Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of November 16, 2009
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?
Poor mental health of children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school...more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Senate May Take Up Health Reform This Week
Senate Major Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to finalize the Senate version of health care reform legislation this week. But work on the bill must wait until the Congressional Budget Office concludes its analysis of the cost of the legislation. Decisions still have to be made whether the bill will include an increase in the Medicare payroll tax on wealthy taxpayers, which would reduce a proposed tax on high-price health insurance plans. Labor interests oppose the tax, although it would help slow the growth of the nation’s health care costs. Momentum on health care reform has also been slowed by closer scrutiny of House health bill. An analysis requested by Republicans found Medicare cuts contained in the House bill are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether. (The New York Times, 11/16/09; The Washington Post, 11/15/09)
Business Group Report Endorses Provisions of Reform Plans
A report last week from a major business group endorsed provisions of the health reform plans being considered by Congress. The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from major U.S. companies, said that certain provisions in the bills under consideration by Congress would yield savings for businesses. Those proposals would help reduce health costs by 15 percent to 20 percent by 2019, according to the study. Costs would increase to $28,530 per employee without changes to the current health care system, the group said. It added that the "right legislative reforms" would reduce costs by more than $3,000 per employee. The report also found that current reform bills are "missing some ingredients" to permanently curb future cost increases. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/12/09)
U.S. Smoking Rates Remain Steady
National rates of smoking showed little change in 2008 from a year earlier, federal researchers report. Just over 20 percent of the adult population smoked in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was little changed from the 19.8 percent found in 2007. Just over 45 percent of current smokers reported they had tried to quit at least once in the past year. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of smokers fell by 3.5 percent, from 24.1 percent to 20.6 percent, with almost all that decline before 2005. The survey also found that smokers tend to have less education. (Reuters, 11/12/09)
Troops’ Morale Down in Afghanistan; More Mental Health Workers Needed
Morale is down among U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, while troops in Iraq show improved mental health, the Army reports. Soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase for the first time since 2004, according to a new survey. Soldiers on their third or fourth tours of duty had lower morale and more mental health problems than those with fewer deployments and an ever-increasing number of troops are having problems with their marriages. They are also having greater difficulty getting help for psychological problems, which is partly due to a shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health workers, a survey showed. (The Washington Post, 11/14/09)
Army Suicides Could Reach New High
The number of suicides among active-duty U.S. Army troops this year reached 133 in October, 18 more than in the same period last year and putting the service within reach of a new annual high. The 133 reported suicides, including the National Guard and Reserves, between January and October compared with 115 during the same period in 2008 when the service recorded 140 by year’s end, an annual record, the Army said. The rate of suicide within the Army last year was 20.2 per 100,000 personnel, exceeding for the first time rate for the civilian populations, which was 19.2, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. (Bloomberg News, 11/13/09)
Unemployment Causing Psychological Damage to Children
The recession and extended unemployment is causing psychological problems among children of jobless Americans. Several studies have found a link between parental job loss—especially when fathers are unemployed—to poor school performance and self-esteem in children. One study found that children in families where the head of the household had lost a job were 15 percent more likely to repeat a grade. An earlier study found that children of low-income single mothers who were unemployed had an increased chance of dropping out of school and showed declines in emotional well-being. And children of parents who were laid off have lower annual earnings as adults than those whose parents remain employed. (The New York Times, 11/12/09)
Young People’s Ethnic Identify May Affect Their Mental Health: Young people’s ethnic pride affects their mental health, a new study suggests. Researchers studied more than 250 African American youths from urban, low-income families in an effort to assess the unique effects of racial identity and self esteem on mental health. The study, which appears November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development, found that when young people's feelings of ethnic pride rose between 7th and 8th grades, their mental health also improved over that period, regardless of their self-esteem. Even for those with low self-esteem, a sense of pride in their ethnic group served as a buffer to some mental health problems. Racial identity was a stronger buffer against symptoms of depression for boys than for girls, researchers report. (ScienceDaily, 11/15/09)
Teens Mental Health May Determine How Long They Stay in School:Poor mental health of children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school, a new study finds. Steve Lehrer of Queen’s University and Jason Fletcher of Yale University used a new research design they call a "genetic lottery" identification strategy, based on the fact that at conception there are differences in genetic inheritance among siblings. The findings, which appear in the journal Forum for Health Economic & Policy, provide strong evidence that inattentive symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are linked to the number of years of completed schooling. (Psychcentral.com, 11/13/09)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Mental Health America Partners With Prescription Audio to Donate $5M in PTSD Treatment Products to Veterans, Active Duty, Families, Providers. Similar Prescription Audio sound therapy is currently being prescribed within the Department of Veterans Affairs and US Army hospitals to aid in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), insomnia, high stress and compassion fatigue.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Personal problems – even outside of the office – can translate into personnel problems. According to Mental Health America, more than 90 percent of employees report that their mental health and personal problems spill over into their professional lives, and have a direct impact on their job performance. Fort Worth Business Press, “Control workplace stress with employee-assistance programs,” November 16, 2009
Mental Health America recently announced that they are partnering with partnering with Prescription Audio, a Philadelphia-area based firm to make the company’s scientifically based sound therapy available without charge as a download to veterans, active duty servicemen and women, their family members and health care providers. Examiner.com, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Very Real Wound,” November 11, 2009
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
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
- Join Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network
- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
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.
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