Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 25, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of April 25, 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.
NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
May is Mental Health Month 2011: Do More for 1 in 4. For information on this year's May is Mental Health Month activities, go to http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may.
Mental Health America's Annual Conference, June 9-11, in Washington, DC: Find out how health reform will be implemented; how to start a peer specialist program; and what new programs we are launching. Go to http://www.nmha.org/go/conference.
Mental health problems caused by the Gulf oil spill are likely to linger for decades...more
IN THE NEWS
Bullying Linked to Violence at Home
Bullying is pervasive among middle school and high school students in Massachusetts and may be linked to family violence, a new study finds. In a survey of 5,807 middle-school and high-school students from almost 138 Massachusetts public schools, researchers from the Massachusetts Department of Health and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that those involved in bullying in any way are more likely to contemplate suicide and engage in self-harm compared to other students. Those involved in bullying were also more likely to have certain risk factors, including suffering abuse from a family member or witnessing violence at home, compared to people who were neither bullies nor victims. (Los Angeles Times, 4/22/11)
Mental Health Problems Caused by Gulf Spill to Linger for Decades: Study
Mental health problems caused by the Gulf oil spill are likely to linger for decades, according to a forthcoming study. Researchers found that that one-fifth of respondents qualified as being under severe stress, and one-fourth experienced moderate stress. Those residents who had a connection to local resources, like fisherman, were even more likely to experience high levels of stress, as were people with low income levels and low levels of education. Two factors that could cause stresses to persist, according to the study, are delays in compensation for spill damages and possible slow recovery of fishing resources and the fishing industry. Researchers said the impact of the spill may follow a pattern that emerged following the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. "Given the social scientific evidence amassed over the years in Prince William Sound, Alaska, we can only conclude that social disruption and psychological stress will characterize residents of Gulf Coast communities for decades to come," the authors write. (Time, 4/20/11)
Vets with Mental Illness Have High Rates of Substance Use
As many as one-third of U.S. military veterans who have a mental health condition also have a substance use disorder, researchers say. Using data from the Department of Veterans Affairs to examine rates of substance use disorders among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the researchers identified 1 million who were diagnosed with mental health conditions, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The study, published in The American Journal on Addictions, found the rates of substance use disorders among those with mental illness ranged from 21 percent to 35 percent. The highest rates of substance abuse occurred among those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. (HealthDay News, 4/22/11)
Tourists Exposed to Most Severe Trauma during Tsunami Take Longer to Recover
Swedish tourists who were exposed to the most severe trauma in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami have taken longer than their peers to recover psychologically, according to a news study. The researchers tracked almost 3,500 Swedish survivors of the tsunami. Most were on vacation in the area when the tsunami occurred. About 98 percent of those with low levels of exposure to trauma had a "resilient" response, but only 77 percent of those with high levels of exposure did, the study reported. Among those who lost a loved one, only about half had a "resilient" response, researchers report in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Three years after the tsunami, they found mental health problems in 28 percent of those who'd had high levels of exposure, 20 percent of those with medium levels and 43 percent of those who had lost a loved one. (HealthDay News, 4/19/11)
Minnesota School Mental Health Program May be Eliminated
A Minnesota program that helps deliver mental health services to children may be in jeopardy. Under the program, which has served 8,400 children over the last two years, schools work with mental health agencies to provide school-based therapy services. Although Gov. Mark Dayton and state representatives include funding in their budgets, the state senate eliminated it. A conference committee will now determine if funding for the program will be continued. (Minnesota Public Radio, 4/21/11)
White House Launches Effort to Curb Prescription Drug Overdose
The White House has launched a new effort to curb prescription drug overdose. The effort, called "Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis," is primarily aimed at cracking down on abuse of opioids, some of the most powerful pain relievers on the market. The plan seeks to reduce abuse and drug diversion, educate both parents and health care providers, find better ways to dispose of unused pills, and beef up enforcement efforts by clamping down on pill mills and doctor shopping. Prescription drug overdose is now the fastest-growing drug problem in the country, surpassing the number of people who overdosed during both the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970s combined, the Obama administration says. (CNN, 4/21/11)
New Guidelines on Alzheimer's Reflect Increased Knowledge, New Diagnostic Tools
