Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 28, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of March 28, 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.
Social media websites such as Facebook can be beneficial to children but may also harm their mental and overall health...more
IN THE NEWS
New Federal Rules Expand Definition of Disability
New federal rules published last week on what qualifies as a disability for the purpose of job discrimination are expected to make it easier for employees to win workplace accommodations. Congress passed legislation in 2008 to ensure a broader definition of disability. Under the new regulations, impairment can qualify as a disability even if it occurs periodically, and even if it does not prevent a person from conducting a major life activity such as self-care, walking or communicating. (Wall Street Journal, 3/25/11)
Social Media Sites Can Help, Harm Children: Report
Social media websites such as Facebook can be beneficial to children but may also harm their mental and overall health, a new study reports. The American Academy of Pediatrics says these sites and other media tools can be useful and enhance creativity and the development of technical skills. But the group says they can also lead to cyberbullying, depression and exposure to inappropriate content. (USA Today, 3/28/11)
Democrats, Republicans Still at Odds Over Funding Bill
Democrats and Republicans appear to still be at odds on a funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year. One of the issues being debated is whether cuts should include some health programs, including Medicare. A government shutdown is at risk if an agreement is not reached by April 8. (MHH Reporting, 3/28/11)
House GOP to Propose Medicaid Changes
House Republicans are planning to propose major changes to Medicaid as part of their drive to overhaul federal entitlements. A member of the House Budget Committee said the panel will unveil a budget resolution for fiscal 2012 that recommends revamping Medicaid to allow states more latitude in spending federal money under the health care program for the poor. The House GOP plans to release its budget proposal the first week of April. (Wall Street Journal, 3/25/11)
States Cutting Medicaid Benefits
States are cutting Medicaid benefits, putting more recipients into managed care programs, eliminating or charging for services, and slashing rates to providers. The weak economy has swelled the number of Americans who receive care under the program. An increase in federal matching funds passed by Congress is being phased out and will end entirely by July. (CNN, 3/28/11)
Panel Calls for Giving Bigger Role in Treatment to Patients
Treatment should involve a two-way decision-making process between patients and health care professionals, a multinational panel suggested last week. Meeting at the Salzburg Global Seminar, researchers said patients and health care professionals should be "co-producers of health." The panel noted patients should vocalize concerns and questions, recognize their active role in treatment, and seek and use quality health information. They added that health care professionals are prone to following their own readiness to provide treatment over widely agreed standards of best practice or a patient's preference, and that practitioners often do not recognize patients' desire to play a role in their treatment. (Medpage Today, 3/24/11))
ER Visits from Ecstasy Increased 75 Percent
Ecstasy-related emergency department visits increased 75 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to new data from the Obama administration's Office of National Drug Control Policy. Ecstasy provides psychedelic and stimulant side effects. It is often taken in social settings. Nearly 70 percent of the hospital visits involved patients ages 18 to 29, but 20 percent involved teenagers younger than 18. Most of the hospital visits for ecstasy use also revealed that at least one other drug was in the patient's system-most commonly marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine. (HealthDay News, 3/24/11)
Nonprofit Leader Brian O'Connell Passes Away
Brian O'Connell, a leader in the nonprofit field, passed away last week at the age of 81. O'Connell, who founded the group Independent Sector, began his career in the health field, working first at the American Heart Association and then as executive director at the National Mental Health Association (now Mental Health America). (The Nonprofit Quarterly, 3/28/11)
Radio station KQED looks at how Los Angeles provides mental health care for juvenile offenders.
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
NPR's "Storycorps" features the story of a man who was treated for schizophrenia and went on to a career of helping mental patients with their recovery.
Stigma, Culture Delay Recovery of Latinos from Depression: The stigma of mental illness, poor communication with physicians and the underuse of antidepressants all play a major part in delaying the recovery of Latinos from depression, a new study finds. Researchers followed the recovery of 220 Latinos who screened positive for depression at two clinics in Los Angeles County over 30 months. Reporting in the General Hospital Psychiatry, they found that nearly 70 percent of participants improved, albeit slowly, following a course of antidepressants and with the benefit of good physician-patient communication, but stigma remained an important barrier. Most of the participants were Spanish-speaking with limited education and employment who had access to health care insurance. (Health Behavior News Service, 3/22/11)
Minority Women Have Double the Risk of Depression After Pregnancy: African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander women have double the risk than others of becoming depressed before giving birth, according to a new study. Researchers, who reported their findings in General Hospital Psychiatry, evaluated 1,997 women, average age 31, receiving prenatal care at one university-based hospital. The researchers used a screening tool to reach a diagnosis of depression. (Health Behavior News Service, 3/22/11)
Mild Stress Can Cause Disability Affecting Employment: Even mild stress can cause long-term disability that prevents people from working, new research suggests. Researchers evaluated over 17,000 employed adults in Stockholm, Sweden, assessing their mental health and stress levels over five years. During a follow-up period, 649 of the participants began receiving disability benefits-203 for mental health issues and the remainder for general health problems. Study participants who had initially been assessed as having higher levels of stress were much more likely to start receiving long-term disability benefits during the follow-up period. Reporting in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers found that even mild levels of stress raised the risk of receiving disability benefits by up to 70 percent. (HealthDay News, 3/24/11)
Children with Epilepsy More Likely to Have Psychiatric Problems: Children with epilepsy are more likely than other kids to have psychiatric problems, researchers say. The risk is greater for boys, they report. In a population-based study, nearly 38 percent of children with epilepsy had psychiatric symptoms, compared with 17 percent of those who did not have the condition. Girls with epilepsy were more than four times as likely as other girls to have such symptoms, while boys were only twice as likely, researchers reported online in Epilepsia. (Medpage Today, 3/26/11)
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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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