Using Digital To Address The Mental Health ‘Silent Epidemic’

Digital tools and platforms are a natural fit for overcoming the top barriers to getting mental healthcare: accessibility, cost and social stigma, says Emily Thayer, a Senior Consultant within Cognizant Consulting’s Healthcare Practice.

Untreated mental health conditions have long been a top healthcare concern. In 2019, fewer than half of Americans with a diagnosed mental illness received treatment for that condition, according to the US National Institute of Mental Health.

Not only is untreated mental illness detrimental to patients’ health — it’s also a strain on national healthcare costs. In fact, mental health disorders cost the US economy an estimated $4.6 billion per year in unnecessary ER visits and $300 billion in lost workplace productivity, making mental health disorders among the most costly untreated conditions in the US.

The pandemic has only accelerated the need for care — according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, over 40% of US adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in January 2021, compared with 11% in the first six months of 2019. Given the well-documented therapist shortages that have resulted, the concern of connecting patients with care has only grown more acute.

It’s no wonder, then, that interest and investment are growing in digitally oriented mental healthcare, from platforms that match therapists with patients, to chatbots, to online cognitive behavioral therapy tools. Although emerging digital solutions are nascent and will inevitably encounter friction, virtual remedies show great promise in lowering the barriers that both practitioners and patients face.

Consider how digital tools can address the top three factors that have historically kept patients from seeking mental health care: accessibility, cost and social stigma.

Improving accessibility to mental health treatment

As of May 2021, over 125 million Americans live in a behavioral or mental health professional shortage area. This gap will continue to widen as the pandemic exacerbates the therapist shortage.

To expand accessibility to behavioral health services, companies like Quartet and Talkspace are using telehealth platforms to connect patients and therapists. By leveraging clinical algorithms, these platforms identify available therapists based on the patient’s symptoms, state of residence (due to cross-state licensing restrictions), insurance carrier, preferred mode of communication (synchronous video or audio and asynchronous text messaging) and desired appointment cadence.

In other words, if you have a connected device, you can receive on-demand care for your behavioral health condition. Digital accessibility also addresses physician shortages and burnout on a national scale.

As these entities are still relatively new to the market, challenges and questions remain, such as the fundamental disconnect between virtual treatment and physician intervention in a clinical setting. As patient adoption grows, enough accurate data will be generated to prompt when physician intervention is necessary.

Additionally, these telehealth platforms are more geared toward mild cases, as these services do not replace the necessary stages of the care continuum that may be needed for more serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Lowering behavioral healthcare costs

An estimated 47% of US adults with an untreated behavioral or mental health illness do not seek treatment due to high costs.

Many entities in the private and public sectors are turning to virtual services to help patients better afford behavioral and mental health services. For instance, traditional in-person therapy ranges from $64 to $250 per hour, depending on patient insurance, whereas digital solutions can cost under $32 per hour.

Accordingly, many workplaces are incorporating digital solutions into their employee-sponsored health plans through health platforms like Ginger, which offers 24×7 access to behavioral health coaches via asynchronous texting for low-acuity conditions like anxiety and depression.

Recent moves by the federal government further bolster the effort to make behavioral healthcare affordable. In addition to the US Department of Health and Human Services announcing an additional $3 billion in funding to address pandemic-related behavioral and mental health issues, the Biden administration has signaled commitment to expanding access to telehealth services for underserved communities. Such efforts will need to be combined with further work in the private sector to ensure mental healthcare affordability through virtual means.

Overcoming negative social stigma

Perceived social stigma is an additional barrier for many people seeking mental health treatment. In a study of patients with schizophrenia, 86% of respondents reported concealing their illness due to fears of prejudice or discrimination.

To circumvent these challenges, some mental health providers have embraced artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots and online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) tools. Although chatting with a bot may seem counterintuitive to the “high-touch” nature of the healthcare industry, the anonymity of this approach can ease patient anxiety about opening up to another potentially judgmental human.

In a randomized control trial with a conversational agent that delivers CBT treatment, patients reported a 22% reduction in depression and anxiety within the first two weeks. This study shows promise for the effectiveness of chatbot-based therapy, particularly for younger generations, many of whom already share many intimate details of their lives on digital forums and hence have a higher level of acceptance of these tools. Older generations may view the adoption of this new behavioral care model with more incredulity and hesitancy.

A virtual future for behavioral healthcare

It is clear that the virtual care industry is poised for future growth, as there is a clear correlation between our understanding of behavioral healthcare challenges and the evolution of treatment modalities to bridge those gaps.

While digital services may not be a cure-all remedy for behavioral health, they certainly offer a promising long-term solution to one of the country’s most prominent and costly diseases.

To learn more, visit our Healthcare solutions section or contact us.

Emily Thayer is a Senior Consultant within Cognizant Consulting’s Healthcare Practice, who specializes in driving digital transformation. Emily has a proven track record in both the private and public sectors, most notably in health plan strategy and operations, business development and project management. Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in business management and psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Oxford, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She can be reached at Emily.Thayer@cognizant.com

Source: Using Digital To Address The Mental Health ‘Silent Epidemic’

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5G Technology Begins To Expand Beyond Smartphones

Proponents of 5G technology have long said it will remake much of day-to-day life. The deployment of superfast 5G networks is believed to herald a new era for much more than smartphones – everything from advanced virtual-reality video games to remote heart surgery. The vision has been slow to come to mind, but the first wave of 5G-enabled gadgets is emerging.

