Coffee, the Memory Booster

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins university has done a recent study that suggests coffee can help consolidate memory up to 24 hours after it has been consumed. In the study, participants were either in the control group and received a placebo pill or in the experimental group in which they received a 200 mg caffeine table for ingestion five minutes after they studied a series of photographs. The next day, participants were presented with the same pictures, as well as a few pictures that were similar to the originals. The caffeine group was better able to successfully differentiate which photographs were similar, but not identical, to the ones they had previously seen the day before. The key thing to note from this study is that the caffeine was administered after the participants had done their studying of the material and not before, suggesting that it is not the “extra energy boost” that allows us to believe that we need coffee in order to effectively study.

Check out the full article here!

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Bell Let’s Talk Day 2014


Yesterday (January 28th) was the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day initiative, a day dedicated to the promotion of mental illness as a serious problem and to help get rid of the stigma that surrounds it (which is also one of the goals of the Mental Health Awareness Club!). 109,451,718 text messages, phone calls, Facebook shares, and #BellLetsTalk tweets on this one day means that Bell will be donating a grand total of $5,472,585.90 to mental health initiatives in Canada! In the past, Bell has donated $1 million to UBC in order to open the Bell Youth Mental Health Impact Project, the goal of which is to encourage young adults (i.e. university students) to find the help and services they need to overcome their struggles with mental illness. I applaud Bell for taking on such an important initiative and look forward to March 14th 2014, when Clara Hughes, Olympian and official spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk, goes on her national bicycle tour to raise awareness for mental health. A huge thank you to anyone that tweeted/texted/Facebook shared, YOU made a difference!

Scrolling through Facebook yesterday, I saw some awesome shares by friends about the resources they have used in the past to cope, so I thought I would share them here as well: – Canadian Mental Health Association – Crisis Centre BC – UBC Wellness Centre


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How to Make Stress A Positive Thing

A TED-Talk by Kelly McGonigal on “How To Make Stress Your Friend”

A classmate showed me this great TED-Talk about a month ago and thought it would be great to share! If you feel like your stress levels can get a bit out of control and you want to learn to handle it a bit better, then this brief talk might be beneficial for you to watch. The biggest shocker to me was definitely learning that oxytocin (a.k.a. the “cuddle hormone) is released along with adrenaline in times of stress, and the release of oxytocin prompts us to seek human contact. This can prove to be an adaptive response though, since our body is attempting to solve our problem (stress) by making us want to seek help.

In short, what I took away from this TED-Talk:

1. Talk to someone! Oxytocin is healing to your heart and helps repair damage, and this hormone can be released in times of intimacy and social interaction.

2. Learn to associate stress positively instead of negatively. Your body acts in response to your brain, so if you see stress in a different light, your body will too.


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B.C.’s New Mental-Health Plan

In reaction to the mental health crisis within Vancouver’s downtown east side, as stated by Mayor Gregor Robertson and our police chief, the B.C. Government has announced a new action plan. This includes a new nine-to-twelve bed psychiatric assessment unit at St. Paul’s Hospital and five new “high-intensity” group homes.
This concern was brought about from the soaring number of mental health patients being admitted to St. Paul’s. Being located in downtown, the hospital is often seeing patients with drug addictions and mental health disorders, many of which are untreated. Not only is the hospital underprepared for assisting these patients, but as well, the police officers that handle emergencies on the street. Fortunately, the police chief is committed to implementing more training for the officers to ensure the level of escalation is reduced and to limit the number of arrests made against homeless individuals.
Of course, with any action plan, it must be implemented with care and dedication in order to see meaningful change. Health Minister Terry Lake has suggested a committee of Vancouver stakeholders to study “evidence-based” strategies to plan the next steps of action. It is important, however, that this committee be created immediately in order to put the funding in the most urgent areas of care. A positive initiative is the outreach team based at St. Paul’s that ensures patients are following through on their treatment plan.
With about half the people living in the city’s residential hotels living with a mental health disorder, this plan is a necessity for the welfare of the most vulnerable. It is certainly a step in the right direction and hopefully the statistics will improve for treating and caring for the homeless.

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Sleepy and Hungry: A Bad Combination?

A recent study done on 24 people at UC Berkeley has revealed that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to select higher calorie foods to eat compared to people who are not sleep-deprived. Not enough sleep was associated with increased activity in the reward centers of the brain, particularly the area of the frontal lobes that deals with self-control. These findings are contrary to the belief that sleep deprivation has something to do with increasing levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin.



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