Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 17, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of October 17, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter produced by Mental Health America, providing 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.
A growing number of American children are receiving psychiatric care in hospital emergency departments…more
IN THE NEWS
Americans with Mental Health Issues More Likely to Lack Insurance
Americans who experience frequent instances of mental distress are more likely to lack insurance than those with other health issues, a new study finds. In examining national data from 1993 through 2009, researchers found that 22.6 percent of people with frequent mental health issues were uninsured. About 17 percent of those with other health problems were uninsured, according to the study which appears in the journal Psychiatric Services. (HealthDay News, 10/13/11)
Stigma May Cause Assessments to Miss Mental Health Problems in Soldiers
Stigma may be the reason mental health assessments given to soldiers after deployment miss many cases of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), researchers say. For the study, they had 3500 soldiers deployed to Iraq complete a health assessment, including questions about PTSD and other mental health problems. Half of the group was allowed to complete the questionnaire anonymously. Just over four percent of the returning troops met the criteria for depression or PTSD based on their standard health assessments. When they did the survey anonymously, 12 percent screened positive for at least one of the conditions. Soldiers were also four times more likely to say they had thoughts of suicide on anonymous assessments. "There is concern about the impact of seeking help on their career and on how others will perceive them," said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Warner, one of the study's authors wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry. (Reuters, 10/4/11)
NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West Reveals Battle with Depression
National Basketball League Hall of Famer Jerry West reveals in a new book that he battled depression since childhood, which he ties to repeated beatings from his father. West said his depression was compounded when his older brother, David, was killed in the Korean War when West was 12. West said that he tried therapy, but gave it up, preferring to take medication and work through his depression by himself. (New York Daily News, 10/16/11)
Evidence on Cognitive Therapy for TBI Inconclusive
Although cognitive rehabilitation therapy shows some promise in helping patients with traumatic brain injury regain lost brain function, a scientific panel finds that there is not enough evidence to decide which types of therapies work best. The report by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluded there is “limited evidence” that some types of cognitive therapy — exercises and strategies taught to patients to recover brain function — work in the long-term, especially therapies addressing deficits in memory, attention and communications. Bu the panel said more research is needed to determine what types of therapies help the severely injured most. (Army Times, 10/11/11)
VA Staff Survey Finds Shortage of Resources to Deal with Mental Health Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lacks the staff and space to deal with a growing number of veterans seeking mental health care, a survey of VA doctors, nurses, and social workers revealed. The survey was requested by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs following a hearing where veterans complained of long waits for treatment. The survey found that 70 percent thought the VA lacked the staff and space to treat veterans and 37 of the 272 respondents said they are unable to schedule an appointment in their clinics for a new patient within the 14-day standard mandated by the department. (The Washington Post, 10/4/11)
Growing Number of Kids Receiving Psychiatric Care in ERs
A growing number of American children are receiving psychiatric care in hospital emergency departments, a new study finds. Researchers examined 279 million visits made by children to emergency rooms found that the rate of psychiatric visits increased from 2.4 percent to 3 percent between 1999 and 2007. Underinsured children accounted for 46 percent of those visits in 1999 and 54 percent in 2007. Study author Dr. Zachy Pittsenbarger said the finding “argues that limited outpatient mental health resources force those patients to seek the care they need in the emergency department." (HealthDay News, 10/14/11)
Visits to ERs by Children, Adolescents for TBI Increased by 60 Percent
Emergency room visits by children and adolescents for brain injuries increased by more than 60 percent from 2001 to 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Officials said they believe the increase is the result of increased awareness of concussions and other head injuries. The report found visits to emergency rooms increased by nearly 100,000 from 2001 to 2009—from 153,375 to 248,418—because of traumatic brain injuries sustained in recreational activities by those age 19 years and younger. (The New York Times, 10/6/11)
New Report Provides State-by-State Analysis of Prevalence of Mental Illness
A new report providing state-by-state analyses of the prevalence of any mental illness finds that nationally almost 20 percent of all adults—44.5 million aged 18 or older—experienced any mental illness in the past year. Among states, the highest rate of any mental illness occurred in Rhode Island (24.2 percent) while the lowest rate occurred in Maryland (16.7 percent), according to the study compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Nationally, 10.4 million adults aged 18 or older (4.6 percent of that population) experienced a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year. Arkansas, Idaho, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia had the highest rates for both SMI and any mental illness. Alaska, Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Virginia had the lowest rates across both. (The Huffington Post, 10/14/11)
