Posts tagged with "Stress"

Study: Climate crisis pushes albatross ‘divorce’ rates higher

November 25, 2021

Albatrosses, some of the world’s most loyally monogamous creatures, are “divorcing” more often—and researchers say global warming may be to blame, The Guardian reports.

In a new Royal Society study of the large oceanic birds found mainly in the North Pacific, researchers say climate change and warming waters are pushing black-browed albatross break-up rates higher. Typically, after choosing a partner, only between 1% and 3% would separate in search of greener romantic pastures.

But in the years with unusually warm water temperatures, that average consistently rose, with up to 8% of couples splitting up. The study looked at a wild population of 15,500 breeding pairs in the Falkland Islands over 15 years.

For seabirds, warmer waters mean fewer fish, less food, and a harsher environment. Fewer chicks survive. The birds’ stress hormones increase. They are forced farther afield to hunt.

As some of the most loyal partners of the animal kingdom, the love lives of albatrosses have long been a subject of scientific study. “There are all these things we think of as being super-duper human,” says Dr. Graeme Elliot, principal science adviser at New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, who has been studying albatrosses in the country’s waters for three decades.

The birds lend themselves to anthropomorphism: Living for 50-60 years, they have a long, awkward teen phase, as they learn how to seduce a mate through dance; and take years-long trips away from home as they mature. They usually to mate for life, and loudly celebrate when greeting a partner after a long absence.

But now, they increasingly share another rite of passage that may sound familiar to young humans: Under stress from the climate crisis, working longer hours to eat, and faced with the logistical difficulties of a traveling partner, some are struggling to maintain relationships.

Francesco Ventura, researcher at University of Lisbon and co-author of the Royal Society study, said the researchers were surprised to learn that warmer waters were associated with unusually high rates of albatross couples splitting up, even when the lack of fish were accounted for.

Albatross divorce was usually predicted by a reproductive failure, Ventura said. If a pair failed to produce a chick, they had a higher chance of splitting up. Less food for birds could lead to more failures. But the researchers were surprised to find that even when they accounted for that, higher water temperatures were having an extra effect—pushing up divorce rates even when reproduction was successful.

Ventura floated two possible reasons—one that warming waters were forcing the birds to hunt for longer and fly further. If birds then failed return for a breeding season, their partners may move on with someone new. Added to that, when waters are warmer and in harsher environments, albatross stress hormones go up. Ventura said the birds may feel that and blame their partners.

​ “We propose this partner-blaming hypothesis—under which a stressed female might feel this physiological stress and attribute these higher stress levels to a poor performance of the male,” he says.

What’s more, dropping population numbers have changed the birds’ mating patterns in other ways, Elliot said, with more homosexual couplings appearing. “We’re getting male-male pairs amongst the birds on Antipodes Island, which we haven’t had before,” he said. “A few percent of the boys are pairing up with another boy because they can’t find a female partner.”

Now, Elliot hopes that some of the sympathies people have for albatrosses could motivate changes in behavior, to address the environmental threats the birds are facing—particularly climate change, and tuna fishing. “We kind of need an international campaign to save these birds,” Elliot says. “If we don’t turn it around, they’ll go extinct.”

Research contact: @guardian

Gray hair can return to its original color—and stress is involved, of course

June 29, 2021

It’s no secret that one of the “fringe benefits” that comes with the U.S. presidency is the precipitous emergence of whiter (or grayer) hair—caused not just by the passing of time during a four-year or an eight-year White House incumbency, but also by the pressures that are part of the office, itself.

The question is, when the pressure lets up, do the strands of gray return to their original brown, black, blonde, or red? Until now, we have assumed that the answer is no.

However, Scientific American reports, although this may seem like a permanent change, new research reveals that the graying process can be undone—at least temporarily.

Hints that gray hairs could spontaneously regain color have existed as isolated case studies within the scientific literature for decades. In one 1972 paper, the late dermatologist Stanley Comaish reported an encounter with a 38-year-old man who had what he described as a “most unusual feature.” Although the vast majority of the individual’s hairs were either all black or all white, three strands were light near the ends but dark near the roots. This signaled a reversal in the normal graying process, which begins at the root.

In a study published this week in eLife, a group of researchers provide the most robust evidence of this phenomenon to date in hair from around a dozen people of various ages, ethnicities, and sexes. It also aligns patterns of graying and reversal to periods of stress, which implies that this aging-related process is closely associated with our psychological well-being.

