Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 24, 2014 | Mental Health America

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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 24, 2014



Comments on CMS Proposed Rule Change to Medicare Part D Medications Due March 7: Comments are due by March 7 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding a proposed rule change in Medicare Part D to what is commonly referred to as the “six protected classes, which includes antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.” Presently all or substantially all medications in these classes are covered under Medicare Part D. Proposed changes include limiting coverage to only two medications in each class and category. You can read our press release on the proposal here. For further details and to submit comments to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavener and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, go to!documentDetail;D=CMS-2014-0007-0002.

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

Debbie Plotnick, Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, writes on CNN on How to Stop Tragic Shootings of People with Mental Illness.

Mental Health America Faults Rep. Tim Murphy’s Legislation for Jeopardizing Role for Consumers and Their Recovery.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace: Mental Health America has released a toolkit with a wealth of information and resources.

Mental Health America Produces Comprehensive, Objective Resource Describing Principal Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Mental Health Conditions.

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


MARCH 7-8—2014 Tools for Change Conference: The Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Empowerment, a project of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, presents the Tools for Change Conference, now in its second year. Tools For Change, which will be held at the Hilton at Union Square in San Francisco, CA, is the first international conference focused on lived experience and culture change around mental health and mental illness. This year, Tools For Change brings effective stigma-change strategies into focus with culturally-responsive programs and the power of stigma change for prevention of suicide. Keynote speakers include former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher and Paolo del Vecchio, Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services. To register, go to

20th Annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium Call for Presentations—All Things Prevention: In September 2014 the Mental Health Association in Tulsa will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Zarrow Mental Health Symposium. This annual educational forum brings together local, state, and national leaders to focus on state-of-the-art research, best practice information, and model programs about current issues related to mental health and substance abuse disorders. This year’s theme is All Things Prevention. Proposals for conference presentations are now being accepted. Deadline for submission is Monday, March 10. For additional information, go to

SAMHSA Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Toolkit: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a training resource toolkit, developed through the Enrollment Coalitions Initiative, entitled “Getting Ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace.”  The toolkit will assist organizations with outreach, education and enrollment of individuals in the Health Insurance Marketplace. It is composed of three sections: A description of the health care law, how it works, and why it is important for uninsured individuals with behavioral health conditions; An explanation of how the Health Insurance Marketplace works, how to apply for health coverage and where to get help; and Numerous communication ideas and materials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that can be used to raise awareness and encourage uninsured individuals to enroll. The toolkit has been developed in six slightly different 30-minute, interactive formats, each of which can be accessed and viewed online: (General information);;;;;


Military's Mental Health Efforts Are Ineffective—Report: There is little evidence that the military’s efforts to prevent mental illness among troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are effective, a panel of scientists said last week. The study, by a committee of 13 experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, follows an earlier Institute of Medicine review released last year concluding that the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are struggling to keep pace with a growing number of mental health problems generated by the wars. "There's no substantive indication of effectiveness (in the military prevention programs) and most importantly, there's no evidence of an enduring impact," said panelist David Rudd, provost at the University of Memphis and an authority on suicide in the military. The Pentagon, which requested the study, said it is reviewing the study's findings. The scientists in the study released Thursday singled out for prominent criticism the largest and costliest program, the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness effort — since expanded and renamed Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness. The Army began the program in 2009 amid increasing cases of suicide and mental illness. It has cost $125 million to teach the coping skills to a million soldiers. The scientific panel said there is little or no evidence the program prevents mental illness. (The Wall Street Journal,

