Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 10, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter of Mental Health America, offering 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 TRAGEDY IN ARIZONA
The tragedy in Arizona has focused greater attention on the issue of mental health and the system of mental health care.
Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, addresses some of the lessons in a Health Affairs blog post.
Mental Health America issued a statement and provided resources on responding to the tragedy, which can be found here.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bright Light therapy used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder may also be effective in reducing depression symptoms in older adults…more
Health Spending Slowed in 2009
Total health spending rose by 4 percent in 2009, the smallest percentage increase in 50 years. The reduced rate is due to the recession that left many jobless without insurance and forced others to defer medical care. However, health spending ate up a larger share of the gross domestic product—17.6 percent—as the overall economy shrank. Federal spending on Medicaid rose as more signed up for the program and spending increases through money included in the economic stimulus bill passed in 2009.
Survey: Many Youth with Mental Health Conditions Don’t Receive Care
A significant percentage of youth with severe mental disorders do not receive mental health care, according to a new survey. Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the survey found about 36 percent of youth with any lifetime mental disorder received services. Only half of these youth who were severely impaired by their mental disorder received professional mental health treatment. The majority of the children who did receive services had fewer than six visits with a provider over their lifetime. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1/04/11)
Illinois Insurer Drops Prior Approvals for Mental Health Services
An Illinois insurer has dropped a plan that required health plan members to gain prior approval to access outpatient mental health services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois had instituted the policy for its PPO plans, which are the most popular option that the company sells. Health professionals and the Illinois insurance director had fought the plan, which they said violated the federal mental health parity law. (Chicago Tribune, 1/05/11)
Many 9/11 Survivors Suffered from PTSD
Many survivors of the 9/11 World Trade attacks suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder years later. The survey of over 3200 evacuees of the Twin Towers found that nearly all suffered at least one PTSD symptom. Fifteen percent had PTSD two or three years after the attacks. The likelihood of PTSD rose among those who evacuated later, were on high floor, or worked for a company that lost employees in the disaster. (HealthDay News, 1/07/11)
Gene Variant May Contribute to Depression
Researchers have identified a gene variant that influences the risk of developing depression. An analysis of 54 studies found that a gene called 5-HTTLPR accounts for between five and seven percent of a person's chances of becoming clinical depressed. The authors of the study, which is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, say the gene has a relatively small impact on chances of developing depression. But they hope the analysis will help with the discovery of other gene variants that influence depression. (ABC News, 1/04/11)
Study Suggests Newer Antipsychotic Drugs are Overused
Newer antipsychotic drugs are overprescribed to treat conditions like bipolar disorder and depression, researchers assert. Known as atypical antipsychotics, the Food and Drug Administration approved the new drugs for treating schizophrenia, but physicians have been increasingly prescribing them for other conditions, like bipolar disorder, dementia and depression. Although some of the atypical drugs have won U.S. regulatory approval for some of these uses, doctors are also prescribing the drugs for unapproved uses, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. (Reuters, 1/07/11)
ER Visits Due to Prescription Drug Abuse Doubled Over Five Years
Emergency room visits caused by misuse or abuse of prescription drugs nearly doubled over the past five years, according to federal data. The number of visits because of illegal drugs stayed about the same. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that about 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involved prescription drugs last year. (The New York Times, 1/06/11)
The New York Times explores resiliency and the factors that allow people to bounce back from adversity.
A Huffington Post contributor writes on meeting the mental health needs of the elderly.
PTSD Results in Long-Term Health Problems: Combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is more likely to have long-lasting effects on soldiers than concussions or “mild traumatic” brain injuries, according to a new study. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, questioned 953 National Guard soldier deployed in combat. The soldiers were interviewed in Iraq one month before returning home, and again one year later. The study found that 7.6 percent of the soldiers were considered to probably have PTSD at the time of the initial survey. A year later, the number had risen to 18.2 percent. (HealthDay News, 1/03/11)
Light Therapy May Help Treat Depression in Older Adults: Bright Light therapy used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder may also be effective in reducing depression symptoms in older adults, according to a new study. Dutch researchers, whose findings are reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, studied 89 men and women age 60 or older who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In one, participants were given a light-therapy box. The rest of the study participants were given a red light, which has no known benefits. After three weeks of treatment, the light-therapy group showed a greater improvement in scores on a standard measure of depression symptoms. Three weeks after the therapy ended, more people in the light-therapy group had depression scores that dropped by 58 percent versus 34 percent in the control group. (Reuters, 1/05/11)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
New Toolkits Available on Five Key Issues: Mental Health America has created toolkits on five key issues to help advocates navigate emerging trends and the impact of federal legislation on the states. The five toolkits—linked here—cover Health Care Reform, Mental Health Parity, State Budget Advocacy, Criminal Justice and Access to Medications. They offer handy and essential information for advocates, including white papers, fact sheets, sample legislation, talking points, and additional resources.
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Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Mental Health America's Mental Health in the Headlines staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations; Robert Redpath, director, Web Technology.
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