These findings suggest “that there is a window of opportunity during which graying is probably much more reversible than had been thought for a long time,” says study co-author Ralf Paus, a dermatologist at the University of Miami.

Around four years ago Martin Picard, a mitochondrial psychobiologist at Columbia University, was pondering the way our cells grow old in a multistep manner in which some of them begin to show signs of aging at much earlier time points than others. This patchwork process, he realized, was clearly visible on our head, where our hairs do not all turn gray at the same time. “It seemed like the hair, in a way, recapitulated what we know happens at the cellular level,” Picard says. “Maybe there’s something to learn there. Maybe the hairs that turn white first are the more vulnerable or least resilient.”

While discussing these ideas with his partner, Picard mentioned something in passing: If one could find a hair that was only partially gray—and then calculate how fast that hair was growing—it might be possible to pinpoint the period in which the hair began aging and thus ask the question of what happened in the individual’s life to trigger this change. “I was thinking about this almost as a fictive idea,” Picard recalls. Unexpectedly, however, his partner turned to him and said she had seen such two-colored hairs on her head. “She went to the bathroom and actually plucked a couple—that’s when this project started,” he says.

Picard and his team began searching for others with two-colored hairs through local ads, on social media, and by word of mouth. Eventually, they were able to find 14 people—men and women ranging from nine to 65 years old with various ethnic backgrounds (although the majority were white). Those individuals provided both single- and two-colored hair strands from different parts of the body, including the scalp, face and pubic area.

The researchers then developed a technique to digitize and quantify the subtle changes in color, which they dubbed hair pigmentation patterns, along each strand. These patterns revealed something surprising: In 10 of these participants, who were between age nine and 39, some graying hairs regained color. The team also found that this occurred not just on the head but in other bodily regions as well.

“When we saw this in pubic hair, we thought, ‘Okay, this is real,’” Picard says. “This happens not just in one person or on the head but across the whole body.” He adds that because the reversibility only appeared in some hair follicles, however, it is likely limited to specific periods when changes are still able to occur.

Most people start noticing their first gray hairs in their 30s—although some may find them in their late 20s.This period, when graying has just begun, is probably when the process is most reversible, according to Paus. In those with a full head of gray hair, most of the strands have presumably reached a “point of no return,” but the possibility remains that some hair follicles may still be malleable to change, he says.

“What was most remarkable was the fact that they were able to show convincingly that, at the individual hair level, graying is actually reversible,“ Matt Kaeberlein, a biogerontologist at the University of Washington, who was one of the editors of the new paper but was not involved in the work, told Scientific American. “What we’re learning is that, not just in hair but in a variety of tissues, the biological changes that happen with age are, in many cases, reversible—this is a nice example of that.”
The team also investigated the association between hair graying and psychological stress because prior research hinted that such factors may accelerate the hair’s aging process. Anecdotes of such a connection are also visible throughout history: according to legend, the hair of Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century queen of France, turned white overnight just before her execution at the guillotine.

In a small subset of participants, the researchers pinpointed segments in single hairs where color changes occurred in the pigmentation patterns. Then they calculated the times when the change happened using the known average growth rate of human hair: approximately one centimeter per month. These participants also provided a history of the most stressful events they had experienced over the course of a year.

This analysis revealed that the times when graying or reversal occurred corresponded to periods of significant stress or relaxation. In one individual, a 35-year-old man with auburn hair, five strands of hair underwent graying reversal during the same time span, which coincided with a two-week vacation. Another subject, a 30-year-old woman with black hair, had one strand that contained a white segment that corresponded to two months during which she underwent marital separation and relocation—her highest-stress period in the year.

For now, the next step is to look more carefully at the link between stress and graying. Picard, Paus, and their colleagues are currently putting together a grant to conduct another study that would examine changes in hair and stress levels prospectively—which means tracking participants over a specified period of time rather than asking them to recall life events from the past.

Eventually, Picard says, one could envision hair as a powerful tool to assess the effects of earlier life events on aging—because, much like the rings of a tree, hair provides a kind of physical record of elapsed events. “It’s pretty clear that the hair encodes part of your biological history in some way,” he says. “Hair grows out of the body, and then it crystallizes into this hard, stable [structure] that holds the memory of your past.”

Research contact: @scientificamer

Should you see a psychodermatologist?

June 17, 2021

Get ready for a new term in your skin-care lexicon: psychodermatology, Allure reports.

A relatively new medical specialization, psychodermatology primarily addresses skin concerns that could be linked stress and anxiety. Some of the doctors practicing it even have dual degrees in dermatology and psychiatry.

