Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 4, 2013MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of February 4, 2013
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter 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.
Poor mental health leads to unhealthy behaviors in low-income adults…more
NEWS FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
Fifty years ago, on February 5, 1963, President John F. Kennedy sent a special message to Congress about the state of mental health. His statement led to major changes in the way Americans view mental health care.
Mental Health America’s 2013 Annual Conference—Why Wellness Works: Breakthroughs and Pathways to Whole Health—June 5-8, 2013.
The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field. Find your employment match at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/mhacareercenter.
Give a Gift Card for a Cause and Give Back to Mental Health America.
IN THE NEWS
Franken Introduces Mental Health in Schools Bill: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced legislation that would expand mental health services in the nation’s schools. The Mental Health in Schools Act would authorize $200 million in grants annually for five years to schools and community mental health centers to work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students. A companion bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.). (MinnPost, 1/31/13)
California Survey—Mental Health Care and Emergency Preparedness Best Way to Prevent School Violence: California voters strongly believe that more mental health services and better emergency response training for school staff are the best strategies for preventing violence in schools, according to a survey of 1,200 voters released today by The California Endowment. When asked whether hiring a school counselor or a police officer would be more effective at preventing violence, voters chose counselors by a margin of more than two to one (67 percent to 26 percent).“California voters understand that counseling and mental health services can help prevent senseless tragedies on campus—and frankly, that focus on prevention has been the missing ingredient from school safety efforts in recent years,” said Barbara Raymond, director of schools policy for The California Endowment. (Los Angeles Times, 2/1/13)
National Surveys Show Mixed Results on Attitudes toward Mental Health: New surveys find strong support among Americans for increased government spending and insurance coverage for mental health care. But the results also show fear and suspicion of those with mental illness. One survey tracked public opinion on gun control policy, and a second, polling a separate but also representative sample of Americans, asked for respondents’ views on mental illness. The survey findings, which are published in The New England Journal of Medicine, show between 75 to 85 percent of respondents said that states, health care providers and the military should be required to notify a central background-check registry when a person has been declared mentally incompetent or committed to psychiatric care involuntarily, has threatened to harm himself or others, or has been rejected from service due to mental illness or drug- or alcohol-abuse. The survey showed that slim majorities of Americans do not believe that those with mental illness are "by far, more dangerous than the general population." At the same time, however, roughly 3 in 10 of those surveyed said they would not want to have someone with a serious mental illness as a neighbor or a coworker. Fifty-eight percent viewed discrimination against people with mental illness as a serious problem, while 56 percent believed that, with treatment, individuals with a mental health condition could get well and return to productive lives. In most cases, respondents who had direct experience with mental illness personally or through a close relationship had more positive views about mental illness than those without direct experience. (Los Angeles Times, 1/31/13)
Advocates Raise Concerns on New Mental Health Laws: A number of states are revising mental health laws, which advocates say will do more harm than good. Experts say many of the proposals, which include lowering the threshold for involuntary commitment and increasing requirements for reporting potentially dangerous worrisome patients to the authorities, are not thought out and won’t fix underlying problems of the mental health system. Advocates note that the focus unfairly singles out people with serious mental illness, who are involved in only about 4 percent of violent crimes and are 11 as likely as the general population to be the victims of violent crime. (The New York Times, 2/1/13)
Vet Suicides Up, But Lower Percentage of Overall Population: A new report finds that while the number of suicides among military veterans has increased in recent years, they represent a smaller percentage of the nation’s total number of suicides. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) study found that number of suicides among veterans reached 22 a day in 2010. That was up by 22 percent from 2007 and 10 percent more than in 1999. In the same 12-year period, the total number of suicides in the country rose steadily to an estimated 105 a day in 2010, up from 80 in 1999, a 31 percent increase. Although VA said that the smaller percentage of the nation’s total suggest that improved outreach and prevention programs were having an impact, other experts said that the suicide rate for veterans should be much lower than it is. The new data suggests that veterans under 30 are taking their own lives in smaller numbers than their nonveteran peers. That would seem to contradict theories that service in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to increased suicide among new veterans. (The New York Times, 2/2/13)
