Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of July 25, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of July 25, 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.
Adolescent boys whose military parents are deployed overseas have significantly higher rates of "impaired well-being" than the children of civilians…more
IN THE NEWS
Study Shows Difficulty in Obtaining Mental Health Care
A study by Harvard Medical School researchers finds that even people with excellent private health insurance have trouble getting psychiatric care in Greater Boston. The authors of the study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, posed as patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance and called mental health providers in the plan, saying they had been seen in an emergency room and needed a psychiatric appointment within two weeks. In 64 tries, just four facilities could take a new patient within two weeks. In 15 cases, researchers left a phone message, but never heard back. (Medpage Today, 7/23/11)
Tuition Refund Insurance Pays Less for Mental Health
Tuition refund insurance that is offered by Sallie Mae treats mental health conditions differently than other medical conditions. Students who leave because of mental health problems only get 75 percent of their tuition back. For other health conditions, individuals receive a full refund. The federal mental health parity law prohibits such unequal coverage. But because the Sallie Mae policy isn’t considered health insurance, the law doesn’t apply. (The New York Times, 7/23/11)
Deployment Impacts Well-Being of Children
Adolescent boys whose military parents are deployed overseas have significantly higher rates of "impaired well-being" than the children of civilians, according to a new study. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study analyzed the survey responses of nearly 600 Washington state children whose parents were deployed. The children's well-being was assessed by how they responded to five quality-of-life questions. Based on the responses, adolescent sons of parents deployed overseas were more than twice as likely to have "impaired well-being" than their civilian counterparts, the analysis shows. The study found higher rates of other troubling behavior, such as binge drinking, among the children of deployed parents. The study also found that 8th grade girls with parents deployed to combat were at risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. (HealthDay News, 7/22/11)
Researchers: Optimists Less Likely to Suffer a Stroke
Optimists have a lower likelihood of suffering a stroke, according to researchers. A study of data from 6,044 stroke-free adults found the more optimistic the person, the lower the stroke likelihood. Even when the researchers took into consideration other factors, there was still a significant association between optimism and a stroke. The authors of the study, which appears in the journal Stroke, suggest optimists might be more proactive about their health in general. (Los Angeles Times, 7/22/11)
Suicide Prevention Funding Included in House Bill
A defense spending bill passed by the House of Representatives includes millions of dollars to prevent suicide among soldiers and reservists. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) successfully offered an amendment in Congress to set aside $20 million for those efforts. The funds will support programs like those proposed in the Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Individual Ready Reserve Suicide Prevention Act, which Holt introduced in honor of a New Jersey veteran who died by suicide after two tours of duty in Iraq. The Senate must approve the funding before it becomes law. (Allentown Examiner, 7/21/11)
Almost 1 in 4 Americans Are Binge Drinkers
A new government report indicates nearly 25 percent of Americans engaged in binge drinking in the past month. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report also found that eight percent of all Americans used an illegal drug in the past month. A government official said the report shows that the public’s perception of risk for a variety of drugs has decreased in recent years. (USA Today, 7/21/11)
Kaiser Health News looks at school-based health centers.
ABC News’ “20/20” examines schizophrenia in children.
PBS’ “Newshour” reported on the inadequacy of treatment of mental illness in Indonesia.
Premature Infants with Brain Injuries at Risk for Psychiatric Disorders: Premature infants are at greater risk for certain psychiatric disorders as teenagers, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression, a new study finds. Researchers followed 400 premature infants who had abnormal brain ultrasounds at birth until they were 16 years old. As teens, the study participants were asked questions and given cognitive tests. The study, which is reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found a link between brain injuries suffered by preemies right before or after birth and specific psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, tic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and major depression. The study authors concluded that a better understanding of the link between brain injuries suffered by preemies and later mental health issues could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. (HealthDay News, 7/20/11)
Kids with ADHD Face Risks When Crossing Streets: Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at greater risk when crossing streets, a new study asserts. Researchers measured the walking speed of 78 children; half had both the inattentive and hyperactive symptoms of ADHD and were not taking medication. The other 39 children had no developmental issues. The children with ADHD did look both ways before stepping off the curb, but left significantly less time to make a safe crossing. They also had far more close calls than children with no developmental issues, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. (HealthDay News, 7/25/11)
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