Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 5, 2012


Week of March 5, 2012

Mental 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.


One in four people with mental illness experience violence of some type in a given year…more


Mental Health America Offers Tips for Coping with Shooting at Chardon High School.


Children Involved in Bullying More Likely to Consider Suicide by Age of 11: Children who are bullies and those who are victims of bullying are more likely to consider suicide by time they are 11 than their peers, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed bullying among more than 6,000 children ranging in age from 4 to 10, and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts when the same children were 11 and 12. Reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the study found that children who were bullied over a long period of time were six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than children who weren't bullied. Those who were bullies were also at increased risk for self-harm and suicidal thoughts, but the findings were not as consistent for this group, researchers say. (HealthDay News, 3/2/12)

One in Four People with Mental Illness Experience Violence: One in four people with mental illness experience violence of some type in a given year, according to a new analysis. That is a much higher rate than experienced by the rest of the population, researchers report in the journal The Lancet. The odds of a person with mental illness experiencing physical, sexual, or domestic violence were nearly four-fold higher than among adults without any disabilities. Violence against individuals with other disabilities was common as well.  Among those with intellectual impairment, the rate was about 6 percent and about 3 percent for those with other disabilities. (Medpage Today, 2/27/12)

Vet Who Called Suicide Line Offered Diversion Instead of Prosecution: The Gulf War Veteran who was being prosecuted for gun violations after calling a suicide hotline last year, will be offered court-mandated counseling at a new Veterans Treatment Court  that will avoid prosecution under an agreement reached last week. Sean Duvall was charged with making a homemade weapon following a call for help to a confidential crisis line run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans and mental health advocates had protested the case, saying they feared prosecution would have a chilling effect on other vets who are in need of help. After U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy reviewed the case, he said he thought that “maybe we ought to take a deep breath.” The veterans court, he said, would help Duvall fix “the underlying issue that led to the commission of this crime.” (The Washington Post, 2/29/12)

Vet Advocates Say VA Not Implementing Mental Health Services Required Under Law: Advocates for veterans say the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is failing to implement steps required under a law Congress passed two years ago to improve services. The dispute relates to two mental health initiatives: one to establish a network of peer counselors so that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have someone to consult with who shares their war experience; the other to give the families of National Guard and reserve members temporary access to mental health services at VA facilities. The VA says it already offers peer support and family counseling at about 300 vet centers around the country. About two-thirds of the workers are veterans. Rather than create an entirely new program, the department has told lawmakers that it's meeting the bill's requirements through existing services. They expected the VA to establish a peer support network consisting of Iraq and Afghanistan vets at each of its 152 hospitals. They also expected family members of guardsmen and reservists to temporarily have access to the full range of mental health services available at the VA's hospitals and its nearly 800 outpatient clinics. "The language in the bill was not written with the precision that you would like to see, but you can't read a provision of law and say it has no meaning, which is essentially what the VA is doing," said Ralph Ibson, national policy director for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit group that assists injured service members and veterans. "To say we're already doing this is to say Congress is an ass." (Associated Press, 3/2/12)

New College Mental Health Guide Released: The Jed Foundation, a national nonprofit group focused on preventing suicide by college students, and the Education Development Center have released a free resource, Campus MHAP: A Guide to Campus Mental Health Action Planning, to guide colleges in developing plans to help students who are suffering emotionally. The guide details how to combat emotional distress and suicide on campuses with prevention strategies and methods. It outlines a step-by-step process to define institution-specific goals, create programs and policies, and assess their effects. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/1/12)

College Degree Linked to Better Mental Health: Individuals who attain a college degree after their mid-20’s demonstrate fewer depressive traits and better self-judged health than people who complete their education later in life, according to a new study. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study compared people in their 20’s to people in their 40s who returned to school and obtained their highest degree after age 25, the typical age when students complete their education. People who get their bachelor’s degrees at ages 24 to 26 showed fewer depressive symptoms by the midpoint of their lives. Additionally, those who got a bachelor’s around the midpoint rated their own health better than those with a high school diploma. The effect also held true for people who attained an associate's degree after reaching age 25 and who later went on to receive a bachelor's degree, according to the study. (The Huffington Post, 3/1/12)


Our Health Policy Matters argues that cuts to mental health programs will lead to increased health costs.

CNN examines “Finding 'new normal' after school shooting.”

NPR looks at pet therapy.

New America Media addresses the debate over revisions to the DSM.             

The Huffington Post has a column on “Trauma and Adversity in Childhood: History Need Not Be Destiny.”

Public Radio International’s “The Takeaway” examines state cuts to mental health services.

Inside Higher Ed looks at when it’s appropriate to notify the parents of a student who may be contemplating suicide.

Latest Research

Children with Depressed Father More Likely to Have Behavior Problems: Children with a depressed father are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems than their peers, according to new research. Researchers studied data on more than 7,200 U.S. households. Published in Maternal and Child Health Journal, the study found about 25 percent of kids whose mother and father showed signs of depression had emotional or behavioral issues. About 15 percent of kids whose father had depressive symptoms and 20 percent of kids whose mothers had depressive symptoms had emotional or behavioral issues. About 6 percent of children whose parents did not have symptoms of depression had emotional or behavioral issues. (HealthDay News, 2/29/12)

Young Children Who Snore More Likely to Develop Behavioral Problems by Age 7: Young children who snore or have other breathing issues while sleeping are more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of 7, according to new research. Reported in the journal Pediatrics, the study asked parents about their sleeping and breathing habits. Those who had the worst sleep-disordered breathing were almost twice as likely to have behavioral issues at age 7 as kids whose breathing was normal. Kids were considered to have behavioral issues if their parent's ratings were in the top 10 percent, relative to kids their age, for problem behaviors. The researchers noted the findings only showed only an association between sleep-disordered breathing and behavioral problems, not causality. Children whose symptoms peaked at 6 months or 18 months were 40 percent to 50 percent more likely to have behavioral problems at age 7, compared with normally breathing children. (Medpage Today, 3/5/12)

More News and Views:

Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.

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