Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

A gut-full of probiotics for your neurological well-being

From the 5 July 2011 Science Daily article

Probiotics, often referred to as ‘good bacteria’, are known to promote a healthy gut, but can they promote a healthy mind? Exploring the new world of neurological probiotics, researchers in BioEssays present new ideas on how neurochemicals delivered directly to the gut, via probiotic intestinal microbiota, exert their beneficial effects in maintaining gastrointestinal health and even psychological well-being.
The research, led by Professor Mark Lyte from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, proposes that through a unifying process of microbial endocrinology, neurochemical-producing probiotics could act as a delivery mechanism for neuroactive compounds that could improve a host’s gastrointestinal and psychological health.
“This paper proposes a new field of microbial endocrinology, where microbiology meets neuroscience,” said Lyte. “There is already evidence to suggest that the connection between gut microbes and the nervous system represents a viable route for influencing neurological function. A recent study in mice, for example, showed that the presence of neurochemicals such a serotonin in the bloodstream was due to direct uptake from the gut.”
In his hypothesis Professor Lyte considers the selection of probiotics, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and how the active uptake of neurochemicals, generated by bacteria in the gut and circulated through a patient’s bloodstream, represents a pathway for probiotics to exert extra-intestinal effects including behavioral changes.

 

A link to the abstract of the research article may be found here.
Access to the full text of the article requires a subscription.
Click here for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost. 

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | 2 Comments

The Sound Of Music Benefits Everyone

music therapy

Image via Wikipedia

From the 6 May 2011 Medical News Today article

Children with disabilities and their parents are likely to benefit from music therapy sessions, which can improve social, motor and communication skills, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) research has found.

Kate Williams studied the effect of the Sing & Grow music therapy intervention on children with disabilities and found that music therapy also provided benefits for parent-child bonding and for parental mental health….

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Impact of a bad job on mental health as harmful as no job at all

Impact of a bad job on mental health as harmful as no job at all

From a March 14 Science Daily news item

ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2011) — The impact on mental health of a badly paid, poorly supported, or short term job can be as harmful as no job at all, indicates research published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Because being in work is associated with better mental health than unemployment, government policies have tended to focus on the risks posed by joblessness, without necessarily considering the impact the quality of a job may have, say the authors.

For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

 

 

March 15, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | 1 Comment

Gulf War Illness (Gulf War Syndrome) Resources of Note

Approximate area and major clashes in which DU...

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Gulf War syndrome

Image via WikipediaGulf War Illness (Gulf War Syndrome) Resources of Note

Gulf War Illness (Gulf War Syndrome) Resources of Note

A few good relatively comprehensive Web sites

The VA recognizes certain infectious diseases as related to military service in Southwest Asia during the first Gulf War starting August 2, 1990, through the conflict in Iraq and on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Image via Wikipedia

Some examples
Some links at this Web page

Military and Veterans Health Care(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)
Military Mental Health(American Psychiatric Association)
Resources for Returning Veterans and Their Families(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Organizations

Medical Librarian Karen Estrada is the publisher. Mrs. Estrada serves clinical medical professionals state-side and abroad (military & civilian), members of the military, veterans, military families, military medicine/health researchers, and organizations (mil/vet) located all over the globe including ‘in theater’ (Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait).”

A few more Web sites

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Genes of the immune system are associated with increased risk of mental illness

Genes of the immune system are associated with increased risk of mental illness

From a February 3, 2011 Eureka news alert

Genes linked to the immune system can affect healthy people’s personality traits as well as the risk of developing mental illness and suicidal behaviour, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Inflammation is part of the immune system and is responsible for defending humans against infection as well as fascilitating the healing of injuries, and is therefore vital for our survival. Research has demonstrated that inflammatory processes also have other roles to play as inflammatory substances produced by the body influence mechanisms in the brain involving learning and memory.

Inflammatory substances produced in moderate quantities in the brain can be beneficial during the formation of new brain cells, for example. However, an increase in the levels of these substances as is the case during illness, can result in damage to the brain.