Overall, however, patients consult psychodermatologists to treat four kinds of psychopathologies: Depression, anxiety, obsessive behaviors, and delusions.

Obsessive behaviors can be seen in repetitive disorders such as  trichotillomania (the so-called “hair-pulling disorder”); while delusions would include parasitosis, which leads people to incorrectly believe that their skin is infested by parasites or insects.

But it’s the first two type —depression and anxiety—that may have more universal implications. While psychodermatology can be used to help address psoriasis, eczema, hyperhidrosis, and alopecia, the benefits can go beyond that to even more common worries like acne and age-related concerns, Allure reports.

That last one may come as a surprise, but according to Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist and psychiatrist in private practice in New York City, a reduction of stress boosts collagen production which can plump lines and wrinkles and help to icnrease cell turnover. “[You remember] what it feels like to go on vacation and people at work are like, ‘Wow, you look great?'” It’s proof, she insists, that in just seven days of tackling stress, she says, “you can see it on your skin.”

Currently, psychodermatology is considered a niche practice in the United States with established clinics devoted to it only found in seven U.S. cities (Rochester, New York; New York City; Tampa, Florida; Saginaw, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; Kansas City, KS; and San Francisco)according to the Association for Psychocutaneous Medicine of North America.

But lately, it’s also been popping up in newspaper articles and even inspiring new skin-care lines—like Loum, based on the ingredient neurophroline derived from wild indigo, which the brand claims reduces cortisol levels in the skin.

The practice includes the same familiar topicals and treatments that you’ll see at a traditional dermatology practice, but with the addition of other strategies as needed—among them:

  • Interpersonal therapy,
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (meant to address distorted thoughts that could be adding anxiety),
  • Hypnosis (which has some evidence that it could be beneficialfor certain skin conditions, including warts); and
  • Recommendations for sleep hygiene and mind-body practices like meditation and yoga.

If it’s appropriate, there may also be a psychological medication prescribed, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, if the patient exhibits symptoms of depression that could be a contributing factor to the state of their skin.

The effects can have far-reaching impacts on quality of life. “The mind is very tightly linked to the skin, particularly through the sensory nerves that reach the very superficial surface of the skin,” explains Francisco Tausk, dermatologist, past president of the APMA, and head of the Center for Integrated Dermatology.

“These nerves release into the skin small neuropeptides that have a very strong influence on cutaneous physiology and how the skin behaves in health and disease.” Some of these neuropeptides: cortisol, adrenaline, and substance P.

Wechsler takes the example of cortisol, which when chronically raised, can cause a host of problems including inflammation and collagen breakdown. What that can lead to: “Premature aging, acne, eczema, psoriasis—you name it. The skin barrier doesn’t work well, so you get more sensitive to allergens.” In other words, she says, “All sorts of bad stuff happens.”

According to Allure, psychodermatology appointments, just like separate appointments in either field, are highly individualized—depending greatly on the doctor’s practices and the patient’s needs. For example, Wechsler prefers to send her patients to outside specialists when psychological medications are needed, and instead focuses her own practice largely on active listening therapies. Other practices offer additional psychology-based strategies within the practice itself.

Regardless, you’ll still walk away with a regimen. It just may be a little longer and touch on more disciplines than you might be used to discussing with your derm. And that may include more in-office work and even homework, like doing yoga a couple of times a week.

Finally, dealing with elevated cortisol levels on your skin may get easier as interest increases and experts and brands find ways to address it. Loum founder Kat Bryce sees potential for us all to benefit as the United States wakes up to the link between mental health and our complexions. After developing her line, she and her partners are believers. “Now we see the fundamental impact of stress on skin, we hope more developments will come in this space as the need is enormous and the opportunity for effective solutions vast,” she says.

Research contact: @Allure_magazine

Addicted to being busy?

February 15, 2019

Is your plate too full? Are you slammed or swamped? Or is your work ethic in overdrive?

We live in an era where flaunting our hectic schedules is considered cool and multitasking is productive. But for some of us, there is another dynamic at work: We are just addicted to being busy, according to a recent report by DNA.

Seema Hingorrany, a clinical psychologist and trauma therapist whose practice is in Mumbai comes across such people all the time, she says.

“People use the ‘I’m so busy’ phrase … to seek approval, …[to] appear busier than they actually are,” Hingorrany told the India-based news outlet. “Most people are lacking awareness or mindfulness. They are on hyper mode, on autopilot …. Most [finally are driven to] seek help when they take on too much stress and go into depression, or start having anxiety.

