Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of January 31, 2011
Mental Health in the Headlines is a weekly newsletter of Mental Health America, offering 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.
An annual survey finds the mental health of this year’s college freshmen declined to a record low…more
IN THE NEWS
Many Americans Unaware of Parity Law
The vast majority of Americans are unfamiliar with new benefits created by the federal mental health parity law, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 87 percent were not familiar with the law, which was passed in 2008 and requires coverage of mental health and addiction services to be on a par with general medical coverage. More than half of the respondents selected the cost of care as a reason why they or a family might give for not seeking treatment. (MHH Reporting, 1/31/10)
Study Finds Many NY Vets Not Receiving Care
Only about a third of veterans living in New York in need of mental health care received it in the past year, a new study finds. Many said the reason is fear that the treatment might cause the loss of respect among colleagues and employers and hurt their career. The side effects of medications or the cost and effectiveness were also cited. More than 40 percent of veterans report being unaware of what help is available or uncertain about how to navigate the systems that provide assistance. (The New York Times, 1/26/11)
Smoking, Obesity Causing US Life Expectancy to Lag Other Countries
Although Americans are living longer than they used to, a new report by the National Research Council finds that the US lags other industrialized countries in life expectancy gains. Although costs are nearly double those of other countries, the researchers say the overall mental and general medical health of Americans is getting worse. The affects of smoking are one cause for the lag. Obesity and the related health affects are also cited. (ABC News, 1/28/11)
Mental Health of First-Year College Students Hits Record Low
This year’s college freshmen report record low levels of mental health, according to a national survey. The annual report, called the American Freshman survey, found that only about half (51.9 percent) of first-year college students rated their mental health above average or higher. That represents a decline of 3.4 percentage points from last year and the lowest response since the question was first asked 25 years ago. Study researchers say increasing financial and academic pressures are part of the cause. The survey also found that students who rate themselves low are not much more likely to seek counseling than their peers. (USA Today, 1/27/11)
[Mental Health America has more on college and mental health.]
FDA Panel Recommends Continued Testing of ECT Therapy
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration decided last week that electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy should be subject to the same tough testing as other medical devices. Although the FDA isn’t bound by the decision, it usually follows advisory committee recommendations. If it does, makers of the devices will have to provide evidence of their safety and effectiveness. The panel heard testimony from both patients and researchers to determine whether the risk category should be lowered. A majority on the panel found that not enough is known about ECT without additional research. (The Washington Post, 1/28/11)
VIEWPOINTS AND VOICES
The Huffington Post offers two views on college mental health—one from a student; the other from a professional.
The New York Times reports on New York University’s mental health program.
The Los Angeles Times interviews mental health advocate Elyn Saks.
Foreign Policy magazine examines China’s mental health system.
CNN looks at the mind-body connection.
Depression May be Due to Poor Food Choices: Eating fatty junk food may contribute to depression, according to a new study. Spanish researchers followed 12,059 people over six years, analyzing their diets, lifestyles and medical problems. The people who ate the most trans fats, which are commonly found in pastries and fast food, had a 48 percent increased risk of depression compared with people who did not eat those foods. Individuals who ate a lot of healthier polyunsaturated foods had a lower risk of depression, the researchers report in the journal PLoS One. (Los Angeles Times, 1/26/11)
Abortion Doesn’t Increase Risk of Mental Health Problems: An abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems, a new study finds. Researchers, who reported in their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that having a baby creates a greater risk. The study, conducted by Danish scientists, included 365,550 teenagers and women who had an abortion or first-time delivery between 1995 and 2007. None had a history of psychiatric problems that required hospitalization. In the year after an abortion, about 15 per 1,000 women sought psychiatric help—about the same rate of that group in the nine months before an abortion. Among women who gave birth, the rate at which they sought treatment increased to 6.7 per 1,000 after delivery from 3.9 per 1,000 before. (Associated Press, 1/27/11)
AT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: Headlines and Highlights
Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America, was a speaker at a Stanford University event, "At the Forefront of Nonprofit Transformation," which is reported on in the Palo Alto Patch (January 25, 2011)
Mental Health America’s Live Your Life Well program was featured in a story appearing in Hernando Today (January 26, 2011).
The Catholic News Service cites Mental Health America’s statement on the tragedy in Arizona in discussing the need to eradicate stigma.
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