June 8, 2005
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illness not just for adults
Mental Health Association Honors Journalist Jane Pauley ...
Outfitters Announces Live psychCME TV Activity:
say new law on mental health parity is a good beginning
How to treat postpartum depression
Mental Health Treatments Fall Short; Illnesses Begin Early
Mental health treatments fall short, studies find
HHS Launches Federal Efforts to Guide Creation of Electronic Health Records
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt is expected to announce to today the creation of a federal panel that will help guide the creation of a national system of healthcare records. The system will be developed largely by the technology and medical industries. President Bush has said that he wants most individuals to have electronic healthcare records within the next 10 years to reduce costs and medical errors. As part of these efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services will issue four requests for proposals, including processes for standardizing data and an assessment of state laws related to privacy of health information. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/6/05)
CDC Embraces Mental Health as Part of Its Mission
Although it hasn’t announced any major mental health initiatives, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun to embrace mental health as part of its mission. The inclusion of mental health in the agency’s mission comes as society has become more comfortable talking about mental health issues and as research increasingly links mental health with physical health, according to Marc Safran, M.D., who heads the CDC’s Mental Health Work Group. Safran said that his agency would be careful not to duplicate efforts of the government’s two mental health agencies, SAMHSA and NIMH. (Intellihealth/The New York Times, 5/31/05)
Governors Resist Joining Federal Medical Panel
The nation’s governors are resisting participating in a new federal panel to suggest Medicaid program reforms because many feel that the panel will just be duplicating work that they have already completed. “To start all over with the commission will only slow the process down,” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chair of the National Governors’ Association. Huckabee and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, NGA chair, plan to release the governors’ reform recommendations at congressional hearings later this month. (Dow Jones Newswires, 6/1/05)
NGA Committee Endorses Medicaid Policy Statement
The National Governors’ Association’s executive committee passed <http://www.nga.org/nga/newsRoom/1,1169,C_PRESS_RELEASE%5eD_8461,00.html> a new Medicaid policy document last week that advocates for new rules on prescription drug benefits, cost-sharing changes, and incentives to small employers to provide health insurance coverage to their employees. Regarding prescription drug benefits, in particular, the association wants drug manufacturers to charge lower, average wholesale prices and to increase drug rebates. The governors also seek to institute a tiered, enforceable co-payment system for beneficiaries. The full membership – which consists of the nation’s governors – will vote on the policy this summer at their meeting in Iowa. (Reuters Health, 6/3/05)
Anxiety Takes Its Toll
The worlds of people who have untreated anxiety disorders tend to get smaller and smaller as fear becomes ever more present, according to experts. Although no one knows all of the reasons why, more women than men tend to develop these disorders. Although hormones probably play no roll in the initial onset of the disorders in women, hormones due to a woman’s menstrual cycle can exacerbate anxiety and fears. A stressful event often acts as the catalyst, according to Jerilyn Ross, president of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. They get through the event fine and then “seemingly out of the blue they have a panic attack or start worrying obsessively,” Ross said. (The New York Times, 6/5/06)
Suicide Rate in Japan Falls, but Is Still High
The number of people who killed themselves in Japan fell 6.1 percent last year from 2003, to 32,325, according to the Japanese National Police Agency. Despite the decrease, the number of people who took their lives in groups rose in 2004 to 55 suicides from 34 the previous year. Forty-six percent of the suicides were the result of health problems while 25 percent were the result of financial issues, police statistics show. Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates among wealthy nations, has spent millions on suicide prevention programs in recent years. (Dow Jones Newswires, 6/2/05)
Medical Device Proves Effective in Early Study in Detecting Antidepressant Effectiveness, Company Says
An early clinical trial of a medical device designed to assess the effectiveness of antidepressant medications may be effective, the device’s manufacturer announced last week. The device, which is produced by Aspect Medical Systems Inc., can measure the effect of a particular antidepressant through changes in a person’s brain waves within a week of the start of the drug regimen. Currently, physicians must wait up to eight weeks to see if a drug is working. The device proved effective 76 percent of the time, according to the company. Aspect now plans to conduct larger trials for the device, which may come to market in 2008 or 2009. (Dow Jones Newswires, 6/3/05)
Aircraft Noise Said to Be Harmful to Students’ Developmental Skills: Regular aircraft noise may have a detrimental effect on some developmental skills among children whose schools are located near airports, a new study published in the journal Lancet suggests. The skills that seem to be particularly affected include reading comprehension and recognition memory, according to researchers. (Reuters Health, 6/3/05)
Some Seek to Include “Complicated Grief” in the DSM: Some mental health professionals are working to include “complicated grief” as a new disorder in the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which will be released in 2012. This type of grief goes well beyond the grief that most people feel after the loss of loved ones and is different from depression, according to experts. Left untreated, it can lead to depression, substance abuse, heart disease and suicide. (Intellihealth/The Associated Press, 5/31/05)
New York: Only 12.8 percent of New York City special education students received regular high school diplomas at the end of the 2002-2003 school year, compared with 26 percent in New York state and 31 percent nationally, a nonprofit organization called Advocates for Children concluded in a report it released last week. This rate is only slightly higher than the 12.3 percent of special education students who received diplomas between 1996 and 2004, according to the group. The New York City’s Education Department contends that the report’s findings are misleading; the city has vigorously revamped the school system’s special education services, a process that it bringing measurable results, said school officials. (The New York Times, 6/3/05)
US leads in mental illness.
