Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of May 9, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of May 9, 2011MMental 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.
The rate of soldiers hospitalized for having suicidal thoughts has increased by 7,000 percent over the last five years...more
IN FOCUS: MEDICAID AND THE BUDGET
Program May Be Vulnerable in Deficit Talks: Although Republican leaders are backing away from making any changes to Medicare as part of a budget and deficit reduction plan, Medicaid could become a target. The program is considered more vulnerable to cuts because it serves groups-the poor and disabled-who are politically powerless. And because Medicaid requires both state and federal funding, economic downturns increase costs on states, which can't run deficits. Rather than raise taxes, Governors and state legislators want to trim services. (The Washington Post, 5/5/11)
Advocates Criticize Proposals to Limit Funding: Advocates are sharply criticizing proposals they say would weaken and even devastate Medicaid. Last week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and fellow senate Democrats denounced a GOP proposal to turn Medicaid into a block grant program. He also strongly opposes a bipartisan proposal to place caps on total federal spending, which he said would be worse than a block grant. Advocates are also warning about a bill introduced this week by Republican lawmakers that would repeal the Medicaid maintenance-of-effort requirements that were first introduced in the 2009 economic stimulus package and were expanded in the federal health reform law. The requirement allows states to receive increased Medicaid funding if they keep eligibility requirements above their February 2009 levels. Opponents say weakening the requirement would leave thousands of low-income residents, including children, without health coverage. (The Huffington Post, 5/5/11)
IN THE NEWSNew Framework Proposed for Manual of Mental Disorders
The American Psychiatric Association is proposing a new classification system that they hope will correspond better to the causes of mental illness. The new organization for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) eliminates some categories while adding new ones and substantially renaming others. It reflects the latest scientific thinking about how various conditions relate to each other and may influence care. Illness types that will no longer have their own top-level categories in DSM-5 include factitious disorders, adjustment disorders, and "mental disorders due to a general medical condition." Top-level groupings for bipolar and related disorders; elimination disorders; trauma- and stressor-related disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder; and disruptive, conduct, and impulse-control disorders have been added. The proposed changes to the organizational structure and revisions to diagnostic criteria will be available for review and comment at http://www.dsm5.org/ from May 4 to June 15, 2011. (MedPage Today, 5/4/11)Rate of Hospitalization for Suicidal Thoughts among Soldiers Jumps 7,000 Percent
The rate of soldiers hospitalized for having suicidal thoughts has increased by 7,000 percent over the last five years, according to the Pentagon. A new report, which covers the period from the fourth year troops were in Afghanistan and the third year they were in Iraq, also shows the number of soldiers thinking of taking their lives while hospitalized has jumped from about 1,000 in 2006 to nearly 4,000 last year. This larger pair of numbers includes patients whose suicidal thoughts were a secondary, not primary, diagnosis. Military officials say a new diagnostic code and greater awareness of the problem could be helping to drive the numbers higher. (Time, 5/6/11)Study Suggests Autism Rates May be Higher than Thought
A population-wide study of South Korean children finds that autism rates are much higher than in the United States, suggesting more people worldwide may have the disorder than previously thought. The study, which is reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that one in 38 children had some form of autism, including the disorder known as Asperger's Syndrome. In the United States, the autism prevalence rate is believed to be one in 110. Lead research Dr. Young-Shin Kim of the Yale Child Study Center said the study doesn't suggest that the incidence of autism has actually increased. What it means is that there are many children who have autism but have not been diagnosed and treated, he said. This study examined the total population as opposed to previous studies, which have focused on populations of children who have already been identified as having mental or developmental problems and other special needs. (Los Angeles Times, 5/9/11)Football Player Had Brain Trauma He Suspected
Scientists announced last week that the brain of former football player Dave Duerson had a "moderately advanced" case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. Before shooting himself in the heart in February, Duerson expressed the wish that his brain be studied for signs of the disease. The findings add to questions about the impact of playing football and whether the National Football League should do more to protect its players. Scientists say further study is needed on players of all ages to gauge the full impact of CTE. (The New York Times, 5/7/11)Patrick Kennedy to Launch Brain Research Campaign
