Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 1, 2012
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of October 1, 2012
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter 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.
[NOTE: We will not publish the week of October 8. Our next issue will be October 15.]
Despite reports suggesting a decrease in child abuse cases, new data show that the number of children hospitalized due to serious abuse-related injuries actually increased slightly from 1997 to 2009…more
NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
View plenary sessions from the 2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium and Mental Health America Annual Conference: http://www.fromhousingtorecovery.org/.
Urge Your Representative to Sign onto the Sullivan-Ryan letter calling on the government to issue a final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. TAKE ACTION!
Vote for America’s Mental Health in 2012: Use our Voter Guide to Rights and Issues.
The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field. Find your employment match at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/mhacareercenter.
IN THE NEWS
Army Suicides Decline in August, But on Pace to Set Record; Service Holds Day of Prevention Training: The Army saw a drop in suicide cases in August, although it is likely that the total number for the year will set a record. Officials said 25 soldiers –16 of them active-duty troops—are believed to have taken their life last month. That’s down from July, when the figure hit an all-time high of 38 suicides among the active and reserve forces. For the year, the Army has already seen 131 potential active-duty suicide cases and another 80 guardsmen and reservists are believed to have taken their own lives. That puts the service on pace to surpass 2010—the highest for suicides. Last week, Army officials worldwide held a full day of mandatory suicide prevention training in an effort to combat the problem. “The Army has decided that this issue is so important to us that we’re going to devote an entire day . . . that was otherwise devoted to something else and say ‘That’s not as important as this,’ ” Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler III, the top non-commissioned officer in the Army, said. Lowering the high rate of suicide in the military has been declared a top priority by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has described the problem as “perhaps the most frustrating challenge” he has faced since taking up his post last year. (Stars and Stripes, 9/27/12)
Prescription Drug Abuse Down 15 Percent among Young Adults, Persistent Gap between Numbers Needing Substance Use Treatment: Prescription drug abuse is down 15 percent among young adults, according to a government survey. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that the number of 18- to 25-year-olds who said they used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month fell from 2 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2011. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that drug use among the general population remains roughly steady, down to 8.7 percent in 2011 from 8.9 percent in 2010. But findings also indicated reductions in binge and heavy drinking among underage youth, continuing a downward trend that began in 2002. Underage tobacco use also continues to drop. The survey found a persistent gap between the number of Americans in need of substance use treatment and number who receive it. Of the 21.6 million identified as needing treatment, only 2.3 million got it. Some 281,000 Americans said they sought help, but weren’t able to obtain it. (HealthDay News, 9/24/12)
Report—Georgia Makes Progress in Improving Services for People with Mental Illness: Georgia has made considerable progress in improving services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, an independent review finds. The report tracks the steps the state has taken since it agreed to revamp its services in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The report found that the state has actually exceeded second-year targets of providing supported housing and employment for people with mental illness. It also surpassed its required number of placements of individuals with developmental disabilities from state hospitals into residential settings. But the review also found at individuals with developmental disabilities who were placed in community settings experienced rights violations, unsanitary environments, inadequate staffing, unsatisfactory day programs, and psychotropic drug use without informed consent. “Needed supports were found to be lacking,’’ the report says. (Georgia Health News, 9/25/12)
Panel Recommends Primary Care Doctors Screen Adults for Alcohol Use: A panel of medical experts reaffirmed last week the recommendation that primary care doctors and nurses should screen their adult patients to determine whether they are misusing alcohol, and provide counseling when risky behavior is detected. After reviewing recent research, the United States Preventive Services Task Force concluded that primary care doctors and nurses could help patients cut down on drinking by offering a brief counseling session or a series of sessions. Doctors would determine whether counseling was needed by asking a simple set of questions about alcohol use during the patient’s primary care visit, they said. The task force did not recommend the same screening and counseling for adolescents because, it said, it was less clear whether the benefits would outweigh the potential harm, like anxiety or the stigma of being singled out. (The New York Times, 9/24/12)
California Bans Gay “Conversion” Therapy for Minors: California has become the first state in the country to ban controversial therapy practices that attempt to change the sexual orientation of minors. The law bars mental health practitioners from performing so-called reparative therapy, which professional psychological organizations have said may cause harm. Gay rights groups have labeled the therapy dangerous and abusive. Under the new law, which will take effect January 1, no mental health provider will be able to provide therapy that seeks "to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/12)
