Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of June 27, 2011MENTAL HEALTH IN THE HEADLINES
Week of June 27, 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.
The level of support that people perceive in their surroundings when they come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is closely related to their mental health and overall well-being…more
IN THE NEWS
New 9/11 Compensation Fund Wouldn’t Cover Mental Health Problems
Proposed guidelines that have been issued for a fund that will compensate first responders and those exposed to the 9/11 terror attacks would exclude coverage for those claiming mental health problems. The first version of the fund, created just after the 2001 terror attacks, also did not pay for mental health problems. The proposed rules assert that the legislation creating the new fund covers only “physical injuries.” Therefore, someone suffering solely from mental illness would be excluded. Representatives of victims object to the ruling, noting that many victims of the blasts suffer solely from mental trauma. The new rules for the fund are subject to a public comment period and could be altered. (Wall Street Journal, 6/21/11)
Families Affected by Mental Illness Say Churches Don’t Provide Support
Individuals with a family member who has a mental illness report they receive little help from their churches, according to a new study. A survey given to nearly 6,000 adults who attend 24 Protestant churches in 10 states found that 27 percent of churchgoers said they had at least one family member with a mental illness. While help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families in that group, it ranked 42nd among families that did not have a family member with mental illness. (UPI, 6/23/11)
Greek Economic Crisis Tied to Increase in Depression, Suicides
Psychiatrists say the Greek economic crisis has caused a 25 to 30 percent increase in the number of patients seeking help. “There is an increase in the number of patients suffering from minor psychiatric conditions: anxiety, panic attacks and depression,” says Dimitris Ploumidis, head of a mental health center in eastern Athens. Experts also believe economic difficulties are tied to an increase in suicide rate. Before the crisis started, Greece was at the bottom of the list in Europe for the number of suicides. But the suicide rate increased 18 percent in 2009 from two years earlier and the rate is expected to climb even higher for 2010. (Worldcrunch, 6/24/11)
Rise in Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse
More people are getting treatment for prescription drug abuse than a decade ago, a new government analysis shows. The report, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that the percentage of patients treated for opiates other than heroin rose from 1 percent of all substance abuse admissions (to both outpatient and in-patient treatment programs) in 1999 to 7 percent in 2009. These prescription drugs made up 33 percent of opiate admissions in 2009, up from 8 percent in 1999. Increased assessment by physicians of patients before and during use of prescriptions will help combat abuse, experts say. Treatment for alcohol abuse is also on the rise after declining for several years. (HealthDay News, 6/23/11)
New College Program Helps Students Recover from Substance Use Disorders
A new program now being offered on college campuses is helping students who are trying to recover from substance use disorders. The Collegiate Recovery Communities began at Texas Tech University and now has spin-offs at several U.S. universities. The program is a peer-based, on-campus model that aims to promote a culture of recovery. The first study to assess the program suggests it benefits students. After six months, students reported feeling strong levels of support for their recovery and satisfaction with their lives. But it is too soon to assess whether the programs can curb relapse rates. (Los Angeles Times, 6/20/11)
Social Support Improves Well-Being of Those Who Come Out
The level of support that people perceive in their surroundings when they come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is closely related to their mental health and overall well-being, according to a new study. That may mean that for some people coming out is less damaging than has been believed. Researchers surveyed 161 people between the ages of 18 and 65 roughly evenly split between those who identified as gay, lesbian and bisexual. The participants anonymously answered questions about how out they were and the level of support they felt. The study found that students who had come out were less angry and depressed and had higher self-esteem, but only if they were in supportive environments. In controlling environments, coming out was not associated with any of these benefits. (Los Angeles Times, 6/21/11)
Fathers with Depressive Symptoms Associated with Behavior Difficulties in Children
Living with a father who has depressive symptoms or other mental health problems is associated with increased rates of emotional or behavioral difficulties in their children, according to a new study. Using data from 20,260 children aged 5-17 from 2004-2008, the study found that in households where the father had clinically significant depressive symptoms, 15.5 percent of children had behavioral or emotional problems, compared with a 7 percent rate in homes without paternal depressive symptoms. In homes where both parents experienced depressive symptoms, 25 percent of children had emotional or behavioral problems, which is four times the rate when neither parent was affected. (Internal Medicine News, 6/21/11)
The New York Times profiles an expert on mental illness who revealed her own diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
Government Executive magazine interviews Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's No. 2 officer, on the toll of war on the mental health of soldiers.
City Living Changes How Brain Responds to Stress: Living in a city or growing up in one is associated with differences in the way the brain handles stress, according to a new study. Researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Nature, used functional MRI to study the brain activity of healthy volunteers from urban and rural areas. They found that urban living was associated with a greater stress response in a brain region called the amygdala, which is involved with emotional regulation and mood. And a second brain region, called the cingulate cortex, which is associated with negative mood and stress, was found to be more activated in people who were brought up in cities. (Los Angeles Times, 6/23/11)
Talk Therapy May Improve Recovery of Stroke Patients: Patients who talk with a therapist after suffering a stroke are less depressed and live longer than patients who don't, a new study asserts. Researchers randomly assigned half of 411 stroke patients to see a therapist for up to four 30- to 60-minute sessions and the other half to no visits with a therapist. Forty-eight percent of the people who were involved in talk therapy within the first month after a stroke were not depressed a year later, compared to 37.7 of the patients who did not receive the therapy. In addition, only 6.5 percent of those involved in talk therapy died within the year, compared with 12.8 percent of patients who didn't receive the therapy, the researchers report in the journal Stroke. (HealthDay News, 6/23/11)
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