Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 4, 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?
Adolescents whose parents set earlier bedtimes are significantly less likely to suffer from depression or have suicidal thoughts compared to youngsters who go to bed later...more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Negotiations to Begin on Final Plan; CHIP Retention Debated
Now that the Senate has passed its health reform bill, the next step is for a group of House and Senate members to hammer out a final version. Many expect that a final bill will closely resemble the Senate's approach. In addition to deciding how to finance the bill and whether to include a public option, negotiators will determine whether to retain the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Senate bill would preserve the program and extend federal funding through 2015. The House bill would end CHIP and provide coverage either through Medicaid or the new health insurance exchange. Some children's advocates believe shifting children to a new program could result in some losing coverage. Others argue that it is difficult to retain one health program when subsidies are available for entire families. (The New York Times, 1/03/10)
Some Reform Elements to Take Effect Immediately
Although many elements of health reform—such as insurance exchanges and subsidies—won't be implemented before 2013, there are some benefits that will take effect immediately. The House bill would require insurers to immediately cover reconstructive surgery for children with deformities. It would also immediately prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on domestic violence incidents that now are sometimes classified as pre-existing conditions. The Senate bill would immediately prohibit insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Both the House and Senate bills would make money available for community health centers beginning with the next fiscal year. The House included $12 billion; the Senate directs $10 billion for the centers. Within six months, the Senate bill would allow dependent, unmarried children to remain on their parents' policies until their 26th birthday; the House bill would allow an additional year of dependent coverage, until the 27th birthday. (The New York Times, 12/28/09)
PBS Series Looks at Importance of Well-Being
A Public Broadcasting Service program examines how people can find better emotional balance in their lives. This Emotional Life, a three-part series that begins tonight, looks at the science of well-being and offers practical resources to help people manage stress. The project includes online tools and a two-year outreach program targeted toward young parents and military families. Hosted by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, the series covers the importance of social relationships, ways to confront fear, anxiety and other obstacles, and the pursuit of happiness. (Seattle Times, 1/03/10)
Lawmakers Seeking Changes in Laws on Runaways
State and federal lawmakers are advocating new laws that would change the way runaways are handled by police officers and social workers. Democratic leaders in Congress are proposing legislation that would improve how runaways are tracked by the police, increase spending to provide them with social services and promote methods for earlier intervention. Lawmakers in several states have also proposed or passed legislation that expand outreach efforts and shelter options and change state reporting requirements so that youth shelters have enough time to win trust and provide services before they need to report the runaways to the police. (The New York Times, 1/04/10)
Bill Would Help Children Affected By Disasters
Legislation sponsored by two U.S. Senators would help care for children affected by disasters like hurricanes. Introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the bill incorporates recommendations made by the National Commission on Children and Disasters, which issued a detailed report of its findings in October. In addition to providing tuition reimbursement to elementary and secondary schools that take in displaced students, the legislation would fund mental health counseling for pre-K students through Head Start agencies. (The Courier, 12/27/09)
Stigma Could Hurt Candidate Who Disclosed Battle with Depression
The disclosure by a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton that he has been treated for depression and is a recovering alcoholic could be a test of the stigma attached to those conditions. Although there is better understanding by the public of mental health conditions, few politicians have revealed they have battled addiction or a mental illness. Experts believe the critical issue is whether society has overcome its biases and how it judges a person's fitness to serve. (Politics in Minnesota, 12/28/09)
Colleges Seeing More Students With Complex Mental Health Conditions
College counseling centers are seeing an increase demand for services and serving more students with complex mental health conditions, directors say. In 1988, 58 percent of counseling directors nationwide reported seeing students with significant psychological problems, according to a survey conducted by Robert Gallagher of the University of Pittsburgh. Over the past 10 years, more than 90 percent of directors reported seeing such students, with 93.4 percent this year, Gallagher wrote in a recent report. Issues include clinical depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and students cutting themselves. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/28/09)
Good Sleep Helps Cut Depression in Teens: Adolescents whose parents set earlier bedtimes are significantly less likely to suffer from depression or have suicidal thoughts compared to youngsters who go to bed later, a new study concludes. Adolescents who reported they usually sleep five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to report depression, and 48 percent more likely to have thoughts of committing suicide, compared to young people reporting eight hours of sleep nightly, according to the study. Researchers, whose findings appear in the journal SLEEP, collected data on 15,659 adolescents and their parents who had participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a school-based sample of students in seventh to 12th grades, between 1994 and 1996. (WebMD, 1/01/10)
Stress on Job Lowers Productivity:Psychological stress at the office can make it more difficult for depressed workers to perform their jobs and be productive, a new study reports. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Health Promotion, screened 14,268 adult employees and ultimately compared 286 depressed workers to 193 who were not depressed. “There is a large economic cost and a human cost," said study lead author Debra Lerner, Ph.D., director, Program on Health, Work and Productivity, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center. (Medical News Today, 1/03/10)
Chronic Stress Increases Memory Decline in Older Individuals: Chronic stress can increase memory decline in older people who already have some impairment in their mental function, a new study finds. Researchers followed 52 people 65 to 97 years old for up to three years. Twenty-five had no loss of mental function at the beginning of the study, while the remaining 27 showed evidence of mild mental impairment. The study, which is reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found faster decline in mental function among those who were already impaired and had high levels of stress. However, stress didn't influence mental function over time in people who had no impairment at the study's outset. (Reuters, 12/24/09)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Mental Health America Calls for Public Education on Mental Health Parity Law: Wellstone-Domenici Act became fully effective January 1.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
People who are unemployed are four times more likely to say that they have thought about harming themselves than people who have full-time employment, according to a recent survey. “These are very serious matters that can be lethal if they are not dealt with appropriately." said David Shern, president of Mental Health America. Minnesota Public Radio, “More unemployed people struggle with depression,” December 22, 2009
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, senior director, Web Technology.
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