Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 12, 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?
Repeated deployments of service members can cause higher levels of anxiety in children, which persists even after the deployed parents returns home…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
HHS Secretary Promises Transparency, Clarity in Implementing Reform
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said last week the new health reform law will be implemented clearly and openly. She pledged to empower Americans so they understand the law. She also announced that HHS will be releasing a "Medicare dashboard" online tool to help individuals search and sort Medicare data. And she warned that scam artists have already attempted to take advantage of consumer confusion regarding the new law. She has sent letters to State Insurance commissioners and attorneys general requesting that they investigate the scams and prosecute those trying to fraudulently capitalize on the uncertainty regarding the changes in the health care system. (Reuters, 4/07/10)
Study Finds Former Foster Children Encountering Problems
A long-term study of former foster youth in three Midwestern states finds that the vast majority are struggling to find housing and jobs and to complete their education. Sixty percent of the men had been convicted of a crime and 75 percent of the women had received public assistance. Only 6 percent had completed a community college degree. Mark Courtney, a social work researcher at the University of Washington who led the study, said some of the most important predictors of later success include being on track in school, having mental health needs addressed while in care, and receiving social support. (National Public Radio, 4/07/10)
Panel Finds Gulf War Syndrome Real, Causes Remain a Mystery
The cluster of symptoms experienced by one-third of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War is a real disease, but its causes, treatment and potential cure remain unknown, according to a new report by a panel of medical experts. Service in the Gulf War has long been linked with gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, as well as substance abuse, and psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorder. According to the report, released by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, newer medical technology, including the ability examine genetic mutations, may hold the key to determining the causes. (The Washington Post, 4/10/10)
US Birth Rate Fell for Teens in 2008; Rose for Women Over 40
The birth rate for teenagers, which had been climbing, fell in 2008, according to government data. A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control also found that overall U.S. birth rate declined for the year. Birth rates in 2008 also fell for women in their 20s and 30s. But there was a four percent rise in the birth rate for women in their forties, which was the highest mark since 1967. (Associated Press, 4/06/10)
Children of Service Members Show Problems, Even After Parent Returns: Repeated deployments of service members can cause higher levels of anxiety in children, which persists even after the deployed parent returns home, a new study finds. Researchers also found that the level of anxiety children experience can be predicted by the amount of psychological distress shown by both the active-duty parent and the at-home parent. University of California at Los Angeles assistant professor of psychiatry Dr. Patricia Lester and her colleagues studied 171 families in which either the mother or father was on active duty, currently deployed or recently returned from serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Reporting in the April edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, they found that approximately one-third of the children in these families had increased symptoms of anxiety and that it remained even after the deployed parent returned home. (UPI, 4/10/10)
Tasks Help Children with ADHD: Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that are taking medication react more like other children when they are required to use their attention and focusing skills, researchers say. In the study reported in the April 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Nottingham in England had children play a video game that required them to focus and not be impulsive. They say the study’s results indicate that stimulant medication normalizes brain function in children with ADHD so that they can pay better attention and be less impulsive. But the researchers say using motivational incentives along with drugs improved the children's performance. (HealthDay News, 4/09/10)
Reward Response Lower in Girls at Risk of Depression: Girls whose mothers suffer from depression appear to have problems processing reward and loss, which may be an indication of depression, researchers say. In the study, which is reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers gave brain scans to a group of girls, age 10 to 14, who were completing a task that could result in reward or punishment. One group was not depressed but had mothers who experienced recurrent depression; another group had no personal or family history of depression. Compared with girls in the low-risk group, those in the high-risk group had weaker neural responses during both anticipation and receipt of the reward. Specifically, the high-risk girls showed no activation in an area of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, believed to play a role in reinforcing past experiences to assist learning. The researchers said that this suggests that the high-risk girls have easier time processing information about loss and punishment than information about reward and pleasure. (MedPage Today, 4/06/10)
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