that mental health service providers consider including EWS in interventions for adults with bipolar disorder.

  3. Supported employment for adults with severe mental illness

    People living with severe mental illnesses often have a difficult time finding work. There are many types of job programs designed to help these patients successfully re-enter the work force. One such program, known as supported employment, places clients in competitive and enriching work environments and provides intensive “on-the-job” support, rather than extended training before they enter the workplace. A recent Cochrane Review examined the effectiveness of supported employment programs for people with severe mental illness. More specifically, this review compared the Individual placement support (IPS) model, a form of supported employment, with other types of job placement programs. Although there is limited evidence available, the review suggests that supported employment is effective in increasing the length of employment for people living with mental illness.

  4. School-based prevention for illicit drugs' use

    Drug addiction is a disease that is quite prevalent in society, and it is very difficult to treat. Many school-based interventions are designed to prevent young people from trying drugs in the first place. This Cochrane Review examines the effectiveness of different types of primary interventions as a way of addressing drug addiction in society. The current research indicates that school-based interventions designed to increase social skills, such as resistance to peer pressure, showed some effectiveness in deterring early–stage drug use.

  5. Behavioural and cognitive behavioural therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder in children and adolescents (about OCD)

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an increasingly prevalent issue among children and adolescents, is characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts, and inappropriate impulses or images. People with OCD experience marked anxiety, and often display persistent repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, checking and ordering. This particular Cochrane Review examined the effectiveness of behavioural or cognitive-behavioural therapy (BT/CBT) as a treatment of pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. BT/CBT aims to help a child tolerate anxiety-provoking situations and thoughts without the use of compulsive behaviour. Despite the small number of studies available, BT/CBT alone appears to be an effective treatment for OCD in children and adolescents. It appears to be as effective as medication alone and may lead to better outcomes when combined with medication compared to medication alone.

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