Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of September 20, 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?
People who have both heart disease and depression are much more likely to die than those with just one of the conditions or neither illness…more
Senate Rejects Attempt to Gut Prevention and Public Health Fund
The Senate last week defeated by a vote of 46-52 an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) to a small business bill that would have gutted the new Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Fund, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, will make investments in preventive services, community level prevention and public health. Advocates said the amendment would have also weakened health reform by exempting more people from having to buy health insurance starting in 2014, a key aspect of the law. (Los Angeles Times, 9/14/10)
Prejudice Toward Mental Illness Persists; New Strategies Urged
Prejudice and discrimination toward serious mental illness and substance use persists and may be getting worse, a new study finds. Researchers compared attitudes of people in 1996 and 2006 during the time efforts were made to make Americans more aware of the biological origins of conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and substance use. Although more people believe that illnesses like schizophrenia and depression are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, they are not more willing to live near or work next to people with a mental illness, Indiana University sociologists report in the American Journal of Psychiatry. They say education should shift from focusing on a “disease like any other” to the fact that people can live with conditions and have productive lives. (Reuters, 9/17/10)
Number of People with Health Insurance Dropped in 2009
The number of people who were covered by health insurance in 2009 dropped for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week. At the same time, the share of Americans without health coverage last year rose from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent—or 50.7 million people —mostly because of the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Health policy experts say the figures point out the obvious need for the health reform law passed this year. (MHH Reporting, 9/20/10)
Health Reform Changes Go Into Effect This Week
Several changes required under the new health reform law go into effect this Thursday, September 23. Insurance companies must allow young adults to remain on their parents' plans until age 26, with some conditions. The White House estimates the change will expand access for an estimated 86,300 young people. In addition, children younger than 19 cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing health problems when their families sign up for new coverage. New health plans will have to offer co-payment- and deductible-free preventive screenings for cancer and depression and well-baby care. Lifetime coverage limits will be banned, while annual coverage limits will have to be at least $750,000 and will gradually be eliminated. (Houston Chronicle, 9/19/10)
National Survey Reveals Increases in Substance Use from 2008 to 2009
Illegal drug use in the United States increased to its highest level in a decade in 2009, federal officials reported last week, driven in large part by growing marijuana use. There were also significant increases in use of ecstasy and methamphetamines. Drug use among those aged 12 and older rose from 8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2008, or about 21.8 million Americans, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That represents the highest usage in nearly a decade, officials said. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006. (Associated Press, 9/16/10)
The Los Angeles Times reports on the barriers to work faced by veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
CNN addresses steps workers and their employers need to take in responding to depression.
People with Both Depression, Heart Disease at Higher Mortality Risk: People who have both heart disease and depression are much more likely to die than those with just one of the conditions or neither illness, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,000 middle-aged adults in Britain as part of a study looking at how social and economic factors affect long-term health. Those with coronary heart disease alone were 67 percent more likely to die of all causes, while those who were depressed, but otherwise healthy, were twice as likely to do so as those who had neither condition. But those who were both depressed and had heart disease were almost five times as likely to die as their healthy peers. Writing in the journal Heart, the researchers concluded that the combination of depression and heart disease triples the risk of death from all causes and quadruples the risk of death from heart attack or stroke. (HealthDay News, 9/16/10)
High Altitudes May Be Linked to Increase in Suicide Risk: Living in high-altitude areas may increase the risk of suicide, researchers report. The study analyzed data on 592,000 people who completed suicide in the U.S. between 1979 and 1998 and 47,000 in Korea between 2005 and 2008. The findings, which are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, show that people living at altitudes of 1,000 meters above sea level or higher were 34 percent more likely to commit suicide than those living below that level in the U.S., and 63 percent in Korea. Researchers say a cause might have to do with lower oxygen intake, which can cause mild damage to the brain and might trigger depression. (ScienceDaily, 9/15/10)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Advocates Win Big Victory as Senate Rejects Attempt to Gut Prevention and Public Health Fund: Johanns Amendment Voted Down
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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, director, Web Technology.
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