Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 28, 2014 | Mental Health America

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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of April 28, 2014








Week of April 28, 2014

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.


May is Mental Health Month—Mind Your Health.

Mental Health America Urges Changes to Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act”: Mental Health America urged changes to the legislation at a recent Congressional hearing. You can read the news release with a link to the full testimony here. Our letter to the editor responding to a Washington Post editorial can be found here. And a recent news story on the legislation is here.

A Look at the Gaps in Mental Health Care—An Interview with Dr. David Shern of Mental Health America.

Paul Gionfriddo Named President and CEO of Mental Health America.

Help Us Fund Mental Health America’s Exciting Documentary on the Consumer/Survivor Movement.

Patrick Hendry of Mental Health America Wins 2014 Reintegration Lifetime Achievement Award.

The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field.  Find your employment match at


Mental Health America Capitol Hill Day—May 7: Mental Health America is partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health for Capitol Hill Day ’14 on May 7—the biggest behavioral health advocacy event of the year. This year, Hill Day will be held in conjunction with the National Council’s 2014 Conference, which is taking place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington, DC.  Registration for Hill Day is free and includes Public Policy Track sessions and workshops held on May 5 and 6, including leadership lessons from Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. For more information on hotel accommodations, a schedule and to register, go to


Research Shows Decline in Teen Bullying Between 1998-2010: New research shows that bullying by teens declined between 1998 and 2010. Surveys completed by middle school and high school students over that time period suggest that instances of both verbal and physical bullying dropped by roughly half, with much of the decline seen specifically among boys. During the study period, four surveys were conducted among a nationally representative sample of students attending grades 6 through 10. Each survey included roughly 9,000 to 16,000 teens. Those polled were asked to indicate how much they had engaged in bullying in school during the prior two months. Off-campus bullying—including cyber-bullying—was not covered by the survey. Reported in the American Journal of Public Health, the study found the rates of bullying dropped from nearly 14 percent to just over 10 percent. That decrease was seen primarily among boys. An even more dramatic drop was seen among those students who said they had instigated an act of bullying. That figure fell from nearly 17 percent in 1998 to below 8 percent by 2010. (HealthDay News, 4/24/14)

Suicides Decline among Active-Duty Troops, But National Guard Rates Rise:  The Pentagon reported last week that there was a 15 percent decline in suicides among members of the U.S. military last year, but an increase in the number of Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers who took their own life. Suicides among active duty troops in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps fell from 343 in 2012 to 289 in 2013. The declines were 185 to 151 in the Army, 59 to 44 in the Navy, 48 to 45 in the Marines, and 51 to 49 in the Air Force, the Associated Press reported. However, suicides among Army National Guard and Reserve members rose from 140 in 2012 to 152 in 2013. The declines among Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps troops suggest that prevention programs and a greater push to identify those at risk may be having an effect after several years of rising suicide rates. However, the growing number of suicides among Army National Guard and Reserve troops may indicate that the military's suicide prevention programs are not reaching citizen soldiers. (CBS News, 4/25/14)

Study—Mental Illness Not Cause of Crime: In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness. Researchers analyzed 429 crimes committed by 143 offenders with three major types of mental illness and found that 3 percent of their crimes were directly related to symptoms of major depression, 4 percent to symptoms of schizophrenia disorders and 10 percent to symptoms of bipolar disorder. Two-thirds of those who committed crimes linked to mental illness symptoms also committed unrelated crimes for other reasons, including substance use and being jobless, poor and homeless, according to the study published online in the journal Law and Human Behavior. Nearly two-thirds of the people in the study were men. The average age was 40, and 85 percent had substance abuse disorders. The researchers did not examine the interaction between substance abuse and mental illness in criminal activity. Forty-two percent of the participants were white, 42 percent were black and 16 percent were of other races. (HealthDay News, 4/22/14)

FDA Panel Recommends Banning use Of Electrical Stimulation: A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has recommended banning the use of "electrical stimulation devices" to modify aggressive or self-harming behavior in people with severe emotional problems or developmental disorders such as autism. "The FDA has grown concerned that serious risks of using these devices may outweigh the benefits for patients with limited intellectual ability or developmental disabilities, and that they may pose an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury to patients," agency spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez said prior to the panel's vote. The FDA isn't required to carry out the recommendations of its advisory panels, but it usually does so. The devices are used as an "aversion therapy" technique at a center in Massachusetts that serves children and adults with serious special needs. Proponents of the shock technique say it discourages aggressive or self-injurious behavior. While the majority of the panel supported a ban of all currently marketed and prospective electrical stimulation devices, some panelists did note that the treatment is helpful in cases where current treatment options, such as pharmacological, behavioral, alternative, and experimental therapies, are not effective. (MedPage Today, 4/24/14)

More Than 7 Percent of Schoolchildren Take Mental Health Medication: More than 7 percent of American schoolchildren are taking at least one medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties, a new government report finds. More than half of parents said the drugs are helping their children, according to data compiled from the National Health Interview Survey, which continually collects information about health and health care in the United States. All of the information on children is obtained through parental (or other guardian) responses. Overall, the researchers found that 7.5 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 were taking medication for an emotional or behavioral problem. Significantly more boys than girls were given medication—9.7 percent of boys compared with 5.2 percent of girls. Older females were more likely than younger females to be given medication, but the age difference among males wasn't significant, according to the report. White children were the most likely to be on psychiatric medications (9.2 percent), followed by black children (7.4 percent) and Hispanic children (4.5 percent), according to the report. The study found that significantly more children on Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program were on medication for emotional and behavioral problems. (HealthDay News, 4/24/14)

Study Finds Link between Greek Austerity Program and Rise in Suicides: A new study finds a relationship between Greece's harsh austerity program and a "dramatic rise" in male suicides. Research conducted at the University of Portsmouth found that for every one percent drop in in Greek government spending, there was a 0.43 percent rise in male suicides. The study, by Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis and Professor Alan Collins and published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, argued that there was a direct link between the suicides of 551 Greek men between 2009 and 2010 and the country's austerity cuts and reforms. The study also found that there was no similar rise in female suicides during the austerity period and that men between 45 and 89 are most likely to commit suicide as they experience the most drastic cuts to salaries and pensions. While links between high unemployment and suicide has been well documented—a U.K. study found that that the male suicide rate rose by 1.4 percent for every 10 percent increase in unemployment—this is the first time research into austerity's impact on those taking their own lives has been taken. (CNBC, 4/22/14)


Kaiser Health News looks at Mental Health First Aid for Veterans.


Older Americans Who Use Internet Less Prone to Depression: Older Americans who regularly spent time online were about a third less likely to suffer from depression than their peers who did not use the Internet, a new study finds. Researchers say the largest impact of depression is among those who lived alone, which underscores the importance of connecting with others. The study analyzed responses gathered over six years by the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey, a large population study that focuses on the transitions Americans go through as they retire. The data covered 3,075 retired men and women who didn't live in nursing homes. The researchers identified depression through answers to an eight-item questionnaire, and participants in the survey were asked directly about their use of the Internet for email or any other purposes. About 30 percent of the participants were Internet users. When the researchers compared depression scores, they found the people who were going online had a 33 percent lower probability of depression compared to those who were not. The study didn't examine how much people used the Internet or analyze the effects of specific types of Internet use. (Reuters, 4/22/14)


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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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