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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of December 16, 2013

TODAY’S HEADLINE

People with an irregular heartbeat may also be at increased risk of being depressed…more

NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA

Mental Health America Faults Rep. Tim Murphy’s Legislation for Jeopardizing Role for Consumers and Their Recovery.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace: Mental Health America has released a toolkit with a wealth of information and resources.

Mental Health America Produces Comprehensive, Objective Resource Describing Principal Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Mental Health Conditions.

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.

NEWS FOR THE FIELD

SAMHSA Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Toolkit: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a training resource toolkit, developed through the Enrollment Coalitions Initiative, entitled “Getting Ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace.”  The toolkit will assist organizations with outreach, education and enrollment of individuals in the Health Insurance Marketplace. It is composed of three sections: A description of the health care law, how it works, and why it is important for uninsured individuals with behavioral health conditions; An explanation of how the Health Insurance Marketplace works, how to apply for health coverage and where to get help; and Numerous communication ideas and materials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that can be used to raise awareness and encourage uninsured individuals to enroll. The toolkit has been developed in six slightly different 30-minute, interactive formats, each of which can be accessed and viewed online: http://tiny.cc/GettingReady (General information); http://tiny.cc/CommunityPrevention; http://tiny.cc/ConsumerPeerFamily; http://tiny.cc/HomelessServices; http://tiny.cc/CriminalJustice; http://tiny.cc/TreatmentProviders.

Become a Champion for Coverage: Help make sure all Americans can get the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. Go to http://marketplace.cms.gov/help-us/champion.html.

IN THE NEWS

Psychiatrists Less Likely than Doctors to Accept Insurance: Psychiatrists are significantly less likely than doctors in other specialties to accept insurance, researchers say in a new study. Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the study found that 55 percent of psychiatrists accepted private insurance, compared with 89 percent of other doctors. It also found that 55 percent of psychiatrists accept patients covered by Medicare, against 86 percent of other doctors. And 43 percent of psychiatrists accept Medicaid, while 73 percent of other doctors do. Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association, suggested several reasons for the disparities. Payments by insurers for many services provided by psychiatrists are relatively low, Dr. Sharfstein said. Treatment is often subject to burdensome and intrusive review by managed care companies, he said, and “there are always concerns about confidentiality.” (The New York Times, 12/11/13)

Public Health Approach Urged to Reduce Gun Violence: The most effective way to reduce gun violence without significantly curtailing Second Amendment rights is to treat the problem as a public health issue, like smoking or drunken driving, rather trying to profile potential shooters, according to a report released by a panel of experts who were commissioned by the American Psychological Association to study the issue in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy. The panel reviewed evidence on a wide variety of interventions intended to reduce violence, including suicides and homicides, in schools and in the workplace. It concluded that trying to predict who will act out by profiling was unreliable, and that more systemic preventive policies were far more effective. (The New York Times, 12/12/13)

Biden Announces $100 Million in Government Funding for Mental Health: Vice President Joseph Biden last week announced the federal government will make $100 million available to increase access to mental health services and improve mental health facilities. “The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable,” Biden said. Biden said the $100 million in new funds will include $50 million for community health centers to establish or expand services for people with mental illness or addiction.  The centers can use these funds, made available through the Affordable Care Act, for efforts such as hiring new mental health care professionals and adding mental health and substance use services. Another $50 million will help finance construction, expansion, or improvement of mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years. These funds, made available through the Department’s Community Facilities direct loan program, can be used to improve or construct mental health service facilities or put in place innovative tools such as telemedicine to expand access to mental health services at rural schools, community centers, hospitals, and other community-based settings. (NBCNews.com, 12/10/13)

Study—Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Depression: People with an irregular heartbeat may also be at increased risk of being depressed, according to a new German study. The added risk was small, researchers found, but it's in keeping with other studies linking heart disorders with depression. Researchers used data on 10,000 German adults for the new study. Most did not have an irregular heartbeat, but 309 did. The researchers compared the average depression scores for people with irregular heartbeat to the scores of people without the condition. Depression was measured on a scale of zero to 27, with higher scores indicating more severe depression. On average, people with irregular heartbeat scored a four, compared to an average score of three among those without the irregular heartbeat. In either group's case, the score wouldn't be enough to warrant treatment for depression. The study also can't answer whether one condition leads to the other or if they simply share a common cause. (Reuters, 12/12/13)

Mental Health Legislation Introduced to Loosen Privacy Protections, Unravel SAMHSA Programs: Rep. Tim Murphy(R-Pa.) introduced legislation that he says will help fix the nation’s broken mental health system and let families and individuals get treatment for those who need it. The bill, which proposes to loosen privacy laws and commitment standards, drew praise and criticism. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, said in a press release that his organization cannot ignore the troubling provisions included in this bill, including the loosening of privacy standards and the expanded use of involuntary commitment, and must reject any effort that would undermine the role of consumers in their recovery and limit the availability of mental health and addiction support services by persons who have experienced mental health and substance use conditions. He said the bill would also unravel key programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (MHH Reporting, 12/16/13)

IN DEPTH

Scientific American reports on Unraveling the Mystery of How Anti-depression Drugs Work

Cnn looks at raising a child with mental illness.

Kaiser Health News/NPR report “Promises To Fix Mental Health System Still Unfulfilled.”

NPR looks at “Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges.”

Readers respond to a New York Times op-ed by David Brooks: Understanding Suicide: Mental Illness, Not Irony

Discover looks at how nature and nurture affects genes.

The New York Times looks at “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder.”

Latest Research

Threatening, Screaming at Teens Place Them at Higher Risk for Depression, Other Problems: Threatening or screaming at teenagers may put them at higher risk for depression and disruptive behaviors such as rule-breaking, according to a new study. For the study, which was published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, 239 troubled adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 filled out surveys that asked if they were hit, called names, or subjected to other forms of physical or verbal violence over the past year. All of the kids in the study had been referred to a community clinic due to mental health or behavioral problems. Their mothers had to be both verbally and physically abusive to increase the kids' risk for depression and behavior issues. Parents of the youths also participated, reporting their behaviors in the same time frame. Fifty-one percent of the adolescents said they'd experienced serious physical or verbal aggression, or both, from one or two parents. Having a mother who both screamed and hit increased the risk for mental health problems (such as anxiety, depression, and rule-breaking behaviors) to an even greater extent than having a mother who was aggressive in only one way. Adolescents whose parents were also physically violent toward them—hitting, choking, or threatening them with a gun or knife—had an even higher risk for mental illness and behavioral problems. (Reuters, 12/10/13)

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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