Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of June 1, 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?
A type of cell that is known to protect the brain against infection could help cure psychiatric disorders…more
Pediatricians Call For Mental Health Screening of Children
Pediatricians are recommending their fellow doctors screen children for mental health conditions. A task force on mental health convened by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which issued the recommendation, also said that doctors should develop a network of mental health professionals in their community for referrals if they suspect a child needs further evaluation. Pediatricians and mental health professionals have been calling for greater attention to mental health in primary care settings because of growing rates of disorders in children such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and anxiety. Although about one in five children have a diagnosable mental health condition, only about 20 percent receive treatment. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/31/10)
Email May Help Screen Students for Depression
With depression rates among college students higher than the general population, the use of an email questionnaire may help track mental health problems on campus, according to new research. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital distributed a depression questionnaire at four colleges. Fifty-four students said they were taking medications, receiving therapy, or both. In all, 14.5 percent of the students who responded scored high enough to meet the criteria for major depressive disorder, higher than the 6 to 10 percent prevalence rate among adults. “E-mail appears to be a feasible and inexpensive way to screen college students for depression,” said Irene Shyu, who led the study. (The Boston Globe, 5/26/10)
Economy Continuing to Impact Mental Health of Workers
The tough economy is continuing to impact the mental health of workers, including those who survive layoffs. Mental health professionals say those who survive a layoff often have survivor’s guilt, lack of motivation and job insecurity. Health professionals are seeing more people who have job-related stress and many can’t afford the cost of care because they have lost jobs and health insurance. The number of employees seeking help through employee assistance programs (EAPs) is also rising. ValueOptions, a provider of EAPs, found that the number of people reporting moderate or severe anxiety jumped 10 percentage points, to 53 percent, from September 2009 to February 2010. (The Baltimore Sun, 5/30/10)
California Mental Health Officials Criticize State Budget Cuts
Mental health leaders are criticizing budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying would strip services for the mentally ill down to levels not seen since the 1960s, when costs for only the most severe patients were covered by the state, "This amounts to a complete decimation of programs that counties have spent decades building," said Patricia Ryan, executive director of the California Mental Health Directors Association. She and other officials said the $602 million in cuts to mental health programs would drive mental health patients into jails and already-crowded emergency rooms. (Daily Breeze, 5/25/10)
House Removes Medicaid Funding Increase from Legislation
Action in Congress to extend an increase in Medicaid funding through the middle of next year hit another speed bump last week when House Democrats dropped it from a jobs bill. Fiscally conservative members who want to cut spending forced the move. At least 19 states have already factored in the availability of those funds in their fiscal 2011 budgets. House leaders say they may take up the increase after the Memorial Day recess. (MHH Reporting, 5/31/10)
Minority Believe People are Caring to those with Mental Illness
Only 22 percent of U.S. adults say people show caring and sympathy to those with mental illness, a government survey indicates. The HealthStyles Survey, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Porter Novelli, indicates 72 percent of young adults ages 18-24 say a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. However, only 33 percent say a person can eventually recover from mental illness. SAMHSA and The Advertising Council are beginning a national public service announcement campaign aimed at encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to support friends and family experiencing a mental health problem. (United Press International, 5/26/10)
Kansas Suspends Voluntary Admissions to State Mental Hospitals
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has suspended voluntary admissions to the state’s three mental hospitals because of lack of space. All three facilities are full beyond licensed capacities, officials said. “This is as bad as it’s ever been, which is why we took the action we did,” said Ray Dalton, SRS deputy secretary of disability and behavioral health services. It’s unclear, he said, what caused the spike in admissions. (Kansas Health Institute, 5/24/10)
Mental Health Difficulties of Katrina Survivors May Result in Physical Ills
Mental health difficulties experienced by relocated survivors of Hurricane Katrina may result in physical problems, researchers report. A group of survivors who relocated to Oklahoma not only had more mental health problems, but had higher resting heart rates and worse heart rate variability, they say. Research has shown that there was a sharp increase in mental health problems after Katrina. (Medpage Today, 5/27/10)