Last among the first uses of 5G to enter the consumer market is the delivery of home broadband Internet service to cord-cutters: those who want to not only drop their cable-TV bills but also give up internet access via wires altogether. give. For example, Samsung Electronics Co. has partnered with Verizon Communications Inc. to offer a wireless 5G router. Which promises to provide broadband access at home. The router takes a 5G signal just like a smartphone.

Other consumer devices that are starting to hit the market include 5G-compatible laptops from several manufacturers, all of which are faster than other laptops and offer high-quality video viewing when connected to a 5G network. (The laptop requires a 5G chip to make that connection.)

In the latest: Lenovo Group Ltd., in association with AT&T Inc., in August released a 5G laptop, the ThinkPad X13 5G. The device, which started shipping last month, comes with a 13.3-inch screen and retails for around $1,500. Samsung also introduced a new laptop in June that offers 5G connectivity. The Galaxy Book Go 5G has a 14-inch screen, and retails for around $800.

OK, but what if you want a 5G connection on your yacht, miles offshore? You have good luck. Meridian 5G, a Monaco-based provider of internet services for superyachts – the really big ones – advertises 5G Dome Routers, a combination of antennas and modems that are within about 60 miles of the coast to access 5G connectivity. Allows sailing. Hardware costs about $17,000 for an average-sized Superyacht.

America is ready for China’s Huawei, and it just happened

Of course, all of these gadgets are only useful where 5G networks are available, which still doesn’t cover a lot of locations, onshore or off. The same holds true for new drone technology unveiled by Qualcomm Inc in August with 5G and artificial-intelligence capabilities. The company says the technology called Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform enables high-quality photo and video collection.

Drones equipped with 5G technology can be used in a variety of industries, including filming, mapping and emergency services like firefighting, Qualcomm notes. For example, due to new camera technology enabled by 5G, drones can be used for mapping large areas of land and for rapidly transferring data for analysis and processing.

Proponents of 5G technology have long said it will remake much of day-to-day life, bringing the so-called Internet of Things to a point where you can name any number of devices—home and office appliances, Industrial equipment, hospital equipment, vehicles, etc.—will be connected to the Internet and exchange data with the cloud at a speed that will allow for new capabilities.

“The goal of 5G, when we have a mature 5G network globally, is to make sure everything is connected to the cloud 100% of the time,” Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said at a conference in Germany last month.

But it will take years for 5G devices to become widespread, analysts say, as network coverage expands and markets develop for all those advanced new products.

By: Meghan Bobrowsky

Meghan Bobrowsky is reporter with the tech team. She is a graduate of Scripps College. She previously interned for The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Sacramento Bee. As an intern at the Miami Herald, she spent the summer of 2020 investigating COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and federal Paycheck Protection Program fraud. She previously served as editor in chief of her school newspaper, the Student Life.

Source: 5G technology begins to expand beyond smartphones

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Influencer Sues Pinterest, Alleging She Cofounded The Company and Might’ve Been A Billionaire Today

A widely followed Pinterest influencer has filed a lawsuit against the company and its billionaire cofounders, saying she helped start the business but was cut out of any financial rewards.

Christine Martinez, a former Walmart executive turned online personality, says she counseled Pinterest founders Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra as they initially worked on the firm around its start in 2008. According to the lawsuit, Martinez advised the pair on many different aspects of the company, including its signature visual-bookmarking feature and the ability to create collections of images called “boards,” and helped find influencers to promote the site. She originally met Silbermann through her husband, who had lived with Silbermann while studying at Yale.

Martinez says she never had anything in writing about her status as a cofounder but expected to be compensated similar to Silbermann, Sciarra and a third cofounder, Evan Sharp. Silbermann remains Pinterest’s CEO, and Sharp works there still as its chief design and creative officer. Sciarra left Pinterest within a few years of its founding. Silbermann and Sciarra retain billion-dollar stakes in the company.

A Pinterest spokesperson dismissed Martinez’s story as “completely without merit and we will defend our position in court.” In the litigation, Martinez accused Silbermann and Sciarra of breach of implied contract, idea theft, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices.

Martinez’s allegations will likely revive questions about how Pinterest, a social network popular among women, treats its female executives. Last year, Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, Françoise Brougher, sued the company, alleging gender discrimination. Pinterest settled in December for $22.5 million but only after additional comments and stories about racism and inequities at the company surfaced from other Pinterest workers, prompting a virtual staff walkout last August.

In court documents, Martinez’s attorneys say she believed she’d be rewarded after the company went public, which it did in 2019. If that is the case, it would’ve been hard to sit on the sideline recently: The company shares struggled at first but soared during last year’s coronavirus lockdown—they trade for around $55 today, roughly double from the IPO—as Pinterest saw a marked increase in users.

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I’m a senior editor at Forbes, where I cover social media, creators and internet culture. In the past, I’ve edited across Forbes magazine and Forbes.com.