Health Reform to Increase Number Receiving Medicaid Mental Health Services
The number of Medicaid beneficiaries using mental health and addiction treatment services is expected to increase from 2.1 million in 2006 to 4.4 million in 2019—the date when all health reform provisions are implemented to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income childless adults between the ages of 18 and 64. The number of 18-to-64-year-old adult behavioral health service users overall (counting those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and the uninsured) is expected to increase from 25.4 million in 2006 to 26.6 million by 2019.. The projected increase in behavioral health service utilization was based on research on non-elderly adults’ mental health status and insurance status by income level reported in the 2004–2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. (Open Minds, 10/10/11)
Pediatricians Issue New Guidelines for ADHD
Doctors should evaluate patients attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) beginning at age 4 and continue through age 18, according to new guidelines issues by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The new guidelines update decade-old recommendations that focused on diagnosing and managing ADHD in kids ages 6 to 12. The group says pediatricians should look for learning disabilities, anxiety and other problems that accompany ADHD. And they should tailor treatment with behavior therapy and medication based on age and severity, according to a statement in the group's journal Pediatrics. (NPR, 10/17/11)
Nigerian State Government Propose Free Mental Health Care
The state government of Lagos, Nigeria, is developing a new mental health policy that would guarantee free treatment of mental disorders at all levels of care. The policy would be implemented through the integration of mental health care with primary care. It will also ensure that anyone who has attempted suicide has a mental health evaluation free of charge. (Vanguard Media, 10/14/11)
New Study Indicates Suicide May Have Genetic Cause
A new study indicates that suicide may have a genetic cause, which could eventually help with prevention efforts. Canadian researchers uncovered evidence that a methionine variation of the gene BDNF, which is involved in the development of the nervous system, was associated with a higher risk of suicidal behavior among people who had a psychiatric diagnosis compared with those who had the valine variation. Both methionine and valine are amino acids that play a part in human health. The researchers noted that identifying a person’s suicide risk also involves consideration of recent and early childhood trauma, use of medications or addictive drugs, and other factors. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, homelessness, discrimination, and unemployment can also be triggers. (UPI, 10/7/11)
CNN held a special town hall on “Bullying: It Stops Here.”
The New York Times examines the ramifications of a federal court ruling finding that California’s mental health parity law required coverage of residential treatment for eating disorders.
NPR reports on Mental Health First Aid.
The Los Angeles Times examines debate over creating a new diagnostic category called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.
The Baltimore Sun looks at the housing crisis facing individuals with mental illness.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
Healthystate.org interviewed author Pete Early on mental health and prisons.
The San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) carries an excerpt from reporter Scott Johnson's blog, www.oaklandeffect.com, which focuses on the effect of violence and trauma on the community.
Children in Families with other Mental Disorders at Greater Risk for Bipolar: Children who grow up in families where other mental disorders are present may be at greater risk of developing bipolar disorder later in life, new research asserts. Researchers, whose finding are reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, examined the lifetime prevalence and early clinical predictors for psychiatric disorders in 141 high-risk children and adolescents from families with a history of bipolar disorder. They found that in high-risk families the lifetime prevalence of a major disorder was 23 percent as opposed to just 4 percent in healthy families. For bipolar disorder, the prevalence rate was 8.5 percent in high-risk families and zero in healthy families. In high-risk children, a childhood diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or a childhood disorder like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) significantly predicted the onset of major affective disorders later in life. (Psychcentral.com, 10/14/11)
Many Cancer Survivors Struggle with PTSD: Approximately 40 percent of cancer survivors have symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) more than a decade after recovery, according to a new study. Researchers enlisted 566 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a relatively common type of cancer. More than decade after being told they had the disease, nearly four out of 10 cancer survivors said they were still plagued by symptoms of PTSD. Researchers, whose findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, had surveyed these patients for PTSD symptoms once before, estimating that about one in 12 had full-blown PTSD. Smith's team had surveyed these patients for PTSD symptoms once before, estimating that about one in 12 had full-blown PTSD. (Reuters, 10/12/11)
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