Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 4, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of April 4, 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.
Many consumers were unaware of changes to benefits created by the New York State mental health parity law and are continuing to encounter significant barriers in accessing services ...more
IN THE NEWS
Parties Inch Closer to Federal Spending Deal
Congressional leaders and the White House are inching closer to a deal on how much to cut federal spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Vice President Joseph Biden indicated that the parties had agreed to a target of $33 billion in spending cuts. Although some GOP conservatives rejected that figure as insufficient, staff and lawmakers are beginning to determine how that amount would be spread across federal agencies. A deal must be reached by mid-week so the House and Senate have time to pass it before April 8, when a stopgap funding bill runs out. (The New York Times, 4/1/11)
House GOP Wants $1 Trillion Cut to Medicaid
House Republicans will call for cutting Medicaid by $1 trillion over the next 10 years as part of their fiscal year 2012 budget, which they plan to release this week. The proposal would turn the program into a block grant (rather than a formula). That would give states more latitude to limit coverage and eligibility and less reason to maintain their current level of contributions. The new health care law is designed to expand coverage for millions under Medicaid. (Politico, 3/31/11)New York Parity Law Study Shows Many Consumers Unaware of Changes
Many consumers were unaware of changes to benefits created by the New York State mental health parity law and are continuing to encounter significant barriers in accessing services, a new study finds. Researchers say health plans do not appear to be providing clear communication or complete information about extended mental health benefits to employees created by the law, which was passed in 2007. Written notices lack descriptions of full benefits, online information is hard to find, and in some cases, health plan representatives are unfamiliar with the law. (Albany Times Union, 4/4/11)
Report: Higher Rates of Chronic Diseases, Mental Health Issues Among Gay Elderly
Older lesbian, gay and bisexual California residents have higher rates of chronic diseases and mental health issues than their heterosexual peers, according to a new analysis. They also are less likely to have live-in partners or adult children who can help care for them. The report, by the Center for Health Policy Research at UCLA, found that older lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to put off care and that elderly gay and bisexual men had higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and psychological stress. The report says that a higher degree of cultural competency and sensitivity is needed among health care providers to improve care quality for older lesbian, gay and bisexual adults. (The New York Times, 4/1/11)FDA Panel Finds No Link between Hyperactivity in Kids and Food Dyes
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel found there was an insufficient link between hyperactivity in children and artificial dyes commonly found in foods to place a to regulate them or require a warning label. But committee did indicate that more research is needed on the side effects in children. (CNN, 4/1/11)
Gene Identified as Contributor to Suicide
Researchers say they have found a genetic reason some people may attempt suicide. A study of thousands of people with bipolar disorder identified a small region on chromosome 2 that is associated with increased risk for attempted suicide. This small region contains four genes, including the ACP1 gene, and the researchers found more than normal levels of the ACP1 protein in the brains of people who had completed suicide. The researchers, who reported their findings in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, say the discovery could lead to better suicide prevention efforts by providing new directions for research and drug development. (ScienceDaily, 3/28/11)
Facebook May Help Identify Depression
Facebook could help identify people who may be depressed or even suicidal, according to new research. However, the findings stress that the social media site should not be used as a substitute for clinical screening or medical treatment. Researchers analyzed the Facebook profiles of 200 college sophomores and juniors. The results showed that 25 percent of the students displayed one or more references to depression symptoms. But only 2.5 percent of the profiles displayed enough information to warrant screening for depression, researchers found. (Los Angeles Times, 3/28/11)
CNN reports on the impact of concussions for a former NFL player and the toll that chronic traumatic encephalopathy can take on a family
The New York Times looks at the impact of cuts to Medicaid.
USA Today examines the long-term mental health consequences of the Japanese quake and tsunami.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its County Health Rankings.
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
A Huffington Post contributor explores the myth that psychiatric conditions aren't as well defined as other medical diseases and psychiatric treatments.
The New York Times' "Well" blog looks at eating disorders among the elderly.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in an op-ed calls attention to legislation, the Positive Aging Act, which would support integration of mental health services into primary care settings.
Childhood Mental Health Conditions Affect Finances, Relationships: Psychological problems during childhood results in a tendency to earn less money in adulthood, as well as being less likely to establish long-lasting relationships, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data obtained from 17,634 people in Great Britain born in the first week of March 1958, tracking them for 50 years. People who had serious psychological problems in their childhood were found to have an average family income around one-fourth lower than that of people who did not experience any mental health disorders as children. One reason for the lower family income may be that adults who had childhood psychological problems are less likely to live with a partner. Generally, psychological problems during childhood were also associated with less stable personal relationships. (HealthDay News, 3/30/11)
Scans Reveal Differences in Brain Structure in Teenagers with Severe Antisocial Behavior: Brain scans of aggressive, antisocial teenage boys with the condition known as conduct disorder show differences in the size and structure of parts of the brain that may be linked to their behavior, researchers report. Scientists from the University of Cambridge, whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the structure of the brains of 65 teenagers with conduct disorder and 27 healthy teenagers. The differences were present regardless of the age of onset of the disorder, challenging the view that adolescence-onset conduct disorder is merely a consequence of imitating badly behaved peers. (Reuters, 3/31/11)
AT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: Headlines and Highlights
Julio Abreu, senior director of government affairs at Mental Health America, addresses the need to expand incentives for adopting electronic health records to behavioral health providers in a Center for Public Integrity article.
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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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