Bhakti Thakkar Bauva, a consultant clinical psychologist at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi, sees a lot of people with this go-go psychology between the ages of 25 and 45, she told DNA. “They are mostly professionals who are entrepreneurs with their own business—or sometimes working in a multinational corporation in leadership roles. I, personally, have seen almost equal number of males and females, who use busyness as a coping mechanism,” she says. They are aware that they are busy all the time, but feel that there is no other way, and theirs is the best approach.

Indeed, “…the word, busy, has become synonymous with being successful. If you are a ‘busy’ person you are automatically important and sought-after, “ Mansi Hasan, a clinical psychologist who practices in Mumbai tells DNA.

She adds that FOMO (fear of missing out), high drive, and our environment are “hugely responsible”  for this addiction, as they are constantly putting pressure on us to compete in a world that is rapidly evolving around us.

People who are prone to exhibit the addiction have Type A personalities, she says, and typically exhibit behaviors such as aggression,competitiveness, impatience, and a desire for control.

Hingorrany sees clients suffering from severe burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome and major depressive episodes. They also suffer from anxiety symptoms. People also complain about anger, pain disorders and other physiological issues.

Most experts believe that the addiction starts as a coping strategy. Bauva gives examples like, “I am finding it difficult to sleep at night, so let me work so much that I pass out due to exhaustion …. It means that the individual has an imbalanced, stressful life, where the problems are not resolved and are getting piled up.

“As the concerns are not going anywhere, they will only magnify with time,”she warns.

If you recognize yourself in this story, Mansi Hasan says the the following tips might help:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes daily with yourself doing nothing.
  • Restrict your screen time.
  • Slow down, don’t attempt to be superhuman.
  • Initiate boredom.
  • Sleep and eat well.
  • Spend time with nature. Use your five senses to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Connect to your inner self.
  • Don’t be task-oriented, be life-oriented.
  • Seek happiness, but not in the form of materialistic success.

Research contact: @dna

One big happy family? Dads are more gratified than moms

February 11, 2019

In mom-and-pop households, a recent study conducted by the University of California-Riverside has found, fathers experience more well-being from parenthood than mothers.

Past studies have considered whether people with children have greater well-being than people without children. They do. But few have considered the relative happiness of fathers and mothers.

UCR psychologists and their colleagues analyzed three separate studies comprising more than 18,000 people to determine whether fathers or mothers experience greater happiness from their parenting roles.

Across the three studies, researchers looked at measures of well-being that included happiness, well-being, depressive symptoms, psychological satisfaction, and stress.

The first two studies compared well-being of parents with that of people who don’t have children. Across all outcomes measured in the first studies, fatherhood was more frequently linked with well-being than motherhood. Relative to peers without children, fathers reported greater satisfaction with their lives and feelings of connectedness to others, and they reported greater positive emotions and fewer daily hassles than mothers. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms than men without children; whereas mothers reported more depressive symptoms than women who don’t have children.

The third study considered parenthood and well-being while engaged in childcare or interacting with children, compared to other daily activities. In that cohort, researchers found, gender significantly impacted the association between childcare and happiness. Men were happier while caring for their children, while women were less happy.

In terms of daily interactions generally, both men and women were happier interacting with their children relative to other daily interactions. But men reported greater happiness from the interactions than women. One possible explanation for this finding is that, relative to mothers, fathers were more likely to indicate that they were playing with their children while they were caring for them or interacting with them.

“Fathers may fare better than mothers in part due to how they spend their time with their children,” said study author Katherine Nelson-Coffey, who worked in UCR psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s lab as a graduate student and is now an assistant professor of psychology at Sewanee: The University of the South.

Lyubomirsky said the study carries a suggestion: Perhaps all parents will benefit from finding more opportunity for play with their children.

The research paper, “Parenthood is Associated with Greater Well-Being for Fathers than Mothers,” was recently published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

 In addition to Lyubomirsky and Nelson-Coffey, authors include Kristin Layous, a former UCR graduate student and currently an assistant professor of psychology at California State University; Matthew Killingsworth, a senior fellow with Wharton People Analytics; and Steve Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCLA.

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‘Golden children’ suffer, too

July 19, 2018

Are you “best friends” with your mom? Surprisingly, being mom’s favorite child may not be good for your mental health, according to research findings from Purdue University. It turns out that, in a family in which mom plays favorites, the kids who are shafted—the “black sheep”—are not the only ones who are at risk for problems like depression. The favorite, or “golden,” child feels the strain, too.