“Previous studies have shown that individuals suffering from various mental illnesses have an increased peripheral inflammation, but the reason behind this increase is not known,” says Petra Suchankova Karlsson, who wrote the thesis. “It has been suggested that the stress that goes with mental illness activates the body’s immune system, but it is also possible that inflammation in the body affects the brain, which in turn results in mental illness.”

Previous studies have focused on how environmental and psychological factors affect the immune system’s impact on the brain. Suchankova’s thesis presents, for the first time, results that suggest that several different genes linked to the immune system are associated with healthy people’s personality traits. It also demonstrates that some of these genes are associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia or suicidal behaviour….

 

 

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unemployment: A health risk

Unemployment: A health risk

Unemployment rate in Europe (UE) and United St...

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[Click on image to enlarge, graph caption – Unemployment rate: Europe and the United States : 1993-2009]

From the February 4, 2011 Eureka news alert

Compared to people in employment, men and women who are unemployed suffer more often and longer from both physical and emotional complaints. Why the un-employed should have health problems more often is discussed by Lars E. Kroll and his coauthor in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 4: 47-52), along with a report on the findings of the GEDA study. [It is in English]

The GEDA study (Gesundheit in Deutschland Aktuell, or Current Health in Germany) was carried out in 2008-2009 by the Robert Koch Institute. The results showed that unemployed people between the ages of 30 and 59 years are especially often affected by physical, emotional, and functional impairments such as sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance addictions. As a result, the unemployed make more use of the health care system.

The health consequences of unemployment result from loss of income, loss of so-cial contacts in the workplace, or loss of social reputation. Unemployed men and women who are supported by their partners, family members, or friends are less frequently affected by these complaints.

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http://www.aerzteblatt.de/v4/archiv/pdf.asp?id=80529

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Low Cost Mental Health Care (written for teens)

Finding Low Cost Mental Health Care (written for teens)

Finding Low-Cost Mental Health Care

From the Nemour Foundation Teen Health article

In addition to school counselors, these options were presented, as well as how to get help in a crisis, how to get financial assistance, what to do if you don’t want your parents to know you are seeking mental health help, and prescription assistance

  • Local mental health centers and clinics. These groups are funded by federal and state governments so they charge less than you might pay a private therapist. Search online for “mental health services” and the name of the county or city where you live. Or, go to the website for the National Association of Free Clinics. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’Health Resources and Services Administration also provides a list of federally funded clinics by state.
    (Note: By clicking either of these links, you will be leaving the TeensHealth site.)

    One thing to keep in mind: Not every mental health clinic will fit your needs. Some might not work with people your age. For example, a clinic might specialize in veterans or kids with developmental disabilities. It’s still worth a call, though. Even if a clinic can’t help you, the people who work there might recommend someone who can.

  • Hospitals. Call your local hospitals and ask what kinds of mental health services they offer — and at what price. Teaching hospitals, where doctors are trained, often provide low- or no-cost services.
  • Colleges and universities. If a college in your area offers graduate degrees in psychology or social work, the students might run free or low-cost clinics as part of their training.
  • On-campus health services. If you’re in college or about to start, find out what kind of counseling and therapy your school offers and at what cost. Ask if they offer financial assistance for students.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These free programs provide professional therapists to evaluate people for mental health conditions and offer short-term counseling. Not everyone has access to this benefit: EAPs are run through workplaces, so you (or your parents) need to work for an employer that offers this type of program.
  • Private therapists. Ask trusted friends and adults who they’d recommend, then call to see if they offer a “sliding fee scale” (this means they charge based on how much you can afford to pay). Some psychologists even offer certain services for free, if necessary. You can find a therapist in your area by going to the website for your state’s psychological association or to the site for the American Psychological Association (APA). To qualify for low-cost services, you may need to prove financial need. If you still live at home, that could mean getting parents or guardians involved in filling out paperwork. But your therapist will keep everything confidential.

