Mental Health Decisions in this Era of Information Overload

Two of my kids just had their annual dental checkups. The dentist, who I like very much, recommends that they have their wisdom teeth removed. Sort of straightforward, except that a growing number of oral health professionals have moved away from prophylactic extractions. What should we do?

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Making good healthcare decisions in this era of information overload is challenging. We have easy access to gobs of information, but we don’t know which sources we can trust. True for wisdom tooth extraction. Especially true for mental health issues. This is why I want to recommend that you check out Critica. A public health and behavioral health platform led by Drs. Sara and Jack Gorman, Critica delivers intelligent, well-researched, insightful analysis of current mental health topics. Here are five that I have found particularly interesting:


To CBD Or Not to CBD. This is an informative article about the lack of scientific evidence behind the bonanza of products related to cannabidiol (CBD). It shares details about the few studies that do exist for CBD in humans and gives three possible explanations for why people are using CBD even without robust evidence of its effectiveness for mental health.


Are Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tactics Misguided? Facebook’s policy of marking and responding to potential posts about suicide has caused controversy around data privacy, the accuracy of artificial intelligence, and Facebook’s oversight role. This piece overviews both sides of the debate by focusing on scientific and ethical challenges for suicide prevention efforts on social media.


Is Universal Screening for Depression a Good Idea? While universal screening for depression has the potential to increase treatment and lower the overall burden of mental health disability, screening is only a first step. And should it be taken if the next steps of care are not in place? This article outlines key factors, such as lack of health care access and the varied costs associated with false positive screenings, that make universal screening for depression not a simple recommendation.


Does Bullying Cause Suicide? No one thinks bullying is a good thing, and being bullied is associated with an increase in poor mental health and even suicide. But does this mean bullying causes suicide? Drs. Gorman explore the complex relationship between bullying and suicide in this piece.


All Is Not Well With Wellness. Testimonials emphasize the transformative power of wellness programs to change people’s lives for the better. But testimonials are not a clinical trial. Highlighting a trial from the University of Illinois, this article raises the concern that “wellness” efforts, no matter how valiant, have yet to provide strong scientific evidence for improved health outcomes.

As my kids and I seek out reliable guidance to inform our thinking about whether to go ahead with scheduling appointments to extract those wisdom teeth, I hope you will find Critica a valuable resource for questions you may have about mental health.

Kathleen M. Pike, PhD

Kathleen M. Pike, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Global Mental Health WHO Collaborating Centre at Columbia University
[email protected]