Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of December 19, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of December 19, 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.
Mental health conditions—along with acute bronchitis, asthma, trauma-related disorders, middle-ear infections—was among the five most commonly treated health problems among children in 2008…more
IN THE NEWS
States Given Flexibility on Essential Benefits
The Obama administration said last week that states will be given wide latitude to decide what “essential benefits” insurers must offer in health policies sold through exchanges established by the health reform law beginning in 2014. Final rules will be delayed for the foreseeable future. The reform law says that all plans must cover, at a minimum, the following categories: ambulatory (outpatient) services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse treatments, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services, and pediatric services including oral and vision care. The decision means states will determine what specific treatments and services will be covered in each category. States will have four choices for designing a benchmark insurance package. They can choose their benchmark plan from among the three biggest private small group plans, the three biggest state employee plans, the three biggest federal employee plans, or the state’s largest commercial HMO. (MHH Reporting, 12/19/11)
Facebook Launches Suicide Prevention Service
Facebook is launching a service that will allow users to report a suicidal comment they see posted on the site. The person who posted the comment will immediately receive an email from Facebook encouraging them to call the toll-free U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or to click on a chat session with a crisis worker. Both options are available 24/7 and provide free, confidential counseling to anyone in need. (HealthDay News, 12/14/11)
Mental Health Conditions Among Five Most Common Medical Problems among Children
Mental health conditions—along with acute bronchitis, asthma, trauma-related disorders, middle-ear infections—was among the five most commonly treated medical problems among children in 2008, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. More than 40 percent of the nation’s children age 17 and younger were treated for at least one of those conditions. Mental health conditions were the fifth most commonly treated condition (5 million children) and had the highest treatment cost—an average of $2,483 per child. (HealthDay News, 12/15/11)
Victims of Sexual Violence Have Serious Mental Health Problems
The majority of victims of sexual violence experience serious mental and general health problems that can last a lifetime, according to a government study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that victims cite chronic pain, diabetes, asthma, sleep difficulties and poor overall and mental health. The vast majority of women who said they had been victims of sexual violence, rape or stalking reported symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as did about one-third of the men. Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States reported being raped at some point in their lives. More than half of the raped women reported being assaulted by an intimate partner. (The New York Times, 12/15/11)
Marijuana Use among H.S. Students Rises
Marijuana use among high school students has reached a thirty year peak, the government reported last week. One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, according to an annual national survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year, after a large decline in the preceding decade. But alcohol use by teens has dropped to historic lows. The survey found a continuing trend of lower alcohol consumption that stretches back to the 1980s. (HealthDay News, 12/14/11)
Recession Took Toll on Family Connections: Study
The recession took a toll on family ties, a new study reports. Parents who were under financial strain said they felt less connected to their children. Parents who reported increasing financial pressure were also more likely to report symptoms of depression, according to the study. Depressed parents were more likely to report feeling less connected and not as close with their child. Children whose parents were struggling were less likely to say they volunteered, helped their friends or their families, found enjoyment in doing small favors for others. Researchers analyzed data from a survey done in 2009 and then again a year later of about 500 families in the Seattle area about their feelings of depression, economic stress and family relationships. (HealthDay News, 12/16/11)
The Wall Street Journal examines how colleges accommodate students with mental health conditions.
Teenage Girls who are Depressed More Likely to Start Bing Drinking: Teenage girls who feel depressed are twice as likely to start binge eating as other girls are and girls who engage in binge eating have double the normal risk of symptoms of depression, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 5,000 girls aged 12 to 18 who answered questions in 1999, with follow-up surveys in 2001 and 2003. Reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study found that teens and young women who reported in the first survey that they always or usually felt “down in the dumps” or “depressed” were about twice as likely as others were to start overeating or binge eating during the following two years. (Health Behavior News Service, 12/13/11)
Family-centered Prevention and Intervention Program Reduced Behavioral, Drug Problems: A family-centered prevention and intervention program reduced behavioral and drug problems among black high school youths, researchers report. Adolescents enrolled in the Strong African American Families-Teen (SAAF-T) program had significantly lower increases in problematic conduct, substance use, and frequency of depressive symptoms over a 22-month period than a control group, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. Compared with the control group, those in the SAAF-T group showed a 36 percent decrease in the frequency of conduct problems, a 32 percent decrease in substance use, and a 47 percent decrease in substance use problems. But the control group also reported a 15 percent improvement through an emphasis on nutrition, exercise, and consumer behavior. The researchers said one of the advantages of the SAAF-T program is that it can easily be used by public health agencies and community organizations. (Medage Today, 12/12/11)
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