Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 24, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of October 24, 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.
Individuals who have experienced long-term unemployment in the past year are three times more likely than people employed throughout the past year to experience mental health issues for the first time…more
IN THE NEWS
In Focus: The Economy and Mental Health
Foreclosures Impact Mental, Overall Health: People who have lost homes or are in foreclosure have poorer mental and overall health than those who aren’t experiencing similar financial difficulties, according to a new study. Reported in the American Journal of Public Health, the study found that people who said that they had fallen behind on their mortgage between 2006 and 2008 reported more depressive symptoms, and were more likely to say they weren't taking prescription medications because of cost. The study was based on data from a 2008 Internet survey of nearly 800 residents in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. Those states accounted for 51 percent of all foreclosure filings that year. (Baltimore Sun, 10/20/11)
Study Links Long-Term Unemployment and Mental Health Problems: Individuals who have experienced long-term unemployment in the past year—those unemployed for longer than 25 weeks—are three times more likely than people employed throughout the past year to experience mental health issues for the first time, a new study finds. The researchers found that people with more than a high school education and members of racial minorities suffer greater adverse psychological impacts of long-term unemployment than those with less education. The study focused on individuals who never had a mental health condition or experienced problems for the first time in the most recent year. (HealthDay News, 10/19/11)
Midwest, West Highest in Considering Suicide: Study
A new government state-by-state survey finds that more than 8 million Americans thought seriously about suicide in the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control study found that more adults who considered suicide lived in the Midwest and West than other areas. Adults in Georgia were least likely to report having had suicidal thoughts (2.1 percent) and residents of Utah were most likely (6.8 percent). Georgia also had the lowest rate of suicide planning and Rhode Island had the highest. Overall, 1 in 100 American adults (2.2 million) said they had planned a suicide in the previous year. (Time, 10/21/11)
Vets with Mental Health Conditions Require More Treatment
Veterans with mental health conditions require more treatment—and at higher costs—than other veterans, according to a new study. Reported in the journal Health Affairs, it found that veterans with mental health issues accounted for over 15 percent of all vets receiving care. But the amount of health care spending for these veterans amounted to nearly one-third of health care spending by the Department of Veterans Affairs. "The average cost for a veteran with mental illness and substance use in our study was $12,337, or 2.7 times the cost for an average veteran without these conditions,” researchers said. In a separate report, the Government Accountability Office found that nearly 40 percent of veterans who served after 9/11 have sought mental health services. Only about 28 percent of older veterans sought mental health care. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans represented 4 percent of total VA mental health visits in 2006, a number that tripled to 12 percent last year. (Time, 10/20/11)
Medicare to Cover Depression, Alcohol Screening
The federal government announced last week that screening for depression and alcohol misuse will now be covered by Medicare. The new services will be added to other covered preventive services at no additional cost to beneficiaries. The coverage for depression screening will apply to primary care settings that have resources to follow-up with appropriate treatment and referrals. In-office screening for alcohol misuse will be covered on an annual basis by a primary care provider. (Medpage Today, 10/17/11)
More than One in Ten in US Use Antidepressants
Eleven percent of Americans ages 12 or older use antidepressants, according to analysis of data by the Centers for Disease Control. The study found that individuals usually take medication for at least two years, although about 14 percent have been taking antidepressants for 10 or more years. Almost one in four middle-age women are using antidepressants and women overall are 2.5 times more likely to take the medication. The researchers found that a third of the people who take antidepressant medication haven't seen a medical health care professional in the past year. Only a third of people with severe depressive symptoms take antidepressant medication, according to researchers. (Medpage Today, 10/20/11)
Binge Drinking Cost $224 Billion in 2006
Binge drinking cost the U.S. nearly $224 billion in 2006, with more than a tenth of total going toward health care expenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most of the costs—nearly 75 percent—were tied to lost workplace productivity, researchers report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Criminal justice expenses accounted for 9 percent of the total. (Associated Press, 10/17/11)
The New York Times continues its profiles of individuals who are able to live productively with mental illness.
The New York Times profiles Elyn R. Saks, whose memoir of living with schizophrenia has inspired many others.
NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” discussed Mental Health First Aid.
NPR also reports on uneven progress on treatment of mental illness.
WHYY Radio interviews a psychologist on mental health issues and cancer care.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
Author Judith Warner writes in Time on “Getting Distracted from the Real Issues of ADHD.”
Dr. Laura Gold has a post on CNN on “Labeling Tantrums a Mental Illness Doesn’t Help.”
Social Phobia Not Same as Shyness: Social phobia is a legitimate psychiatric condition rather than shyness, according to a new study. Researchers examined shyness and social phobia rates among more than 10,000 teens aged 13 to 18 who took part in a national survey. About half of the teens said they were shy, but only 12 percent of the shy teens met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The study also found that about 5 percent of teens who said they weren't shy met criteria for social phobia. Reporting in the journal Pediatrics, researchers say the study’s findings indicate that the presence of social phobia may be independent of shyness in some cases. (Reuters, 10/17/11)
Some Children Respond Better to ADHD Drugs than Others: Children with a specific gene variant respond better to common medications used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study. Researchers tested 89 children aged 7 to 11 with ADHD and found that those with specific variants of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) genes showed greater improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity after taking the drug than those without the gene variants. The findings of the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, could help improve treatment of ADHD. (HealthDay News, 10/21/11)
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