Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 21, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of February 21, 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.
A new study suggests that the psychological impact of the BP oil spill extends beyond communities that were directly exposed to it...more
IN THE NEWS
Funding To Implement Health Care Law Removed From House Spending Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to block implementation of part of the new health care law during its consideration of legislation to fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2011. The bill also significantly reduces funding for public health programs, including for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The bill now goes to the Senate, which is in recess this week. An agreement on funding levels must be reached by March 4 to avert a government shutdown. (MHH Reporting, 2/22/11)
NBA Star Lobbies for Mental Health in Schools Bill
Basketball star Ron Artest, who is helping raise money for mental health programs, lobbied Congress last week to support the Mental Health in Schools Act. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), would provide $200 million in grants to put licensed mental health professionals in schools. (The Hill, 2/17/11)
Many Underage Drinkers Getting Alcohol from Adults
Many underage drinkers are getting alcohol directly from a parent, guardian or another adult relative, according to a new federal study. The report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that some 709,000 youngsters aged 12 to 14 in the United States are drinking beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages. Nearly 6 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds drank alcohol in the past month and almost half of them got their drinks at home or from family members, according to study. (The Baltimore Sun, 2/21/11)
Report Urges Better Efforts to Stem Soldier Suicides
U.S. military officials should improve efforts to identify those at-risk and the quality and access to behavioral health treatment to stem the sharp rise in suicides among the armed forces, a new study finds. The RAND Corporation said needed changes include making service members aware of the advantages of using behavioral health care, ensuring that providers and chaplains are delivering high quality care, and assuring that service members can receive confidential help for their problems. The report was requested by the Defense Department to identify a "state-of-the-art" suicide prevention strategy. (UPI, 2/21/11)
Study Finds Broad Mental Health Impact of BP Spill
A new study suggests that the psychological impact of the BP oil spill extends beyond communities that were directly exposed to it. A study that examined the effects among two Gulf communities-one that was directly exposed to the spill and one that wasn't-finds that residents in both groups displayed significant signs of anxiety and depression during the months following the spill. In addition, individuals in both communities with incomes at risk because of the spill displayed a higher level of anxiety and depression than people with other sources of income. (Discovery News, 2/17/11)
Aide to Giffords Starts Fund to Promote Mental Health Awareness
A congressional aide who was shot in last month's attack in Arizona that killed six and left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others wounded has announced a fund to promote mental health awareness and civility. Ron Barber, Giffords' district director, said that he wants to fund programs in schools and the community that will take some of the stigma away from mental illness. The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding was started with an undisclosed donation from Barber's family. (Associated Press, 2/17/11)
California Watch reports on how health reform will boost mental health coverage.
NPR interviewed geriatric psychiatrist Marc Agronin, who argues that seniors should receive greater attention or treatment for mental health conditions.
The Chicago Tribune on new programs in schools to help prevent teen suicide.
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
Resilience Gene May Promote Better Relationships in Troubled Families: Children who have what is called a resilience gene may be able to maintain better relationships with parents who have substance use or mental health problems than those who do not have the gene, according to a new study. Researchers assessed 226 children who were age 9 to 17. More than 59 percent of the children had a parent reporting a substance use or mental health condition or criminal problem. About one-third carried the resilience gene. The study, reported in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, found that over a three-month period children with the gene who lived in problematic households reported significantly fewer arguments and far more enjoyable interactions with their parents than did children without it. (HealthDay News, 2/16/11)
Peer Support May Reduce Depression Symptom Better Than Traditional Care: Peer support appears to be a low-cost and effective way to reduce depression symptoms, a new study finds. Programs in which patients received support from volunteers were found to reduce depression symptoms better than traditional care alone and were about as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy, the researchers found. Reported online in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, the researchers note that peer support has been found to decrease isolation, reduce stress, increase the sharing of health information and provide role models. Peer support programs may also empower patients to play a more active role in their own self-care, they write. (HealthDay News, 2/18/11)
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