Canadian Hockey Teams Announce Mental Health Initiative: The seven Canadian National Hockey League Teams have announced a month-long initiative to increase dialogue and awareness about mental health and effective treatments. A game night in each of the seven cities will be dedicated to Hockey Talks where each team will lend their voice to help encourage a national conversation about mental health and wellness. The goal of Hockey Talks is to bring this topic to the forefront in the public realm and alleviate misconceptions and stigma that has been unfairly associated with mental illness. (NHL.com, 1/31/13)
Actor Bradley Cooper Speaks Up for Mental Health: Actor Bradley Cooper, who plays a man with bipolar disorder in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, is speaking up for mental health. Cooper joined Patrick Kennedy at a news conference about removing the stigma of mental illness. In an appearance on the Today Show, Cooper said, "I've gone around to many cities around the country and people are talking about, how, 'I actually feel like this film sees who I am,” referring to how the film shows that there is help for mental illness and it doesn't have to be life-destroying. Cooper also appears with other cast members of the movie on Katie Couric’s show. (MHH Reporting, 2//4/13)
White House Advisor Says Medicaid Off the Table in Budget, Fiscal Talks: A top White House official said that the large Medicaid cuts the administration has previously put forth—such as instituting a single "blended rate" for federal matching dollars and reducing states' ability to use Medicaid provider taxes—are now off the table as the administration encourages states to participate in the health reform law's Medicaid expansion. Economics advisor Gene Sperling made the remarks Thursday at a conference organized by Families USA, saying that even Medicaid cuts endorsed by the administration in the past will no longer be on the table as a series of fiscal deadlines approach. (The Hill, 1/31/13)
Use of Psychiatric Medications Most Prevalent in South: Use of psychiatric medications is most prevalent in the southern United States and least prevalent in the West, a new study finds. Although people living in the West are the least likely to use antipsychotics, antidepressants and stimulants, researchers at Yale University found that the drugs' use is 40 percent higher in a large section of the South than in other parts of the country. The study authors attributed this discrepancy to variations in local access to health care and marketing efforts within the pharmaceutical industry. The study, which included data on 60 percent of the prescriptions written in the United States in 2008, revealed that patients living in sections of the South were 77 percent more likely to fill a prescription for a stimulant. Southerners also were 46 percent more likely to fill a prescription for an antidepressant and 42 percent more likely to do so for an antipsychotic. (HealthDay News, 2/1/13)
Roll Call profiles Sen. Al Franken and his work on mental health.
McClatchy looks at the prospect for increases in mental health funding.
HealthyCal.org examines “The Difference Between Poverty and Mental Illness.”
A column in USA Today points to the importance of mental health screening for kids.
The Huffington Post looks at why “Mental Health Solutions Alone Can't Thwart Gun Violence.”
An opinion column on CNN examines the film “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Clinical Psychiatry News looks at “Helping patients cope with traumatic loss.”
The New York Times’ “Sunday Review” hosted a dialogue on a psychiatrist’s objections to mandated treatment.
In The Washington Post, a therapist writes son “The risk of skimping on mental health funding.”
Forbes examines “Workplace Mental Health: It Pays To Be Proactive.”
Coming Out May Have Benefits to Mental, Overall Health: Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who have disclosed their sexual identity have lower stress hormones than those who hide it, according to a new study. Canadian researchers tested the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and other indicators of strain in gay people, bisexuals and heterosexuals among 87 men and women. Gay and bisexual men had lower depressive symptoms and allostatic load levels (a measure of body stress) than heterosexual men. And lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who were out to family and friends had lower levels of psychiatric symptoms and lower morning cortisol levels than those who were still in the closet. (Psychcentral.com, 1/30/13)
Poor Mental Health Leads to Unhealthy Behaviors among Low-Income Adults: Poor mental health leads to unhealthy behaviors in low-income adults—rather than the other way around, according to a new study. A total of 482 adults, receiving care at a sexually transmitted infection clinic, took part in the study. They were asked to complete an online interview at the start of the study and then three, six, nine and twelve months later. The researchers assessed a number of behaviors: substance use (binge drinking, smoking, illegal drug use), exercise, as well as sexual, dietary and sleep behaviors. They also measured levels of anxiety, depression and perceived stress. Published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine, the study found that stress and anxiety predicted subsequent health-compromising behaviors, such as smoking, binge drinking, illegal drug use, unprotected sex and unhealthy diets. One possible explanation for these findings is that health compromising behaviors may be used as coping mechanisms to manage the effects of stress and anxiety. (ScienceBlog, 2/4/13)
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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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