Additional Mental Health resources, especially for teens

  • Teen Health – Your Mind has links to many articles written for teens in areas as Parents, Feeling Sad, Mental Health, Feelings and Emotions, Body Image, Families, Friends,  and Dealing with Problems
  • Teen Mental Health (MedlinePlus) has links to Web pages about treatment, specific conditions (as cutting), patient handouts, and more

 

 

December 23, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientist shows link between diet and onset of mental illness

From the December 13 2010 Eureka news alert

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Changes in diet have been linked to a reduction of abnormal behaviors in mentally ill people or animals, but a Purdue University study shows that diet might also trigger the onset of mental illness in the first place.

Joseph Garner, an associate professor of animal sciences, fed mice a diet high in sugar and tryptophan that was expected to reduce abnormal hair-pulling. Instead, mice that were already ill worsened their hair-pulling behaviors or started a new self-injurious scratching behavior, and the seemingly healthy mice developed the same abnormal behaviors.

“This strain of mouse is predisposed to being either a scratcher or a hair-puller. Giving them this diet brought out those predispositions,” said Garner, whose results were published in the December issue of the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. “They’re like genetically at-risk people.”…

…Garner’s study raises questions of how diet might be affecting other behavioral or mental illnesses such as autism, Tourette syndrome, trichotillomania and skin-picking. He said that before now, a link between diet and the onset of mental disorders hadn’t been shown.

“What if the increase of simple sugars in the American diet is contributing to the increase of these diseases?” Garner said. “Because we fed the mice more tryptophan than in the typical human diet, this experiment doesn’t show that, but it certainly makes it a possibility.”

Garner next wants to refine the experiments to better imitate human dietary habits, including the amount of tryptophan people consume. Internal Purdue funding paid for his work..
…Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/101213GarnerTryptophan.html

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Pain and depression: Is there a link?

From the Mayo Clinic article by Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.

Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.

In many people, depression causes unexplained physical symptoms such as back pain or headaches. Sometimes this kind of pain is the first or the only sign of depression.

Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem due to work, legal or financial issues. Depression doesn’t just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It’s also common in people who have pain linked to a health condition such as diabetes or migraines.

To get symptoms of pain and depression under control, you may need separate treatment for each condition. However, some treatments may help with both.

Because of shared chemical messengers in the brain, antidepressant medications can relieve both pain and depression.

Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) can be effective in treating both conditions.

Stress-reduction techniques, meditation, staying active, journaling and other strategies also may help.

Treatment for co-occurring pain and depression may be most effective when it involves a combination of treatments.

If you have pain and depression, get help before your symptoms worsen. You don’t have to be miserable. Getting the right treatment can help you start enjoying life again.

Some related links

Pain (MedlinePlus topic) has links to overviews, latest news, alternative therapies, health check tools, videos, research, and more

Depression (MedlinePlus topic) has links to overviews, latest news, treatments, related issues, and more

Depression (eMedicine Health) includes information on types of depression, causes, treatments, getting help, and much more
American Chronic Pain Association includes a consumer guide to pain medications and treatments, pain management tools

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friends May Be Key to Churchgoers’ Happiness

From the December 7 Health Day news item

Spiritual aspects less significant for life satisfaction, survey finds

TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) — Regular churchgoers may lead more satisfying lives than stay-at-home folks because they create a network of close friends who provide important support, a new study suggests.

Conducted at the University of Wisconsin, the researchers found that 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they are “extremely satisfied” with life as opposed to only 20 percent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found.

Regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church, according to the research.

Study co-author Chaeyoon Lim said it’s long been recognized that churchgoers report more satisfaction with their lives. But, “scholars have been debating the reason,” he said.

“Do happier people go to church? Or does going to church make people happier?” asked Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

This study, published in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, appears to show that going to church makes people more satisfied with life because of the close friendships established there.

Feeling close to God, prayer, reading scripture and other religious rituals were not associated with a prediction of greater satisfaction with life. Instead, in combination with a strong religious identity, the more friends at church that participants reported, the greater the likelihood they felt strong satisfaction with life……

…….

In addition to church attendance, respondents were asked how many close friends they had in and outside of their congregations, and questions about their health, education, income, work and whether their religious identity was very important to their “sense of self.”

