Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 24, 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.
DID YOU KNOW?
Adults whose parents divorced when they were children are more likely to consider suicide than their peers…more
Obama Outlines Expanded Mental Health Support for Military Families
President Obama on Monday announced a government-wide series of 50 programs and proposals to increase support for U.S. military families. The government will concentrate on four areas: improving mental health resources for military families, including suicide prevention; ensuring excellence in education for children of service members; developing career and education opportunities for military spouses; and increasing the availability of child care. The Department Health and Human Services Department will work with the Defense Department on programs addressing suicide prevention and mental health services. (Bloomberg, 1/24/11)
State, Local Spending on Mental Health Services Declining; Gaps Remain
Wisconsin: At a time when demand is growing for mental health services, many states are cutting back on spending. According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, spending on mental health services dropped by nearly 5 percent compared to 2009. This year, the amount of spending on those services may decline by 8 percent. Some Wisconsin counties with growing budget deficits are opting out of providing publicly funded facilities for individuals. There is also a shortage of psychiatrists, especially in smaller cities. (Gannett Wisconsin Media, 1/24/11)
Minnesota: The number of counselors at community colleges has decreased as demand for services has risen. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities data show that there were about 120 counselors in 2001. That number has fallen to 100 in the current year. A 2009 report recommended using a national standard that recommends one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. Only a handful of Minnesota colleges attain that number. (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/24/11)
Arizona: Although Governor Jan Brewer has been an advocate of mental health services, she approved in 2010 a 50 percent cut in state funding that reduces services to about 14,000 Arizonans. Further cuts are expected in 2011. Brewer's budget proposal for this year rolls back eligibility for Medicaid, which could prevent 5,000 patients from receiving services. (Los Angeles Times, 1/19/11)
Texas: Texas, which ranks 49th in the nation in spending on mental health care, may make even further cuts—perhaps as much as a 40 percent reduction—because of a budget shortfall. When people with mental health conditions can’t get help, they need, they often end up in jail or worse, said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. (Associated Press, 1/24/11)
Virginia: Although changes were made following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, experts say gaping holes remain. Richard Bonnie, who chairs the state Supreme Court's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, said: "One of our greatest concerns is the lack of counseling services within the community colleges. Neither the preventive interventions nor the appropriate risk assessment and crisis interventions can be done if they don't have adequate mental health services." (The Washington Post, 1/20/11)
House Republicans Propose Other Steps on Health Care
Following up on the vote to repeal health care reform law, House Republicans are moving ahead to advance their own proposals, including deregulating health insurance sales. The new bill would avoid requirements in many states that insurers cover certain services, such as maternity care, cancer screenings and mastectomies. A group of House Republican conservatives also want to prohibit any spending this year to implement the new healthcare law. Their proposal would also bar the Justice Department from defending the law against court challenges and halt federal aid to states to support their Medicaid programs. (MHH Reporting, 1/24/11)
FDA to Review Classification of Electroshock Devices
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee holds a hearing this week on whether to lower the risk classification of electroshock devices. Specialists say the treatment is much safer today and manufacturers cannot afford testing. If the FDA downgrades the devices to a medium-risk category, the equipment could be promoted and sold without new testing. That would place the devices in the same risk category as syringes and surgical drills. (The New York Times, 1/24/11)
Anti-Nausea Drug May Curb Alcohol Use: Alcoholics appear to have success cutting back their alcohol intake when they take an anti-nausea medication commonly given to people undergoing chemotherapy, researchers report. The researchers, whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, analyzed 283 alcoholics who were still drinking. They found that those with a certain genetic profile responded to the drug by having fewer drinks per day and more days of abstinence than compared with others who did not receive the drug. The drug did not help those outside that particular genetic profile. The gene in question is involved in working of the serotonin system of the brain and is connected to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders as well as addiction. (Los Angeles Times, 1/21/11)
Adults of Parents Divorced When Children More Likely to Consider Suicide: Adults whose parents divorced when they were children are more likely to consider suicide than their peers, researchers suggest. Boys are especially vulnerable, according to a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research. Using a sample of 6,647 adults, 695 of whose parents had divorced before they were 18, researchers found that men from divorced households were three times as likely to have seriously considered suicide, while women had an 83 percent higher chance of having done the same. The connection between divorce and suicidal ideation was particularly strong for men who grew up in families with childhood stressors, such as physical abuse, parental addiction and parental unemployment. (UPI, 1/20/11)
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
A Huffington Post contributor on why mental illness is still carries stigma.
Patrick Kennedy talks about mental health on CNN.
Headlines at MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
Sarah Steverman, Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, was interviewed on the Kathleen Dunn show, heard on Wisconsin Public Radio. You can listen to the program here.
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