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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 8, 2013

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.

Today's Headline

A new national survey reveals that many adults believe children and teens do not receive needed mental health services…more

News from Mental Health America

Mental Health Month 2013: Pathways to Wellness. Follow us on Twitter #mhmwellness>

Help Make Parity a Reality: Tell Your Story.

Mental Health America’s 2013 Annual Conference—Why Wellness Works: Breakthroughs and Pathways to Whole Health—June 5-8, 2013. Follow us on Twitter: #mhawell13

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.

Give a Gift Card for a Cause and Give Back to Mental Health America.

News For and From the Field

Rule on Navigators Released: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a proposed rule outlining training and standards for Navigators. These are organizations that will provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and public programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The proposed rule can be viewed at http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx

From Health Affairs: When patients with mental health issues contact their medical providers and ask questions, do they get the answers they need? A paper by Ming Tai-Seale in February’s issue of Health Affairs addresses this topic. Click the link to her paper in paragraph 9, line 4 of this blog: http://www.pcori.org/blog/charting-a-clear-path/ and leave YOUR questions for Ming Tai-Seale on the Health Affairs Facebook page. You can also view her talk and post questions here. She will post answers to some questions on Health Affairs Blog next week. 

In the News

Survey—Many Adults Believe Children and Teens do not Receive Mental Health Services: A new national survey reveals that many adults believe children and teens do not receive needed mental health services. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation commissioned the National Voices Project to facilitate a five-year study of how adults who work and volunteer every day on behalf of children perceive access to mental health services for kids and teens on a local community level. Survey participants were asked how much availability there is in their communities for children and teens to receive health care services. More than half of all respondents note that there is “lots of availability” for teens to have hospital care (55 percent) and primary care (56 percent) in their communities. But across all health care services, only 30 percent of respondents reported “lots of availability” for mental health care. (PsychCentral.com, 4/3/13) 

More than Half a Million Kids Believed to Have Leading Poisoning: More than half a million U.S. children are now believed to have lead poisoning, roughly twice the previous high estimate, health officials say. The increase is due to a lowering last year by the government of the threshold for lead poisoning, so now more children are considered at risk. The new number translates to about 1 in 38 young children. That estimate suggests a need for more testing and preventive measures, some experts said, but budget cuts last year eliminated federal grant funding for such programs. (Associated Press, 4/4/13) 

Obama Asks for $100 Million to Map Human Brain: President Obama will ask for $100 million in his fiscal 2014 budget to fund a research initiative to map the human brain and better understand how it functions. The ultimate goal of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative—or BRAIN Initiative for short—is to find new ways to treat and possibly prevent disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, and many others. The diseases combine to cost the healthcare system roughly $500 billion a year. The project has been likened to the Human Genome Project, the 1990s initiative to map all the genes in human DNA. The cost of sequencing a single human genome dropped from $100 million to $7,000 after successful completion of the project, paving the way for personalized medicine. It remains to be seen whether the Congress will fund the initiative. (The Washington Post, 4/2/13) 

Dementia Care Costs More Than Heart Disease, Cancer: Costs associated with caring for dementia amounted to between $159 billion and $215 billion in the U.S. in 2010, and are expected to increase nearly 80 percent per adult by 2040, according to a new study. That makes it more expensive than treatments for patients with heart disease or cancer, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, conducted by the RAND Corp., found that nearly 15 percent of people aged 71 or older, about 3.8 million people, have dementia. By 2040, the authors said, that number will increase to 9.1 million people. Medical bills for dementia patients are comparatively small, amounting to 16 percent to 25 percent of the total tally. By far, the most expensive part of dementia care is the cost of caring for patients, either in nursing homes or their own homes. (The New York Times, 4/3/13) 