Respondents who said they experienced “God’s presence” were no more likely to report feeling greater satisfaction with their lives than those who did not. Only the number of close friends in their congregations and having a strong religious identity predicted feeling extremely satisfied with life.

One reason may be that “friends who attend religious services together give religious identity a sense of reality,” the authors said.

The study drew a skeptical response from one expert.

“Some of their conclusions are a little shaky,” said Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

The study showed that religious identity is just as important as how many friends a person has in their congregation, said Koenig, also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the university.

The way the data was analyzed ensured that the spiritual factors (prayer, feeling God’s love, etc.) would not be significant because people with a strong religious identity were controlled for, or not included in the analysis, according to Koenig.

“Religious identity is what is driving all these other factors,” said Koenig. Social involvement is important, “but so is faith.”

Lim said the data show that only the number of close friends at church correlates with higher satisfaction with life. The study acknowledged the importance of religious identity, as well as number of friends, suggesting that the two factors reinforce each other.

“Social networks forged in congregations and strong religious identities are the key variables that mediate the positive connection between religion and life satisfaction,” the study concluded.

Lim said he wanted to examine whether social networks in organizations such as Rotary Clubs, the Masons or other civic volunteer groups could have a similar impact, but it might be difficult.

“It’s hard to imagine any other organization that engages as many people as religion, and that has similar shared identity and social activities,” said Lim. “It’s not easy to think of anything that’s equivalent to that.”


 

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness is a Focused Mind

HealthDay news imageWhen people’s minds wandered, they reported more dissatisfaction, study found

From a November 11, 2010 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) — If you want to be happy, try to stay focused.

New research shows that when people’s minds drifted from the task or activity at hand, they reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in whatever they were doing.

The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering — that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen, explained study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human, he noted.

Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they’re doing, they feel less happy, the researchers discovered…

….The study is published in the Nov. 12 issue of Science.

 

 

 

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

When It Comes to Math, Females Are As Smart As Males

[Editor Flahiff’s note…When I was in high school in the 70’s…I do not recall any buzz about girls not doing as good at math…
or that girls had to “dumb down” in order to be attractive to boys….my peer group “pressure” was to do one’s best academically, but be friendly to all regardless of grades/abilities]

 

Study of nearly 1.3 million students finds no difference in abilities

Excerpt from this Health Day news item

TUESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) — Males and females have equal math skills, a new report confirms.

Researchers reviewed 242 studies published between 1990 and 2007 that assessed the math skills of nearly 1.3 million people from grade school to college and beyond. They also examined the findings of several large, long-term scientific studies.

Both analyses showed a “meaningless” difference in math skills between males and females. The findings were published in the Oct. 11 online edition of the journal Psychological Bulletin.

(Editor’s note…The full text may be available at your local academic, public,  or medical library…ask a reference librarian for details. You may be charged for the article if the library has to obtain it from another library)

While social scientists agree that both genders have equal math abilities, many parents and teachers still believe boys are better at math than girls. This can lead them to guide girls away from careers in math-heavy sciences or engineering, said the study’s chief author Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

October 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Could Excess Computer, TV Time Harm Kids Psychologically?

 

Study suggests a link, but cause-and-effect relationship unclear, experts say
Excerpt From the HealthDay News item

 

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) — Pre-teens who spent more than two hours a day in front of the TV or computer were at greater risk of having psychological problems than youngsters averaging less screen time, even if the kids also tended to be physically active, new research finds.

The study, published online Oct. 11 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, found that the risk of psychological difficulties increased by about 60 percent when kids between 10 and 11 years old spent more than two hours daily watching TV or playing on the computer.

“Children who spent more than two hours per day watching television or using a computer were at increased risk of high levels of psychological difficulties,” regardless of how physically active they were, study lead author Angie Page, from the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Bristol in England, and colleagues found.

Still, the experts stressed that the study can’t discern whether media exposure causes psychological woes in kids, or whether troubled children simply prefer spending time in front of computers or the TV.