Source: Influencer Sues Pinterest, Alleging She Cofounded The Company—And Might’ve Been A Billionaire Today

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Neuroscientist: Do These 6 Exercises Everyday To Build Resilience and Mental Strength

When I first began researching anxiety in my lab as a neuroscientist, I never thought of myself as an anxious person. That is, until I started noticing the words used by my subjects, colleagues, friends and even myself to describe how we were feeling — “worried,” “on edge,” stressed out,” “distracted,” “nervous,” “ready to give up.”

But what I’ve found over the years is that the most powerful way to combat anxiety is to consistently work on building your resilience and mental strength. Along the way, you’ll learn to appreciate or even welcome certain kinds of mistakes for all the new information they bring you.

Here are six daily exercises I use to build my resilience and mental strength:

1. Visualize positive outcomes

At the beginning or at the end of each day, think through all those uncertain situations currently in your life — both big and small. Will I get a good performance review? Will my kid settle well in his new school? Will I hear back after my job interview?

Now take each of those and visualize the most optimistic and amazing outcome to the situation. Not just the “okay” outcome, but the best possible one you could imagine.

This isn’t to set you up for an even bigger disappointment if you don’t end up getting the job offer. Instead, it should build the muscle of expecting the positive outcome and might even open up ideas for what more you might do to create that outcome of your dreams.

2. Turn anxiety into progress

Our brain’s plasticity is what enables us to be resilient during challenging times — to learn how to calm down, reassess situations, reframe our thoughts and make smarter decisions.

And it’s easier to take advantage of this when we remind ourselves that anxiety doesn’t always have to be bad. Consider the below:

  • Anger could block your attention and ability to perform, OR it could fuel and motivate you; sharpen your attention; and serve as a reminder of what’s important.
  • Fear could trigger memories of past failures; rob your attention and focus; and undermine your performance, OR it could make you more careful about your decisions; deepen your reflection; and create opportunities for changing direction.
  • Sadness could flatten out your mood and demotivate you, OR it could help you reprioritize and motivate you to change your environment, circumstances and behavior.
  • Worry could make you procrastinate and get in the way of accomplishing goals, OR it could help you fine-tune your plans; adjust your expectations; and become more realistic and goal-oriented.
  • Frustration could stymie your progress and steal your motivation, OR it could innervate and challenge you to do more or better.

These comparisons may seem simplistic, but they point to powerful choices that produce tangible outcomes.

3. Try something new

These days, it’s easier than ever to take a new online class, join a local sports club or participate in a virtual event.

Not too long ago, I joined Wimbledon champ Venus Williams in an Instagram Live workout, where she was using Prosecco bottles as her weights. I’d never done something like that before. It turned out to be a fantastic and memorable experience.

My point is that for free (or only a small fee) you can push your brain and body to try something you never would have considered before. It doesn’t have to be a workout, and it doesn’t have to be hard — it can be something right above your level or just slightly outside of your comfort zone.

4. Reach out

Being able to ask for help, staying connected to friends and family, and actively nurturing supportive, encouraging relationships not only enables you to keep anxiety at bay, but also shores up the sense that you’re not alone.

It isn’t easy to cultivate, but the belief and feeling that you are surrounded by people who care about you is crucial during times of enormous stress — when you need to fall back on your own resilience in order to persevere and maintain your well-being.

When we are suffering from loss or other forms of distress, it’s natural to withdraw. We even see this kind of behavior in animals who are mourning. Yet you also have the power to push yourself into the loving embrace of those who can help take care of you.

5. Practice positive self-tweeting

Lin-Manual Miranda published a book about the tweets he sends out at the beginning and end of each day. In it, he shares what are essentially upbeat little messages that are funny, singsongy and generally delightful.

If you watch him in his interviews, you’ll see an inherently mentally strong and optimistic person. How do you get to be that resilient, productive and creative?

Clearly, part of the answer is coming up with positive reminders. You don’t necessarily need to share them with the public. The idea is to boost yourself up at the beginning and at the end of the day.

This can be difficult for those of us who automatically beat ourselves up at the drop of a hat. Instead, think about what your biggest supporter in life — a partner, sibling, friend, mentor or parent — would tell you, and then tweet or say it to yourself.

6. Immerse yourself in nature

Science has shown again and again that spending time in nature has positive effects on our mental health. A 2015 study, for example, found that it can significantly increased your emotional well-being and resilience.

You don’t need live next to a forest to immerse yourself in nature. A nearby park or any quiet environment with greenery where there aren’t that many people around will work just fine.

Breathe, relax and become aware of the sounds, smells and sights. Use all your senses to create a heightened awareness of the natural world. This exercise boosts your overall resilience as it acts as a kind of restoration of energy and reset to your equilibrium.

 

By: Wendy Suzuki, Contributor

 

Wendy Suzuki, PhD, is a neuroscientist and professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. She is also the author of “Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion.” Follow her on Twitter @wasuzuki.

