Information, education and communication campaign –
a gerontosociopsychological intervention model

Claudia Bălan

“Ana Aslan” National Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Bucharest, Romania

Introduction. A campaign is a highly focused project with a clear objective that takes place within a well-defined timeframe. It is strategically planned and coordinated to achieve clear and realistic goals, and it can be run with various goals. The campaign can involve a variety of actions, from activities and public events to the development of posters, flyers, brochures and to the construction of audience priming messages, broadcast on social media networks as a means of promoting the desired behaviors in the community. When these initiatives are part of a communication plan within a comprehensive strategy, they are generally referred to as: information, education and communication (IEC) activities.

General objective. The development of a strategic communication plan to educate and familiarize the target audience – the older people in Romania – with the benefits of modern communication networks.

Specific objective. Sharing information and knowledge regarding the know-how of running online campaigns addressed to elderly people.

Materials and method. PowerPoint presentation facilitated discussion.

Conclusions. At the individual level, information, education and communication (IEC) activities can provide the target group with the opportunity to develop their personal knowledge, skills and confidence and to reconsider their attitudes, beliefs and behavior. They can raise awareness, persuade, motivate and provide reinforcement to confirm and sustain behavioral change. At the community level, information, education and communication (IEC) activities can encourage local organizations and decision-makers to promote attitudinal changes and adopt specific public policies.

Keywords: strategic communication, social networks, older people


The assessment of suicide risk in older people – the loss of the meaning to live

Rozeta Drăghici

“Ana Aslan” National Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Bucharest, Romania

Introduction. Ethical considerations have caused suicide not to be treated like other clinical entities and, thus, there has been a delay in conducting controlled clinical trials with suicidal subjects. The mechanism behind suicidal behavior is often cumulative, which for the vulnerable, older person means a long series of traumas and losses associated with a certain personality type and a dysfunctional or overloaded model of resilience. The assessment of suicidal risk was largely left to the skill and professionalism of the clinician. The empathic communication with a suicidal subject aims to form a therapeutic alliance that allows the in-depth exploration of suicidal thoughts, the enabling and protective factors, the subject’s ability to formulate a safety plan and follow it in order to regain their desire to be alive and a sense of meaning regarding life. The gerontotherapeutic approaches can be among the most important solutions to the suicidal crisis, focused on the current problem and the negative experiences of the person at risk.

Objective. The purpose of the presented case studies is to capture the benefits and limitations of these interventions in older people.

Keywords: suicidal risk assessment, empathic communication, gerontotherapeutic interventions, vulnerable older persons


Assisted resilience and well-being in older adults

Rozeta Drăghici, Alexandra Rusu, Andrada Stan, Claudia Bălan, Ioana Găiculescu, Polixenia Stan

“Ana Aslan” National Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Bucharest, Romania

The psychological resilience is a process of good use of adaptive behaviors in the face of adversity, such as loss of functional independence from major neurocognitive disorders, anxiety or depression, which are quite common pathologies in older adults.

This type of resilience is a skill that can be trained, because it involves a series of cognitive-behavioral patterns that can be learned. The resilient older adults use their flexibility and adaptability as skills to bounce back from difficult situations as easily as in adulthood.

The psychological interventions specifically aim to promote the well-being of the older people, and the psychologist’s role is to assist them in increasing their sense of control over their own existence and stressful events accumulated over time, favoring their personal growth, so that they could accept themselves as they are, in harmony with others, while maintaining their autonomy. Most of the time, the gerontopsychological intervention focuses on the aspect of balancing, of assisting the person in becoming aware of what belongs to him/her, and what he can use as resources.

Keywords: well-being, assisted resilience, gerontopsychological interventions, elderly people


The current knowledge about the brain-gut health relationship

Nicoleta Dumitrescu1, Şerban Turliuc1,2

1. “Socola” Institute of Psychiatry, Iaşi, Romania
2. “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iaşi, Romania

Objectives. In this paper, we will try to identify if there is a relationship between mental health and gut microbiome function, as more and more evidence has emerged for the existence of a brain-gut axis.

Materials and method. We analyzed the English language studies identified in the PubMed online database in a 14-year period (2010-2023), using the keywords: “mental health”, “enteric nervous system”, “gut microbiome”, “anxiety”, and “depression”.