Data for the study were collected seven years apart from 725 adult children within 309 families in which mothers were between the ages of 65 and 75 when the project began in 2001.

Of course, the word, “favorite,” comes with all kinds of connotations. But 90% of the mothers who participated in the study were able to identify one child who rose to the top of the heap in various contexts, according to a report by Slate. They knew which child they felt closer to; which child they especially liked to confide in; and which they would want around in a crisis. And that child also was aware of his or her status

“There is a cost for those who perceive they are the closest emotionally to their mothers, and these children report higher depressive symptoms [than do] those who experience the greatest conflict with their mothers—or who believe they are the children in whom their mothers are the most disappointed,” says Jill Suitor, a professor of Sociology.

But both are affected by the perceptions within the family. Why does the golden child feel the pain? “This [emotional] cost comes from higher sibling tension experienced by adult children who are favored…, or the greater feelings of responsibility for the emotional care of their older mothers,” said Megan Gilligan, an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University and a former Purdue graduate student. She is a collaborator on the project

What’s more, they feel the resentment from their sibling(s), who did not live up to whatever expectations they realize their mother must have had—and who perceive that the golden child always gets the positive attention

The findings are based on the first and second phases of the Within-Family Differences Study—a research initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study was conducted in cooperation with Dr. Karl Pilleme, a professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

The four dimensions of favoritism and disfavoritism are defined by the researchers as emotional closeness, conflict, pride, and disappointment.

The researchers also compared the patterns by race because much research shows there is greater closeness in black later-life families. In this study, approximately one-quarter of the families were black.

“What we found suggests that the black offspring were particularly distressed when they, as opposed to their siblings, were the children in whom mothers were most disappointed,” said Suitor. The research team also is looking at similar questions related to fathers and predicting favoritism in mother-adult child favoritism. Siyun Peng and Jong Hyun Jung, graduate students in Purdue’s Department of Sociology, also participated on this research team.

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Your brain on finance: 80% lack cognitive clarity when thinking about money

January 2, 2018

Thinking about important financial decisions doesn’t just stress people out; it actually impacts their brain function, based on research results released at the end of November by Northwestern Mutual. And that mental stress can often lead to poor decision making.

This new brain research was prompted by recent findings from Northwestern Mutual’s annual research—The Planning and Progress Study—that revealed Americans’ high levels of financial anxiety. The 2017 study found that, regardless of age, at least 80% of U.S. adults feel some anxiety due to the rising cost of healthcare, unplanned financial and health emergencies, income and savings

Northwestern Mutual partnered with ThinkAlike Laboratories—a neuroscience research firm led by Sam Barnett, Ph.D., who is also a researcher at Northwestern University—to measure the electrical activity of people’s brains when they are evaluating various financial scenarios.

The 2017 Brain on Finance Study revealed that providing assistance with financial scenarios can actually improve brain function and help enhance cognitive responses: In fact, neural signals associated with relaxation and recognition in study participants increased by 20.8% and 28.6%, respectively, for “assisted” scenarios compared to “unassisted” scenarios.

Neuroscientists found the guidance and assurance of financial assistance affected the brain in three important ways:

  1. Attentional demand: How much concentration is needed When comparing times when people received assistance with times when they have had to make decisions on their own, researchers found the latter situations led to brain signals associated with 20% more effort to pay attention during decision-making. In other words, people concentrated significantly harder when facing financial scenarios without assistance. With assistance, their brains appeared to have an easier time, which helped individuals make better decisions.
  2. Recognition: Understanding, remembering and getting it right During assisted financial scenarios, people experienced a 28% stronger ability to recognize and understand the crucial concepts they were considering, making for clearer and more effective decision-making than without any assistance.
  3. Relaxed attentional control: Less stress for clearer thoughts Not only did assisted scenarios provide better mental clarity and understanding, but assistance helped people relax nearly 21% more and focus calmly,compared to when they did not receive assistance.

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80% of Americans say they are stressed out

December 26, 2017

When was the last time you felt “like a bundle of nerves”? Yesterday? Ten minutes ago? About 80% of Americans say they frequently (44%) or sometimes (35%) encounter stress in their daily lives, based on results of a poll of 1,49 adults released by Gallup on December 20. Just 17% say they rarely feel stressed, while 4% say they never do.