Source: Neuroscientist: Do these 6 exercises every day to build resilience and mental strength

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How To Support Kids Who Are Anxious About Returning School

Back-to-school jitters are normal every fall. But as families prepare for the beginning of the 2021–22 school year, these run-of-the-mill worries are colliding with fresh uncertainties about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving kids and parents more anxious than usual.

Parents can use many strategies to help their children handle this challenging situation, according to Elizabeth Reichert, clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“I often talk to parents about being the lighthouse in their child’s storm, the light that shines steadily in a predictable rhythm and doesn’t waver no matter how big the storm is,” Reichert said. “Their job is to be that lighthouse.”

Reichert spoke with science writer Erin Digitale about how parents can help ensure that budding students of any age—from preschool to high school—are ready to handle anxieties as the school year begins.

Erin Digitale: What are some concerns kids may have?

Elizabeth Reichert: Lots of things come to mind. Many kids are going to a new school for the first time: Maybe they’re starting middle school, preschool, or kindergarten. Those are big transitions in nonpandemic times. With the pandemic, we might see more stress in kids of all ages.

Children may have concerns specific to the pandemic, such as the mandate that California students must wear masks while indoors at school. Kids who are more anxious may ask a lot of questions: “How am I going to keep my mask on all day? What if I want to take it off? What are the rules around it?” They may have increased fear of getting sick, too.

For some children and teens, it will be the first time they’ve been in close proximity to groups of people in a very long time, which brings up concerns about social interactions. For kids in middle and high school, social dynamics are especially important. They’ve just had a year and a half of navigating their social lives in the virtual world, and now they’re re-navigating how to manage social dynamics in person. Social interactions may feel more emotionally draining.

Also, not all kids are the same. With virtual learning, some children really struggled to stay engaged and motivated, grasp the material, and remain connected with friends and teachers. But there were other children, often those who were shyer or had difficulties in large-group settings, who thrived. For those more introverted kiddos, if they’ve been in a comfort zone at home, going back to large groups may be a more difficult transition.

ED: What signs might parents see that children are feeling anxious or otherwise struggling emotionally?

ER: This depends on the age of the child. Among little ones, parents may see increased tearfulness about going to preschool or day care, clingy behavior, or regression in milestones such as potty training. With school-aged children, parents may see resistance to going to school, oppositional behavior, and somatic complaints such as stomachaches or headaches.

That’s going to be really tricky to navigate because schools now have strict guidelines about not coming to school sick. For teens, there may also be school refusal and withdrawn behavior, such as staying isolated in their rooms, or more irritability and moodiness. Risky behavior such as substance abuse may also increase.

Parents can expect some distress and worry during the first few weeks after any transition—especially now, when children are being asked to do many new things all at once. That can affect energy levels and emotional reserves. But if there is a major change from a child’s or teen’s baseline behavior that doesn’t dissipate after a couple of weeks—such as a teenager who is withdrawing more and more and refusing to engage in typical activities, or a child who is progressively more distressed—that is a red flag. Parents may want to consider seeking help at that point.

ED: What proactive steps can parents take before school begins?

ER: Parents can start talking about going back, listening to what’s on their child’s mind, and engaging kids in the fun components of returning to school, such as picking out school supplies or a new T-shirt—something they can get excited about. They can also walk or drive by the school or visit its playground to build excitement. It may also be helpful to start practicing saying goodbye and leaving the house, encouraging independent play, and helping children adjust to being away from their parents.

If bedtimes have drifted later during summer vacation, parents can shift the family schedule during the week or two before school starts to get back in the habit of going to bed and waking up earlier. They can also reestablish other pre-pandemic routines that worked well for the family.

ED: If a child still feels distressed, what should parents do to help?

ER: If a child remains anxious, there are key steps parents can take. When our children are upset, our natural is instinct to remove the distress they’re experiencing. But the first step is not jumping straight to problem solving.

The first step is to listen, to create space to hear the kid’s concerns. Acknowledge what they’re feeling even if you don’t agree with it. The child should feel that they’re being heard, that it is OK to feel what they are feeling, and that they have space to talk to Mom or Dad.

Once parents have a better sense of what’s going on, they should try to work collaboratively with the child to figure out a plan. They can ask: What does the child feel like they’re capable of doing? What can Mom or Dad do to help? Who else could help—a friend, sibling, another family member? If, for example, a child refuses to go to school, parents can say, “How can we make it feel easier?” while also communicating to the child that, ultimately, it’s their job to go to school.

By creating small opportunities for getting through difficult situations and coping with their worries, children will build the confidence and the independence they need to feel more in control and less afraid. It’s important to remember that children are resilient and adaptable, and, for many, after a period of transition, they will find their groove.

Parents can also elicit the help of the school and teacher. Teachers know this is a big transition for kids, and they are gearing up to help.

ED: Parents feel anxiety about this transition, too. What healthy coping strategies can they use to make sure they manage their own stress instead of expressing it in ways that may increase their child’s distress?

ER: Parents are the biggest models for our kids. If our kids see us really anxious about something, they’re going to feed off that. Parents need to be mindful of their own emotions so they can self-regulate and become present for their child.

We want to be steady sources of support for our children. It’s also fine to say we feel worried or we don’t know the answer, because that shows it’s OK to feel those things. The problem is when our worries get too big, when we’re no longer calm, or we are saying and doing things we don’t want to model for our children.