Mental health advocate and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy will formally launch a campaign this month to support the development of effective new treatments for neurological and mental disorders. A conference, called "The Next Frontier: One Mind for the Brain, will be held from May 23 to 25. On the last day, a gala event at the John F. Kennedy Library will mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's speech rallying the nation to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Kennedy calls the Next Frontier campaign a "moonshot to the mind," and its goal is to map what Kennedy calls the "inner space of the mind" within the next decade. The first step is getting scientists to coordinate their research efforts. The second is to educate the public about veterans who are returning home with traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder. A number of organizations have joined the effort, including Mental Health America. (Psychiatric News, 5/6/11)Report Finds Virginia Not Meeting Kid's Mental Health Needs
A children's advocacy group says Virginia is failing to provide adequate mental health services for kids in the community. The Voices for Virginia's Children report finds too few services are available in the community, and there are "unacceptably long" waits to access those that are available. Services for those in crisis are particularly lacking, it found. The result is costly stays in psychiatric facilities or jail. (USA Today, 5/4/11)Vermont Passes Universal Health Care Law
Vermont legislators have given final approval to a plan to move the state toward a universal, publicly funded health care system. Gov. Peter Shumlin, a supporter, is expected to sign the bill. The legislation sets up a new health care marketplace under which consumers will be able to compare private insurance policies based on a common benefits package. Supporters acknowledge that federal funding is essential to the plan's success. (Vermont Public Radio, 5/6/11)Study: System of Care Improves Behavioral Health of Children Affected by Trauma
Children and youth affected by traumatic events improve their functioning when they can access effective community-based programs and supports, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report shows that after 12 months of accessing services within a community-based system of care, 44 percent of children and youth improved their school attendance, 41 percent improved their grades, and youth suicide attempts fell by 64 percent. In addition, the number of youth reporting arrests in the past 6 months fell by 36 percent. Similarly the report shows that children and youth receiving trauma specific services experienced a 20 percent drop in the number experiencing problems at school, a 59 percent drop in the number with problems with suicidality, and a 57 percent drop in number of children engaging in delinquent behavior after 6 months of service. (News-Medical.net, 5/4/11)IN DEPTH
Kaiser Health News (video) explains options for health care coverage for a mother whose daughter lost her insurance and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
WBUR Radio's "On Point" discusses mental wellness in the elderly.
The St. Louis Beacon reports on a meeting urging African Americans to discuss mental health.
The Birmingham News looks at the impact of tornadoes on the mental health needs of children.
Seven Days (Vermont) profiles a pediatrician who helps kids get off drugs.
VOICES AND VIEWPOINTS
Scott Johnson, the Oakland Tribune's Violence Reporting Fellow, examines the impacts of trauma and violence on the mental health of the community.
Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher addresses football and mental health in a Kansas City Star op-ed.
Pregnant Latino Women Who Experience Domestic Violence More Likely to Have Postpartum Depression: Latino women who are victims of domestic violence by a partner during or within one year of pregnancy are five times more likely to suffer postpartum depression than women who have not, according to a new study. Researchers trace the effects of trauma on maternal and child health among 210 women, age 18 and older, who were recruited from nonprofit health care clinics in largely Latino communities. The researchers, who reported their findings in the Archives of Women's Mental Health, suggests that recent exposure to intimate partner violence is a much stronger prenatal predictor of postpartum depression than even prenatal depression, which is generally considered the most significant predictor. (News-Medical.net, 5/6/11)
Military Personnel with Psychiatric Disorder Before Active Duty More Likely to Develop PTSD: Military personnel who have a psychiatric disorder prior to beginning active duty are much more likely to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when they return home than fellow soldiers who don't have mental health conditions, a new study finds. Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the study also found that women, African Americans, and those with less education were slightly more likely to suffer from PTSD following their return from a war zone. Researchers analyzed data on the mental health of nearly 23,000 servicemen and women prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Before they were deployed, 3.3 percent had at least one psychiatric disorder. After deployment, a follow-up questionnaire found that about 8 percent had symptoms of PTSD. The study found that men and women who had one or more mental health disorders prior to deployment were 2.5 times more likely to develop post-deployment PTSD. (Los Angeles Times, 5/3/11)
NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
May is Mental Health Month 2011: Do More for 1 in 4. For information on this year's May is Mental Health Month activities, go to http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may.
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.
News Highlights: Dr. David Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America, has a guest post on Mental Health Month on SAMHSA's Dialogue blog.
Policy Notes: Mental Health America was one of more than 140 organizations that signed a letter to individual members of Congress urging they oppose proposals that would arbitrarily cut Medicaid and shift costs to the states.Stay Up to Date with More News and Views
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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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