Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of September 19, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of September 19, 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.
[NOTE: Mental Health in the Headlines will not publish the week of September 26. Our next issue will be October 3.]
The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease—could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, and mental illness will account for a third of the total…more
IN THE NEWS
Obama Deficit Plan Includes Changes to Medicaid
A deficit reduction plan released by President Obama includes a proposal to create a “blended” rate for federal Medicaid payments. Many states oppose the rate. The plan would combine the various formulas into a single rate, which would be less than what the federal government currently pays. Although that would save the federal government money, states say it would simply shift costs to them. The proposal also includes steps that would save states some money. (The Hill, 9/19/11)
Child Abuse Rose during Recession
Incidences of child abuse, mostly in infants, increased during the recession, a new study finds. Researchers collected data on 422 abused children younger than five years from mostly lower income families in 74 counties in four states. Unemployment rates in the 74 counties rose during the five-year study, and the proportion of children on Medicaid in those counties also increased, from 77 percent before the recession to 83 percent after. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Pediatrics, found that the number of cases of shaken baby syndrome or other forms of brain-injuring abuse rose from about 9 cases per 100,000 children in pre-recession years, to almost 15 per 100,000 children during the recession—a 65 percent increase. (Associated Press, 9/18/11)
Chronic Disease to Cost $47 Trillion in 20 Years; Mental Illness a Third of Total
The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease—could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a new study. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimated the cumulative output loss caused by the illnesses represents around 4 percent of annual global GDP over the coming two decades. Mental health will account for $16 trillion, a third of the overall $47 trillion anticipated costs. The World Health Organization says these diseases can be prevented and treated for as little as $1.20 per person. The findings were released in advance of a United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases. (Reuters, 9/18/11)
Study: Oregon’s Parity Law Improved Coverage at Minimal Cost
Oregon’s mental health parity law improved coverage without increasing costs, a new study finds. The study, a comparison of four years of cost data for more than 100,000 people subject to parity and nearly 19,000 people whose self-insurance plans were not subject to the law, found that there were similar increases in spending on mental health and substance abuse for both groups. The study concludes: "Expenditures attributable to the parity law were ... close to zero." Experts say the finding rebuts arguments that both the Oregon law and the federal mental health parity act is unaffordable and prevents managed-care organizations from putting sideboards on mental health and substance abuse treatment. (The Oregonian, 9/18/11)
Study: Suicidal Teens Rarely Receive Treatment
Few suicidal teens receive the treatment and care they need, a new study reports. The researchers found only 13 percent of teenagers with suicidal thoughts visited a mental health professional through their health care network, and only 16 percent received treatment during the year, even though they were eligible for mental health visits without a referral and with relatively low co-payments. In the study, reported in the journal Academic Pediatrics, researchers analyzed the use of health care services among 198 teens ranging in age from 13 to 18 years. Half of the teenagers had had suicidal thoughts; the other half did not. The researchers found mental health services were underused among all of the teens studied. Although 86 percent of the teens with suicidal thoughts had seen a health care provider, only 13 percent had seen a mental health specialist. Just 7 percent received antidepressants, the study found. (HealthDay News, 9/16/11)
People with Depression Don’t Reveal Symptoms to Physicians
People suffering from depression may not bring it up with their doctor for a number of reasons, a study finds. One of the most common reasons is that they are afraid of getting a recommendation for antidepressants. The study, reported in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, surveyed 1,054 adults about why they wouldn't tell their primary care physician about depression symptoms, as well as their beliefs about the condition. The common reasons reported by participants was the fear of being put on medication, a belief that a doctor isn’t the person to handle such issues, and worries over privacy. At least 10 percent of the participants said that fear of being referred to a counselor or psychiatrist and being branded a psychiatric patient were stumbling blocks. Those who had more barriers to talking to their doctors about depression were likely to be female, Hispanic, with less education and lower income. (Los Angeles Times, 9/12/11)
Scientists Link Genes with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder
A pair of new studies has pinpointed genetic blips connected to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which could pave the way for new drugs and management strategies. Each study examined genetic information for tens of thousands of people in what’s called a genome-wide association study or GWAS, and found a handful of genes connected with the conditions. One study found five new genetic variants associated with schizophrenia. In the other paper, scientists used a GWAS to zero in on genes that occur in people with bipolar disorder. (WBEZ, 9/19/11)
Molecular Changes Linked to Depression in Women
Researchers have located molecular changes in brains of women who suffer from extreme depression that would assist in better understanding of the condition. The researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, observed brain tissue samples of 21 women who were suffering from extreme depression and similar number of women who did not had any depression problem. In the depressed women, they found brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and the genes in neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) were present at a reduced level. The researchers concluded that low level of BDNF is responsible for depression and the abridged GABA function also plays the significant role in developing depression. (Psychcentral.com, 9/19/19)
Indonesians with Mental Illness Placed in Cages, Chained
An estimated 30,000 Indonesians with mental illness are placed in cages and chained because of stigma and lack of access to treatment. Last year, the government’s department of mental health announced “Meuju Bebas Pasung,” a roadmap to free people in chains. Although officials have worked to reach communities and raise awareness, the task is difficult because mental health remains low on the government’s list of priorities. (Globalpost, 9/12/11)
CNN looks at mental illness in China.
The Casper (WY) Tribune reports on efforts to curb suicide among Native Americans.
NPR examines the continuing mental health impact of the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri.
The Los Angeles Times interviews a psychiatrist on responding to school bullying.
The Chicago Tribune examines the growing population of individuals with mental illness in jail.
Time interviews Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University, who says that evidence-based therapies aren't getting to the people who need them.
Children with ADHD More Likely to be Injured: Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are twice as likely to be injured badly enough to need medical attention as other children are, a new study finds. For the study, researchers analyzed data from questionnaires filled out by the parents of 4,745 fifth graders in Houston, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Alabama, that assessed ADHD symptoms. The parents of children who scored in the 90th percentile for symptoms of ADHD were nearly twice as likely to report their child had been injured in the previous year as the parents of kids in the lowest percentile (10th percentile) for ADHD symptoms. The researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal American Pediatrics, noted that kids with ADHD often take more risks and their impulsive behavior is strongly associative with injuries. (USA Today, 9/16/11)
Outdoor Activity May Reduce Severity of ADHD Symptoms: An increase in outdoor activity may reduce the severity of a child’s symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study asserts. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, studied more than 400 children diagnosed with ADHD. They discovered those who regularly play in outdoor settings with abundant grass and trees have milder ADHD symptoms than those who play indoors or in built outdoor environments. Researchers found the findings held true even when factoring in other factors such as socioeconomic status. (News-Medical.net, 9/16/11)
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