It’s essential to find moments for self-care. Taking even just a couple of deep breaths in the moment, taking a bathroom break, getting a drink of water, or doing other things that create a brief transition for yourself, a moment to regulate your feelings, is helpful. Think back to what worked for you before the pandemic, and try getting even a small inkling of that back, such as five minutes a day of moving your body if exercise helps you. This is not only important for you as a parent, but it also shows your child that you have strategies to take care of yourself.

We can also invite our children into healthy coping activities with us: A parent can say to a school-aged or older child, “I’m feeling pretty stressed about this, and for me, going for a walk helps me clear my head. Do you want to go for a walk with me?” Parents and young kids can blow bubbles together—small kids enjoy it, and you can talk about how big breaths for bubbles help everyone feel better.

If they need more help, parents can seek resources from the teachers and support staff at their child’s school, from their pediatrician, and from online resources at the Stanford Parenting Center at Stanford Children’s Health.

Source: How to Support Kids Who Are Anxious About Returning…

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U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Have Lost Another $150 Billion In Market Value This Week As Beijing Targets ‘Excessive’ Wealth

Shares of Chinese tech giants trading in the United States struggled to pare losses Friday amid intensifying concerns over China’s efforts to impose sweeping new regulations on its publicly traded companies over the next several years, yielding market value losses of more than $150 billion for the 10 largest U.S.-listed Chinese stocks this week alone.

Key Facts

As of 2:45 p.m. EDT, shares of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, the largest Chinese company listed in the U.S., were among the hardest hit, down more than 15% on the New York Stock Exchange over the past week to $157, deflating its market capitalization to $424 billion.

Fellow online retailers JD.com and Pinduoduo, posted similarly staggering losses, wiping out about $20 billion and $10 billion in market value this week, respectively, despite ticking up about 2% Friday.

“China remains a huge source of global concern,” market analyst Adam Crisafulli of Vital Knowledge Media wrote in a Friday email, pointing to the nation’s strengthening regulatory campaign against corporations and actions that last month included demanding online education companies end their for-profit business models.

This week, shares of Chinese stocks have crashed steadily since Tuesday, when President Xi Jinping vowed to redistribute wealth in the nation by regulating “excessively high incomes”—spurring a sell-off that crushed shares of European luxury companies that do big business in China, like LVMH and Gucci-parent Kering.

U.S.-listed shares of online-gaming company NetEase, electric carmaker NIO and Internet firm Baidu plunged 11%, 10% and 10%, respectively, this week.

All told, the 10 largest Chinese companies trading in the United States have lost about $153 billion in market value since last week—more than 15% of their combined market value of roughly $940 billion.

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Key Background

In a matter of weeks, China has introduced harsh regulations targeting wide swaths of its economy and showing investors how risky investing in its market can be, Tom Essaye, author of the Sevens Report, wrote in a recent note. “Yes, there’s a huge market and lots of growth potential, but obviously there are regulatory risks that seem to be growing larger with every passing month,” said Essaye.

Last week, officials released a sweeping five-year blueprint for the crackdown, covering virtually every sector in its market. Then on Wednesday, China’s market regulators published a long list of draft rules targeting tech companies, barring them from using data to influence consumer choices and “traffic hijacking activities,” among other things.

Crucial Quote

“This is all a stark reminder that the current regulatory crackdown from Beijing is not going to let up,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a Thursday note, forecasting U.S. tech stocks, which are outperforming the broader market Friday, should benefit from the tech-focused crackdown in China over the next year. “The fear with more regulation in China around the corner is a major worry that is hard for investors to digest, and it will ultimately cause more of a rotation from the China tech sector to U.S. tech.”

Surprising Fact

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China index, which tracks Chinese businesses trading in the United States, is down 9% this week and has crashed 51% from a February all-time high.

Further Reading

U.S., European Investment Banks May Have Lost Some $12 Billion As Chinese Education Firms Crashed (Forbes)

China’s Internet Tycoons Suffer $13.6 Billion Wealth Drop As Regulatory Crackdown Triggers Market Sell-Off (Forbes)

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism

Source: U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Have Lost Another $150 Billion In Market Value This Week As Beijing Targets ‘Excessive’ Wealth

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Market News

1h Does the US economy need another $480 billion in stimulus? – CNN Business
2h Top Wall Street analysts say these stocks are long-term buys – CNBC
22h Gold fails at $1,800, another selloff might be on its way – Kitco
1d Fed To Taper This Year – What Are the Odds? – Benzinga
1d Half a trillion dollars erased from China markets in a week – New York Post
1d US Indexes Close Higher Friday – GuruFocus
1d Taking Stock of Small-Cap Earnings – Zacks Investment Research
1d Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium to take place virtually due to Covid risk – CNBC
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Deeply Empathetic People Process Music Differently in Their Brains

People with who deeply feel the pain or happiness of others differ in the way their brains process music, according to one study. The researchers found that those with higher empathy process familiar music with greater involvement of the reward system of the brain, as well as in areas responsible for processing social information.

