Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 22, 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?
More than half of low-income urban mothers show signs of depression at some point between two weeks and 14 months after giving birth…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Obama Proposes Giving Government Power to Block Rate Increases
The White House this morning posted on its website President Obama’s comprehensive health care reform plan that includes a proposal to give the government power to deny or modify health insurance rate increases. The proposal responds to news that Anthem Blue Cross would increase premiums by as much as 39 percent in California and Washington. A federal report released last week found that private insurers have requested substantial premium increases over the past year by up to 56 percent in Michigan, 24 percent in Connecticut and 23 percent in Maine. The new federal authority would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to review and block increases in rates. The President’s plan delays the start of new tax on high-end insurance plans until 2008; creates an exchange system; rescinds an agreement giving Nebraska a subsidy for Medicaid; and proposes using reconciliation to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. (MHH Reporting, 2/22/10)
Summit Could Determine Success or Failure of Reform
President Obama’s health care reform plan will be discussed at a summit on Thursday that may well determine the future course of health reform in Congress. The meeting will be televised live on C-SPAN. The White House has indicated that the President hopes the summit will “cleanse” the health care reform process. (ABC News, 2/22/10)
More Children Have Chronic Diseases
Twice as many children have chronic diseases as two decades ago, according to new research. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds that more than half of children ages 8 to 14 have had a long-term health problem at some point, such as obesity, asthma, a learning disability or other ailment. Although the percentage of children with a current chronic disease rose to 25 percent in 2000-2006, the percentage of kids who never had a chronic illness grew to 52 percent over the same time. The study’s authors say much of the increase in chronic diseases was the result of obesity. (USA Today, 2/17/10)
Mental Health Advocates Raise Concerns About Anti-Energy Drink
Mental health advocates in Dallas, Texas, are raising concerns that an anti-energy drink sold at convenience stores resembles an illegal homemade cough syrup known as "purple drank." The drink, which is labeled Drank, bills itself as an “Extreme Relaxation Beverage.” The sugary drink contains the hormone melatonin and the herb valerian root, and the can carries this warning: "This product may cause drowsiness. Not recommended more than 2 servings within a 24 hour period." Representatives of mental health groups plan to educate the public about the product and encourage retailers to stop selling it. (Dallas Morning News, 2/18/10)
Many Vets Don’t Receive Treatment for PTSD
U.S. veterans often don’t receive treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), researchers say. Although 50,000 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars received a diagnosis of PTSD between 2002 and 2008, fewer than 10 percent of those completed the recommended treatment of 10 to 12 weekly sessions within four months. Over a year’s time, the number only grew to fewer than 30 percent. Some types of veterans are less likely to receive recommended care: males, veterans who are under the age of 25, those who live in rural areas and those who got their diagnoses at primary-care clinics and needed referrals to mental health programs, according to a report published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. (HealthDay News, 2/16/10)
Report Calls for Seeping Reforms in Illinois Nursing Homes
Mental health advocates praised a report released last week that calls for sweeping reforms to address violence in Illinois nursing homes. The task force was formed in October when reports surfaced of violence, negligence and sub-standard care among patients. Its findings blame violence on the state's "over-reliance on nursing homes" to house the mentally ill after closures of state mental institutions. The report repeatedly calls for more community-based services and supportive housing for people with serious mental illness. Advocates say the mentally ill would receive better care at a much lower cost to the state if the reforms are implemented. (Peoria Journal Star, 2/19/10)
Wisconsin’s Suicide Rate Rises
Wisconsin’s suicide rate is higher than those of neighboring states and has been higher than the national rate for about a decade. Some experts say the high rate could be linked to several factors, including a high rate of binge drinking and lack of mental health care in rural areas. Mental health officials and advocates say the rate for 2009 will probably be affected by rising unemployment rates and the resulting loss of health insurance, financial security and support and connection from colleagues. Calls to suicide crisis centers in the state have increased since the recession began. Officials say some of the suicide attempts have been due directly to loss of jobs. (Madison.com, 2/20/10)
Surgeon General To Launch Mental Health Campaign for African-Americans
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will launch a national campaign on Tuesday to raise awareness of mental health problems among young adults in the African-American community. Benjamin will unveil three new television public service announcements to coincide with the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Mental Health Awareness Day and discuss the issue plaguing African Americans. (MHH Reporting 2/22/10)
Poverty Raises Risk of Postpartum Depression: More than half of low-income urban mothers show signs of depression at some point between two weeks and 14 months after giving birth, according to a new study. The study involved 198 mothers who were 18 years of age or older and whose children were no older than 14 months. The mothers attended well-child visits at the outpatient pediatric clinic at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester. The researchers found that 56 percent of the mothers, after a diagnostic interview, met the criteria for a diagnosis of a major or minor depressive disorder. Researchers say the study is the first to describe the prevalence of depression among low-income urban mothers, who were attending well-child care visits. It also is the first study of this population group to test the accuracy of three depression screening tools routinely used by physicians. (ScienceDaily, 2/20/10)
Flexible Work Hours Boost Mental, General Health: Workers who had more control over their schedules and workdays saw improvements in both physical and mental health, according to researchers. But they found that mandatory overtime and fixed-term contracts had absolutely no positive effects on health outcomes. Researchers, who report their findings in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, conducted a systematic review of 10 studies that assessed the health effects of working arrangements that provided flexibility to the worker and those that were decided by employers. Overall, the researchers found that situations that gave the employee more control over scheduling have positive effects on health and well-being, particularly with regard to blood pressure, sleep, and mental health. On the other hand, workers with fixed-term contracts or mandatory overtime experienced no significant beneficial effects on physical, mental, or general health. (MedPage Today, 2/19/10)
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Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
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- Survey reveals obstacles to health care for people who have schizophrenia
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
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