Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of December 14, 2009
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?
Young adults with elevated levels of lead in their blood might be at increased risk for major depression and panic disorders…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
CBO May Hold Key to Senate Plan
Democratic leaders are attempting to settle disputes that threaten to hold up a final vote on compromise Senate health plan. A number of lawmakers are deferring support until the Congressional Budget Office reports on the cost figures for proposal that would expand Medicare for individuals aged 55 to 64. The buy-in would replace a public insurance option that was originally in the Senate bill. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said over the weekend that he was opposed to the idea and another, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), voiced skepticism about the proposal. If neither support the bill, it would be difficult to win the 60 votes that are needed to avoid a filibuster and gain approval of legislation. (The Washington Post, 12/14/09)
New Guidelines Recommend Depression Screening, But with Staff Supports
Two new clinical guidelines recommend screening adults for depression, but only when supports are in place to help physicians ensure accurate diagnosis and provide effective treatment and follow-up. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) developed one of the guidelines. The other, directed to primary care practice, was prepared by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Both are published in the December issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new USPSTF guideline updates a previous statement released in 2002 that recommended screening adults for depression in clinical practices that have systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and follow-up. The new recommendation finds that staff-assisted depression care supports need to be in place. The supports could assist with providing direct depression care such as case management. (Medscape, 12/03/09)
Only Half of U.S. Kids with Mental Health Conditions Getting Help
Only about half of children who have mental health conditions are receiving professional help for them, a federal report finds. The data comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which interviewed over 3000 children aged 8 to 15 from 2001 to 2004. Parents and caregivers also provided information about their children's mental health. The study, which is published online in the journal Pediatrics, found that depression and anxiety often go undiagnosed and untreated found. The researchers report that 13 percent of the children and adolescents in the study had at least one mental health condition about 2 percent had more than one, usually a combination of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder. (HealthDay News, 12/14/09)
Study Finds Poorer Children More Likely to Receive Antipsychotics
A new federal study finds that children covered by Medicaid are four times more likely to receive antipsychotic medicines than children whose families have private insurance. Children under Medicaid are also more likely to receive drugs for less severe conditions than middle-class kids. The findings are to be published early next year in the journal Health Affairs. Part of the disparity may be due to insurance policies; Medicaid often pays less for counseling than private insurers. Another reason may be the fact that families living in poverty have difficulty attending counseling or therapy sessions. (The New York Times, 12/12/09)
Media Failed to Provide Enough Information on Antidepressant Warnings
Print and broadcast news stories failed to provide enough information regarding the actions the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took in 2003 and 2004 on pediatric antidepressant use, a new study finds. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study analyzed the quality of media stories on the issue during 2003 and 2004. Researchers at the Yale University School of Public Health found that found that 98 percent correctly stated that pediatric antidepressant use was linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior, and not to the risk of suicide itself. But when it came to including "key health messages" that the FDA emphasized in its warnings, few stories (13 percent) mentioned that if a child is taken off an antidepressant, he or she should not quit abruptly, but first take gradually lowered doses. Only 43 percent of stories mentioned the importance of monitoring children who are on antidepressants, the researchers say. (Reuters, 12/07/09)
Safety Data from Drug Trials Often Not Published
Safety data from trials of drugs approved for adults in young people often never appears in peer-reviewed journals or, if they do, don’t focus on the new information, a new study concludes. Trials that uncover new safety findings are less likely to be published than other types of trials, and trials that uncover results unfavorable to a company (or its product) are less likely to be published than those with favorable results, researchers report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Legislation passed in 1997 extends the exclusive marketing rights for a particular drug if the drug maker conducts U.S. Food and Drug Administration-requested studies of its effects in children. (Reuters, 12/09/09)
Legislation Introduced to Outlaw Child Abuse in Schools
Legislation introduced last week in Congress would, for the first time, protect all children in schools from harmful uses of restraint and seclusion. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring exposed hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being abused as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities. The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), would establish the first federal standards to protect students from misuse of restraint and seclusion and ensure the safety of everyone in the classroom. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who helped pass in 1988 a similar bill concerning restraints on children in psychiatric facilities, introduced companion Senate legislation. (Hartford Courant, 12/09/09)