“High-empathy and low-empathy people share a lot in common when listening to music, including roughly equivalent involvement in the regions of the brain related to auditory, emotion, and sensory-motor processing,” said lead author Zachary Wallmark, an assistant professor in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.

But there is at least one significant difference. Highly empathic people process familiar music with greater involvement of the brain’s social circuitry, such as the areas activated when feeling empathy for others. They also seem to experience a greater degree of pleasure in listening, as indicated by increased activation of the reward system.

“This may indicate that music is being perceived weakly as a kind of social entity, as an imagined or virtual human presence,” Wallmark said. Researchers in 2014 reported that about 20 percent of the population is highly empathic. These are people who are especially sensitive and respond strongly to social and emotional stimuli.

This SMU-UCLA study is the first to find evidence supporting a neural account of the music-empathy connection. Also, it is among the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore how empathy affects the way we perceive music. The  study indicates that among higher-empathy people, at least, music is not solely a form of artistic expression.

“If music was not related to how we process the social world, then we likely would have seen no significant difference in the brain activation between high-empathy and low-empathy people,” said Wallmark, who is director of the MuSci Lab at SMU, an interdisciplinary research collective that studies—among other things—how music affects the brain.

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“This tells us that over and above appreciating music as high art, music is about humans interacting with other humans and trying to understand and communicate with each other,” he said. This may seem obvious.

“But in our culture we have a whole elaborate system of music education and music thinking that treats music as a sort of disembodied object of aesthetic contemplation,” Wallmark said.

“In contrast, the results of our study help explain how music connects us to others. This could have implications for how we understand the function of music in our world, and possibly in our evolutionary past.”

The researchers reported their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, in the article “Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening.”

“The study shows on one hand the power of empathy in modulating music perception, a phenomenon that reminds us of the original roots of the concept of empathy—’feeling into’ a piece of art,” said senior author Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

“On the other hand,” Iacoboni said, “the study shows the power of music in triggering the same complex social processes at work in the brain that are at play during human social interactions.”

Comparison of brain scans showed distinctive differences based on empathy

Participants were 20 UCLA undergraduate students. They were each scanned in an MRI machine while listening to excerpts of music that were either familiar or unfamiliar to them, and that they either liked or disliked. The familiar music was selected by participants prior to the scan.

Afterward each person completed a standard questionnaire to assess individual differences in empathy—for example, frequently feeling sympathy for others in distress, or imagining oneself in another’s shoes.

READ: MIT Scientists Spin Some Music Out of Spider Webs – And it Sounds Otherworldly (Listen)

The researchers then did controlled comparisons to see which areas of the brain during music listening are correlated with empathy.

Analysis of the brain scans showed that high empathizers experienced more activity in the dorsal striatum, part of the brain’s reward system, when listening to familiar music, whether they liked the music or not.

The reward system is related to pleasure and other positive emotions. Malfunction of the area can lead to addictive behaviors.

Empathic people process music with involvement of social cognitive circuitry

In addition, the brain scans of higher empathy people in the study also recorded greater activation in medial and lateral areas of the prefrontal cortex that are responsible for processing the social world, and in the temporoparietal junction, which is critical to analyzing and understanding others’ behaviors and intentions.

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Typically, those areas of the brain are activated when people are interacting with, or thinking about, other people. Observing their correlation with empathy during music listening might indicate that music to these listeners functions as a proxy for a human encounter.

Beyond analysis of the brain scans, the researchers also looked at purely behavioral data— answers to a survey asking the listeners to rate the music afterward. Those data also indicated that higher empathy people were more passionate in their musical likes and dislikes, such as showing a stronger preference for unfamiliar music.

Precise Neurophysiological relationship between empathy and music is largely unexplored

A large body of research has focused on the cognitive neuroscience of empathy—how we understand and experience the thoughts and emotions of other people. Studies point to a number of areas of the prefrontal, insular, and cingulate cortices as being relevant to what brain scientists refer to as social cognition.

Activation of the social circuitry in the brain varies from individual to individual. People with more empathic personalities show increased activity in those areas when performing socially relevant tasks, including watching a needle penetrating skin, listening to non-verbal vocal sounds, observing emotional facial expressions, or seeing a loved one in pain.

CHECK OUT: Americans Choose the Best Road Trip Tunes Of All Time — For Your Summer Playlist

In the field of music psychology, a number of recent studies have suggested that empathy is related to intensity of emotional responses to music, listening style, and musical preferences—for example, empathic people are more likely to enjoy sad music.

“This study contributes to a growing body of evidence,” Wallmark said, “that music processing may piggyback upon cognitive mechanisms that originally evolved to facilitate social interaction.”

Source: Deeply Empathetic People Process Music Differently in Their Brains

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More Contents:

When Meditation Makes You Generous (and When It Doesn’t)

What Helpful Rats Can Teach Us About Humanity

Seven Ways to Fight Bias in Your Everyday Life

Six Ways to Boost Your “Habits of Helping”

The Biology of Empathy

Do Mirror Neurons Give Us Empathy?

The Compassionate Species

Does Playing Music Boost Kids’ Empathy?

Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

Open plan office

In some ways the coming weeks and months are likely to be more difficult for organizations and employees than the past year or so has been. With governments increasingly intent on opening up economies effectively closed down by the pandemic, uncertainty is rife.

