Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of August 23, 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?
Exposure to pesticides while in the womb may increase the odds that a child will have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder…more
Oil Spill May Cause Increase in Mental Health Problems
Five years after Hurricane Katrina, children displaced by the storm are nearly five times more likely than other kids to have severe mental health problems, a new study reports. And fewer than half of the children believed to need psychological help got it, the study published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness says. The problems children experience are often compounded by lack of stable housing. The BP oil spill has added to their trauma, says the report. More than a third of parents living within a mile of the Gulf Coast say their children suffered physical or mental distress since the oil rig blew up April 20. (Wall Street Journal, 8/16/10)
Katrina Continues to Affect Mental Health of Children
Five years after Hurricane Katrina, children displaced by the storm are nearly five times more likely than other kids to have severe mental health problems, a new study reports. And fewer than half of the children believed to need psychological help got it, the study published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness says. The problems children experience are often compounded by lack of stable housing. The BP oil spill has added to their trauma, says the report. More than a third of parents living within a mile of the Gulf Coast say their children suffered health problems since the oil rig blew up April 20. (USA Today, 8/23/10)
BP to Provide $52 Million to Fund Mental Health Programs in Gulf
BP announced last week that will provide $52 million to fund mental health programs across the Gulf Coast. The announcement comes after BP was criticized for not responding to the mental health needs of people affected by the oil that began gushing from the company's rig the Deepwater Horizon in April. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which will receive $10 million to support the programs, has said that disaster coordinators in the affected states are reporting that some individuals in the impacted areas are exhibiting early signs of substance abuse and dependence, psychiatric disorders, suicidal tendencies, and family breakdown, including divorce and abuse. (MHH Reporting, 8/23/10)
More Mental Health Conditions Treated with Drugs Alone
More Americans with mental health conditions are treated with only drugs compared with a decade ago, according to a new study. The results, reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, finds that “talk therapy” with or without medication is on the decline. The survey relied on data from two government health surveys conducted in 1998 and 2007. During this time, the percentage of Americans who said they'd had at least one psychotherapy session in the past year remained steady. But of those individuals who received outpatient mental health care, the proportion being treated with drugs alone rose from 44 percent in 1998 to 57 percent in 2007. National spending on psychotherapy declined from an estimated total of $11 billion in 1998 to $7 billion in 2007. Overall spending on mental health care remained steady. (Reuters, 8/19/10)
Army Struggles to Meet Demand for Mental Health Services
The Army continues to face great difficulty in delivering mental health services to troops. According to unreleased data, soldiers are seeking mental help more than 100,000 times a month. That figure reflects a growth of more than 75 percent from the end of 2006 to the final months of 2009, according to Army data. According to the Army's estimates of its needs, 414 psychiatrists are 20 percent fewer than it should have. A recent study found that "numerous critical shortages of care providers including behavioral health" personnel are hurting its efforts to curb suicides. (Time, 8/22/10)
High Demand for Mental Health Services at Fort Hood
Nine months after the Fort Hood shootings, demand for mental health services at the Army base is overwhelming the system designed to help soldiers and families. About every fourth soldier has been in counseling during the past year, according to the service's medical statistics. And the number of soldiers seeking help for combat stress, substance abuse, broken marriages or other problems is increasing. About 10 percent of Army troops are based at Fort Hood. (USA Today, 8/23/10)
Army Misdiagnosed Hundreds with Personality Disorder Instead of PTSD
The Army routinely fired hundreds of soldiers for having a personality disorder when they were more likely to be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), discharge data suggests. The Army later acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers given the designation. But advocates say an unknown number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other benefits. According to the numbers provided by the US Army, the service discharged about 1,000 soldiers per year between 2005 and 2007 for having a personality disorder. (The Associated Press, 8/16/10)
Rise in Cases of Severe Mental Illness on College Campuses