Results. Trillions of bacteria of the digestive system are closely related to the nervous system, as there are four major pathways of interrelation: neurological, endocrine, humoral/metabolic, and immune. One of the roles of the gut microbiome is to produce various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, noradrenaline or dopamine. When the microbial richness and diversity of gut microbiome are disrupted, the dysbiotic state leads to inadequate production of these neurotransmitters, and the mental health could be affected. Studies have shown that patients with anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder have significant differences in the composition of their gut microbiome. On the other hand, there are studies revealing that the gut health due to administration of probiotics (Bifidobacterium), prebiotics (dietary fiber), or postbiotics (short-chain fatty acids) for several weeks causes a reduction of symptoms in patients with anxiety and depression, the effects being similar or even more effective than those of therapeutic drugs.

Conclusions. The studies highlight the importance of future research in understanding the interrelation between gut microbiome and mental health. Despite the challenges, the idea that the treatment of psychiatric disorders could involve a nutritional prescription alongside a traditional psychotropic medication is certainly plausible.

Keywords: gut microbiome, dysbiotic state, anxiety, depression


Electroconvulsive therapy and its effect on neurotransmitters

Luana Ionescu1,2, Larisa-Maria Geafer1,2, Carmen-Petrina Niculae1,2, Constantin-Alexandru Ciobanu1, Octavian Baiu2,
Adela-Magdalena Ciobanu1,2

1. “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania
2. “Prof. Dr. Alexandru Obregia” Clinical Hospital of Psychiatry, Bucharest, Romania

Introduction. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) represents a viable alternative for the many psychiatric patients who respond inadequately to treatment. While the therapeutic effects of ECT on treatment resistant depression, treatment resistant schizophrenia and even on nonpsychiatric diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, is well documented, there is still a lack of consensus on the neurophysiological mechanism by which this treatment method works.

Objectives. Our aims are to review the current literature concerning the effects that ECT has on neurotransmitters.

Materials and method. A review of the specialized literature was conducted, using the most relevant papers. The PubMed database was used.

Results. Electroconvulsive therapy has marked effects on the dopaminergic system, on the serotoninergic and GABA systems, while also influencing the noradrenergic pathways. ECT alters several serotonin receptor subtypes in the brain, increasing their sensitivity to 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Free circulating GABA was reduced in patients in the first hour following ECT. Electroconvulsive therapy was found to modulate dopamine receptors and increase dopamine release.

Conclusions. Electroconvulsive therapy influences several neurotransmitter pathways in the central nervous system, providing therapeutic benefits to many treatment-resistant psychiatric patients.

Keywords: dopamine, electroconvulsive therapy, psychosis, serotonin, GABA, depression

Quality of life of children with ADHD, ASD and epilepsy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Florentina-Ionela Lincă1,2, Magdalena Budişteanu2,3,4, Adelina Glangher2, Ioana Doina2

1. Department of Special Psychopedagogy, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
2. “Prof. Dr. Alexandru Obregia” Clinical Hospital of Psychiatry, Bucharest, Romania
3. “Victor Babeş” National Institute of Pathology, Bucharest, Romania
4. Faculty of Medicine, “Titu Maiorescu” University, Bucharest, Romania

Introduction. The 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to rapid and unprecedented changes in the lives of millions of families, children, adolescents and adults. Faced with countless deaths and hundreds of thousands of people infected worldwide, most countries have implemented massive preventive measures. To all these, people – regardless of medical condition – had to adapt.

Objective. In this paper, we aim to carry out an empirical research study on the quality of life of children with ADHD, epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during the pandemic. Our main objectives were: (1) to identify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of life of children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old, and (2) to explore the specific difficulties faced by children with neurodevelopmental problems (ADHD, ASD) or chronic health conditions (epilepsy).

Materials and method. To achieve these objectives, we applied questionnaires to a group of 61 children diagnosed with ASD, ADHD or epilepsy, which covered all aspects of their quality of life.

Conclusions. Our results can be seen as a starting point for future psychopharmacological interventions.

Keywords: ASD, ADHD, epilepsy, quality of life, COVID-19


Atypical indicators for cognitive impairment

Cristina-Manuela Oprea1,2, Alexandru Mihalcea3

1. “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania
2. “Prof. Dr. Alexandru Obregia” Clinical Hospital of Psychiatry, Bucharest, Romania
3. “Titu Maiorescu” University, Bucharest, Romania

Introduction. The number of people with cognitive impairment is constantly increasing, which is why the addressability of patients with such problems has also increased. Today, the clinical psychologist is faced with additional requests for the assessment of cognitive impairment. The biggest challenge is to delineate cognitive impairment from other conditions, such as depression. The assessment of cognitive impairment has acquired new valences with the attempt to detect cognitive changes in early, preclinical stages of different types of neurocognitive disorders.