A change in the definition of Alzheimer's disease could help doctors diagnose patients in the very early stages of the disorder, including those who don't exhibit symptoms. The new guidelines, announced by the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer's Association, recognize two earlier stages of the disease: mild cognitive impairment, and preclinical Alzheimer's, in which biochemical and physiological changes linked to the disease have begun. The changes reflect the increased knowledge scientists have about the disorder, including identifying biological changes that occur, and the development of new tools that allow early diagnosis. These include imaging studies that show shrinkage in specific areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer's and the appearance of biomarkers in the spinal fluid of patients with the disorder. Researchers also have identified genes that are linked to Alzheimer's. (Los Angeles Times, 4/25/11)
Study: "Happiest" States, Countries Tend to Have Higher Suicide Rates
States and countries that are considered "happiest" tend to have higher suicide rates, according to new research. It used U.S. and international data, including a newly available random sample of 1.3 million Americans, and another on suicide decisions among an independent random sample of approximately 1 million Americans. States with people who are generally more satisfied with their lives tended to have higher suicide rates than those with lower average levels of life satisfaction. It also found that several countries, including Canada, the United States, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland, display relatively high happiness levels and yet also have high suicide rates. However, comparison is difficult because of cultural differences. (The New York Times, 4/23/11)
Mental Health Advocates Criticize Mug Shot "Contest"
Mental health advocates are criticizing an online contest created by the Sheriff's Office in Maricopa County, Arizona, that lets people choose the most popular jail booking photos posted on its website. Charles Arnold, an attorney and longtime mental health advocate, says the contest was predictable given that many people in jails are dealing with some combination of substance abuse, mental illness and physical ailments. What he's doing seems to be to be exploiting people who have been defined in our state as vulnerable adults," he said. That's offensive." (TriValley Central, 4/25/11)
The Arizona Daily Star reports that individuals with mental health conditions are worried that the Tucson shootings may cement negative attitudes toward those with mental illness.
The Washington Post looks at how reductions in mental health resources are affecting police forces.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
A Huffington Post contributor on "Living with the Stigma of Mental Illness."
A Palm Beach Post columnist addresses how the media stigmatizes mental illness.
Preterm Birth Raises the Risk of Childhood ADHD: Babies born about a month early were more likely to be treated for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) upon reaching school age compared with children born full-term, researchers report. The study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, cross-referenced birth records with records of prescriptions for ADHD medications, which were used to determine whether a child had ADHD. It found that babies born about a month early, at 35 and 36 weeks-who account for the majority of preterm births-were 30 percent more likely to be treated for ADHD upon reaching school age, compared with children born full-term (at 39 to 41 weeks). The researchers found that the earlier the birth, the greater the odds the child would develop ADHD. Babies born at 33 to 34 weeks were 40 percent more likely to have ADHD than full-term babies, and those born at 29 to 32 weeks were 60% more likely. Babies born even earlier than that- between 23 and 28 weeks-had twice the risk. (Time, 4/20/11)
Crying by Babies May Signal Future Behavioral Problems: Persistent crying and difficulty in sleeping by babies may signal behavioral problems in later years, researchers assert. Reporting in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, researchers say an analysis of almost two dozen showed that infants who consistently cry and wake up at night past their third month are nearly twice as likely to develop problems such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, aggressive behavior or conduct disorders by the time they begin school. Although the data does not support a clear link, they say the crying and waking could be the first signs of a behavioral problem. Another possibility is that some babies may have a genetic susceptibility to problems regulating their behavior. (Time, 4/22/11)
Breastfeeding Improves Bonding with Child: Mothers who only breastfeed their babies and use no formula are more likely than others to bond emotionally with their child, researchers say. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to map the brain's responses when the mothers were breastfeeding. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that breastfeeding mothers had greater responses to their infant's cry in brain regions related to care giving behavior and empathy than mothers who relied upon formula. Three or four months after delivery, some of the brain regions originally observed at one month continued to activate and were correlated with maternal, sensitive behavior among the same group of mothers. The findings suggest breastfeeding and its high levels of hormones, as well as stress and culture, may all play an important role for mothers' brain activity and parenting behaviors during the early postpartum period. (UPI, 4/21/11)
Winter Could be Linked to Postpartum Depression: Winter births may be a cause of postpartum depression in new mothers than those who give birth in spring, a new study asserts. Swedish researchers analyzed data from over 2,000 women who gave birth over a period of one year. The women completed questionnaires on symptoms of depression. Reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study found that women who gave birth during the months from October through December were nearly twice as likely to show symptoms of postpartum depression after 6 weeks and 6 months as those who gave birth in April through June. However, the research does not prove that giving birth causes depression and the link remains unexplained. (Reuters, 4/20/11)
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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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