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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 13, 2014

Debbie Plotnick, Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, writes on CNN on How to Stop Tragic Shootings of People with Mental Illness.

Mental Health America Calls Changes to Part D Protected Drug Classes Harmful to Consumers.

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

Smoking Rates Still High among People with Mental Illness: Smoking rates among Americans with mental illness did not change from 2004 to 2011, a period during which rates in the rest of the population fell 14 percent, according to a new study. Researchers tracked smoking rates among 165,269 participants. The overall smoking rate was higher among adults with mental illness (28.2 percent) than among those without mental illness (17.5 percent), which was expected, because many previous studies have noted an approximately twofold higher rate of smoking among people with mental illness. In an initial, unadjusted analysis of the data, the smoking rate dropped from 19.5 percent to 15.6 percent in adults without mental illness, compared with a much smaller decline from 28.8 percent to 27.0 percent in those with mental illness. However, individuals with mental illness who were undergoing treatment showed somewhat greater quit rates than those who were untreated (37.2 percent versus 33.1 percent). (MedPage Today, 1/7/14)

Mental Disorders in Mid-Life and Older Adulthood May Be Substantially More Prevalent than Previously Reported: Common methods of assessing mental or physical disorders may consistently underestimate the prevalence of mental disorders among middle-aged and older adults, a new study finds. The analysis, published in the online edition of JAMA Psychiatry, reveals substantial discrepancies among mid-life and late-life adults in reporting past mental health disorders, including depression, compared with physical disorders such as arthritis and hypertension. The true burden of mental-health disorders might be underestimated by most studies because they use a certain common survey approach to assess the percentage of people with these conditions, researchers say. Such studies estimate the percentage of people who have mental health disorders over their entire lifetime, based on information gathered during one-time interviews, in which people are asked to recall any illness they had in the past. However, people may not always remember their medical history accurately, the researchers say. For the study, researchers followed 1,000 people of various ages in Baltimore over 25 years, interviewing them four times between 1981 and 2005. Using the information from all of the interviews, they found the rates of six mental disorders to be considerably higher than those ascertained based on just the last interview, which is called the retrospective method and is commonly used in studies. The findings are believed to be the first to examine retrospective evaluations versus cumulative assessments among older adults. (The Huffington Post, 1/9/14)

Suicides of Young Veterans Higher than Active-Duty Troops: Young veterans just out of the service and receiving health care from the government took their own lives at nearly three times the rate of active-duty troops in recent years, according to data by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The rate of suicides of veterans ages 18-24 enrolled in the VA's health program was 46 per 100,000 in 2009 and nearly 80 per 100,000 in 2011. Non-veterans of the same age had a suicide rate during 2009 and 2010 of about 20 per 100,000, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Experts say a similar pattern was found during the Vietnam era. A positive sign in the new data, officials say, is that suicide rates for male veterans of all ages who are diagnosed and treated for mental health problems by the VA have fallen steadily from 2001-2011, in contrast to suicide patterns among non-veteran males. The same is not true for female veterans, whose suicide rates have not improved and remain higher than women who are not veterans. (USA Today, 1/10/14)

IN DEPTH

The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by police departments to respond to job-related stress and trauma.

The New York Times examines rules for mental health parity.

AP looks at school mental health screening.

Latest Research

Mental Health Crisis May Be Better Serviced in Homelike Environment rather Than ER: Persons in a mental health crisis may be better served in an alternative recovery-oriented, homelike environment instead of a traditional emergency department, according to new research. A research team interviewed 18 participants who spent time at The Living Room—an outpatient, voluntary program for persons in emotional distress, operated by Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, and funded through the Illinois Department of Mental Health. The program, which is staffed with a licensed professional counselor, registered nurse and trained peer counselors, is in a space that is arranged and furnished like a living room in a person's home. According to the study's findings, The Living Room helped people with emotional distress or mental illness address their crisis within the context of their life, which helped them utilize their own strengths by talking through problems, calming down and problem-solving to help their illness. Specific interventions by The Living Room staff were cited in the study as being identified by guests as "helpful and caring." Those interventions included "being understanding, attentive and respectful, exploration of coping techniques and use of a gentle, calming voice." (News-Medical.net, 1/8/14)

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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