Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 15, 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?
A simple questionnaire can help primary care doctors screen patients for common mental health conditions…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Still Short of Votes, Democrats Predict Health Reform Will Pass
Although they are short of declared votes, Democrats are predicting health reform will soon be signed into law by President Obama. The House is expected to hold a vote later this week on the Senate’s version of health reform. If that is approved, the Senate will consider a bill that makes changes agreed to by the White House and congressional leaders. The Senate changes would be considered through a process known as reconciliation that prevents a filibuster by allowing approval by a simple majority vote. (The Washington Post, 3/15/10)
Medicare Part D Hasn’t Improved Access for Medication for Depression
A federal program designed to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries has not improved access to medication for those with symptoms of depression, new research asserts. The study finds that the unadjusted annual prevalence of cost-related nonadherence (CRNA) among a nationally representative survey of Medicare beneficiaries with depressive symptoms was 27 percent in 2004 and 2005. Following the introduction of Medicare Part D in 2006, it decreased to 24 percent. More than 6 million individuals acquired Medicare coverage with the introduction of Part D, and the proportion of those without any prescription drug coverage decreased from 23 percent in 2004 to 10 percent in 2006. (Medscape Today, 3/10/10)
12-Year Olds Abusing Inhalants
More 12-year-olds have used inhalants to get high than marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens combined, according to a new report. Using statistics from 2006-2008 national surveys, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that almost seven percent of 12-year-olds report sniffing inhalants, compared to 1.4 percent who say they've used marijuana, 0.7 percent who've used hallucinogens, and 0.1 percent who've used cocaine. About five percent reported using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Inhalants include aerosol computer cleaners, glue, hair sprays, paint solvents and gasoline. When sniffed, the inhalants can cause addiction or sudden death from cardiac arrest. (CNN, 3/11/10)
Advocacy Group That Criticized Disney Evicted from Offices
A small advocacy group that successfully pushed the Walt Disney Company to offer refunds on a popular series of videos for babies has been evicted from offices at a Boston children's mental health center. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood had protested for several years Disney's marketing of its Baby Einstein videos as educational tools, and last October the company agreed to offer money back to purchasers going back to mid-2004.In January, the advocacy group was ordered to leave the Harvard-affiliated Judge Baker Children's Center, which had housed and helped finance it for more than 10 years. The charity's leaders contend the group was forced out after Disney contacted officials at the Judge Baker center. (The New York Times, 3/10/10)
Effects of Parental Depression on Children Can Be Prevented
Over the last 20 years, there has been greater knowledge and understanding of how parents’ depression can increase a child’s risk for mental health problems and other difficulties. At the same time, there is now greater understanding of how to prevent those effects. A number of studies find that teaching children good coping strategies can make a major difference. "We can reverse the effects of parental depression," says William Beardslee, a professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/10)
Senate Passes Jobs Bill with Increase in Medicaid Funding
The U.S. Senate last week passed a jobs bill that includes $25 billion to extend through July an increase in Medicaid funding for the states. The increase, which was originally included in the stimulus bill pasted last year, is currently set to expire at the end of 2010. The bill also includes an extension of unemployment insurance and subsidies for COBRA through Dec 31, 2010. The bill must now be reconciled with a version approved by the House. (MHH Reporting, 3/15/10)
Papers Asserts Few Studies Help Doctors Pick Best Treatment
Few drug evaluations compare treatments in ways that help doctors make better decisions, a new study asserts. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the report found that just 32 percent of the 328 drug studies reviewed involved comparisons of medicines that were currently available. The rest involved either drugs in development, or they pitted available drugs against no treatment or a placebo. The authors also found that drugmakers funded very little of the existing comparative effectiveness research. Nearly 90 percent of such studies were funded by noncommercial institutions such as not-for-profit foundations or government agencies. (Boston Globe, 3/09/10)
Survey Can Help Doctors Diagnose Mental Health Conditions: A simple questionnaire can help primary care doctors screen patients for common mental health conditions, researchers suggest. The questionnaire, called My Mood Monitor, includes 27 questions designed to screen for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The study of 647 adults who completed the questionnaire found that it was effective in screening for any mood or anxiety disorder 83 percent of the time and for a specific disorder 76 percent of the time, researchers report in the Annals of Family Medicine. (HealthDay News, 3/09/10)
Kids With Overprotective Parents Believed to Be More Susceptible To Psychiatric Disorders: Overprotective parents slow their children’s brain growth in an area linked to mental illness, a new study asserts. Kosuke Narita of Gunma University, Japan, scanned the brains of 50 people in their 20s and asked them to fill out a survey about their relationship with their parents during their first 16 years. After analyses, it was discovered that those with overprotective parents had less grey matter in a particular area of the prefrontal cortex than those who had had healthy relationships. This part of the prefrontal cortex develops during childhood, and abnormalities there are common in people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, according to the results, which are published in the journal Progress in NeuroPsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. (New Scientist, 3/10/10)
*HEADLINES at Mental Health America
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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
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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, senior director, Web Technology & Strategy.
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