Xinhua News Agency; 6/7/2005
WASHINGTON, Jun 7, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX)
The United States leads in mental illness globally with 46 percent of Americans suffering mental disorders ranging from anxiety, depression to substance abuse in their lifetime, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Within the past year, about 25 percent of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness, and fully 25 percent of those had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to a one-year-and-a-half survey of the country's mental health, conducted by the University of Michigan.
Simultaneous occurrence of two or more illnesses was reported in nearly half of the mental disorder sufferers.
The survey is by far the largest and most detailed of its kind in the United States, during which nearly 300 trained interviewers visited 9,282 households selected at random in 34 states.
It focused on four major categories of mental illness. They are anxiety disorders, such as panic and post-traumatic stress disorders; mood disorders, such as major depression and bipolar disease; impulse control disorders, such as hyperactivity; and alcohol or drug abuse.
Those Americans with mental disorders will mostly seek treatment after delays of years or often more than a decade, if ever, the survey found, adding that it is much so among younger sufferers.
Half of those who will ever be diagnosed with a mental disorder show signs of the disease by the age of 14, and three-quarters by 24.
One third of people in need of treatment rely solely on nonprofessional sources such as Internet support groups and spiritual advisers despite the availability of effective treatments for many mental illnesses, said the newspaper.
The survey, published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, attributed the low treatment rate to factors including inattention to early warning signs, inadequate health insurance and the lingering stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Copyright 2005 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.
COPYRIGHT 2005 COMTEX News Network, Inc.
More than one-fourth of U.S. adults experience mental illness.
The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service); 6/6/2005
Byline: Robyn Shelton
ORLANDO, Fla. _ As many as 26 percent of all U.S. adults struggled with mental illness in the past year, with half of them having initially suffered symptoms as children, according to new research Monday from Harvard University scientists.
They found most people did not seek treatment for the common conditions such as depression and anxiety that were tracked. But when people did get help, they usually waited about 10 years after their problems initially surfaced.
That lag time can be dangerous, said Ronald Kessler, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard who oversaw the survey of nearly 10,000 people. He said researchers found that three-fourths of those with mental disorders had symptoms before age 24. Half of them showed signs of trouble by age 14.
If untreated, mild problems in young people can escalate and lead to damage that can't be undone, Kessler said. Their lives can be shaped permanently by psychological problems that can keep them from finishing school, cause relationship problems or lead to drug addiction.
"Mental disorders are really the most important chronic conditions of youth in America," Kessler said. "Sadly, these early-onset disorders very seldom come to the attention of the treatment system unless they're very severe."
The findings, published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, are based on a national survey on the prevalence and severity of mental disorders. The research was conducted from February 2001 through April 2003 with face-to-face interviews of 9,282 English-speaking adults chosen at random in 34 states.
The $20-million research project was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health and private organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In the survey, people were asked a series of questions to determine if they had symptoms of anxiety, mood and impulse-control disorders or substance-abuse problems in the past year. Those categories include conditions such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit disorder and alcohol addiction.
Kessler said researchers did not include less common conditions such as schizophrenia and autism. In addition to looking at disorders themselves, researchers studied the level of treatment that people underwent.
In doing so, they documented some unsettling trends.
For starters, mental disorders are widely under-treated, Kessler said, with most people not getting care despite persistent or life-affecting symptoms. He said this is partly because of the lingering stigma of mental illnesses.
But even when people seek help, treatment may not be readily available for a number of reasons.
There simply aren't enough mental-health professionals in many communities. And where they do exist, some families can't afford care because private insurers don't cover mental-health services as extensively as other conditions.
Dr. Philip Wang, an assistant professor of psychiatry and medicine at Harvard Medical School, found that just one-third of people in treatment are getting care that meets minimum standards.
That makes it hard, he said, to push for more people to get into treatment since so many are not getting adequate help.
Wang said it's a paradox to try to get more people into treatment while acknowledging that the existing Medicare care is often poor.
"The answer is that the problem of under-treatment is multifaceted and you have to address all the.phpects of it if we're really going to help people."
He said mental-health professionals need to work simultaneously on improving care in their communities while combating the stigma and financial issues that keep people from getting help.
Kessler said people shouldn't give up without even trying.
"Consumers need to be aware that effective treatment is available ... but they have to be active consumers and get some understanding of what's good care, what's not good care," Kessler said.
In Central Florida, mental-health professionals are pretty busy but not too overburdened to take on new patients, said Bob Decker, a licensed mental health counselor with the Mental Health Association of Central Florida.
"I would say it certainly takes longer to get an appointment with a psychiatrist than it does your family physician," Decker said.
Decker said it can be hard to determine when someone's problems are serious enough to warrant treatment. But he added that red flags should go up if the person's behavior changes significantly. In kids or teens, signs of problems include dropping grades in school and withdrawal from activities and others.
The research also found:
_ Forty-six percent of all U.S. adults will suffer from some kind of mental disorder in their lifetimes, with the majority of the problems falling into the category of mood disorders such as depression.
_ Phobias and anxiety disorders are the most common mental-health problems in the United States, affecting about 18 percent of the population in the past year.
_ Mental disorders often come in clusters. Researchers found that 45 percent of people with one condition also had symptoms of one or more additional disorders.
_ Most mental-health problems in the past year were mild (40.4 percent) or moderate (37.3 percent), while 22.3 percent were classified as serious.
_ About 6 percent of the U.S. population is severely disabled by a mental illness.
(c) 2005, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.