Bullying Impacts Mental Health for Years—Study: Victims of bullying may suffer mental and general health consequences even after bullying occurs, a new study finds. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that bullying is associated with poor general and mental health among children, particularly among those who were bullied in the past and are being currently bullied. The effects were strongest among children who were bullied continuously, in more than one grade. Researchers used a large sample of students at public schools in three metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, Houston and Birmingham, Alabama. A total of 4,297 students and their parents participated in all three phases of the study. The children and their parents responded to computer-assisted personal interviews in English or Spanish. Researchers found particularly striking differences in mental health when comparing children who had been bullied with those who had not. Among fifth-graders, about 4 percent of kids who had not been bullied showed low psychological health, far less than the 31 percent of kids who had been bullied. In later years, researchers found a strong relationship between low mental health and bullying, especially among children who said they were being bullied at that time, or both at that time and in the past. The study found that about 45 percent of children in 10th grade who were bullied both in the past and the present had low psychological health, compared with 31 percent of those currently bullied, 12 percent of kids bullied only in the past and about 7 percent who had not been bullied. (Reuters, 2/17/14)

HIV More Prevalent among People with Mental Health Conditions: People who are diagnosed with mental health conditions may be more likely to contract HIV, according to a new study. Researchers collected data while providing HIV screening to 1000 people between 2009 and 2011. They found that 4.8 percent of those patients with depression, psychosis and substance use problems were diagnosed with HIV, making them 16 times more likely to acquire the condition than those without mental health diagnoses. The findings emphasize the need to provide testing for HIV in mental health care facilities, the researchers said. Thirteen of the 51 individuals found to have HIV did not know they were infected, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The findings showed that HIV infection was more common among people with more severe symptoms of mental illness and among groups of people most likely to be infected in the general population, including blacks, gay or bisexual men, and those with hepatitis C, which often indicates past injection drug use. (, 2/14/14)

Study—Health Reform Doesn’t Increase Admissions for Young People with Mental Health Conditions: Health reforms that increased access to coverage in Massachusetts and served as the model for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did not increase hospital utilization among young people diagnosed with behavioral health disorders, according to a new study. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study looked at inpatient admissions before and after the state's implementation of comprehensive health reform in 2006. Critics of the ACA have argued an expansion of health coverage would result in higher health care costs as more newly insured individuals sought care. The study’s findings showed hospital admission rates after 2006 for adults between ages 19 and 25 declined by an absolute of 2 per 1,000 patients where any behavioral health disorder was the primary diagnosis, .38 per 1,000 for depression and 1.3 per 1,000 for substance use. The number of uninsured among this age group also fell after 2006 from 26 percent to 10 percent. Emergency department visits for behavioral health diagnoses increased after 2006 but at a slower rate compared with Maryland, the study found, while hospital discharges for uninsured young people with behavioral disorders decreased by 5 percentage points for both inpatients and visitors of the emergency department relative to other states. Maryland was chosen for comparison purposes because it has a similar number of mental health patients, a similar number of mental health providers and similar rates of utilization to Massachusetts prior to the adoption of the health reform law. (Modern Healthcare, 2/21/14)



The New York Times reports on opposition to limiting Medicare coverage for certain classes of drugs, including those used to treat depression and schizophrenia.

Kaiser Health News examines “Some Plans Refuse To Cover Medical Costs Related To Suicide Despite Federal Rules.”

The New York Times reports “Doctors Train to Spot Signs of A.D.H.D. in Children.”

NPR reports “Schools Fall Behind In Helping Students With Mental Health.”

Kaiser Health News examines how “Technology Helps Bridge Gap In Michigan's Mental Health Care.”

McClatchy reports that expansion of Medicaid to increase demand for mental health services.

Latest Research

Switching Schools Linked with Mental Health Problems in Kids: Preteens who changed schools frequently when they were children are at increased risk of developing mental health problems, according to a new study.  Researchers analyzed data on nearly 6,500 families from a long-term study of children in southwest England. At age 12, the participants were asked if they had experienced psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions in the past six months. Those who had changed schools three times or more when they were younger had a 60 percent increased risk of having at least one psychotic symptom, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The researchers noted that being involved in bullying is sometimes a consequence of repeated school moves. Changing schools often may cause youngsters to develop low self-esteem and a "sense of social defeat," the researchers noted. They also said that feelings of isolation can lead to brain changes that increase the risk of psychotic symptoms in vulnerable youngsters. (HealthDay News, 2/23/14)


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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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