Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 15, 2012
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of October 15, 2012
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter 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.
Most Americans know what depression is and believe there is no shame in seeking treatment for the mental health condition, a new survey finds…more
NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
Tell Congress to Act to Avoid Sequestration: TAKE ACTION!
View plenary sessions from the 2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium and Mental Health America Annual Conference: http://www.fromhousingtorecovery.org/.
Vote for America’s Mental Health in 2012: Use our Voter Guide to Rights and Issues.
The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field. Find your employment match at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/mhacareercenter.
IN THE NEWS
Military Focuses on Private Weapons as Part of Suicide Prevention Effort: Defense Department officials are developing a suicide prevention campaign that will encourage friends and families of potentially suicidal service members to safely store or voluntarily remove personal firearms from their homes. The campaign would also include measures to encourage service members, their friends and their relatives to remove possibly dangerous prescription drugs from the homes of potentially suicidal troops. Pending legislation in Congress would allow military mental health counselors and commanders to talk to troops about their private firearms. The measure would amend a law enacted last year that prohibited the Defense Department from collecting information from service members about lawfully owned firearms kept at home. The 2011 measure, passed at the urging of the National Rifle Association, was viewed by many military officials as preventing commanders and counselors from discussing gun safety with potentially suicidal troops. But the N.R.A. said that the provision was a response to efforts by Army commanders to maintain records of all the firearms owned by their soldiers. (The New York Times, 10/8/12)
Mothers’ Exposure to Mercury Linked to ADHD Symptoms in Kids: Children who were exposed to more mercury in the womb were more likely to show problems with attention and hyperactivity and other symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 8, according to a new study. However, the researchers found that children whose mothers ate more fish during pregnancy—fish is known to be a main source of mercury exposure for many people—had a significantly lower risk of ADHD symptoms than kids whose mothers ate less fish. The finding raises the possibility that the health benefits of eating fish, which is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that are good for brain development, could outweigh the harms of low-level mercury exposure. Previous studies attempting to define the risk of low-level exposure to mercury have been inconclusive regarding the link between mercury and ADHD symptoms. (Time, 10/9/12)
Study—Children with ADHD Who Take Stimulants Feel Drugs Help: Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take stimulants generally feel the drugs help them control their behavior and do not turn them into "robots,” a new study finds. The research, which for the first time asked children taking ADHD drugs what they felt about their treatment and its effects, found that many said medication helped them manage their impulsivity and make better decisions. The British study interviewed children from 151 families in Britain and the United States to examine some of the ethical and societal issues surrounding ADHD. (Reuters, 8/15/12)
Moving to an Area with Less Poverty Benefits Mental Health of Some Girls, but Not Boys: Moving from a low-poverty area improves the mental health of some teen girls—but not boys, according to a new study. Researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at low-income families in public housing in five U.S. cities between 1994 and 1997. The families were randomly selected to remain in public housing (high-poverty areas) or to receive government-funded rental subsidies to move into private apartments (low-poverty areas). In analyzing the mental health of more than 2,800 children, aged 12 to 19, the researchers found that girls without any health vulnerabilities at the start of the study were the only ones to benefit from moving to low-poverty areas. Neither girls with health vulnerabilities nor boys without health vulnerabilities benefited from moving to a low-poverty area. (HealthDay News, 10/10/12)
Poll Finds Stigma of Depression Stigma May be Easing: Most Americans know what depression is and believe there is no shame in seeking treatment for the mental health condition, a new survey finds. The public opinion poll, released last week in conjunction with National Depression Screening Day, also found that most Americans would not change their vote even if they learned that a presidential candidate had been treated for depression. The telephone poll of 1,021 adults, conducted in September, found that 53 percent of Americans know someone who has been treated for depression and 72 percent said they would also seek treatment if they experienced symptoms of depression. "These findings tell us that our efforts to reduce stigma and increase the public's knowledge of depression through events like National Depression Screening Day are having an effect," Dr. Douglas Jacobs, founder of the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health Inc., which conducted the poll. (HealthDay News, 10/11/12)
The New York Times looks at “Recalibrating Therapy for Our Wired World.”
CropLife examines how “Drought Poses Mental Health Problems For Farmers.”
The Commonwealth Fund looks at how the health care plans of President Obama and Mitt Romney stack up.
100 Reporters looks at the epidemic of suicides among Native American youth.
Pregnancy-related Stress Harms Mothers’ Brain: Chronic stress during pregnancy negates benefits that the brain bestows on mothers and may explain why depression hits women after childbirth, a new study asserts. The study found that rat mothers showed an increase in brain cell connections in the regions linked with learning, memory and mood. Conversely, the brains of mother rats stressed twice daily throughout pregnancy did not register this increase. The stress negated the brain benefits of motherhood, causing the stressed rats' brains to match brain characteristics of animals that had no reproductive or maternal experience. The stressed rats also had less physical interaction with their babies than did unstressed rats, a behavior observed in human mothers who experience postpartum depression. (UPI, 10/14/12)
Psychiatric Disorders Persist in Juvenile Offenders: Psychiatric disorders among adolescents who had been in juvenile detention persist as they age, a new study finds. Five years after being released from juvenile detention, more than 45 percent of males and nearly 30 percent of females still had psychiatric disorders, researchers report in the Archives of General Psychiatry. They initially interviewed nearly 1,200 males and more than 650 females, aged 10 to 18, while they were at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago. The participants were interviewed again as many as four times and up to five years later. Alcohol and illicit drug use were the most common and persistent psychiatric disorders among the participants. Males were two to three times more likely to have alcohol or drug use disorders than females. The researchers said the findings demonstrate the need for special programs—especially for substance use disorders—not only while these kids are in corrections, but also when they return to the community. (HealthDay News, 10/1/12)
Mother’s Depression Slows Baby’s Speech Development: Maternal depression and in utero exposure to one class of antidepressants increased the odds for altered speech development in early childhood, researchers report. Their study followed three groups of mothers—one being treated for depression with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), one with depression not taking antidepressants and one with no symptoms of depression. Infants whose mothers had untreated clinical depression during pregnancy exhibited delayed speech development. And infants exposed to SRIs in utero could not discriminate non-native language at 6 or 10 months, according to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A control group of infants not exposed in utero to the effects of mothers' clinical depression or to SSRIs exhibited normal speech development. "These findings once again remind us that poor mental health during pregnancy is a major public health issue for mothers and their infants," said study co-author Dr. Tim Oberlander. (Medpage Today, 10/11/12)
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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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