Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 21, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of March 21, 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.
The suicide rate for female soldiers triples when they go to war...more
IN THE NEWS
Experts: Mental Health Impact from Disasters in Japan to Last for Years
Experts say the psychological wounds of the disasters in Japan are likely to last for years-and perhaps decades. And it will take a long and concerted effort on the part of mental health care workers in Japan, and most likely those abroad as well, to meet the psychological needs of the survivors. More in depth counseling will be necessary to stem the tide of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that psychiatrists say is inevitable after a disaster of this magnitude. (ABC News, 3/17/11)
Obama Administration to Use Anniversary of Health Reform to Build Support for Law
The Obama administration will use the one-year anniversary (March 23) of the health reform law this week to increase public support for the overhaul. Members of the cabinet will appear around the country to promote the law's early benefits: tax credits that offset the cost of insurance for small businesses, rebate checks for seniors with high prescription costs that fall into a drug insurance coverage gap and rules that let parents keep their children on their insurance plan until their 26th birthdays. Public opinion surveys show that when the public is told about the specifics of the legislation-such as that the mandate to buy insurance won't change their current coverage-opposition to the law falls. (MHH Reporting, 3/21/11)
Survey: Anxiety, Stress Top Mental Health Concerns for Students
Although a third of college students have sought mental health counseling, they are most likely to report experiencing anxiety or stress than more severe issue. The findings come from a survey of more than 25,000 students. Most of those surveyed were not receiving treatment for a mental health condition. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/14/11)
Eating Disorders Prevalent Among Adolescents, But Few Get Treatment
Eating disorders are increasing among both male and female teenagers in the United States, according to a new study. The analysis of over 10,000 adolescents found that those with one of three eating disorders-binge eating, bulimia and anorexia-had other mental health or substance use conditions. While more than half a million teens in the United States have had an eating disorder, according to the study reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, only a small number were treated for their eating or weight problem. (Medscape, 3/17/11)
Bill Introduced to Add Mental Health to Electronic Health Record Incentives
Legislation calling for expanded incentives for adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by mental health care, behavioral health care, and substance use treatment providers and facilities was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). "Mental healthcare is a critical component of our healthcare safety net, and allowing these providers access to cost-saving, quality-enhancing advances in health information technology will improve the care that millions of Americans receive," Whitehouse said in a statement. The bill, the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2011, would extend eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid incentive funding for those who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs. (Modern Healthcare, 3/18/11)
IN FOCUS: Military Mental Health
Suicide Rate of Female Soldiers Triples When at War
The suicide rate for female soldiers triples when they go to war, according to Army data provided to USA Today. According to the findings, the suicide rate rises from five per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 among female soldiers at war. The suicide rate for female soldiers is still lower than for men serving next to them. The findings suggest that marriage may prevent suicides. Although suicide rates among GI's who are single or divorced double in war, the rate among married soldiers does not increase, according to the study. (USA Today, 3/18/11)
Military Suicide Prevention Bill Reintroduced
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) has reintroduced a bill aimed at halting the rise of suicides among Reserve and National Guard troops. The bill would require treatment, counseling and follow up services for members of Individual Ready Reserve Inactive National Guard, and Individual Mobilization Augmentees. It is modeled on a program run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey that provides peer counseling and clinical assessments. This is the third time that Holt has introduced the bill. On the previous two occasions, the legislation passed the House but didn't make it past the Senate. In December, Holt said he believed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the one who blocked it. (The Trentonian, 3/16/11)
Army Changes Policy on Purple Heart for Battlefield Concussions
The Army will allow more battlefield concussions to be eligible for a Purple Heart, acknowledging that commanders have sometimes wrongly denied the honor. In addition, the Army is planning to prioritize appeals from brain-injured soldiers who feel they should not have been turned down for the medal. For decades, Army award regulations used the term "concussion" for the injury, but left it to doctors or battlefield commanders to decide whether a blow to the head during combat warranted the medal. More than 80,000 GIs have suffered concussions since 2001, many in combat and often from exposure to roadside bomb blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (NPR, 3/17/11)
WHYY Radio interviews an expert on responding to the emotional trauma of a natural disaster.
The Associated Press looks at the quest for answers and prevention for Indian youth suicides.
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
An opinion article on CNN.com looks at how the disasters in Japan will have a huge impact on the population's mental health.
An op-ed column in The New York Times calls for changes to sites that grade or review mental health services.
Treatment of Depression in Mothers Leads to Improved Mental Health in Children: Successful treatment of major depression in mothers also leads to improved mental health for their children, according to a new study. Researchers studied 80 mothers of children ages 7 to 17. The mothers were enrolled in a U.S. National Institute of Mental Health trial designed to help patients with depression who didn't respond to the first, second or even third treatment attempts. The researchers, whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that the children of women with early remission showed improvement in both mother- and child-reported symptoms of psychiatric disorders and in overall psychosocial functioning at home and at school. Children of mothers whose depression took longer to go into remission showed improvement in several of the symptom measurements, but not in functioning. (HealthDay News, 3/15/11)
Depression after Stroke Threatens Independence: Stroke survivors who are depressed may be more likely to be dependent on others for help, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed data from 367 stroke survivors, average age 62, who had no severe language or thinking skill impairments. Of those patients, 174 were diagnosed with depression one month after their stroke. Stroke survivors were more likely to be dependent if they were older, had other health problems, or were severely depressed, compared to patients who were younger, free of other health problems, and not depressed, the researchers report in the journal Neurology. (HealthDay News, 3/14/11)
Having an Unsatisfying Job as Harmful to Mental Health as Having No Job: Having a bad, short-term or poorly paid job can harm one's mental health as much as having no job, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data from more than 7,000 people Australians. Those who were unemployed had poorer mental health overall than those with jobs, the researchers report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They found that the mental health of people with short-term or poorly pad jobs could be as bad as those who didn't have a job. People with the poorest quality jobs experienced the largest decline in mental health over time. (HealthDay News, 3/15/11)
AT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: Headlines and Highlights
Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, explains the importance of good social connections in a Washington Post story.
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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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