Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of October 31, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of October 31, 2011
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.
Children who suffer head injuries from falls and car accidents can face a long-term reduction in their quality of life…more
IN THE NEWS
New Toolkit Helps Identify Mental Health Conditions in Youth
The Mayo Clinic and mental health experts have developed a toolkit designed to help identify mental health conditions in youth. "This toolkit will allow pediatricians, teachers and others that could help get the word out to families we can close the gap so the three out of four children with mental health disorders who aren't identified do get identified," said Dr. Peter Jensen, who was the lead investigator on the project. Researchers analyzed data collected from more than 6,000 children and parents to identify the most common symptoms of mental health disorders and to see if children with these troubling signs were receiving appropriate care. That information was translated into warning signs that are written in easy-to-understand language. (HealthDay News, 10/28/11)
Pediatricians Recommend Drug, Alcohol Screening for Adolescents
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that all adolescents be screened for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use at every office visit. The organization said pediatricians should use a validated screening tool at routine visits, as well as appropriate acute care visits. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends that universal screening, along with brief intervention or referral, become a part of routine healthcare. AAP noted that adolescents are at the highest risk of experiencing substance use-related acute and chronic health consequences. (Medpage Today, 10/31/11)
Lawmakers Scrutinize SSI
Federal investigators told a Congressional hearing last week that the number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits due to mental disorders is rising while periodic reviews to verify eligibility is less common. Lawmakers requested the review to determine if the program has become vulnerable to fraud and abuse. Advocates defended the program. “Any attempts to cut SSI for low-income children are unacceptable. We cannot allow children who are clearly in need to suffer,” Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, told the panel. The organization is working with over 80 national disability groups to support the children’s SSI program. (Disability Scoop, 10/28/11)
Links to Mental Illness Seen in Fetal Brains
The genes suspected of causing autism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are activated in the developing brain before birth, according to a new analysis. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Nature, also detected hundreds of genetic differences between males and females still in the womb. The analysis examined more than 1,300 tissue samples taken from 57 people at different stages of brain development, ranging from 40 days after conception to 82 years. The researchers found proof that genes linked to autism and schizophrenia are activated while in the womb. (HealthDay News, 10/26/11)
The Atlantic looks at poverty and mental illness.
WBEZ Radio (Chicago) aired a series of stories, “Out of the Shadows,” exploring the fractures in mental health care for children.
Governing looks at Georgia’s overhaul of its mental health system.
WBUR Radio (Boston) examines support for medical homes.
Chemical Linked to Behavioral, Emotional Problems in Young Girls: A chemical used in consumer products could be linked to behavioral and emotional problems in young girls, according to a new study. After tracking 244 Cincinnati-area mothers and their 3-year-olds, the study concluded that mothers with high levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine were more likely to report that their children were hyperactive, aggressive, anxious, depressed and less in control of their emotions than mothers with low levels of the chemical. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of some plastics and can be found in consumer goods and product packaging. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study is the first suggest that a young girl’s emotional well-being is linked to her mother’s exposure during pregnancy rather than the child’s exposure after birth. Researchers say girls may be more sensitive to the chemical in the womb than boys because BPA mimics the female hormone estrogen, which is thought to play a role in behavioral development. (MSNBC, 10/24/11)
Children Who Suffer Head Injuries Face Long-Term Problems: Children who suffer head injuries from falls and car accidents can face a long-term reduction in their quality of life, a new study asserts. Researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 729 children under 18 years of age who were treated for brain injuries at emergency rooms in Seattle and Philadelphia between 2007 and 2008. Most of the injuries resulted from falls and car crashes. The study found that about 85 percent of children with head injuries suffered from mild trauma. Some of those had deficits at three months, but few suffered lasting loss of social and daily life activities. But lasting effects were seen in those with mild injury who also suffered a brain hemorrhage and those who suffered a moderate or severe brain injury. These kids faced obstacles in day-to-day life, school activities and sports at the end of the two-year research period. (HealthDay News, 10/27/11)
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