 

 

 

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

APA Releases New Guidelines on the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder

Excerpts from an American Psychiatric Association press release (Oct 1, 2010)

ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 1, 2010) – The American Psychiatric Association has released a new clinical practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.  This guideline updates a previous version published 10 years ago and includes new evidence-based recommendations on the use of antidepressant medications, depression-focused psychotherapies, and somatic treatments such as electro-convulsive therapy. The guideline addresses other topics as well, including alternative and complementary treatments, the treatment of depression during pregnancy, and strategies for treatment-resistant depression.

A few key changes to the guidelines include:

Rating Scales: The guideline recommends potentially using a clinician- and/or patient- administered rating scale to assess the type, frequency, and magnitude of psychiatric symptoms in order to tailor the treatment plan to match the needs of the particular patient.

New Strategies for Treatment-Resistant Depression: The guideline explains that electro-convulsive therapy has the strongest data supporting it as a treatment for patients who do not respond to multiple medication trials. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation have also been added as potential treatments for these patients. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, known as MAOIs, are also an option.

Exercise and Other Healthy Behaviors: The guideline cites randomized, controlled trials that demonstrate at least a modest improvement in mood symptoms for patients who engage in aerobic exercise or resistance training. Regular exercise may also reduce the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the general population, with specific benefit found in older adultsand individuals with co-occurring medical problems.

•Maintenance Treatment Recommendation Strengthened: The guideline recommends that after the continuation phase, maintenance treatment should be considered, especially for patients with risk factors for recurrence. Maintenance treatment should definitely be provided for patients with more than three prior depressive episodes or chronic illness.

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , | Leave a comment

Severe Lack of Psychiatric Resources in the US

National Institute of Mental Health Clinical C...

National Institute of Mental Health Clinical Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a Military Health Matters! blog item by Karen Estrada, MS

This is a brand new published interview-series (7 parts), with psychiatrists Dr. Joe Parks, Dr. Richard H. Weisler, and Dr. Henry A. Nasrallah on the magnitude, impact, and means of addressing this critical situation. I highly recommend not only reading this synopsis but to read through the entire series as well.

Summary:

  • Evidence shows that this country is short 45,000 psychiatrists.
  • According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD),[3] mental health spending dropped 5% from 2009 to 2010 and it is predicted to go down another 8% in 2011.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness study in North Carolina found that there were 3000 people on a waiting list for admission in only the first 6 months of the year; 212 people out of 3000 waited more than a week and 900 just quit looking — they just left.
  • References.

Editor’s Note:

“The United States is facing a severe lack of psychiatric care resources. Given the current economic crisis, the problem is only getting worse as state budgets for mental health care continue to be cut.”

Evidence shows that this country is short 45,000 psychiatrists.

At times of stress, like we have had in the last few years with the economy, there is an increase in psychiatric demand, particularly in terms of depression, anxiety, suicidality, and drug abuse.

The seriously mentally ill patients are not well served for numerous reasons. Beyond just a lack of resources, the system is a problem unto itself.

Psychiatry is the number-one area in which more professionals are needed.

According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD),[3] mental health spending dropped 5% from 2009 to 2010 and it is predicted to go down another 8% in 2011.

Is the Economy to Blame?

“The economy is an easy scapegoat for the recent decline in mental health resources, but it sounds like the consensus is that the system has been at least partially broken for quite a while. “

The single biggest cause of suffering for many of our patients is that they cannot be admitted to a hospital when they relapse during medical treatment. According to a 2010 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center,[4] there was 1 bed per 300 people in the United States in 1955; currently, we have 1 bed for every 3000 people.

Maldistribution.

There are wide variances in overall funding for mental health resources, whether it’s hospital beds or community resources. There are huge maldistributions in terms of psychiatrists per 100,000 people.

There are about 3 or 4 times the number or psychiatrists in New York or Massachusetts per capita, compared with states like Texas. There are fewer psychiatrists for severely ill patients than it appears because only a small percentage of them are really seeing the very sick patients. Relatively few psychiatrists choose to work in community mental health centers or state or VA hospitals, where the sickest and most disabled patients are.

