Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 17, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter of Mental Health America, offering 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 AND THE TRAGEDY IN ARIZONA
Mental health issues have received greater attention in the wake of the tragedy in Arizona. Here is a sampling of some of the coverage.
A new poll by USA Today finds that the majority of Americans—55 percent—place a great deal of blame on the failure of the mental health system to identify people who are a danger to the community. Forty-three percent of those who responded blamed easy access to guns. When asked to identify what could be done to prevent violence, nearly a quarter cited stricter gun control as one of their top two steps. Fifteen percent said better mental health screening.
The Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at mental health services and funding in Arizona.
A Washington Post columnist examines what can be done to help people with mental health conditions.
CNN’s State of Union program devoted the entire show to mental health and the tragedy in Arizona.
USA Today addresses the importance of families getting help for children with mental illness.
Author Pete Early writes in USA Today about the difficulties parents face.
NPR interviews psychiatrist Larry Wissow, who says that there are still barriers to getting care.
A post on Slate examines how mental illness is falsely linked to violence.
At Mental Health America
Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, was interviewed on the radio show To the Point, which can be heard here.
A letter to the editor in the New York Times by Dr. Shern cautioned against new gun laws that would be unworkable and discriminatory.
DID YOU KNOW?
Heart-failure patients with depressive symptoms that worsen over time have an increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalization or death…more
House Votes to Repeal Health Reform
The House of Representatives in a party line vote passed legislation to repeal the health care reform law. The action is viewed as symbolic. The Senate is expected to block further action and any legislation would be vetoed by President Obama. But the GOP-controlled House is expected to take further steps to try to dismantle the law. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that up to 129 million people—or half of Americans under 65—are ineligible for health insurance because they suffer from illnesses that "major insurers consider a basis to charge customers higher prices or to exclude coverage for some." The health reform law would ban denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. (MHH Reporting, 1/20/11)
Suicides Increase among Guard, Reserves; Decline for Active Duty Army
The Army National Guard and Reserve saw a major increase in the number of soldiers taking their own lives in 2010, according to Pentagon figures. Suicides among soldiers serving on active duty decreased modestly for the first time in six years. Officials could not explain the increase among Guard and Reserve units, which almost doubled from 80 deaths in 2009 to 145 deaths in 2010. Half of those never deployed to a combat zone. (The Washington Post, 1/20/11)
Study Finds Benefits in Mental Health Screening by Military
A new study finds that pre-deployment mental health screening of soldiers reduced later behavioral problems by 78 percent and reduced thoughts of suicide by more than half. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, examined more than 21,000 soldiers who were being deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. (CNN, 1/19/11)
Colleges Fail to Identify Depression in Students: Study
New research finds that two to three percent of students who visited university clinics for colds were also depressed, but most of these centers fail to identify these students because they don’t screen for depression. The study reported, in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, is said to be the first to screen for depression in a large population of students who are coming to campus centers for routine care. Professor Michael Fleming, the lead author of the study, recommends depression screening for every student who walks into a school health center. (The Washington Post, 1/10/11)
Video Game Addiction May Lead to Mental Health Problems: Video game addiction among children and teens may lead to the development of mental health conditions such as depression, a new study asserts. The study, which was based on a two-year survey of 3,034 children in Singapore, found that 9 percent of players were addicted, as defined by how much their playing interfered with their grades, emotions and relationships. Children who were described as addicted were more likely to become depressed or anxious, according to the findings to be published in the journal Pediatrics. (HealthDay News, 1/17/11)
Worsening Depression Linked to Poorer Outcomes in Heart Failure Patients: Heart-failure patients with depressive symptoms that worsen over time have an increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalization or death, according to new research. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, assessed the mental and general health of 147 heart failure patients who were examined at the outset of the study and then again one year later with follow-up assessments for an average of five years. The researchers found that those patients whose depression worsened during the one-year study period faced double the risk for additional problems, such as a heart attack, stroke or the need for cardiac surgery. (Medpage Today, 1/17/11)
MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA Media Highlights
Repealing the health care reform law would take away significant steps to expand access to care and prevention of mental health and substance use conditions, said Mental Health America. The Hill, “Healthcare repeal criticized as blow to mental-health coverage,” January 19, 2011
Mental Health America reported that, according to a survey for the Screen Actors Guild, characters in prime-time television portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups. The vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on other negative characteristics related to people with the disorder. The Los Angeles Times, “Talk Back: Violence and the mentally ill: What's the specter, what's the reality—and what's to be done?” January 15, 2011
Mental Health America said that people with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than the rest of the population. A very small group of individuals with a specific type of mental health symptoms are at greater risk for violence if their symptoms are untreated. The News-Virginian, “Mental health back in the spotlight,” January 16, 2011
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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, senior director, Web Technology & Strategy.
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