Employers and staff alike are caught between wanting to go back to something like normal and not wishing to take too many risks, especially since the Delta variant of the coronavirus is pushing spikes in new cases even in countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. where significant proportions of the population have been at least partially vaccinated.

One factor that could be behind the unease about rushing back to normal working habits is a feeling that, just as governments made mistakes in the handling of the crisis, so too did organizations. According to a survey just out from the finance comparison platform NerdWallet, a third of the U.K.’s business leaders are dissatisfied with the way that staff have been managed through the pandemic.

A similar proportion said that financial stability and business productivity was put ahead of staff safety. Unsurprisingly perhaps, more than half of the nearly 1,000 decision-makers questioned said they planned to carry out a review of how they had handled things. However, nearly half have already invested in new equipment designed to improve health and safety and to facilitate social distancing, while more than half have introduced greater flexibility to working hours.

Employers’ definitions of flexibility appear to be, well, flexible. An insight into the current situation is provided by the consultancy Mercer in its latest survey of working policies and practices among nearly 600 employers in the U.S.. The key findings were:

  • Hybrid working — a blend of in-person and remote working — was favoured by vast majority.
  • Predominantly office-based working was the preference of a fifth of employers.
  • Fully remote or virtual-first working was the choice of just 6% of employers
  • A distributed model making increased use of satellite campuses was likely to be adopted by just 4%.

Mercer’s research and analysis suggests that, across all industries, the proportion of the workforce working on-site full-time is likely to be about 40%. The hybrid category will probably be split, with about 29% of the workforce working remotely one or two days a week and approximately 17% doing so three or four days a week. About 14% of workers are expected to work remotely full-time.

The challenge for employers will be deciding how they can retain the employee experience and hang on to talent. Lauren Mason, principal in Mercer’s career business, and Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of Mercer’s transformation business, suggest five principles to consider:

  1. Empower teams but set guidelines:  Nearly all employers plan to bring in changes to working policies as a result of the pandemic. Nearly half are already actively developing a strategy, while nearly a quarter of employers are in the process of implementing or have already implemented plans. Employers can and should empower teams to continue to work flexibly but they should also establish guidelines to maximize business outcomes and ensure a consistent employee experience.
  2. Keep a pulse on the market and your competition: Flexibility will likely have a high impact on an organization’s ability to retain talent. If employees are unhappy about employers’ flexible working plans, they will be likely to consider other workplaces that might better meet their needs.
  3. Don’t rush to get employees to the office: Employers should focus on returning employees in a way where co-working benefits can be maximized immediately. They should concentrate on making workers feel energized, empowered and engaged to be back together with their colleagues. This may entail phased transitions, where employees may only initially come in one or two days a week, planned team meetings or on-site social events and celebrations to make those early office days more purposeful.
  4. Stay agile: Workers do not want or need a standardized solution. Employers can demonstrate a continued trust and sense of partnership that was so valued during the pandemic by providing options that are appropriate for the work being performed. The key is to give employees some control and flexibility.
  5. Don’t limit flexibility to remote work: Flexible working is about more than remote working. Inclusive flexibility ensures that all jobs can be flexible when needed. Given the massive challenges employers are facing in attracting and retaining workers, options such as flexible schedules or compressed workweeks can be a huge differentiator. Progressive companies are not just challenging “when” and “where” work is done but also how the it is done, who does it and what the work is.
Check out my website.

I am a U.K.-based journalist with a longstanding interest in management. In a career dating back to the days before newsroom computers I have covered everything from popular music to local politics. I was for many years an editor and writer at the “Independent” and “Independent on Sunday” and have written three books, the most recent of which is “What you need to know about business.”

Source: Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

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More on Work & Jobs

Haven’t Checked On That Bitcoin Account In A While? Your State Could Have It Liquidated

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If you know you have an old bitcoin or dogecoin account somewhere but haven’t gotten around the digging up your login information, you may have a nasty surprise waiting for you. With the rise of cryptocurrency, nine states have now adopted rules that include it as a form of unclaimed property and several more are requiring or recommending that companies report their unclaimed virtual currency.

That means that this fall, when banks, insurers, retailers and state government agencies are required to annually report and remit any unclaimed funds, your old cryptocurrency account could be liquidated and turned in to the state’s unclaimed property office.

There are a lot of concerns about this possibility, not the least of which is the fact that liquidating a cryptocurrency account prevents the owner from realizing any future gains. But there’s also a larger economic issue, says Kristine Butterbaugh a solution principal, at the tax firm Sovos.

“Some of our clients don’t want to liquidate these accounts because it could have an impact on the market as a whole,” she says. “We’re talking millions of accounts, potentially, across the country.”

What’s muddling things is a lack of clarity on the rules around cryptocurrency. Unclaimed property law is written for traditional property but now it’s being enforced for non-traditional property.

Here’s how unclaimed property law usually works: Every fall, businesses are required to remit any unclaimed property to the state. For accounts and other financial instruments to be considered unclaimed, they have to be dormant for three to five years, depending on the state. That means the account holder hasn’t accessed the account or responded to any communications. Once the account is deemed unclaimed, it gets transferred to the state’s general fund.

