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Can Occult Disciplines Like Astrology, Tarot Improve Mental Health?



The uncertainty and subsequent mental health crisis following the pandemic led many occult disciplines to turn. Astrologers and tarot card readers said they have worked overtime since the lockdown began. Indian companies like AstroTalk and AstroYogi also reportedly doubled their sales over the same period. The rush to these pseudoscientific occult disciplines symbolizes the bigger reason people are drawn to them: the desperation to cope with them.

“In high-stress conditions, individuals are willing to use astrology as a coping tool, although they do not believe in astrology in low-stress conditions,” said Graham Tyson, professor of psychology at the Witwatersrand University in South Africa. In fact, the first astrology column commissioned for a newspaper was during the Great Depression in August 1930.

Charan, 20, turned to astrology while trying to get out of an “unhealthy relationship.” Although she did not believe in astrology per se, she chose it because it offered her a “guiding light” at a time when she “had nowhere else to turn”. And while astrology didn’t help her see into the future, it did help her achieve exactly what she needed – to grow out of that relationship. “[It] gave me something to understand things … I looked for signs and even a bit of nudge from what was written in the zodiac helped, “she says.

Experts acknowledge that while pseudoscientific disciplines like astrology have no backing in science, they are not necessarily not helpful. “Can you occasionally help recover from mental illness? Yes, they work sometimes. Visiting a shaman or a local healer can make a person’s symptoms go away, but it has no statistical significance, ”explains Bhasker Malu, assistant professor of psychology at Christ University in Bangalore. “There is simply no research-based science behind this, no causality. It just works for some people and not for others, ”he says.

Relatives on The Swaddle:

Millennials and meme culture have recaptured astrology

“In times of crisis, it is often said, people look for something to believe in. Unlike therapy, where a client could spend months or even years uncovering the roots of a symptom, astrology promises to get answers faster, ”said Christine Smallwood, a fellow at the New York Humanities Institute, wrote in The New Yorker. Furthermore, the fact that resources on occult disciplines are often readily and even freely available online, while psychiatric care can be unaffordable for many, especially in India, is driving people towards the occult universe.

However, psychotherapy and pseudosciences like astrology and tarot have something in common – they encourage introspection, self-awareness, and a willingness to understand oneself with the help of outside guidance. “We have belief systems that determine how we react to the world. If someone who really believes in astrology reads a horoscope and says that their depression will go away in a week, the symptoms might actually go away because the horoscope appeals to their belief system, ”explains Malu, who also runs OneStopPsychology, an organization that Therapist trains and trains, notes. “Psychotherapy through techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy also acts on an individual’s belief system that is central to the symptoms a patient is exhibiting and tries to shift them,” he explains.

Pseudosciences can also encourage introspection. “Tarot was more than a fortune-telling tool, it allowed me to reflect on myself and become more confident,” said Vrushali Khadilkar from Aurangabad, who found her experience with a tarot reader so helpful when she was dealing with a tumultuous period has dealt with her life she has chosen to study it herself and now offers readings for others, says. “It forces you to face what you haven’t seen – be it about your love life, your career, whatever. Tarot basically speaks to our subconscious, ”she added. In her love life, she felt an urge to “ask more questions and eliminate relationships that don’t make sense to me” – instead of clinging to them and prolonging their suffering.

Psychologists agree with Khadilkar’s theory. “By focusing on something outside of us, on a specific map, the astrological alignment, we can divert our consciousness from the intensity and reactivity of our limbic system and help“ clarify the patient’s feelings and feelings a foundation in the uncertainty we all currently live in, ”explains Paul Hokemeyer, a clinical and counseling psychotherapist from New York.

However, many experts agree that their level of helpfulness is limited. “I love astrology, but it can’t help you gain deeper coping skills that will allow you to move through trauma,” says Aimee Barr, a Brooklyn psychotherapist and astrologer.

Given the lack of consensus on how much they can help with mental health issues, some think that it might indeed be difficult for the two to work together because one is rooted in science while the other is not. “Psychotherapy as a science is much clearer about the consequences any technique can have. Trying to combine it with pseudoscience can be very risky – like shooting in the dark, ”says Malu.

Relatives on The Swaddle:

Why do people still believe in astrology?