The key thing is not to treat patients in isolation, you have to reach out and develop relationships.

The recent removal of consultation codes for Medicare and some other insurance providers may undermine efforts to increase interdisciplinary consultations and collaboration because of reduced reimbursements.

Model of collaborative care.

The primary care of the seriously mentally ill is in this country, especially after the CATIE study found that a large proportion of persons with schizophrenia in the outpatient setting in the United States had their serious medical problems ignored.[11] There is hardly any relationship between community mental health centers and primary care clinics.

The CATIE study showed:

●      60% of patients with schizophrenia who had frank hypertension had never received an antihypertensive drug.

●      90% of those who had high cholesterol or triglycerides had never received a statin.

●      30% of those with clinical diabetes have never received treatment for diabetes.

“This reflects an unconscionable neglect of the physical health of the mentally ill, and it is a result of this lack of bridging between primary care and psychiatry, especially in community mental health centers.”

Prisons: The New Psych Ward.

What are the ramifications of inadequate mental health resources?

There needs to be about 40 beds per 100,000 people, there is only 17 per 100,000. Hundreds of thousands of psychiatric patients are now being sent to correctional facilities.

According to some studies and statistics:

●      35%-54% of prisoners have symptoms of mania.

●      16%-30% have major depression.

●      10%-24% have some psychotic symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations (Table 2).[4,12]

●      Even more conservative estimates reflect that 16% of prisoners have mental illness.[13]

Many of the people with mental illness have co-occurring substance abuse and disorders, and many of their convictions are substance abuse related.  Prisons are releasing to the community people with chronic mental illness; this only predisposes them to repetitive rehospitalization for psychotic and manic episodes due to poor adherence or, more likely, incarceration.

Emergency Rooms.

The ER is where everybody goes when they have a medical illness but no primary care provider, and the same thing happens with the mentally ill.  A substantial number of those who present to the ER have a mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness study in North Carolina found that there were 3000 people on a waiting list for admission in only the first 6 months of the year; 212 people out of 3000 waited more than a week and 900 just quit looking — they just left.[15]

Is Healthcare Reform the Answer?

By improving the reimbursement for mental illness — the hospitalized mentally ill — would definitely incentivize hospitals to stop closing those units and maybe even to open new ones.

A report entitled “Recommendations to Foster System Reform for Adults With Serious Mental Illness,”[16] identifying 5 key priorities for legislative, policy, and program implementation as part of National Health Reform.

The 5 key priorities are:

●      Developing a set of performance measures specific to treatment of mental illness.

●      Designating persons with mental illness a health disparities population.

●      Including mental health treatment providers in federal funding and policy related to health information technology initiatives.

●      Making sure that the new healthcare home initiatives adequately address mental illness.

●      Developing a national definition of “medical necessity” that adequately meets the needs of persons with mental illness.