That’s all well and good when we’re talking about a traditional bank account that is sitting around earning minimal — if any — interest. But states aren’t equipped to hold cryptocurrency, so they’re telling firms to turn those accounts into cash before handing them over.

Now let’s say you watched the meteoric rise of dogecoin this past spring and decided to go hunting for those coins you invested in on a whim a few years ago. And when you finally tracked them down you discovered your account was liquidated back in November, robbing you of thousands of dollars in potential earnings? You’d probably be pretty angry.

“Companies are in a really uncomfortable position because they’re unsure whether or not they should be liquidating for fear of owner retribution down the road,” says Butterbaugh. “And then you have the state saying, ‘You have to,’ even if it’s not explicitly in the statute.”

States are also motivated to enforce unclaimed property laws because it’s a revenue gain for them. Although the state keeps track of the amount due and the rightful owner can still eventually claim the money at any time, states in the meantime can use the money for their general operations. This may seem like a gamble, but only about 2% of unclaimed property ever gets returned to the true owner, according to Accounting Today.

Delaware — home to more than a million companies — is one of the most aggressive states when it comes to auditing companies on unclaimed property law compliance and has secured hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade in unclaimed property and fines.

So, companies are stuck between not wanting to get dinged for noncompliance and being afraid to liquidate a cryptocurrency account. They want more clarity on what to do and Butterbaugh says two places — New York and Washington, D.C. — are working on a solution.

But in the meantime, she advises companies dealing in cryptocurrency to start addressing their dormant accounts now.

I am a fiscal policy expert, national journalist and public speaker who has spent more than 15 years writing about the many ways state and local governments collect and spend taxpayer money. I sift through that complicated information then break it down in quick ways that everyone can understand. I’m most known by policy wonks for my work at Governing magazine and for my fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute of Government where I write about the intersection of government and the future of work. My work is also in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CityLab and other national publications. Frequent and enthusiastic radio and podcast guest.

Source: Haven’t Checked On That Bitcoin Account In A While? Your State Could Have It Liquidated

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Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Price Chart May Show $30,000 as Floor

Bitcoin has been grinding lower in a trading range just above $30,000, prompting cryptocurrency insiders to flag the round number as a potential floor for the virtual coin.

Crypto prognostication is fraught with risk, not least because Bitcoin’s price has roughly halved from a record high three months ago. Even so, some in the industry are coalescing around $30,000 as a support point, citing clues from options activity and recent trading habits.

In options, $30,000 is the most-sold downside strike price for July and August, signaling confidence among such traders that the level will hold, according to Delta Exchange, a crypto derivatives exchange. It “should provide a strong support to the market,” Chief Executive Officer Pankaj Balani said.

Traders are also trying to take advantage of price ranges, including buying between $30,000 and $32,000 and selling in the $34,000 to $36,000 zone, Todd Morakis, co-founder of digital-finance product and service provider JST Capital, said in emailed comments, adding that “the market at the moment seems to paying attention more to bad news than good.”

Bitcoin has been hit by many setbacks of late, including China’s regulatory crackdown — partly over concerns about high energy consumption by crypto miners — and progress in central bank digital-currency projects that could squeeze private coins. The creator of meme-token Dogecoin recently lambasted crypto as basically a sham, and the appetite for speculation is generally in retreat.

Bitcoin traded around $31,600 as of 9:26 a.m. in London and is down about 6% so far this week. It’s still up more than 200% over the past 12 months, despite a rout in calendar 2021.

Konstantin Richter, chief executive officer and founder of Blockdaemon, a blockchain infrastructure provider, holds out hope for institutional demand, arguing Bitcoin would have to drop below $20,000 before institutions start questioning “the validity of the space.”

“If it goes down fast, it can go up fast,” he said in an interview. “That’s just what crypto is.”

— With assistance by Akshay Chinchalkar

Source: Bitcoin (BTC USD) Cryptocurrency Price Chart May Show $30,000 as Floor – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The dramatic pullback in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies comes as a flurry of negative headlines and catalysts, from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to a new round of regulations by the Chinese government, have hit an asset sector that has been characterized by extreme volatility since it was created.

The flagship cryptocurrency fell to more than three-month lows on Wednesday, dropping to about $30,000 at one point for a pullback of more than 30% and continuing a week of selling in the crypto space. Ether, the main coin for the Ethereum blockchain network, was also down sharply and broke below $2,000 at one point, a more than 40% drop in less than 24 hours.

Part of the reason for bitcoin’s weakness seems to be at least a temporary reversal in the theory of broader acceptance for cryptocurrency.

Earlier this year, Musk announced he was buying more than $1 billion of it for his automaker’s balance sheet. Several payments firms announced they were upgrading their capabilities for more crypto actions, and major Wall Street banks began working on crypto trading teams for their clients. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange company, went public through a direct listing in mid-April.

The weakness is not isolated in crypto, suggesting that the moves could be part of a larger rotation by investors away from more speculative trades.

Tech and growth stocks, many of which outperformed the broader market dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, have also struggled in recent weeks.

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