Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of May 30, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of May 30, 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.TODAY'S HEADLINE
Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be at a higher risk for heart disease...more
IN THE NEWS
Supreme Court Orders California to Reduce Prison Population
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that California must reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates, citing conditions that violate the Eight Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced "needless suffering and death." Suicide rates in the state's prisons, Justice Kennedy wrote, have been 80 percent higher than the average for inmates nationwide. A lower court in the case said it was "an uncontested fact" that "an inmate in one of California's prisons needlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies." (The New York Times, 5/24/11)PTSD Linked to Heart Disease
Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be at a higher risk for heart disease, according to new research. A study of 637 veterans found that those with PTSD were more likely to have buildup in the arteries leading to the heart. Heart disease also progressed more in vets with PTSD and they were more likely to die of any cause over the next three-and-a-half years than their peers. The findings highlight the importance of integrating medical and psychological care in vets, the researchers write in The American Journal of Cardiology. (Reuters, 5/27/11)Senate Panel Urges VA to Do More to Prevent Vet Suicides
With suicide rates among veterans increasing, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee members last week urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to do more to prevent veterans from taking their own lives. The VA reported that veterans accounted for roughly 20 percent of the 30,000 individuals who committed suicide in the United States last year. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the panel, said that in at least 13 cases veterans completed suicide or died from drug overdoses while waiting to receive help from the VA. She noted that in April the VA's suicide hotline fielded more than 14,000 calls, or more than 450 a day, the most ever for a single month. (Miami Herald, 5/25/11)Senators Push for Reversal of Policy on Condolence Letters
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and 10 other senators are calling on President Obama to reverse the current policy of not sending condolence letters to families of service members who take their own lives. Although the White House promised in 2009 to review the policy, there has been no progress as of yet. "Unfortunately, perpetuating a policy that denies condolence letters to families of service members who die by suicide only serves to reinforce this stigma by overshadowing the contributions of an individual's life with the unfortunate nature of his or her death," the letter says. "It is simply unacceptable for the United States to be sending the message to these families that somehow their loved ones' sacrifices are less important." (CNN, 5/26/11)Advocates Question Plan to Eliminate California Mental Health Department
California mental health advocates are questioning a plan to eliminate the state's Department of Mental Health. Rusty Selix, executive director of the Mental Health Association in California, said that a deputy director level position on mental health should be created in the Department of Health Care Services. Selix said that having a department devoted to mental health, all by itself, is an indication that it's a high priority for the state. "There's tremendous fear in the community of eliminating the Department of Mental Health, and to have nothing directly focused on that is a big concern," he said. "We're afraid of losing that attention." (California Healthline, 5/27/11)Iowa Legislators Approve Mental Health Reform Bill
The Iowa state Senate approved a bill Thursday that established a framework for reform of Iowa's mental health system. A conference committee must now iron out differences with a plan approved by the House. The plan would shift services from a county-based mental health system to a statewide system, administered regionally but with services provided locally. The goal is to provide more equitable and more affordable mental health services than Iowa now offers. (Des Moines Register, 5/27/11)Jared Loughner Ruled Mentally Incompetent to Stand Trial
Jared Loughner, who wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a shooting spree this past January, has been ruled by a federal judge to be mentally unfit to stand trial. Loughner was removed from the courtroom after several outbursts and nonsensical statements. Loughner has not been declared insane, and it is still undetermined whether medications could assist his condition enough to attempt standing trial again. (Los Angeles Times, 5/26/11)IN DEPTH
The Oakland Tribune begins a three-part series on how chronic stress impacts teens.
Reuters looks at the increased attention being paid to hoarding.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
A pediatrician writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the continuous traumatic stress that children experience.
Cultural Activities May Reduce Levels of Anxiety, Depression: Participation in cultural activities such as painting and attending theater performances may lead to greater satisfaction with life and lower levels of anxiety and depression, according to a new study. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology tracked participation in cultural activities and various measures of health for more than 50,000 participants over two years. The results showed although men had a higher perceived health benefit from the activities than women, both genders enjoyed lower levels of anxiety and depression when regularly participating in cultural activities. (UPI, 5/24/11)
Brain's Response to Sadness Can Predict Depression: When formerly depressed people experience mild states of sadness, their brain's response can predict if they will become depressed again, a new study asserts. Researchers showed 16 formerly depressed patients sad movie clips and tracked their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Sixteen months later, nine of the 16 patients had relapsed into depression. The researchers, whose findings are published in Biological Psychiatry, compared the brain activity of relapsing patients against those who remained healthy and against another group of people who had never been depressed. Patients that relapsed showed more activity in a frontal region of the brain, known as the medial prefrontal gyrus. These responses were also linked to the tendency to think obsessively about negative events and occurrences. The patients who did not relapse showed more activity in the rear part of the brain, which is responsible for processing visual information and is linked to greater feelings of acceptance and non-judgmental of experience. (UPI, 5/29/11)NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
Mental Health America's Annual Conference, June 9-11, in Washington, DC: Find out how health reform will be implemented; how to start a peer specialist program; and what new programs we are launching. Go to http://www.nmha.org/go/conference.Stay Up to Date with More News and Views
- Read our blog: Chiming In
- Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MentalHealthAm
- Become a Fan of Mental Health America on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mentalhealthamerica
- 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. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.
To subscribe to Mental Health in the Headlines, visit http://www.nmha.org/go/action/subscribe.
To unsubscribe to Mental Health in the Headlines, visit http://takeaction.mentalhealthamerica.net/site/CO
To find out more about the Mental Health America, including how to make a tax-deductible contribution to help support Mental Health in the Headlines and our other educational activities, visit http://mentalhealthamerica.net/ or call 800-969-6MHA (6642).
For comments and suggestions, send an e-mail to Mental Health America at email@example.com.