Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of July 11, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of July 11, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter produced by Mental Health America, providing 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.
Children with one or more parent on long-term deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan have a higher chance of mental health problems…more
IN THE NEWS
Obama Reverses Condolence Letter Policy for Soldier Suicides
The Obama administration announced last week it will reverse a long-standing, unwritten policy of not sending condolence letters to families of soldiers who die by suicide in combat zones. The military said the previous policy was based on a concern that recognizing such deaths might encourage more suicides. President Obama said sending the letters might help prevent them by reducing the stigma against mental health counseling and thereby encouraging troops to seek help. Groups that had advocated for the change applauded the move but urged that letters be sent to families of all troops who die while serving. They noted that two-thirds of military suicides occur outside of combat zones. (The New York Times, 7/6/11)
Study Finds Medicaid Improves Health, Financial Budgets of Recipients
A major new study finds that Medicaid expands access to care and improves the finances of recipients. New recipients reported better mental and overall health and were less likely to go into debt to pay their medical bills, researchers reported. The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, followed health outcomes a year after a 2008 Medicaid expansion in Oregon, where 10,000 uninsured low-income adults won coverage through a lottery. The results show that Medicaid helps poorer Americans well beyond the default safety net options that exist for people without coverage. It found that people enrolled in Medicaid were 25 percent more likely to report their health was very good or excellent, 10 percent less likely to be depressed and 25 percent less likely to have unpaid medical bills sent to a collection agency than their uninsured counterparts. Medicaid enrollees were also more likely to get preventive care, such as mammograms and cholesterol screening. (The New York Times, 7/7/11)
New Rate Structure for Medicaid Raises Concerns
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who chairs the National Governors Association, is raising concerns about a proposal now being considered as part of the debt reduction talks that would change the way the federal government makes Medicaid payments to the states. The plan would combine the federal government’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program payments into a single blended rate for each state. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis says that change would mean less federal funding for already cash-strapped states, likely forcing state governments to reduce services and cut payments to health care providers. The administration argues that the blended rate won’t necessarily lower contributions. (MHH Reporting, 7/11/11)
Lengthy Deployments Linked to Mental Health Problems of Children
Children with one or more parent on long-term deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan have a higher chance of mental health problems, according to a new study. Published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study examined the medical records of 307,520 U.S. children, aged 5 to 17, who had at least one parent on active duty in the U.S. Army. During that time period, nearly 17 percent of the children were diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The likelihood of a mental health diagnosis increased with the length of deployment, particularly among boys and girls whose parents were deployed for more than 11 months. (Medpage Today, 7/7/11)
Report: Adopted Children Have Higher Rates of Mental Health Problems
Adopted children have higher rates of mental health problems than those raised by their biological parents, according to a federal report. The survey of adoptive parents found 29 percent of adopted children had moderate to severe health problems—compared to 12 percent of all children. Attention deficit disorder affected 20 percent of foster care adoptees, and 16 percent suffered from behavior and conduct problems. Only four percent of all children, adopted and those living with biological parents, suffered from attention deficit disorder, researchers said. (Bloomberg, 7/6/11)
Suicides Rose in Europe during Financial Crisis
New research finds that the number of suicides rose in Europe during the global financial crisis. Scientists studying the link between economic downturns, joblessness and mortality over the past three decades said an early look at data for 2009 shows suicides increased in nine European countries in the year after the crisis began. Greece and Ireland, the countries hurt most by the 2008 banking crisis, had bigger increases in suicide rates. The suicide rate in England rose by 6 percent in 2008. A research paper published in the journal the Lancet put the increase even higher. It calculated that the number of working age British people who died by suicide rose by 10 percent in 2008 and remained at that high in 2009. (Wall Street Journal, 7/8/11)
South Koreans Avoid Therapy
Despite a suicide rate among the highest in the world and growing rates of depression and stress, South Koreans have resisted psychotherapy. Talk therapy is only slowly being accepted. And many seek help from private clinics because of stigma due to the fact that their government insurance records will carry a designation that they sought mental health care. (The New York Times, 7/11/11)
WAMU Radio’s Diane Rehm Show discussed mental health challenges facing seniors.
The New York Times examines virtual therapy.
Time magazine interviewed the author of a book on how dogs help veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The New York Times looks at state laws that allow people who lost their firearm rights because of mental illness to petition to have those rights restored.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
An op-ed contributor writes in The New York Times “In Defense of Antidepressants.”
Secondhand Smoke Tied to Risk of ADHD in Kids: Children exposed to secondhand smoke in the home appear to be at 50 percent higher risk of conditions such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder compared to unexposed children, according to a new analysis. Researchers used national survey data of about 55,000 children for the study. Published in the journal Pediatrics, it found children exposed to smoke in the home were also at a 22 percent higher risk for having learning disabilities. The risk was highest among boys, children between the ages of 9 to 11 years, and those living at the highest poverty levels. (Medpage Today, 7/11/11)
Eating Disorders Linked to Higher Mortality: Eating disorders may be linked to elevated mortality rates, particularly from suicide among anorexia patients, a new study asserts. A meta-analysis of over 17,000 patients found that mortality was 5.86-fold higher with anorexia nervosa than the general population. Suicide accounted for one in five deaths with anorexia, researchers report in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Mortality rates were also elevated with bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. (Medpage Today, 7/5/11)
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Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.
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