Additionally, in times of crisis, occult disciples can hold on to the dictates of fate tougher – resulting in a feeling of resignation to the idea that their suffering is being demanded by supernatural forces beyond their control. On the other hand, psychotherapy constantly pushes people to take control of their suffering and free themselves from beliefs that are not conducive to their growth and emotional well-being. Hence, there is a fine line between using nonscientific disciplines to make your own decisions and relying on them alone and openly to find solutions to any challenge – especially when the challenges in question are mental disorders.

“Excessive reliance on astrology or tarot or any other spiritual approach to the exclusion of others could result in symptoms or difficulties persisting rather than providing a person with the relief he or she is looking for,” says Caroline Hexdall, a clinician psychologist. According to her, the reason pseudosciences do not provide relief beyond a point is that they lack “the important individual discoveries, individual interventions, and the greater objectivity that a therapist can provide”.

Pranav, 30, was diagnosed with autism as an adult. Prior to diagnosis, however, he resorted to astrology to find peace of mind when the stress of existing in a neurotypical society began to burn him out. Unlike Charan, however, he did not find astrology helpful at all. “It was all hocus-pocus, nothing good happened, and I realized that if I didn’t seek professional help, I would be doing something bad,” he says.

Some people with expertise in occult disciplines also share Hexdall’s views and understand the limits of their discipline. “Sometimes when people come to me with their problems and I realize that a therapist should deal with them instead of a tarot reader, I have to carefully and respectfully advise them to seek help there,” says S., a Mumbai-based professional tarot reader says. However, she mentions that she comes across Tarot readers who overstep this ethical line and continue to counsel someone who would benefit from psychiatric care instead. It is important to navigate carefully through the “gray areas” – and draw a line that recognizes the limits of the tarot, she emphasizes.

For their part, psychologists can know their patients’ belief systems rather than rejecting occult disciplines entirely. Dealing with patients on the basis of their pseudoscientific beliefs can “enable the therapist to deal with the patient and speak to him in a way that has resonance and personal meaning for the patient,” Hokemeyer notes from his clinical experience. While it may not be possible for occult disciplines and psychotherapy to hug each other, a sense of openness between practitioners of the disciplines to enable better treatment for patients can potentially benefit mental health – especially if we continue to focus a “future that is uncertain and terrifying,” in Hokemeyer’s words.


Colorado receives $94 million federal funding boost for behavioral health services – State of Reform



The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) will receive more than $ 94 million in additional federal block grants over the next four years to increase drug use and mental health services as the state relies on that higher demand responded to that caused by the Covid19 pandemic.

OBH has worked with stakeholders including the state health planning and advisory board and a diverse group of providers to set priorities for the stimulus funds. Out of dozens of projects, OBH will use the first round of stimulus dollars totaling more than $ 43 million to fund equity, diversity and inclusion efforts; Peer support and recovery services; and treating people with severe mental illness (SMI) and substance use disorders.

“As we struggle with heightened behavioral health needs in Colorado, this funding will help us meet the requirements caused by COVID and even expand services across the state,” said Robert Werthwein, director of OBH. “We are grateful to our federal partners for recognizing the importance of the problem and giving us the tools to deal with the crisis.”

As part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the federal government has Drug Abuse Management and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) has awarded the OBH an additional $ 27.1 million for the state’s Block Grant Program for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse (SABG) and an additional $ 16.2 million for the Community Mental Health Services (MHBG) block grant program, which must be issued by March 14, 2023. The block grants are administered by the OBH and are non-competitive federal awards that fund behavioral health services in all 50 states.

In addition to that boost, OBH will receive an additional $ 23.4 million and $ 28.1 million, respectively, for the SABG and MHBG programs through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stimulus package. OBH has these dollars to spend by September 30, 2025 and is working on a spending plan to support programs that have seen increased demand during the pandemic. Many of the priorities from the CRRSA funds are expanded through the ARPA funds. The state’s plan for the ARPA fund is due on July 2nd.

The preliminary spending plan for the $ 43 million CRRSA fund includes the following allocations for the next two years. The funding amounts could change depending on the bills passed in the 2022 legislative period or on emerging priorities.

