Mental Health in the Headlines: Weeks of February 8 and 15, 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?
Fish oil pills may be able to spare some young people with signs of mental illness from a progression into fully developed schizophrenia…more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Summit Set for February 25
The White House has invited lawmakers from both parties to attend a summit on February 25 to compare health reform plans. The administration has pledged to put its health care bill online in advance of the meeting and has asked Republican members to do the same. Subjects that will be discussed at the summit are: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction. The session will be broadcast in its entirety. (MHH Reporting, 2/15/10)
U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy Won’t Seek Reelection
U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who helped spearhead with his late father the successful passage of federal mental health parity legislation, announced he will retire from Congress at the end of this year. Kennedy said he had been thinking about retiring for nearly a year and discussed it with his father, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, before he died last August. In addition to his work on mental health parity, the lawmaker has championed a number of substance use and mental health issues in Congress. Kennedy, who has battled substance use and depression and received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder while in Congress, said he planned to remain active in mental health issues after he retired. (The New York Times, 2/12/10)
Revisions Proposed to Encyclopedia of Mental Health Conditions
The way mental health conditions are diagnosed and treated would be sharply revised under proposed rewrite of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Called the bible for mental health professionals, the DSM is used to make diagnostic, treatment and coverage decisions. The revisions, which are due in 2013, would be the first in a decade. One change would affect children currently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The DSM proposes create a new disorder, "temper dysregulation with dysphoria,” to incorporate both mood and behavioral disturbances. It responds to recent finds that many children who have been given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder do not have it. The proposed revisions have been posted online at DSM5.org for public comment. (The New York Times, 2/10/10)
Health Spending a Record 17.3 Percent of Economy; Insurers’ Profits Rise
Health care spending in the United States grew in 2009 to 17.3 percent of the gross domestic product, according to government figures. The almost $2.5 trillion spent in 2009 was $134 billion more than the previous year, when healthcare consumed 16.2% of the gross domestic product, according to an annual report by independent actuaries at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That marked the largest one-year jump in sector’s share of the economy since the government started keeping such records half a century ago. America's health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009, a year that saw 2.7 million people lose their private coverage. The nation's five largest for-profit insurers closed 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion, according to a report by the advocacy group Health Care for American Now (HCAN). (MHH Reporting 2/15/10)
DoD Investigating Complaints of Poor Mental Health Care at Marine Base
The Department of Defense (DoD) is investigating complaints of substandard mental health care for Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The inquiry is being conducted by DoD’s Inspector General. Public questions about the quality of mental health care provided by a private contractor at the base were raised last year by the September firing of Dr. Kernan Manion, a brain trauma specialist who had complained to commanders about poor facilities, inadequate care programs and weak security. (Associated Press, 2/4/10)
Detained Youth in New York Lack Mental Health Overseer
The State of New York does not have a single full-time staff psychiatrist charged with overseeing the treatment of the 800 or so young people who are detained in state facilities at any given time. All 17 psychiatrists at the detention facilities in the state's juvenile justice system are working either on contract or part time. A report in August by the U.S. Department of Justice criticized the state for failing to properly diagnose juveniles' mental health problems, administering medication inappropriately and making inadequate treatment plans." New York Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed budget would add $18.2 million to enhance services at the prisons. (The New York Times, 2/10/10)
Veterans May Be Helped by Talking About Combat
A discussion of combat and the reliving of wartime experiences can help war veterans cope with mental health problems arising from their service, a new study suggests. In the study of 2,797 US Army soldiers, which appears the Journal of Traumatic Stress, 40 percent reported killing or being responsible for killing in combat. Those soldiers were at higher risk for psychological and emotional problems than those who did not report killing, even after the study authors controlled for combat exposure and combat injury. The study authors recommend that a comprehensive evaluation of veterans returning from combat should include an assessment of killing and reactions to killing, the results of which could then be incorporated into readjustment treatment plans. (The New York Times, 2/13/10)
Fish Oil May Help Prevent Onset of Schizophrenia: Fish oil pills may be able to spare some young people with signs of mental illness from a progression into fully developed schizophrenia, according to a preliminary study. Researchers identified 81 people, ages 13 to 25, with warning signs of psychosis. Forty-one were randomly assigned to take four fish oil pills a day for three months. The other patients took dummy pills. After a year of monitoring, 2 of the 41 patients in the fish oil group, or about 5 percent, had become psychotic, or completely out of touch with reality. In the placebo group, 28 percent became psychotic. The researchers are starting a larger study in eight cities, hoping to replicate the findings, which appear in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study adds to evidence suggesting that severe mental illness may be prevented with intervention. (The Los Angeles Times, 2/1/10)
Family Therapy Reduces Depression in Teens More Quickly: Suicidal thoughts and depression were reduced more quickly in teens treated with family therapy than in others, a new study asserts. Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found patients with severe suicidal thinking treated with attachment-based family therapy were at least four times more likely to have no suicidal thinking at the end of or three months after the treatment, than patients given standard treatment. The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found family therapy patients also showed a more rapid decrease in depression symptoms. (UPI, 2/9/10)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
Mental Health America Commends Increases for Mental Health Programs in Obama Administration’s Budget: Highlights the need to invest in critical mental health supports and services beyond important steps that would be taken through health care reform.
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Julio Abreu of Mental Health America said an increase in the administrations Fiscal Year 2011 budget for public health initiatives help fill important gaps in the absence of action on a health reform overall. “These programs tend to be of a prevention nature,” he said. “They tend to help develop workforce. They are early intervention with programs like Head Start, programs like Suicide Prevention.” National Public Radio, “How Health Care Fares In Obama's Budget Freeze,” February 2, 2010
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; Robert Redpath, senior director, Web Technology & Strategy.
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