Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 18, 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?
Brain imaging that looks at working memory and how it is influenced by emotions may help in identifying which children have bipolar disorder and which have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder…more
HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Judge Allows Lawsuit Challenging Health Reform Law to Move Forward
A federal judge in Florida has ruled that a lawsuit brought by 20 states challenging the constitutionality of the health reform law could proceed to trial. Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Florida said that the states "had a plausible claim" when they challenged the "individual mandate" outlined in the in Affordable Care Act. The full hearing on the suit is expected to begin December 16. (The New York Times, 10/14/10)
New Patient-Centered Outcomes Board Begins Work
Created by the health care reform law, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute will direct researchers to examine Comparative Effective Research undertaken by schools, hospitals and medical companies to study the benefits of medical treatments and determine which ones work best for patients, depending on factors including health condition and age. The new board of the Institute will take the most promising research, try to find treatments that work best, and determine how to communicate its findings to academics, physicians and the public. (The Washington Post, 10/15/10)
Mental Health Groups Want Condolence Letters for Soldier Suicides
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) last week called on President Obama to reverse a long-standing and unwritten policy of not sending condolence letters to families of soldiers who complete suicide. The APA joins the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, and others in calling for the change in policy. Although soldiers who die by suicide receive full military honors, their families don’t get condolence letters from the president. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/12/10)
Chilean Miners Face Mental Health Challenges
The 33 Chilean miners who spent 70 full days trapped underground may face mental health challenges in the coming days and months, experts say. There are two major issues that can surface: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the longer-term problems associated with the letdown the miners may feel when the euphoria and media attention fade. The fact that no one died or was seriously hurt may help them bond and be resilient, says Dr. George S. Everly, Jr. of the John Hopkins School of Medicine. But 25 percent of people involved in large disaster situations develop PTSD or depression. (The Baltimore Sun, 10/13/10)
Federal Grants to Help Schools Address Students’ Behavioral Difficulties
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded $11 million in grants to 22 school systems over the next five years to support the implementation of the Good Behavior Game. The program, a behavioral management strategy, has been effective in improving students’ behavior. Researchers say that identifying behavior problems early can prevent the development of mental and substance use problems. In the Good Behavior Game, students are divided into teams, and their teachers provide positive reinforcements to inspire good behavior. (Orlando Sentinel, 10/15/10)
Study: 1 in 5 Teens Has or Will Have Severe Mental Health Condition
About one in five teens in the United States has a mental health condition severe enough to affect their daily activities, either currently or at some point in their lives, a new study finds. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health say that a higher percentage has or have had some sort of mental health condition, although less serious in nature. The prevalence of severe emotional and behavior disorders is even higher than the most frequent general medical conditions in adolescents, including asthma or diabetes, researchers write in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Fifty-one percent of boys and 49 percent of girls aged 13-19 have a mood, behavior, anxiety or substance use disorder, according to the study. (AFP, 10/13/10)
Army Discovers Simple Test to Diagnose Mild Brain Trauma
The Army announced t has discovered a simple blood test that can diagnose mild traumatic brain damage or a concussion. According to officials, data shows that the test, which looks for unique proteins that spill into the blood stream from damaged brain cells, accurately diagnosed traumatic brain injury in 34 patients. These injuries are often undetected because the damage does not show up on imaging scans, and symptoms such as headaches or dizziness are ignored or downplayed by the victims. (USA Today, 10/15/10)
The Economist looks at changes in the diagnosis of mental health conditions.
The rise in suicides in Chicago and suburbs is examined by the Chicago Tribune.
Brain Scans May Help Identify Bipolar, ADHD in Kids: Brain imaging that looks at working memory and how it is influenced by emotions may help in identifying which children have bipolar disorder and which have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers say. Investigators used an MRI to observe brain activity in 23 children with bipolar disorder, 14 children with ADHD and 19 children without either disorder as they did a memory task. Compared to children in the control group, those with bipolar disorder and ADHD showed dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex, which controls behavior, executive function, working memory, attention and language, according to the findings reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (HealthDay News, 10/15/10)
Children of Working Moms Have Few Behavior, Academic Problems: Children of mothers who went back to work before they were three years old had no worse academic or behavioral problems than kids whose moms stayed home, new research finds. Researchers looked at 69 studies between 1969 and 2010 and examined academic and behavioral outcomes. Reporting in Psychological Bulletin, the researchers say they found little evidence that mothers who work part-time or full-time have children with problems in later life. In fact, they discovered kids whose mothers worked when they were younger than 3 were later rated as higher achieving by teachers and had fewer problems with depression and anxiety. (Time, 10/18/10)
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Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Mental Health America has collected nearly 10,000 signatures through Facebook and Change.org in support of a petition calling on the White House to reverse the policy of not sending condolence letters to families of soldiers who complete suicide. Steve Vetzner, a spokesman, said sending a condolence letter can help eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and provide emotional support to the families. The Wall Street Journal, “Psychiatric Group to White House: Change Suicide Condolence Letter Policy,” October 12, 2010
Singer Connie Francis, who has experienced traumas and tragedies, is teaming with Mental Health America on a new campaign to raise awareness of providing appropriate care to victims. San Jose Mercury News, “Connie Francis: She Will Survive!” October 13, 2010
On average, teens hear anti-gay slurs 26 times a day, according to Mental Health America. The organization reports that gay students are more likely to skip school because of fear and threats. And twenty-eight percent drop out, more than three times the average for straight students. The August Chronicle, “Anti-gay violence denounced,” October 12, 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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