Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 14, 2011
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of March 14, 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 Massachusetts law requiring doctors to offer routine mental health screening to all children in the state's Medicaid program has resulted in an increase in the rates of those screened...more
IN THE NEWS
States Make Severe Cuts to Mental Health Funding
Over two-thirds of states have cut a cumulative $1.8 billion from mental health services between fiscal years 2009 and 2011, according to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia cut their mental health budgets by more than 10 percent. The actual impact may be worse because federal stimulus money has cushioned the blow by pumping $103 billion into the states through Medicaid since early 2009. The money has been keeping state-run health insurance programs afloat for the last two years, but it will end this summer. (Associated Press, 3/14/11)
House Republicans Eye Prevention Fund for Repeal
House Republicans may repeal mandatory spending in the health care law, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Because the fund is considered mandatory, it is shielded from cuts in discretionary spending. Democrats say the will fight the effort and that the Senate would block such a move. (MHH Reporting, 3/14/11)
U.S. Has Highest Lifetime Rate of Bipolar Disorder
The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder, an 11 nation study finds. About 4.4 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lifetime, researchers report in the Archives of General Psychiatry. That compares to 2.4 percent of people around the world. India had the lowest rate at 0.1 percent. The study also reports that fewer than half of people with the disorder were treated by a mental health professional, and only a quarter of those in lower-income countries sought treatment. (CNN, 3/7/11)
Teen Eating Disorders May Be More Widespread Than Thought
A larger number of teens suffer from eating disorders and struggle with depression than previously thought, according to new research. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health found that many adolescents also have suicidal thoughts that go along with their anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating. The study, reported online in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that up to two-and-a-half percent of teens suffered from an eating disorder. When broken down by gender, the research found both boys and girls were equally prone to anorexia. But girls were far more prone to develop bulimia or to start binge-eating. (HealthDay News, 3/7/11)
Massachusetts Law Increased Number of Children Screened
A Massachusetts law requiring doctors to offer routine mental health screening to all children in the state's Medicaid program has resulted in an increase in the rates of those screened, according to a study of the program. From 2008 to the first quarter of 2000, the percentage of children screened increased from 17 percent to 54 percent. During the same period, the percentage of screened children who were identified as at risk dropped slightly, but because of the greater use of screening, the overall number of at-risk children increased from about 1,600 to about 5,000, researchers reported online in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. (Medpage Today, 3/9/11)
Iraq, Afghanistan Vets Struggle to Find Work
The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is over 20 percent, and mental health issues are one of the factors preventing many vets from finding jobs. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said veterans have told her they take their military experience off their resumes because they fear a potential employer will decide they're at risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and won't hire them. (Associated Press, 3/11/11)
Colorado Bill Seeks to Limit Use of Solitary Confinement
Colorado legislators are seeking to limit the number of inmates with mental illness who can be placed into solitary confinement. The legislation would require state prisons to have a physician evaluate inmates with such illnesses as bipolar mood disorders or paranoid schizophrenia before they're placed in solitary confinement. A state report found that the percentage of Colorado inmates with mental health problems who were placed in solitary confinement more than doubled between 1999 and 2008, and many were released from prison without having a chance to readjust to human interaction. (Pueblo Chieftain, 3/13/11)
Federal Government Investigating Mississippi Mental Health Funding
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the state of Mississippi on whether it is discriminating against disabled persons by funding large psychiatric institutions at the expense of community-based care. The state never carried out a 2001 plan to implement a Supreme Court ruling that barred states from over-reliance on institutions. The Justice Department now is looking into whether state-operated residential facilities are providing the "most integrated settings possible" to people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. (Jackson Clarion Ledger, 3/12/11)
The Center for Public Integrity reports on a national examination of mental health funding and the impact of cuts in services.
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
A column in The Tennessean argues against further cuts to mental health services.
The Huffington Post on advice for those with a loved one with a mental illness.
Negative Classroom Environments Affect Children's Mental Health: Children who attend classrooms with inadequate materials and who are taught by teachers who feel they are not respected by colleagues exhibit more mental health problems than students in classrooms without these issues, a new study finds. The study, reported in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, used a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,700 first graders, whose parents and teachers were interviewed. The researchers found that students in classrooms with fewer resources and teachers who didn't feel supported by colleagues were more likely to experience problems in several mental health areas, including attentiveness, fighting, anxiety and sadness, and the formation of friendships. (HealthDay News, 3/9/11)
Depressed Dads of Young Children More Likely to Abuse: Fathers of young children who are depressed are more likely to spank their one year olds, according to a new study. Researchers, who reported their findings in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed data on 1,746 fathers from a nationally representative survey in 16 large U.S. cities, conducted in 1999-2000. About 7 percent of those surveyed were depressed and of that group about 40 percent said they had spanked their kids. Just 13 percent of fathers who weren't depressed spanked their child. Most of those surveyed had recent contact with their child's doctor. Researchers said that was a missed opportunity to get help. (Medpage Today, 3/14/11)
AT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: Headlines and Highlights
Sarah Steverman, Director of State Policy, remarks on the difficulties created by state cuts to mental health funding in a national Associated Press story.
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Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.
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