Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of November 22, 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?
The immune system’s response to stress or illness may be linked to depression…more
Some States Talk of Eliminating Medicaid, But Action Unlikely
Faced with large budget shortfalls, some states are discussing dropping Medicaid. However, most don’t expect to follow through with the idea. Nevertheless, some governors are assessing whether they would be in better financial shape by replacing Medicaid with a state-run system. That would allow states to get around a mandate that prohibits them from reducing eligibility for the program. (Wall Street Journal, 11/22/10)
1 in 5 Adults Had Mental Illness in Past Year; Most Didn’t Receive Treatment
One in five Americans—or more than 45 million adults—had a mental health condition last year, government researchers reported last week. Of that number, 11 million had a serious illness. But fewer than one in four received treatment for their condition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said. Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness at 30 percent, while those aged 50 and older had the lowest, with 13.7 percent. "Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," said Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA's administrator. (Reuters, 11/18/10)
FDA Moves to Ban Drinks with Alcohol and Caffeine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has effectively banned drinks manufactured to contain both alcohol and caffeine. The agency sent warning letters last week to four companies saying that they were breaking food safety law by marketing caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs). Drinks such as Four Loko, which combine caffeine with high-alcohol beer, have become popular on university campuses. But the caffeine in these drinks is an "unsafe food additive", the agency wrote. It has given the companies 15 days to remove the caffeine from their products or risk having the FDA seize them, or block their sale with a court-ordered injunction. (Associated Press, 11/17/10)
U.S. Lags Other Nations in Health Care Access, Reform Can Fix Problems
The U.S. lags other nations in health care access and cost, a study by the Commonwealth fund finds. But the report concludes that health reform will go a long way in fixing these problems. The study found that one-third of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared with as few as 5 percent of adults in the United Kingdom and 6 percent in the Netherlands who reported such problem. The report said 46 percent of U.S. adults with below-average incomes who were insured all year went without needed care, double the rate reported by above-average-income U.S. adults with insurance. (Kaiser Health News, 11/18/10)
Children's Psychiatric Hospitalizations Nearly Doubled Between 1997-2006
Hospitalization rates for psychiatric disorders among children age 5-13 nearly doubled between 1996 and 2007, according to an analysis of data. During the same period, psychiatric hospitalizations for adolescents rose by 42 percent; the rate for adults increased by less than 10 percent. The reasons for the increases are an unclear, according to the analysis. Payment for the psychiatric hospitalizations during this time period shifted away from private insurance coverage and toward government agencies. (Internal Medicine News, 11/19/10)
CNN looks at whether mindfulness can help manage mental illness.
Mental illness and stigma among Latinos is examined by CNN.
Vets with PTSD Appear to Be at Higher Risk for Heart Disease: Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) appear to be at higher risk for heart disease, researchers say. The finding is based upon a review of electronic medical records of 286,194 veterans, most of them male with an average age 63 who had been seen at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in southern California and Nevada. Researchers also analyzed coronary artery calcium CT scan images for 637 of the patients, which showed that those with PTSD had more calcium built up in their arteries—a risk factor for heart disease—and more cases of atherosclerosis. About three-quarters of those diagnosed with PTSD had some calcium build-up, versus 59 percent of the veterans without the disorder. As a group, the veterans with PTSD had more severe disease of their arteries compared to veterans without PTSD. (HealthDay News, 11/17/10)
Immune System May Play Role in Depression: The immune system's response to stress or illness may be linked to depression, a new animal study suggests. Researchers, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, found that when mice had heightened immune response—as a person would if they were fighting an illness or stress—they were likely to run less on wheels in their cages. When the researchers blocked the immune hormone which carries sickness signals to the brain, the mice resumed their usual activities. The researchers noted that people often become depressed when their body is going through an immune response to illness or stress. Some depressed patients have high levels of immune hormones even when the patient is otherwise healthy. (ScienceDaily, 11/17/10)
Gene Regulating Body Clock May Play Role in Depression: Depression may be linked to increased activity in the gene that regulates the body's 24-hour clock, a new study suggests. Researchers, whose findings are published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, collected blood samples from 30 people with a history of depression and 30 people who had no history of the condition and then analyzed them to assess gene activity. People with a history of depression had a higher level of activity of the gene known as the Clock gene than those who had never had depression. Increased activity of the Clock gene suggests a problem with the 24-hour biological and behavioral cycle, which could affect sleep patterns and other body functions governed by circadian rhythm, the researchers said. (HealthDay News, 11/18/10)
Gene Linked to ADHD Gene May Be Cause of Daydreaming: People who inherit two copies of a particular gene (called DAT1 10) are apparently at greater risk for developing attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD) than people who inherit another form (DAT1 19), researchers have found. Brain scans conducted by neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical School show that a gene nominally tied to ADHD leads to increased interference by brain regions associated with mind wandering during mental tasks. Although having the DAT 1 10 gene doesn't mean a person has ADHD, researchers say it contributes to one characteristic of the disorder. (The Los Angeles Times, 11/16/10)
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MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA Media Highlights
The holidays can affect people's mental health. According to Mental Health America, people can experience the "holiday blues" from the demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and pressure of housing guests. Vallejo Times-Herald (CA), “To the grieving, holidays bring wrenching pain,” November 21, 2010
It’s important that employers create a work environment where individuals with a mental health condition feel comfortable coming forward and asking for help, said David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "It's one thing to have an employee assistance program and another thing to actively promote people to use it and ensure that when they do, it would strictly be confidential.” Inside Business (Norfolk, VA), “Coping with Mental Illness on the Job,” November 12, 2010
Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
- New national survey shows economic downturn taking toll on Americans’ mental health
- Survey reveals obstacles to health care for people who have schizophrenia
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
- Join Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network
- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Mental Health America's Mental Health in the Headlines staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations; Robert Redpath, director, Web Technology.
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