Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of November 15, 2010
Mental Health in the Headlines offers summaries of the latest news and views 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.
DID YOU KNOW?
Depression treatments appear to be less effective in helping poor and working class individuals be productive at work…more
November 20 is National Survivors of Suicide Day
Advocates Wary of New Social Security Disability Regulation
Mental health advocates are worried about a new Social Security regulation that could change the way people with mental health conditions are evaluated for disability payments. At issue is whether standardized testing will be required to determine such payments. The proposed regulation is unclear on the issue. The state makes these disability determinations—usually based on the recommendations of psychologists and psychiatrists. Advocates say testing has not been a reliable tool in determining whether someone is capable of working or not. (Chicago Tribune, 11/13/10)
Texting Linked to Mental Health, Behavioral Problems
High school students who spend a great deal of time texting or on social network sites are at risk for behavioral problems, smoking, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and absenteeism, a new study finds. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University used data from questions posed last year to more than 4,000 students at 20 high schools in Ohio. After controlling for demographic factors, they found obsessive texting or use of social media were associated with higher levels of sexual activity, perceived stress, suicidal thoughts, alcohol use, binge drinking, tobacco use and marijuana use. In addition, extreme texters often were more likely to be obese, show disordered eating behavior, miss school because of illness and get less sleep. Although the study doesn’t show texting causes unhealthy behavior, researchers say it facilitates or enables the behaviors. (Chicago Tribune, 11/09/10)
59 Million Americans Uninsured
More than 59 million Americans had no health insurance for at least part of 2010, an increase of 4 million from the previous year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported last week. That included not only those Americans living in poverty, but an increasing number of middle-income people. There was one piece of good news. While from 2008 to 2009, the number of adults aged 18 to 64 years without insurance for at least part of the year increased 5.7 percent (from 46.0 million to 48.6 million,) the number of children less than 17 years old without coverage for at least part of the year decreased 5 percent. (CBS News, 11/10/10)
1 in 10 Children Diagnosed with ADHD
Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. children have been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some point in their lives, according to government survey conducted in 2007-2008. That's up 22 percent from 2003, when the same survey found 1 in 13 children had received a diagnosis. Experts say the increase could be explained by growing awareness and better screening. One caveat to the figures is that they are based on a health provider informing a parent of the diagnosis. It isn’t known how the assessment was conducted. The biggest demographic increases were among children between 15 and 17 and Hispanic or multiracial children. Researchers say the rise among Hispanic children may reflect better access to care, or greater cultural acceptance of the disorder. But the condition is still less common in Hispanic children. (Bloomberg News, 11/10/10)
Americans Continue to Live with High Levels of Stress: Survey
The majority of Americans continue to live with moderate to high levels of stress, the annual Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association finds. While people know it isn’t healthy, the find it difficult to manage or reduce stress. Worries about money are rising among Americans. The online survey found that 76 percent of adults cited money as a cause of stress. In last year’s survey, 71 percent reported it as a cause. The survey also found children pick up on their parents’ stress. Ninety-one percent of those age 8-17 surveyed report they know their parents are stressed. (Time, 11/09/10)
Women in High Stress Jobs Have Higher Risk of Heart Problems
Women in high stress jobs have an 88 percent higher risk of heart attack, say researchers who studied more than 17,000 employed women for 10 years. Prior studies have shown job stress in men predicts heart problems. The study found the risk of experiencing any cardiovascular event, including heart attacks, was about 40 percent higher in women with job stress, compared with women with little on-the-job stress. (The Los Angeles Times, 11/14/10)
The Associated Press reports on copycat suicides and how the press should cover the issue.
The inadequacy of mental health treatment in China is examined by The New York Times.
USA Today interviews actress Glenn Close on families and mental illness.
The Washington Post reports on efforts of officials at William and Mary College to understand the suicides of three students.
Childhood Abuse Linked to Risk of Diabetes in Women: Women who were victims of childhood abuse may be at increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood, researchers report. A survey of 67,853 U.S. nurses found that 54 percent reported physical abuse and 34 percent reported sexual abuse before age 18. Moderate and severe physical and sexual abuse was associated with a 26 percent to 69 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Researchers, who reported their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, say many abused women develop bad eating habits to compensate for the stress they experience. Another theory suggests that child abuse may increase levels of stress hormones that later cause weight gain and insulin resistance. (HealthDay News, 11/10/10)
Video Game Can Help Treat PTSD: A video game called Tetris is effective in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by reducing flashbacks of traumatic events, a new study finds. Researchers had 60 subjects watch a movie with images of traumatic injuries, which is an established method of studying effects of trauma. After the film a third played Tetris for 10 minutes while another group played a video game quiz and the other third did nothing. The study, reported in the journal PloS ONE, found that Tetris players had fewer flashbacks of the film than the other groups. Researchers say the reason is because the Tetris game emphasizes the sensory part of the brain, which competes with the traumatic images. (The Los Angeles Times, 11/10/10)
Traumatic Brain Injury Linked to Criminal Behavior in Youth: Young offenders are more likely to have suffered a traumatic brain injury compared with the rest of society, according to new research. A study of 197 young male offenders found about half of them reported having had a childhood neurological injury—three times higher than in non-offenders. Multiple head injuries were linked with carrying out more violent crimes, according to research published in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. The researchers say that while a brain injury alone is unlikely to increase a child's chances of engaging in crime, it appeared to play a role in children who were already at risk of committing offenses. (Time, 11/11/10)
Depression Treatments Less Effective in Helping Poor, Working Class: Depression treatments appear to be less effective in helping poor and working class individuals be productive at work, a new study asserts. Researchers reviewed the cases of 239 patients with major depression who took part in the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program from 1982 to 1986. After being treated with drugs or psychotherapy, working class and poor patients showed less improvement in their ability to function at work than did middle-class patients who had the same treatments, researchers report in the journal Psychiatric Services. (HealthDay News, 11/12/10)
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