Mental Health Experts Worry about Impact of Oil Spill
Mental health experts say the BP oil spill could rekindle feelings from Hurricane Katrina. They are concerned about rising anxiety levels among those who live along the Gulf Coast. They are especially concerned about the fishermen and tourism workers whose way of life is being threatened. (WLOX-TV, 5/26/10)
Suicide Prevention Hotline Gaining Awareness of Services
More people are becoming aware of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline that provides access to trained counselors. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which runs the program, the number of suicide-prevention hotline calls increased by almost 15 percent between 2008 and 2009. The program has also worked to raise its profile on the Internet. Google now posts the toll-free phone number for the hotline at the top of the page when users type in "suicide" or "kill myself." Social media sites also provide information about the hotline. A separate program is also provided for veterans with specialized crisis counseling. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/27/10)
Fixing of Immune System Could Cure Psychiatric Disorders: A type of cell that is known to protect the brain against infection could help cure psychiatric disorders, a new study asserts. Researchers report in the journal, Cell, that they cured mice of an obsessive-compulsive condition known as "hair-pulling disorder" by tweaking the rodents' immune systems. This could open the way to new treatments for different mental disorders, although bone marrow transplants, which can be life-threatening, are not a likely candidate, at least not at this point. “There are some drugs already existing that are effective with respect to immune disorders," said study senior author Mario Capecchi, the recipient of a 2007 Nobel Prize. (Nature, 5/27/10)
PTSD Linked to Risk of Diabetes: Military service members with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are more likely to develop diabetes than fellow soldiers that don’t have PTSD symptoms, according to a new research. Researchers examined the health status of 44,754 service members who did not have diabetes when they were initially enrolled in a Department of Defense study. After three years, about 3 out of 1000 report they had been newly diagnosed with diabetes. Those who developed type 2 diabetes (the kind closely linked to obesity) were much older than those who did not. They were also more apt to be overweight or obese, African American or Asian, male, to have PTSD symptoms and to be no longer with the military. (Reuters, 5/24/10)
Anxiety Disorder May Raise Risk of Heart Attack: Veterans with anxiety disorders are at a greater risk of heart attack, a new study asserts. Using medical records from nearly 97,000 U.S. veterans, researchers found that those with any of several anxiety disorders had a higher risk of suffering a heart attack over the next seven years than vets without the mental health conditions. The findings, reported in the American Heart Journal, show only an association and not a cause-and-effect. (Reuters, 5/28/10)
Gene Makes Kids More Susceptible to Effects of Bullying: Kids who are bullied and have a stress-related gene develop the most emotional problems, according to a new study. Researchers report in a paper that appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry that symptoms of anxiety, depression and social withdrawal appeared most often in regularly bullied kids who possessed two copies of a short version of the 5-HTT gene. By tracking pairs of twins, the researchers ruled out the possibility that pre-existing emotional problems led genetically vulnerable children to be victimized by bullies. In cases where each twin carried two short copies of the 5-HTT gene but only one got repeatedly bullied, emotional difficulties were observed only in the bullied twin, the researchers report. (Science News, 5/21/10)
*HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Legendary Singer Connie Francis and Mental Health America Launch National Campaign on Importance of Trauma-Informed Care: STAR of Mine initiative focuses on the needs of trauma victims.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Connie Francis was named a national spokeswoman for Mental Health America's new campaign to raise awareness of the impact of trauma. "I have so been there," she says. "In the '80s, I was committed against my will 17 times in nine years in five states. At that time mental hospitals were dangerous places to be. I can do a lot in that area to raise awareness.” Sun-Sentinel, “Connie Francis’ beach ball,” May 27, 2010
Mental Health America's theme this year for Mental Health Month of "Live Your Life Well" challenges all Americans to promote mental health and wellness in homes, communities and schools. The Courier-News, “Time for a mental health checkup?” May 26, 2010
The recession is taking a psychological toll on workers. A survey last fall of more than 1,000 adults for two advocacy groups, Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, found that unemployed individuals were four times as likely to be coping with severe mental illness as those who had jobs. The Baltimore Sun, “The recession’s psychological toll,” May 30, 2010
Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
- Attend Mental Health America’s 2010 Annual Conference—Get Connected: Social Inclusion in Wellness and Recovery; June 9-12, Washington, DC
- 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, senior director, Web Technology & Strategy.
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