Psychological Trauma Affects Child’s Brain: Psychological trauma can leave permanent scars on a child’s brain, a new study finds. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, found that children with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a poor function of the part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories. The findings are similar to what has been found with adults. Although the study shows only an association rather than a direct relationship, the study authors believe the changes are the result of PTSD. (CNN, 12/09/09)
Reading Programs Can Strengthen Children’s Brains: Intensive reading programs can produce measurable changes in the structure of a child's brain, a new study concludes. The study, published in the journal Neuron, found that several different programs improved the integrity of fibers that carry information from one part of the brain to another and help them work together. Researchers used a special type of MRI to look at the brains of several dozen children from 8 to 12 years old, including poor readers and those with typical reading skills. Children with poor reading skills had white matter with "lower structural quality" than typical children. During the next school year, researchers enrolled some of the poor readers in programs that provided a total of 100 hours of intensive remedial instruction. A second set of MRI scans conducted after the training showed that it changed not only their reading ability, but the tissues in their brain. They were unchanged for children in standard classes. (The Los Angeles Times, 12/09/09)
Elevated Levels of Lead in Young Adults May Increase Risk of Major Depression: Young adults with elevated levels of lead in their blood might be at increased risk for major depression and panic disorders, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed information on almost 2,000 adults, aged 20 to 29, who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1997 and 2004. Of those participants, 134 (6.7 percent) had major depression, 44 (2.2 percent) had panic disorder and 47 (2.4 percent) had generalized anxiety disorder. The average level of lead in the blood among all participants was 1.61 micrograms per deciliter. The 20 percent of participants with the highest lead levels were more than twice as likely to have major depression and nearly five times more likely to have panic disorder than the 20 percent of participants with the lowest blood lead levels. (HealthDay News, 12/08/09)
Isolation and Stress May Increase Breast Cancer Risk: Social isolation and stress may increase the risk of breast cancer, a new study finds. University of Chicago researchers found that in rats social isolation and stress was associated with a 3.3-fold greater chance of developing breast cancer. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also showed that rats kept alone had a 135 percent increase in the number of tumors and a more than 8,000 percent increase in tumor size. Authors of the study say being isolated and exposed to stressful situations, such as the smell of a predator or being briefly constrained, increased production of the stress hormone corticosterone in the animals. Isolated rats took longer to recover from a stressful situation than rats living in small groups. The researchers noted that women living in high-crime areas face a number of stressors, including social isolation. (HealthDay News, 12/09/09)
Juvenile Delinquency Increases a Man’s Risk of Dying: A history of juvenile delinquency raises a man's risk of dying or becoming disabled by the time he is 48 years old, research finds. A study followed 411 boys in South London, England, who were 8 to 9 years old in 1961. Among those who at age 10 displayed antisocial behaviors (such as skipping school or being troublesome or dishonest) and who also were convicted of a crime by the age of 18, one in six had died or become disabled by the time they turned 48. That's nearly seven times higher than the death or disability rate (about 2.5 percent) among men who stayed out of trouble when they were young, according to the study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health. Researchers suggest that the stresses associated with an antisocial lifestyle fit with the biological evidence of the effects of chronic stress on illness. (HealthDay News, 12/10/09)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Making Room for Mental Health in Medical Homes: Read the latest entry in Dr. David Shern’s blog on psychologytoday.com.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
A group of 19 military, veterans and medical organizations, including Mental Health America, called on Congress to quickly iron out differences on legislation that would provide new benefits to caregivers of severely disabled veterans, saying families are waiting for the desperately needed help. “We stand ready to assist you in moving this vital legislation,” the groups said in joint letter. Air Force Times, “Vets groups urge speed on caregiver benefits,” December 9, 2009
According to Mental Health America, women suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder three times more often then men. That is also true of those in colder climates and people who work for extended periods without sunlight or work the night shift. The News Herald (Morgantown, NC), “Beat the winter blues: 6 ways to boost mind, mood,” December 11, 2009
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
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