Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of November 7, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of November 7, 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.
Researchers say a computer analysis of brain scans could help predict how serious or long term a patient's psychosis may become and help doctors make more accurate decisions about how best to treat them…more
IN THE NEWS
Man Whose Lawsuit Produced Reforms Dies
Ricky Wyatt, whose lawsuit against the state of Alabama brought about reforms in mental health systems across the country, died last week. Wyatt was 15 years old in 1970 when he became the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed against the Alabama Department of Mental Health over conditions at Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa. The testimony of Wyatt, who had no diagnosis of mental illness, brought to light conditions and abuses at Bryce. Rulings in the case over a 33-year period set constitutional standards for patients’ rights and treatment of individuals with mental illness. (The New York Times, 11/3/11)
Report Recommends Steps to Reduce Military Suicides
A new report calls for a number of steps to reverse the number of military suicides. The study from the Center for a New American Security says the upswing in suicides during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will undercut recruitment and public confidence if new efforts aren’t put in place to prevent them. The authors of the study recommend better accounting of how many suicides actually occur among active-duty and retired military, improved monitoring between once-a-month training sessions for Guard and Reserves, hiring of additional care providers, and cracking down on military hazing. (CNN, 11/1/11)
Puerto Rico Reaches Agreement over Mental Care
Puerto Rico has reached an agreement with the U.S. government ending a 12-year legal battle to improve the island's health system of caring for people with mental disorders. Federal officials had accused the U.S. territory of abusing and neglecting hundreds of patients by not providing food, medication, adequate housing, therapy or mental health care. Puerto Rico has since agreed to make dozens of changes, including opening new treatment centers and hiring more employees. (Associated Press, 11//3/11)
Researchers: Brain Scans Can Predict Nature of Psychosis
Researchers say a computer analysis of brain scans could help predict how serious or long term a patient's psychosis may become and help doctors make more accurate decisions about how best to treat them. A study reported in the journal Psychological Medicine found that using computer algorithms to analyze MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans can predict a patient's outcome. The finding could lead to a reliable way of predicting how a patient's illness will develop, allowing doctors to give the best treatment. Because structural MRI scans can be obtained in as little as 10 minutes, the technique could be incorporated into routine clinical investigations. (Reuters, 11/7/11)
Petition Questions Changes in DSM-5
Divisions of the American Psychological Association have created an online petition questioning proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The American Psychiatric Association plans to publish the new edition of the manual, called DSM-5, in 2013. The petition questions the new manual's "lowering of diagnostic thresholds for multiple disorder categories, about the introduction of disorders that may lead to inappropriate medical treatment of vulnerable populations, and about specific proposals that appear to lack empirical grounding." The American Psychological Association's Society for Humanistic Psychology sponsored the petition along with two other divisions. (Nature, 11/3/11)
The New York Times examines the impact of the closure of a state mental hospital in Vermont caused by the Tropical Storm Irene.
Time examines “Libya's Battle for Mental Health.”
The New York Times reports on deficiencies in state care for people with developmental disabilities.
Parental Depression Linked to Children’s Behavior, Emotional Problems: Paternal depression and other mental health problems affect the behavior of children, researchers say. An analysis of surveys of nearly 22,000 U.S. children aged 5 to 17 and their mothers and fathers completed between 2004 and 2008 found that emotional and behavioral problems were 72 percent more likely with depressed dads. The study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, found that 6 percent of children with two mentally healthy parents have serious emotional or behavioral problems. The rate increases to 11 percent if the father is depressed, 19 percent if the mother is depressed and 25 percent if both parents are depressed. A mothers' mental health may be more influential because they often spend more time with the children than fathers, researchers say. (Medpage Today, 11/7/11)
Trauma Linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Psychological and emotional traumas may contribute to adult irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a new study. Researchers found that childhood and adult traumas — such as the death of a loved one, divorce, natural disaster, house fire or car accident, physical or mental abuse — are more common among adults with IBS than those without the condition. They say psychological and emotional trauma may sensitize the brain and stomach and that it is important for doctors and patients to understand the potential link. (HealthDay News, 10/31/11)
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