Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of July 18, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of July 18, 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.
Traumatic brain injuries more than double the risk of dementia in veterans…more
IN THE NEWS
Advocates Concerned Medicaid Vulnerable in Debt Talks
Advocates are concerned that Medicaid remains vulnerable in deficit reduction talks. Republican leaders plan to vote on a bill this week that will prevent cuts to Medicare but leaves Medicaid unprotected. The legislation would place a cap on federal spending at 19.9 percent of the gross domestic product, but exempt Medicare, Social Security, and veterans benefits from cuts if spending exceeded the cap. However, the plan is not expected to win Senate approval. (MHH Reporting, 7/18/11)
Pets Provide Social, Emotional Support
Pets provide social and emotional support equal to human friendship, according to psychologists. Researchers conducted three experiments to examine the potential benefits of pet ownership. Reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they found that pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners. (The Washington Post, 7/13/11)
Vets Face Long Delays for Mental Health Services
Veterans with mental health conditions often face long and “unconscionable” waits for treatment, according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General. An evaluation of the electronic waiting lists used at several mental health clinics in the Atlanta area found a “significantly high number” of patients waited for more than a month during 2010. Some veterans attempted suicide, were hospitalized, or went to emergency departments while on long waiting lists for Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health clinics, the report found. More than 202,000 veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been seen for potential mental health problems at VA facilities through March 31, according to new data. That is an increase of 10,000 veterans from the last quarterly report. (The Washington Post, 7/14/11)
Study: TBI Doubles risk of Dementia among Vets
Traumatic brain injuries more than double the risk of dementia in veterans, a new study finds. Researchers who reviewed the medical records of 281,540 veterans ages 55 and older found that the dementia risk among veterans who sustained a traumatic brain injury was 15.3 percent. Among those who didn’t suffer a brain injury, the risk was 6.8 percent. (Bloomberg News, 7/18/11)
Army Testing New Program for Problem Drinking
The Army is testing a new program to aid soldiers who need help with problem drinking. Although the percentage of personnel who report problem drinking is similar to the civilian population, binge drinking is increasing. It also often occurs with mental health problems like depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition to offering confidentiality, the program includes weekly meetings and off-duty counseling appointments, allowing soldiers to meet in civilian clothing. (NPR, 7/13/11)
Medscape interviews a Department of Health and Human Services official on connecting primary care with mental health services.
The Detroit Free Press reports on minorities and the stigma of mental illness.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
A Forbes contributor tells his story of overcoming bipolar II.
Letters to The New York Times respond to a writer who questioned the use of antidepressants.
A Huffington Post contributor writes on “What Does Suicide Prevention Have to Do with Health Care?”
Binge Drinking Harmful to Brain Development: Binge drinking can have a long-lasting negative effect on the brains of teenagers, researchers say. And girls may be especially susceptible. Researchers interviewed 95 teenagers on substance use and conducted neuropsychological testing along with brain scans to test working memory. They found that teen girls who were heavy drinkers had less brain activation in several areas of their brains than other girls their age that didn't drink. Teenage boys who drank excessively displayed some changes compared to those who didn’t drink, but it was less than among girls. (HealthDay News, 7/15/11)
Military Vets Who Attempt Suicide at Risk for Second Attempt: Military veterans who attempt suicide are at risk for another attempt, according to a new research. They are also more likely to have a higher risk of death from all causes, researchers report in BioMed Central Public Health. The researchers looked at the medical records of U.S. veterans who were seen at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for a suicide attempt between 1993 and 1998. They found that veterans who had previously attempted suicide were three times more likely to die from any cause than people in the general population. (HealthDay News, 7/14/11)
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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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