More cases of severe mental illness are being reported among college students than a decade ago, a new study finds. Part of the reason is that young people with mental health conditions are attending universities and are open to getting help when they need it. In 1998, 93 percent of the students seeking counseling were diagnosed with one mental health condition, compared to 96 percent of students in 2009, according to the study, which was prepared by John C. Guthman, director of student counseling at Hofstra University's division of student affairs. The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression rose from 34 percent to 41 percent while the number of students on psychiatric medications increased from 11 percent to 24 percent. (HealthDay News, 8/13/10)
Younger Kids May Be Misdiagnosed with ADHD
Kids who are young for their grade level may be misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers say. The findings, published in the Journal of Health Economics, suggest that the diagnosis may be overused for children who are simply acting their age. Researchers at Michigan State University and at North Carolina State University analyzed the relationship between date of birth and ADHD diagnosis. They found that, for kids with birthdays just before the kindergarten-eligibility cut-off date in their state, the odds of an ADHD diagnosis were much higher than for kids who start school almost a full year older, born just after the eligibility cut-off. Based on these findings, nearly 1 million children may be misdiagnosed. (USA Today, 8/17/10)
“The Transition Year,” is a new Internet campaign designed by the American Psychiatric Foundation and the Jed Foundation to ease the transition from home to college.
Lens, the photojournalism blog of The New York Times, features photos by Matt McDonough of abandoned state mental hospitals.
Childhood Stress Can Lead to Heart Disease as Adult: Adults who experienced abuse, poverty, or social isolation in childhood are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, a new study asserts. Karen Matthews, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, followed 212 teens, ages 14 to 16, for three years. She and fellow researchers found that teens from poor families were more likely to have early signs of heart disease. "The evidence shows that certain reactions to adverse childhood experiences associated with lower socioeconomic status, isolation and negative events can affect the disease process," she said. (USA Today, 8/14/10)
Many with Depression Have Brief, Recurring Episodes of Mania: Approximately 40 percent of Americans with major depression also have brief but recurring episodes of manic behavior, according to a new study. Researchers say that these patients have what's called "subthreshold hypomania”—a milder form of mania that lasts fewer than four days and below the threshold for bipolar disorder. The findings, which are published in an online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry, are based on data from a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. households. Researchers found that people with subthreshold hypomania have higher rates of anxiety and substance abuse and more depressive episodes than depressed people who don't exhibit manic behavior. (HealthDay News, 8/17/10)
Pesticide Exposure in Womb Increases ADHD Risk: Exposure to pesticides while in the womb may increase the odds that a child will have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that prenatal levels of the pesticides were related to attention problems at age 5, with the effects apparently stronger among boys. Although it isn’t proof that pesticides cause ADHD, organophosphate pesticides are neurotoxins that kill pests by disrupting neurotransmitters that carry signals though the brain. Therefore, the exposure might interfere with brain function and development. The study, published online in Environmental Health Perspectives, followed more than 300 Mexican-Americans children and their mothers. Living in an agricultural community, their exposure to pesticides is likely higher and more chronic, on average, than that of the general U.S. population. (US News & World Report, 8/20/10)
*HEADLINES at Mental Health America
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Mental Health America along with other mental health organizations have objected to statements made by BP claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg that he is unlikely to use money from a $20 billion relief fund for claims involving mental health issues. New York Daily News, “Oil spill related mental health claims: Should BP have to pay up?” August 18, 2010
A Mental Health America survey found that unemployed people were four times as likely as people with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness. "We need to make sure we provide adequate social safety nets so that, although they will have their life strategy disrupted, their ability to meet basic needs will continue," said David L. Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. HealthDay News, “Out of Work May Mean Out of Sorts,” August 19, 2010
Mental Health America has urged individuals to send letters to BP claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg objecting to his decision not to pay claims related to the mental health effects of the oil spill. Palm Beach Post, “Mental toll of oil spill on par with other injuries,” August 19, 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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