Clinicians Urged to Report Problems with CPT Codes: Clinicians are being urged to register with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) any incidents they have encountered with insurers refusing to pay for services in accordance with the new psychiatry section of the American Medical Association's (AMA's) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes — in hope that the organization can help solve problems or, if needed, initiate litigation. Although the new billing and documentation codes went into effect January 1 of this year, there have been reports that some insurance companies have been rejecting bills or reducing rates because of misunderstandings or disagreements over the codes. "CPT code changes were intended to more accurately reflect the work psychiatrists do and improve patient access to care. But the APA said they have been used as an excuse by some payers to discriminate against psychiatric patients and their psychiatrists in violation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. (American Medical Association, 4/3/13) 

Education Organizations Call for School Safety Policies that Support Children’s Well-Being: Leading education organizations have called on Congress and the Administration to enact school safety policies that will genuinely support the well-being and learning of students over the long term, rather than reactive strategies that may cause more harm than good. A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools provides recommendations for improved school safety and access to mental health services for students. The groups caution against excessive emphasis on overly restrictive security measures, such as armed guards and metal detectors, which do not necessarily improve safety and can undermine the school climate and learning. They oppose arming school staff and reiterate that, if a school determines the need for armed security, school resource officers (commissioned police officers trained to work in schools) should be the only armed school personnel of any kind. The full report is available at: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/framework-safe-and-successful-schools.aspx. (National Association of School Psychologists, 4/4/13) 

Experts Worry VA Hiring of Mental Health Counselors May Hurt Community-Based Programs: Some experts are concerned that the hiring of 1,600 additional mental health professionals by the Department of Veterans Affairs could adversely affect already-understaffed community health organizations. Charles Curie, former administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said the recruitment of experienced counselors from community-based organizations would make it difficult for those organizations to replace them. “You might end up just shifting them around,” Curie said. “There could be unintended consequences — more staff for the VA but less for everyone else.” (The Washington Post, 4/6/13) 

Brain Scans May Help Identify Children at Risk for Schizophrenia: Brain scans may help doctors identify and help children at risk for schizophrenia, according a recent study. Researchers performed functional MRI brain scans on 42 children, aged 9 to 18, while they played a game in which they had to identify a simple circle out of a lineup of emotion-triggering images, such as cute or scary animals. Half of the participants had relatives with schizophrenia. The brain scans showed that the circuitry involved in emotion and higher order decision making was "hyperactivated" in children and teens with a family history of schizophrenia. This suggests that the task was stressing out these brain areas, according to the study, which was published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.(HealthDay News, 4/5/13)

In Depth

The Guardian (UK) interviews mental health policy expert Richard Frank, who says: “It is poverty policy that matters in mental health.”

On WBUR, “A Reporter Chronicles Her Own Mental Health Struggles.”

Psychiatric News reports on a panel discussion on challenges to expanding mental health services.

NPR looks at prison overstays and their impact on inmates with mental illness.

The New York Times assesses the use of medications by the military. 

USA Today examines how to deal with stress.

Pacific Standard looks at how mindfulness training boosts test scores.

Time looks at Understanding the rise in ADHD diagnoses

PLOS “Mind the Brain” blog looks at “Dealing with Psychological Trauma in Children: Answers from Neuroscience, Community Initiatives, and Clinical Trials for Treating Childhood PTSD.”

Latest Research

College Sports May Raise Risk of Depression: Current college athletes are twice as likely to be depressed as former athletes, researchers report. Investigators from Georgetown University examined questionnaires completed by 117 current and 163 former college athletes who had participated in Division I NCAA-sponsored sports. The current athletes played in 10 different sports and the former athletes had played in 15 different sports. Nearly 17 percent of current athletes had questionnaire scores consistent with depression, compared with 8 percent of former athletes, researchers report in the journal Sports Health. Current athletes may be more likely to be depressed because of the effects of overtraining, injury, pressure to perform, lack of free time, or trying to juggle athletics and schoolwork. The additional stress of playing high-level sports appears to add to that stress, according to researchers. (HealthDay News, 4/5/13) 

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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