Mental health and substance use funding plan for CRRSA funds

  • $ 5.28 million for peer-based recovery support services associated with SUD treatment providers, including those who have involuntarily committed to SUD treatment. Financing is provided by the state’s managed service organizations
  • $ 5 million for residential drug use treatment, withdrawal management (detox), and involuntary commitment services
  • $ 4.9 million to support the workforce, including training peer specialists and efforts to attract more blacks, indigenous and blacks (BIPOC) to behavioral health
  • $ 4.84 million for programs to support the mental health of children, adolescents and young adults
  • $ 3 million for assertive community or community-based treatment for adults with SMI
  • $ 2.8 million for Individual placement and support, a program to help people with mental illness and / or addictions find and keep a job
  • $ 2.6 million for programs that connect mothers, pregnant women and parents with behavioral health and recovery services
  • $ 2.35 million for the behavioral health crisis system, including safe transportation and marketing for diverse populations
  • $ 1.875 million for the state Forward together Prevention campaign
  • $ 1.875 million to expand school substance abuse screening
  • $ 1.68 million for drug abuse prevention programs among adolescents, particularly in BIPOC and LGBTQ communities
  • $ 1.5 million in peer-based mental health and drug use services across the state, including tribal and Latinx communities
  • $ 1.05 million for vacation homes and Housing assistance for people with SMI who are not housed
  • $ 700,000 in SUD services to tribal people across the state
  • $ 600,000 for a public awareness campaign on behavioral health related to the effects of the pandemic
  • $ 600,000 for a position as Director of Justice and Community Engagement, OBH form translation and branding materials, and public relations grants for organizations working with EDI populations
  • $ 450,000 for OBH’s bed capacity register

Approximately $ 2.3 million of the CRRSA grant will meet OBH’s administrative costs.

This news release was provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services.

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Get Ready for NORD’s Patient and Family Forum, Set for June 26-27



Those who wish to acquire practical tools for living optimally with rare diseases are encouraged to attend the annual Living Rare Living Stronger Patient and Family Forum, hosted by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), and this year 26-26 June 27th takes place.

The conference brings together patients, families, healthcare professionals and other supporters to learn, share and connect.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, general sessions, breakout workshops and networking will again be virtual. The sessions, which provide perspectives from patients, caregivers and the medical community, are broadcast live and recorded for later viewing. Throughout the forum, participants can visit the exhibition hall and meet with other participants.

Also this year the Rare Impact Awards return as part of the program. This June 28 presentation honors individuals, organizations and industry innovators for their exceptional work benefiting the rare disease community.

“The health and well-being of people with rare diseases, their relatives and those who work to improve their lives continue to have top priority for all of us here at NORD,” said the forum message.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given us new ways to connect with our community, and our 2020 virtual program has been the most successful forum to date! In 2021 we will continue to work hard to keep our community healthy and safe while we participate in this effective program, ”said NORD.

Registration for the “patient-centered” event costs US $ 39 for patients, nurses, students and representatives of the NORD patient organization. The cost is $ 75 for professional lawyers, scientists, doctors, and government officials and $ 500 for members of the NORD corporate council. For pharmaceutical, insurance, or other agents, registration is $ 650.

On the agenda is the opening discussion on the subject of “Patient-Professional Partnership” and includes three stories about the close bond between patients and their caregivers.

Breakout sessions for Saturday, June 26th, include “Coping with Graef and Anticipatory Grief”, “Shared Decision-Making with Your Care Team” and “Working While Rare”, followed by “Involving in Clinical Research: Finding” and Preparing for Clinical Trials, ”“ Navigating Insurance, Social Security Disability, and Patient Aid Programs, ”and“ The ABCs of Advocating Your Child’s Education ”in the second group of workshops.

This is followed by a plenary discussion on the subject of “Building resilience in a time of the unknown”. Speakers will examine how patients have coped while waiting for a diagnosis, how they fare while waiting for new treatments, and how they kept it together during the pandemic.

June 27th begins with an opening discussion in the plenum entitled “The Rare Sibling Experience”. Here, three siblings of rare disease patients will share their experiences, including how they became advocates.

Breakout sessions that day include “Fight Back and Fight Forward by Advocacy”, “Palliative Care: Unmasking the Myths”, “Rarely in the Family: Navigating the Roles of Patient, Parent, and Caregiver” in the early discussion groups. Later offerings this Sunday will include “Aging with a Rare Disease”, “Finding Your Community and Building Your Support Network” and “The Intersection of Race, Ethnicity and Equality with Access to Diagnosis and Treatment”.

