Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 7, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter of Mental Health America, offering the latest developments at Mental Health America and summaries of news, views and research in the mental health field. Coverage of news items in this publication does not represent Mental Health America’s support for or opposition to the stories summarized or the views they express.
Parity in insurance coverage for substance use treatment has not resulted in an increase in insurance costs or in use of treatment…more
IN THE NEWS
GOP Lawmakers to Continue Attack on Health Reform
Republican lawmakers are pledging to continue to attack the health reform law following the defeat of an outright repeal in the Senate. In addition to repealing sections of the law, GOP lawmakers will try to block funding for implementation through a spending plan designed to fund the government for the remainder of the year. They also plan to hold a series of hearings to help slow implementation. (The Hill, 2/03/11)
Behavioral Health Spending Grew Less Than Overall Health Expenditures
Over a 20-year period from 1986 to 2005, mental health and substance use spending grew at a slower pace than spending on health care overall, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Spending on mental health and substance use treatment also grew at a slower rate than gross domestic product in 2004 and 2005. "The recent recession, the full implementation of federal parity law, and such health reform-related actions as the planned expansion of Medicaid all have the potential to improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment and to alter spending patterns further,” the authors of the report state. The study, which appears in the journal Health Affairs, found spending grew 4.8 percent for substance abuse, 6.9 percent annually for mental health, and 7.9 percent annually for all health care services during the 20-year period. (HealthDay News, 2/04/11)
Parity for Fed Workers Achieved Aims: Study
Parity in insurance coverage for substance use treatment for federal workers has not resulted in an increase in insurance costs or an increase in use of treatment, a new study reports. The research, reported in the journal Psychiatric Services, may help rebut fears that the 2008 federal law would increase insurance costs. The findings are based on a review of insurance plans for federal workers (which have provided parity since 2001) and compared costs and usage two years before parity was implemented and two years after. It found that beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for substance use services was significantly reduced after parity, but the amount that federal plans spent per user to provide these services did not significantly increase. (Medscape, 2/04/11)
Two-Thirds of Children with ADHD Have Comorbid Conditions
Two-thirds of U.S. children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have learning disorders or other mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions, a national survey has found. The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Los Angeles of 5,000 children with ADHD, found that 33 percent had one comorbid disorder, 16 percent had two, and 18 percent had three or more. The authors of the survey, which is reported in the journal Pediatrics, note that many physicians are not adequately trained to treat comorbid conditions. (Medpage Today, 2/07/11)
Chicago Early Childhood Program Benefits Kids, Saves Money
A Chicago early education program for children from low-income families is estimated to generate $4 to $11 of economic benefits over a child's lifetime for every dollar spent initially on the program, according to a cost-benefit analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers used information collected on about 900 children enrolled in the 20 centers starting when they were three and first enrolled in a preschool program and continuing until they were nine and taking parting a school-age program that featured instructional and family support. Compared to a group of children who didn’t participate in the program, children who did participate had significantly higher rates of attendance at 4-year colleges and employment in higher-skilled jobs and significantly lower rates of felony arrests and symptoms of depression in young adulthood. (USA Today, 2/03/11)
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
WBURRadio (Boston), aired a week-long series on how the delivery of mental health services for children has changed since a landmark court ruling.
The Denver Post reports on a jail diversion program that helps people with mental health conditions and cuts costs.
CNN’s mental health expert explains how psychotherapy can help the heart.
Meditation May Change Brain Structure: Meditation causes structural changes in the brain associated with memory, empathy, and stress, according to new research. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, examined MRI scans of participants over a period of 8 weeks. Daily meditation sessions of 30 minutes produced measurable changes in subjects with no previous meditation history. The anxiety and stress region of the brain, the amygdala, produced less gray matter. In a non-meditating control group, these positive changes did not take place. (The New York Times, 1/28/11)
Social Status Increases Risk for Depression in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Low socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of symptoms of depression in rheumatoid arthritis patients, a new study finds. The study analyzed data, including socioeconomic status, from 824 hospital or clinic visits made by 466 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Reporting in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, researchers found that 37 percent of them had moderate to severe depression. Depression scores were higher in patients treated in a public hospital, which serves mainly patients from lower socioeconomic groups. (HealthDay News, 1/28/11)
AT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: Headlines and Highlights
An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy looks at how the tragedy in Arizona has affected the work of mental health organizations, including Mental Health America.
Recorded Webinars, Toolkits on Five Key Advocacy Issues: Recordings of webinars on five key advocacy issues—Health Reform; State Budget Advocacy; Access to Medications; Criminal Justice; and Parity—and toolkits on these topics are available by clicking on the above links.
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