Fox News Apologizes for Showing Suicide: Fox News has apologized for a "severe human error" that resulted in it airing footage that showed a suspected carjacker shoot himself after a police chase. A Fox news anchor made a quick on-air apology after the footage aired. Although Fox had the chase on a delay, it wasn’t working when the incident occurred. Online media outlets shared the video with a warning and posted it on their websites, which was criticized by the Columbia Journalism Review. “Who's worse? @FoxNews for airing the suicide, or @BuzzFeed for re-posting the video just in case you missed it the first time?,” the publication tweeted. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has issued guidelines for covering suicides, urging journalists to stay away from sensationalism and to avoid publishing photos of victims' grieving relatives, the scene of the incident, and the method of death. The Radio Television Digital News Association also lists guidelines, advising producers to consider not using the photo of the person who took their own life. “It will make the suicide less glamorous to someone considering imitating the act,” it said. (The Atlantic Wire, 9/28/12)
New Study Finds Slight Rise in Child Abuse Cases: Despite government agency reports suggesting a decrease in child abuse cases, new data show that the number of children hospitalized due to serious abuse-related injuries actually increased slightly from 1997 to 2009. A new study, reported in the Pediatrics, analyzed U.S. hospital statistics from the Kids Inpatient Database. During this 12-year period, the incidence of serious injuries due to child abuse—including fractures and abusive head trauma— increased by 4.9 percent. By contrast, child protective service records showed a 55 percent decrease in child abuse injuries in that time period. Researchers say many factors could explain the disparity. For the new study, researchers looked at the most serious injuries that required hospital stays. There may also have been changes in reporting and injury coding as well as the criteria for who is admitted to the hospital. The new data show that serious abuse-related hospitalizations are more common in infants under 1 year old and tend to disproportionately affect families on Medicaid. (HealthDay News, 10/1/12)
The Los Angeles Times reports on new psychotherapeutic approaches that can be used in conjunction with talk therapy to help people achieve optimal mental health.
Dr. Richard Friedman writes in The New York Times on “A Call for Caution on Antipsychotic Drugs.”
The Scranton (PA) Times Tribune reports on a possible cluster of suicides and how to prevent contagion.
David Brooks writes in The New York Times that the emotional basis of success should have a bigger role in education.
Ebony magazine looks at “Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence?”
Psychology Today examines “The Silent Tsunami: Mental Health in the Workplace.”
CNN looks at smartphone apps that are surrogate therapists.
The Huffington Post looks at whether “Mental Illness a Bigger Threat to Kids than Physical Illness?”
The New York Times “Fixes” column assesses new treatments for trauma.
The Huffington Post examines “The Challenges of Preventing Campus Suicides.”
The Boston Globe reports on the passing of James Foley. His response to suicides among young people in South Boston in the 1990s served as a model for other communities.
The New York Times looks at Georgia’s effort to end segregation of developmentally disabled children.
NPR reports on changes to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which will put pathological grooming in the same category as obsessive compulsive disorder.
Physical Activity Improves Mental and General Health: Physical activity, such as sports and gym classes, can improve adolescent’s mental as well as general health, according to a new study. Dutch researchers surveyed over 7,000 students ranging from 11 to 16 years old. The adolescents completed validated surveys aimed at assessing their physical activity, mental health problems, body weight perception and participation in organized sports. The researchers also gathered data on age, gender and socioeconomic status, and whether they lived at home with their parents and if they lived in an urban area. Reporting in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, the researchers found that adolescents who were physically inactive or who perceived their bodies as either “too fat” or “too thin” were at greater risk for both internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety and externalizing problems such as aggression and substance use. “Our findings indicate that physical activity may be one effective tool for the prevention of mental health problems in adolescence,” says study author Karin Monshouwer of the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands. (WBUR Radio, 9/26/12)
Complementary Techniques May Help Soldiers with PTSD: Complementary medicine techniques known as healing touch and guided imagery can help reduce symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military personnel who have been in combat, a new study finds. The study included 123 active-duty U.S. Marines who had at least one of the symptoms of PTSD. The participants received either standard treatment for PTSD or standard treatment plus healing touch and guided imagery. There were six complementary therapy sessions over three weeks. The study, which is reported in the journal Military Medicine, found that patients who received standard treatment plus these complementary therapies had greater improvement in quality of life and lower levels of depression than those who received standard treatment alone. Although the study found an association between these complementary techniques and reduced PTSD symptoms, it did not prove that a cause-and-effect relationship exists. (HealthDay News, 9/27/12)
MORE NEWS AND VIEWS
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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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