Americans were asked about their stress and time pressures in poll conducted between December 4 and December 11—prime Christmas shopping season. This is the first time that the study has been updated in a decade, after being asked each December from 2001 through 2007.

Although stress is common, time pressure is not the main culprit, 41% of U.S. adults say. The majority (59%) believe that they do have enough time to accomplish the items on their to-do lists. In fact, slightly fewer respondents today—41% now compared to 44% in 2004—say they lack sufficient time to get things done.

Americans’ current stress level is similar to what Gallup found in 2001, 2002 and 2007, as well as in an earlier measurement in 1994, when 40% felt frequent stress. However, more say they experience stress now than reported this from 2003 through 2006, when between 33% and 38% felt this way.

Age appears to be a major factor, the Gallup pollsters say, in whether one feels stressed and time-pressured. Those  respondents who are 50 and older —particularly those who are 65+—are much less likely to say they feel stress or lack the time they need to get things done.

Predictably enough, respondents with full-time jobs and/or children under 18 were the most likely to feel pressured. And lower-income Americans are shorter on time and higher on stress than middle- and upper-income adults.

Women and men are about equally likely to say they lack sufficient time, but women are more likely to report frequent stress (49% versus 40%, respectively).

Naturally, work and family obligations have a compounding effect, so that working parents are especially likely to feel short on time and stressed. By contrast, those who neither work nor have children are the least likely to feel this way.

In addition, there is a major technological factor that may be alleviating some types of stress, but causing other pressures. Much has changed in the past decade, not the least of which is the proliferation of smartphones, beginning with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. This technology may be providing some efficiencies in people’s lives, such as allowing them to shop more easily from home, do their banking online, keep tabs on work while out of the office, follow the news, and much more — thus enabling them to feel they are getting more done.

However, there has not been an obvious payoff in reduced stress. It’s possible that some aspects of the new technology, such as social media—and the perceived responsibility to be available at all times—are offsetting others in changing how much stress people experience.

Of course, Gallup comments, “Many other aspects of life could factor into how Americans feel about their time and stress, including their jobs, family structure, dining habits, the economy and today’s highly polarized political environment. From that perspective, despite some revolutionary and not-so-revolutionary changes in the past decade, people’s time management and stress haven’t changed too much.”

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Parents want tests to help kids, not just the ‘system’

November 10, 2017

Parents of public school students generally support the use of standardized tests—but they also believe that they are being overused and not targeted to help their children improve, according to a new Education Post poll.

The poll found overwhelming recognition on the part of parents that they and their children are primarily responsible for their success in school.

In survey questions, 44% percent of parents said that standardized tests are fair; compared with 38% who said they are not, and 18 percent who are unsure. And 44% of parents believe standardized tests have a positive impact on schools overall; while 30 percent of parents said they feel the impact is negative, and 25 percent are not sure.

“We’re hearing from parents that they generally see value and promise in testing, but their experiences with testing do not come close to matching what they want for their kids,” Education Post Executive Director Peter Cunningham said. “Parents told us that they see standardized tests as a tool for the system. They want them to be used more as a tool to help their kids learn.”

Education Post conducted an online survey of 1,011 public school parents nationwide. Among the key issues: 29% say that tests “put too much stress on my child;” and 49% say there are too many tests.

“Testing, accountability, standards—these are all issues that are being hotly debated and that affect parents and students every day,” Cunningham added. “We wanted to hear directly from them about what’s working for their child and what’s not.”

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Majority of U.S. teachers not in ‘right mindset’ in classroom

November 3, 2017

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of U.S. educators find work either always or often stressful—which is twice the level felt by workers in other sectors—according to survey results from the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association.

The data is part of the  2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, which polled nearly 5,000 teachers and school staff members nationwide.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents noted that their mental health was “not good” for seven or more of the past 30 days—reflecting a large increase from the 34% of respondents who said their mental health was “not good” in 2015.

In addition, more than half agreed that they have less enthusiasm now than at the beginning of their careers.

The survey cited various causes for the increased stress among teachers— including having little influence over policy decisions and professional development, working long hours, experiencing teacher shortages, and feeling a lack of respect from federal and elected officials and the media.

Specifically, the survey cited the disrespect that public school teachers believed was directed their way by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

In addition, teachers reported being bullied, harassed or threatened on the job at higher rates than other professionals; and reported sleeping less than the recommended average per night, which may contribute to worse health outcomes.

These high rates of teacher stress and health have been linked to higher turnover and increased absenteeism among teachers, as well as lower achievement for students and increased costs for school districts.

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