The concluding plenary discussion, entitled “Rare Breakthroughs Now and on the Horizon”, will look at the latest advances in the diagnosis, treatment and care of rare diseases.

At the beginning of the year, NORD called on people to report on their practical experiences with rare diseases at the conference. A total of around 55 speakers will attend the conference, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Access to the virtual program will be provided by email during the week of the event.

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Never ignore these 6 signs in your pets



From Dr. Cynthia Maro

There are times when your pets are begging for extra treats, attention, or play time and it’s safe to ignore, but some signs that can start out as simple nuisances can be leading indicators of very serious health problems.

Knowing which signs require your attention and action can be life saving for your companion. The sooner you alert your veterinarian to these symptoms, the more likely they are to make a diagnosis and get your furry friend on the road to restoring health.

Below are some key indicators of illness.

1. Panting, Increased Breathing Rate, Open-Mouth Breathing: Panting can be a sign of pain, heat stroke, fever, or respiratory or cardiovascular problems.

A pet’s respiratory rate will increase as the need for oxygen increases, which can occur with all of the aforementioned diseases.

Cats always prefer to breathe through their nose. So if you breathe with your mouth open it is a sure sign of stress that can be the result of extreme stress, asthma, upper airway obstruction, heart or lung disease, or even cancer.

Increased respiratory rates also occur in infections that cause very high fevers or hyperthermia from heat stroke.

Wheezing that persists after a game of play and adequate rest should be taken seriously.

Conditions such as congestive heart failure, anemia, pneumonia, or pleural effusion (a condition where fluid fills the chest cavity and compresses the lungs) all need to be diagnosed through blood tests and x-rays.

All of these disorders can be life-threatening, and in cases such as heat stroke, immediate treatment through an emergency room visit is needed.

2. Salivation: This may be a sign of gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, a foreign body in the mouth or throat, an oral tumor or infection, a sialocele (disorder of the salivary glands), a lymphoma or a tooth root abscess.

Diagnosis may include sedated oral inspection and x-rays.

3. Increased thirst: Thirst will increase slightly in hot weather or with an increase in salty snacks (think jerky, bully sticks, and rawhide). Prolonged increases in water consumption must be considered as it may be due to diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, kidney disease or kidney failure, VBD (vector-borne disease, such as Lyme disease), an endocrine or hormonal imbalance such as Cushing’s disease or thyroid disease.

Diagnosis requires urinalysis, blood chemistry tests, and in some cases, more expensive hormone tests and ultrasounds.

4. Odor Change: Although pets can sometimes have an odor when it rains, a persistent or foul odor is often the first sign of illness.

“A smelly pet” can indicate something as small as a superficial skin or ear infection, or something much more serious, including an infected anal gland or a deep ear infection. These diseases can be treated very effectively by your veterinarian.

Some other worrying issues include odors from oral infections or tumors, deep skin infections, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, internal or external yeast or bacterial infections, anal gland narrowing, ulcerated skin tumors, or sinus infections.

5. Appetite Change: Lack of or increased appetite in pets should never be ignored.

Often times a pet has an increased appetite when they develop diabetes, but this sign can also be associated with certain types of cancer or tumors such as insulinoma, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, or adrenal cancer.

Pets often have a decreased appetite when battling infections, in pain, or having gastrointestinal disorders. The list of diseases that affect appetite is quite long.

6. Vomiting and diarrhea: Bowel discomfort or intermittent gastrointestinal symptoms (such as spitting once a week or even once a month) are signs that some part of the digestive process is not working properly.

Diagnoses such as intestinal parasites, food sensitivity, liver, gallbladder, and pancreatic diseases can all be treated with medication, but require a visit to the vet for appropriate treatment.

Your pet’s vet will know what tests to order to get insight into the cause of any of the signs mentioned.

If your fears of a negative or poor diagnosis are preventing you from taking action, please discuss this with your veterinarian. It’s always best to investigate early.

If you are concerned about high costs, your vet will want to know both your time and financial budget to care for your companion.

Not only can your quick attention to the warning signs of illness help your pet get better, but they can also reassure you, knowing that your companion will be comfortable, pain-free, and well-cared for.

Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian at Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City and Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township. She writes a bi-weekly column on animal care and health issues. If you have a topic you’d like to address, email

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