Objective. This study had as its main objective the construction of an affective and emotional profile of the patient with neurocognitive disorder, and as secondary objectives, measuring the level of depression, measuring the level of anxiety, and measuring the level of somatization in patients with neurocognitive disorder.

Hypotheses. 1) Cognitive impairment correlates positively with nonspecific symptoms of anxiety, depression and somatization. 2) Nonspecific symptoms of anxiety and depression predict cognitive impairment. 3) Patients with cognitive impairment present anxious, depressive and somatization symptoms to a lesser extent than participants without cognitive impairment. 4) Affective and somatization features are negatively associated with cognitive impairment.

Materials and method. The participants were 91 patients, 49 women and 42 men, who participated in the study. We used Minimal Assessment of Mental Status, Second Edition, Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE-2), the Clock Test, and Clinical Rating Scales for the Elderly (CASE).

Results and conclusions. Overwhelming agitation and irritability are the strongest predictors of cognitive impairment. Irritability is found in all study participants, but in patients with cognitive impairment it is found more frequently. Patients with cognitive impairment report that life is too hard to live, and the lack of future perspective is rare. Patients with cognitive impairment report somatization symptoms: health worries, chest pains, headaches, frequent illnesses, drug-resistant pain, medical problems no one cares about, or body aches.

Keywords: cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression

Well-being and mental suffering

Cristina-Manuela Oprea

“Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest; “Prof. Dr. Alexandru Obregia” Clinical Hospital of Psychiatry, Bucharest, Romania

Mental illness is a disaster both for the sufferer and for their families. The onset of mental illness is often experienced as a catastrophe, and the progression of the illness as a burden. Psychiatry, clinical psychology and psychotherapy have failed to achieve happiness and well-being in the general population, despite the “explosion” of drugs (antipsychotics) and the development of psychotherapy techniques. Cloninger argues that this failure is caused by the centering of specialists on the phenomenon of stigmatization, to the detriment of the development of methods aimed at increasing positive emotions, the development of some personality characteristics, increasing life satisfaction, or paths to spiritual elevation.

The father of positive psychology is Martin Seligman, who, at the end of the 1990s, spoke for the first time about positive individual traits: courage, optimism, the ability to experience pleasure, the power to work, social responsibility. It is considered that well-being is not conditioned by the presence or absence of somatic or mental disorders, but it depends on a positive mental status, the level of satisfaction felt and the happiness experienced. According to some authors, well-being has two major components: hedonic well-being and eudaimonic well-being, including purpose in life and self-acceptance.

Many of those who struggle with mental illness have found the strength to rise, have shown courage, preserved their dignity, and even made contributions to society. There are people living with chronic psychotic symptoms (symptoms that have not resolved), but who can experience moments of happiness and who can enjoy aspects and events of life. Well-being is associated with longevity, and in contemporary society it can be considered a measure of global development.

Keywords: well-being, mental disorder, personality


Pizza days at the office is not a benefit! Real methods to improve well-being for people
with disabilities and beyond in the workplace

Armand Veleanovici, Antonia Veleanovici

Expert Psy Association, Bucharest; Romanian Association of Psychologists

Introduction. According to statistics, in Romania there are 867,474 people with disabilities, accounting for almost 4% of the population. Out of this total, 98% are living independently, and 52.74% are between 18 and 64 years old, which means they are within their working years. However, the reality is very different. While 482,454 people with disabilities could be employed, only 7% of them are employed, while the EU average is 35-40%. This means that Romania needs to significantly improve the rate of hiring people with disabilities.

Objective. This presentation aims to reveal the current state of employment in Romania for people with disabilities, discuss the types of disabilities that are most common in the labor market, and present actionable steps employers can take to increase the representation of people with disabilities within their workforce. Moreover, this presentation also looks into how the entire group of professionals around people with disabilities – whether doctors, psychologist, psychiatrists or HR professionals – can work together to create an environment where everyone can thrive at work.

Keywords: disabilities, well-being, labor market