References

  1. Konrad TR, Ellis AR, Thomas KC, Holzer CE, Morrissey JP. County-level estimates of mental health professional shortage in the United States. Psychiatr Serv. 2009;60:1323-1328. Abstract
  2. President’s mental health commission recommends transforming America’s mental health care system. Mental Health Commission Web site. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov/press/july03press.htm. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  3. As economy takes toll, mental health budgets shrink. Stateline Website. Available at: http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=499181. Accessed September 3, 2010.
  4. Torrey EF. More mentally ill persons are in jails and prisons than hospitals: a survey of the states. Available at: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/tac/documents/final_jails_v_hospitals_study.pdf Accessed September 3, 2010.
  5. Wing JK. How many psychiatric beds? Psychol Med. 1971;1:188-190.
  6. Goplerud EN. Assessing methods of predicting the need for psychiatric beds. Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1986;37:391-395. Abstract
  7. Häfner H. Do we still need beds for psychiatric patients? An analysis of changing patterns of mental health care. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1987;75:113-126. Abstract
  8. Hirsch SR, Gerrard B, Malin H, et al. Psychiatric Beds and Resources: Factors Influencing Bed Use and Service Planning. Report of a Working Party of the Section for Social and Community Psychiatry of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. London: Gaskell; 1988.
  9. Davis GE, Lowell WE, Davis GL. Determining the number of state psychiatric hospital beds by measuring quality of care with artificial neural networks. Am J Medical Quality. 1998;13:13-24.
  10. Hagedorn H. A Manual on State Mental Health Planning. NIMH, DHEW Publication No. ADM77-473. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1977.
  11. Nasrallah HA, Meyer JM, Goff DC, et al. Low rates of treatment for hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes in schizophrenia: data from the CATIE schizophrenia trial sample at baseline. Schizophr Res. 2006;86:15-22.Abstract
  12. Kuehn BM. Mental health courts show promise. JAMA. 2007;297:1641-1643.Abstract
  13. Lamb RH, Weinberger LE. The shift of psychiatric inpatient care from hospitals to jails and prisons. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2005;33:529-534.Abstract
  14. Swartz MS, Swanson JW, Wagner HR, Burns BJ, Hiday VA, Borum R. Can involuntary outpatient commitment reduce hospital recidivism?: Findings from a randomized trial with severely mentally ill individuals. Am J Psychiatry. 1999;156:1968-1975.Abstract
  15. Biesecker M. Mentally ill often turned away, end up in ER. Raleigh News and Observer. August 7, 2010. Available at:http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/08/07/618475/mentally-ill-often-turned-away.html Accessed September 13, 2010.
  16. National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors. Recommendations to Foster System Reform for Adults With Serious Mental Illness. Available at:http://nacbhdd.org/content/Fostering%20System%20Reform%209-8-10.pdf Accessed September 14, 2010.
  17. Pies R. “Prescribing psychologists:” practicing medicine without a license? March 29, 2010. Psychiatric Times. Available at:http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/geriatric-psychiatry/content/article/10168/1545667 Accessed September 15, 2010.

SOURCE

Stetka B. “US Psychiatric Resources: A Country in Crisis” September 22, 2010. Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/728676 [Accessed 22 Sept 2010].

Please See More: Severe Lack of Psychiatric Resources in the US  – Today on Milhealth’s Directory – MHD http://www.milhealthsdirectory.org/today-on-milhealths-directory/severe-lack-of-psychiatric-resources-in-the-us.html#ixzz10ivE2ipf
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mental Illness Alone Not Linked to Violence

Mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder alone do not make people more violent, but the tendency of people with psychiatric problems to abuse drugs or alcohol does, scientists said on Monday.

Excerpt

Researchers from Britain and Sweden who studied rates of violent crime among people with severe mental disorders said it appeared that the higher risk of substance abuse is the key.

They found that while rates of violent crime are higher among people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia than in the general population, they are similar in people with mental illness and those who abuse substances but are not mentally ill.

When the results were adjusted to removed the influence of alcohol or illegal drug abuse, rates of violence among psychiatric patients were barely changed from levels in the general population, they said.

“Substance abuse is really the key mediator of violent crime. If you take away the substance abuse, the contribution of the illness…is very minimal,” said Seena Fazel of Oxford University’s department of psychiatry, who led a study.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

College Campuses See Rise in Cases of Severe Mental Illness

More students arriving with preexisting conditions, more willing to seek help, researchers say

Excerpt:

After examining intake information concerning mental disorders, suicidal tendencies and behavioral reports, the team determined that over the years most students had been diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders and that, on average, the nature of these cases had remained relatively mild over time.

August 13, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

PBS Series – This Emotional Life

The PBS Series This Emotional Life explored questions relating to happiness, adolescent angst and other mental health and wellness topics.

One may visit this site to view topics in this television series as well as discuss current news items and “participate in the ongoing exploration of mental health and wellness.”

Topics include Adolescence, Stress & Anxiety, Forgiveness, Anger, Autism, and many more.
Perspectives are theme-based collections of videos, interviews and stories. Subjects include Falling in Love, and The Meaning of Happiness.
People and Blogs offers personal stories and expert insights.
Resource Finder includes links to online resources and organizations.

Facebook and Twitter options are at the Home Page.

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

   

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