Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 8, 2010
Mental Health in the Headlines offers summaries of the latest news and views 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.
*DID YOU KNOW?
The offspring of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the same illness or another psychiatric condition than those with only one parent with a psychiatric condition…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Obama Making Final Push on Health Reform
President Obama this week will begin making a final push to pass health care reform legislation. In Congress, the first step will be in the House with leaders looking at March 18 for a vote on the Senate’s health care bill. After the House votes, the Senate would use a procedure called reconciliation—which would avoid a filibuster—to make revisions to their version that reflect changes that would be agreed to by House and Senate leaders. This includes eliminating a provision that funds Medicaid coverage for Nebraska. Senate leaders are looking to complete action by March 26. (The New York Times, 3/08/10)
Women Vets Face Roadblocks in Getting Mental Health Care
Women veterans say they face roadblocks in getting care at Department of Veterans Affairs’ health facilities. "Women have experienced the same psychological and emotional trauma as their male counterparts, but the VA has only begun to pay attention to their gender-specific needs,” according to Combat to Community, a 2009 report conducted by the veterans' advocacy group, Swords to Plowshares. Women face problems unique to their gender, including sexual harassment and guilt "over leaving children behind." Some lawmakers are hopeful, however, that they can change the system to help women with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions. Legislation now before Congress calls for new studies on women who've served in Afghanistan and Iraq to find out how war affects their physical, mental and reproductive health. (ABC News, 3/03/10)
Virginia Cutting Back on Mental Health Reforms
Reforms implemented after the Virginia Tech shootings that were designed to improve the state's mental health care system are being undercut by budget cuts. One of the reforms—$42 million in additional spending—fell victim to a 5 percent cut in services. New Governor Robert McDonnell’s budget proposal would impose further cuts that would provide mental health services with less money than was available in 2007, before the Virginia Tech tragedy. In addition, state leaders are proposing closing the state’s last two adolescent treatment units, which serve more than 800 youth. Advocates point out that the treatment programs being cut have proved effective and could over time reduce overall spending. (The Washington Post, 3/07/10)
Media Reports on Pentagon Shooter Show Need for Greater Awareness
Commentators say some in the media have used simplistic and stereotyping language in describing what may have caused John Bedell to shoot two officers at the Pentagon last week. Mental illness alone does not increase the risk of violence and the shooting should be viewed as the exception, not the rule. They say efforts should be made to de-stigmatize mental illness and the myths about mental illness and violence, while encouraging attempts to seek assistance and treatment. The use of shorthand and simplistic language sends the wrong message, they write. (Psychology Today, 3/06/10)
Charges of Abuse Made Against Church of Scientology
Hundreds of Scientologists are defecting from the church and charging they were subjected to abuse. The defectors report members were repeatedly beaten by the church’s chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. They say those in the church are unaware of the abuses experienced by staff members. (The New York Times, 3/07/10)
Schizophrenic Parents' Kids Prone to Mental Disorders: The offspring of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the same illness or another psychiatric condition than those with only one parent with a psychiatric condition, a new study finds. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School examined a population-based cohort of 2.7 million individuals born in Denmark and matched records in a general registry of the population with a database of psychiatric admissions. Their findings, which are published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, show rates of schizophrenia were highest among offspring of two parents with schizophrenia. Of the 196 couples who both had schizophrenia, 27.3 per cent of their children were admitted to a psychiatric facility, increasing to 39.2 per cent when schizophrenia-related disorders were included. This compared with a rate of 7 per cent among offspring of couples in which one parent had schizophrenia and 0.86 per cent in 2.2 million offspring of 1 million couples in which neither parent was admitted for schizophrenia. (HealthDay News, 3/02/10)
Bi-Directional Relationship Found Between Obesity and Depression: People who are obese are at increased risk of becoming depressed, and people who are depressed are at increased risk of becoming obese, researchers report. Dutch scientists reviewed the medical literature up to March 2008 on overweight individuals and obesity and their links to depression. They found that being overweight and obese both increased the risk of onset of depression. At the same time, depression increased the risk for developing obesity. "This meta-analysis confirms a reciprocal link between depression and obesity," the authors write in the Archives of General Psychiatry. (Reuters, 3/04/10)
Asthma Sufferers More Likely to Have Depression: People with asthma are more than twice as likely to have depression or anxiety as people who don't have the condition, according to a new report. Researchers reviewed data from 186,738 adults who had participated in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 2001 and 2007. Among all of the study participants, the average prevalence of serious psychological distress was 3 percent, but in people with asthma, the rate of serious psychological distress was 7.5 percent, the researchers report in the journal Chest. (HealthDay News, 3/04/10)
*HEADLINES at Mental Health America
For Mental Health Month, “Live Your Life Well”: Mental Health America continues its tradition to celebrate "May is Mental Health Month" which began in 1949. This year, our theme "Live Your Life Well" challenges us to promote whole health and wellness in homes, communities, schools, and inform those who don't believe it's attainable.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
The new federal mental health parity law provides important benefits for individuals seeking mental health treatment. "These are serious conditions that get really expensive really quickly," said Kirsten Beronio of Mental Health America. Some families, she noted, have gone bankrupt trying to pay for treatment. The Washington Post, “Parity law requires mental health benefits comparable to physical care benefits,” March 2, 2010
Sound and vibrations-based technology developed by Prescription Audio is being used by military personnel to help with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, says: “Tools like these aren’t substitutes for conventional or professional medical treatment. But they can be important in helping soldiers and civilians find recovery.” Financial Times, “The Satori system finds a civilian role,” March 6, 2010
Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
- New national survey shows economic downturn taking toll on Americans’ mental health
- Survey reveals obstacles to health care for people who have schizophrenia
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
- Join Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network
- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
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, senior director, Web Technology & Strategy..
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