Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 11, 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?
Young children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at about four times increased risk of depression and more than a four-fold increased risk of suicide by age 18...more
HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Federal Court Upholds Law: A federal judge in Michigan has ruled that the new health reform law is constitutional. His decision, the first by a federal court to rule directly on the constitutionality of the law, rejected the argument that Congress lacked the power to require virtually all Americans to purchase health insurance. Other suits challenging the law are still pending, including one in a federal court in Florida brought by 20 states that want the law declared unconstitutional. (The Washington Post, 10/7/10)
Waivers Granted to Prevent Loss in Coverage: The Obama Administration has granted waivers to 30 insurers, companies and union plans from a provision in the health care law requiring them to raise the maximum amount of coverage they offer employees. Those affected by the law were threatening to drop coverage completely or raise employees' premiums by as much as 200 percent in order to comply with next year's deadline. Beginning in 2011, the new health law mandates that insurers and employers gradually remove annual dollar limits on an individual's insurance coverage and eventually eliminate these limits by 2014. The waivers have been given to limited-benefit plans, also known as “min-meds,” which are typically offered to part-time workers. (The New York Times, 10/6/10)
Rising Unemployment Tied to Increase in Child Abuse
Increases in unemployment rates are directly associated with escalating incidence of child abuse, according to new data. Researchers reviewed state-level unemployment statistics and compared them with child maltreatment data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), during the years 1990 to 2008. Each one percent increase in unemployment was associated with at least a 0.50 per 1,000 increase in confirmed child maltreatment reports one year later. Over the 18 year period, when employment went up or down, maltreatment went up or down with a one year delay. Study author Dr. Robert Sege said the findings are important because the effects of childhood abuse can extend into adulthood and victims of maltreatment early in life are more vulnerable to mental illnesses and chronic conditions such as heart disease. (Time, 10/4/10)
Study: Mental Health Courts Appear to Reduce Jail Time
Special courts that move people with serious mental illness out of the criminal justice system and into community treatment may lower subsequent arrest rates and jail time, a new study finds. An analysis of data from four mental health courts found that participants had fewer arrests and days of incarceration 18 months after completing court-ordered treatment than did detainees who didn't go through that system. The researchers, whose findings are reported online in the Archives of General Psychiatry, caution that their analysis doesn’t answer key questions on who are most helped by the courts and what procedures produce the best outcomes. (Reuters, 10/5/10)
Senator Plans Legislation on Bullying
In response to the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, a federal lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to require colleges adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying and harassment. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the measure he wants would require colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to create policies prohibiting harassment of any student. The bill would also provide funding for schools to establish programs to deter the harassment of students. Clementi had reportedly voiced his complaints to university personnel and had asked for a room change after learning that a roommate had broadcast intimate images of him with another man over the Internet. (CBS News, 10/7/10)
Amusement Park Won’t Remove Exhibits Painting False Stereotypes
An Ohio amusement park is refusing the requests of mental health advocates to remove two exhibits focusing on fictional mental health patients: Dr. D. Mented's Asylum for the Criminally Insane, and The Edge of Madness: Still Crazy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio said the exhibits at Cedar Point Amusement Park painted the false stereotype that the public should fear mental health patients. Terry Russell, the chapter’s executive director, said the refusal is potentially harmful and called the park’s owner a "callous organization." (Sandusky Register, 10/10/10)
Study Reports Benefits of Wellness Incentive Programs for Worker Families
Cash incentive programs that prompt healthy lifestyle changes might benefit employees’ families, according to a new study. Researchers examined a program by IBM that offered employees $150 to participate in 12-week program promoting healthy activities for the family. Over 50 percent of those enrolled completed the program. Those that finished it reported increased physical activity, reduced time spent on electronic entertainment and more healthy family meals. (Reuters, 10/04/10)
1 in 4 Teens and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking
More than 1 in 4 high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in binge drinking during the past month, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The findings show that each year more than 33 million adults have reported binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time, usually a couple of hours. And the report said levels of binge drinking have not declined during the past 15 years. More than 79,000 deaths each year in the United States result from drinking too much, with about half of these attributable to binge drinking, according to Dr. Robert Brewer, alcohol program leader at CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (USA Today, 10/8/10)
WHO Calls Attention to Untreated Mental Health Conditions in Poor Nations
Hundreds of millions of people in poor countries suffer from untreated mental health conditions that could be helped with inexpensive care, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week. The United Nations agency launched guidelines for primary care doctors and nurses to treat patients debilitated by depression and psychosis as well as neurological. "We face a misperception that mental health care is a luxury item on the health agenda. But it costs $2 per person per year—it is one of the best buys," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. The WHO said that more than four hundred fifty million people worldwide suffer from poor mental health. (Voice of America, 10/4/10)
The New York Times examines soldier suicides at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas.
CNN looks at the continuing stigma of mental illness.
The risk of suicide among doctors and medical students is examined by The New York Times.
A Denver Post column says that the National Football League has neglected mental health issues among players.
Childhood Abuse or Neglect May Lead to Elevated Stress in Adulthood: Healthy adults, if they were abused or neglected during childhood, have an elevated inflammatory response to stress compared to adults who had happier childhoods, according to new research. A team of researchers surveyed 69 adults, ranging in age from their late teens to early 60s, about their childhood experiences. Of the group, 19 reported moderate to severe neglect or abuse. The researchers then asked them to undergo a laboratory role-play called the Trier Social Stress Test and measured various vital signs and collected blood samples. Among the subjects who reported adverse childhood experiences, the concentrations of interleukin-6 in their blood were always elevated above those of the control group, and the gap widened considerably as the subject recovered from the psychological stress during several hours after the role-play. (ScienceDaily, 10/7/10)
Children with ADHD at Increased Risk for Depression, Suicide: Young children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at about four times increased risk of depression and more than a four-fold increased risk of suicide by age 18, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a prospective study of 125 children diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of four to six, and 123 ADHD-free children, until they turned 18. Thirty-nine percent of the children with ADHD were found to have depression during the study period, versus 8 percent of those who didn’t have ADHD. Reporting in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the researchers found that 12 percent of the ADHD children versus 1.6 percent of the ADHD-free children had a suicide plan and that 18 percent of ADHD kids had attempted suicide during the follow-up period (compared to 5.7 percent of ADHD-free group). (CNN, 10/4/10)
Teenagers with Unhealthy Online Habits May be at Greater Risk for Depression: Teenagers with unhealthy online habits may be at greater risk of depression, Chinese researchers suggest. They asked more than 1,000 high school students to fill out two sets of questionnaires, spaced nine months apart, about their mental health and Internet use. Among the students who had no signs of anxiety and depression at the outset, those who reported "unhealthy" Internet use were two and a half times as likely to have symptoms of depression at the second evaluation. Eight percent of the teenagers developed symptoms of depression over the course of the study, and those with unhealthy online habits were at greatest risk. Although the study tested Internet habits that came before the symptoms of depression, it can't determine whether other psychological problems also played a role. (Reuters, 10/4/10)
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Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
According to Mental Health America, 31 percent of gay youth had been threatened at school in the last year and will be called an anti-gay slur once every 14 minutes. WMDT, “Consequences of Bullying,” October 6, 2010
On average, people don't receive formal treatment for their illness until they're 24, says David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, Early intervention can be effective strategies for keeping children from developing more severe, long-term emotional problems later on. "That's why routine screening and treatment is so important," says Shern. msnbc.com, “New laws expand mental health, addiction treatment,” October 7, 2010
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
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- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
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