Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of June 16, 2014 | Mental Health America

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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of June 16, 2014





Week of June 16, 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.


Mental Health America 2014 Annual Conference, September 10-12, Atlanta, Georgia—Parity and the Affordable Care Act: Bridging Gaps to Advance Mental Health. Don't miss this unique opportunity to discuss what we have learned in the process of implementing the Affordable Care and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Acts, and to collaborate to identify next steps and opportunities for action. 

Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, was interviewed on CNN’s New Day on issues related to mental health legislation in Congress. He also spoke about how mental health issues affected his own family. You can watch the interview here.

Statement of Mental Health America on “Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014.”

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


Suicides Surged in Europe, North America during Recession: New research suggests that the economic recession could be linked with more than 10,000 suicides across North America and Europe. A study found that between 2008 and 2010, rates of suicide surged in the European Union, Canada and the United States. The increase was four times higher among men than women, according to the report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. In conducting the study, researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine examined information on suicides from the World Health Organization. The data included 24 countries in the European Union as well as Canada and the United States. The investigators found a reversal in the decline in suicides in the European Union that coincided with the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007. By 2009, suicides had increased by 6.5 percent. Meanwhile, suicides in Canada rose by 4.5 percent between 2007 and 2010. In the United States there was a 4.8 percent increase during this time period, the study found. According to the study authors, these figures are "conservative" estimates. They said that the actual number of suicides since the recession hit are likely much greater than expected. (HealthDay News, 6/12/14)

Colorado Bans Putting People with Mental Illness in Solitary Confinement: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation ensuring that inmates with serious mental illness will no longer be kept in solitary confinement. The law, which makes an exception for “exigent circumstances,” is part of a trend of state and federal authorities rethinking the use of solitary confinement, as they weigh prison safety against the potential psychiatric impact of extreme isolation. Maine and New Mexico have taken steps to reduce their use of solitary confinement, and Nevada and Texas are studying the issue. The federal Bureau of Prisons has enlisted consultants to study its use of segregated detention. The report is expected by the end of the year. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/6/14)

More U.S. Service Members Receiving Treatment for Mental Health Conditions: About 3.5 percent of U.S. military personnel were in treatment for mental health conditions in 2012—up from just 1 percent in 2000, a new military study finds. Experts say the rise likely due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the military's efforts to get more soldiers into treatment. Past studies have suggested that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and other mental health conditions are much more common in the military than the treatment rates would imply. One found that psychiatric diagnoses among active-duty troops rose from just over 5 percent in 2003, to 9 percent in 2011. The findings, reported in a recent issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, are based on medical records from active-duty U.S. service members for the years 2000 to 2012. The study found that at any given point in 2012, about one in 29 troops were in treatment for a mental health disorder—which was 2.5 times the rate in 2000. (HealthDay News, 6/13/14)

Union Seeks Federal Investigation of Kaiser Mental Health Services: The National Union of Healthcare Workers has asked the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation into what it says are care delays and falsification of records by Kaiser Permanente affecting thousands of mental health patients. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the union accuses the health system (with which it had been negotiating) of wrongdoings that "mirror" the recently-uncovered practices at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics—like concealing long wait times and awarding bonuses that incentivized managers to keep staffing low. Kaiser Permanente released a statement dismissing the letter as a union ploy aimed at discrediting the HMO in the midst of “protracted” labor negotiations. Kaiser said the union was trying to capitalize on the national scandal surrounding the VA. The union alleges that chronic under-staffing at Kaiser mental health programs has resulted in long wait times for people seeking individual therapy, and that it manipulated its records to conceal these wait periods from state inspectors. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/12/14)

Expanded Coverage for Young Adults under ACA Increased Inpatient Hospital Visits for Mental Health: Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, a new study finds. Researchers caution that the finding might not be good news. Greater hospital use by the newly insured might be caused by inadequate outpatient resources to treat mental health patients earlier and less expensively. The study, based on a big national sample from community hospitals, found the law also increased young people's hospital use. Total inpatient visits for those aged 19 to 25 increased 3.5 percent compared with people aged 27 to 29, who couldn't be on their parents' plans. Mental health admissions increased much more—by 9 percent. A large portion of psychiatric admissions came through emergency departments. The study did not look at the volume of outpatient mental health care. But even if they had, they wouldn't have produced a final answer on the effectiveness of expanded coverage. (MedPage Today, 6/11/14)


The New York Times reports on “New Findings on Timing and Range of Maternal Mental Illness.”

Pacific Standard looks at laws that allow a state to terminate a parent’s connection to a child if authorities conclude a mother or father has a mental illness.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper takes part in an experiment to help understand how people live with a mental illness.

AP reports on continued long waits for VA mental health care.

California Health Report looks at “Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access to Mental Health Services in California.”


PTSD, Depressive Episode Increases Risk for Preterm Birth: Women with both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and major depressive episode were four times more likely to have a preterm birth, according to a new study. Among 2654 women in the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers found little increased risk of premature birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) in women suffering from depression alone. Initially PTSD appeared to be a potent risk factor, but they found risk was only elevated for those individuals who had both PTSD and depression.  All analyses controlled for use of harmful substances and for antidepressants. Previous studies had found an increased risk of late term premature birth—after 34 weeks but prior to 37 weeks gestation—in women taking antidepressants. (MedPage Today, 6/12/14)


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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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