Health and Fitness

Pentagon And Congress Should Act Quickly To End Gay Military Ban, APA Says

The American Psychological Association urged both the Pentagon and Congress to move swiftly to end the restrictions on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, noting that there are decades of scientific research demonstrating no threat to military readiness or morale. "While we were heartened by the congressional testimony of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, we believe that a year to study the matter and another year to implement change is too long, " said APA President Carol Goodheart, Ed.D. "The military has proved itself willing, able and effective in the integration of African Americans and of women. This experience can and should inform efforts to end the current situation in which gay and lesbian service members, who everyone acknowledges are currently serving, must conceal their sexual orientation to avoid being discharged." Admiral Mullen, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary Gates testified on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee in favor of allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

Mental Health America Welcomes Increases For Mental Health Programs In President's Budget

Mental Health America commended the Obama Administration for proposing a Fiscal Year 2011 Budget that contains increases for most of the nation's public health agencies, which highlights the need to invest in critical mental health supports and services beyond important steps that would be taken through health care reform. The budget, which was released on Monday, prioritizes public health programs, including increases in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), despite a difficult fiscal landscape. Mental Health America looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to build upon the proposed budget, which includes a $110 million increase (3.1 percent) for SAMHSA, a $1 billion increase (3 percent) for the National Institutes of Health and a $5.2 billion increase (8 percent increase) for mental health care services at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Administration's proposed funding increases would expand the crucial services and supports, research, and prevention interventions for people living with, or at risk of, mental illness that are provided or supported not only through SAMHSA, but at other agencies such as NIH, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statement Of Mental Health America On Regulations Implementing Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act

Mental Health America applauds the release of the regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. We greatly appreciate all the thoughtful work that the staff and leaders of the three agencies charged with implementing this law put into developing these regulations. They clarify a number of key issues that will greatly help to ensure the intent of the parity law- to prohibit discriminatory treatment of mental health and substance use conditions-is fully realized and implemented. These regulations clarify that the Wellstone-Domenici parity law prohibits plans from discriminating against mental health and substance use treatment in application of medical management, prescription formulary design, standards for provider admission into preferred provider network, determination of usual and customary amounts of care, and fail first or step therapy requirements. This clarification is extremely important since these discriminatory practices are widespread and pernicious.

Fish Oil May Reduced Risk Of Psychotic Disorders In High Risk Individuals

A new study suggests that people at very high risk of developing psychotic disorders appear less likely to to do so after taking fish oil for three months. The study was conducted by Dr G Paul Amminger from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, and is reported in the February issue of the JAMA/Archives journal Archives of General Psychiatry. As Amminger and colleagues mentioned in their background information, although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of current antipsychotic medication to try and prevent psychotic disorders, there is evidence that early treatment in schizophrenia and other psychoses has been linked to better outcomes. There was also some evidence that long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) could be be beneficial for schizophrenia and a range of other psychotic conditions, and noted that individuals with schizophrenia may have an underlying dysfunction in fatty acid metabolism.

Despite Treatment, Depressed Workers Have Decreased Productivity

Employees with depression have higher costs related to short-term disability and absenteeism-even after receiving antidepressant therapy, reports a study in the February Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Led by Suellen Curkendall, Ph.D., of Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Washington, D.C., the researchers used insurance claims and employee health and productivity databases to look at the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs. The results suggested that employees with depression were about twice as likely to use short-term disability leave, compared to workers without depression. For workers with severe depression, the short-term disability rate was three times higher. Employees with depression also missed more work days. "Even after receiving antidepressant treatment, patients with depression still have significant productivity deficits, " Curkendall and colleagues write.

Immediate Risk Of Suicide And Cardiovascular Death After A Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with prostate cancer may increase a man's risk of suicide or cardiovascular death, especially right after diagnosis, according to a new study published online February 2 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. To study the risks men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States face, Fang Fang, M.D., of the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, in Boston, and colleagues used data from over 340, 000 prostate cancer patients listed in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database between 1979 and 2004 and from the general population. The researchers compared risks in the first year and months after diagnosis. According to the study, 148 men died of suicide (mortality rate = 0.5 per 1, 000 person-years) and 6, 845 died of cardiovascular diseases (mortality rate = 21.8 per 1000 person-years). Increased risk of suicide was found during the first year, in particular the first 3 months.

Survey Finds Americans Hesitant To Seek Mental Health For Confidentiality Reasons

A survey from the American Psychiatric Association has found that workers' fears about losing their status at work and about confidentiality are the reasons American workers hesitate to seek treatment for mental health issues, HealthDay/BusinessWeek reports. "More than 40 percent of the 1, 129 respondents said their employer was supportive or extremely supportive of their workers seeking care for health concerns. However, the online survey also found that barriers persist for workers who said their workplace is unsupportive of employees seeking treatment, especially for mental health concerns." Among those surveyed, 76 percent felt their work status would be damaged if they sought treatment for drug addiction, compared to "73 percent (who felt that way) for alcoholism, and 62 percent for depression, compared with 55 percent who thought seeking care for diabetes would affect their work status and 54 percent for heart disease" (Preidt, 1/31). This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.

New Website To Offer Help, Hope, And A Home For Individuals Affected By Mental Illness

Step Up on Second announces the launch of its newly enhanced Web 2.0 site. Step Up on Second is a California non-profit organization providing support services for adults affected by severe and persistent mental illness, and young adults experiencing the initial symptoms of a mental illness and their families. The interactive site provides resources for loved ones, clients, and family members in search of an organization that can provide help, hope, and a home to individuals affected by mental illness. Members' literary and art works are also featured at the site. "Our new website provides a place for individuals to heal and participate in meaningful opportunities for recovery from mental illness, " states Carolyn Baker, Vice President of Development at Step Up on Second. "Whether the person is directly affected, is a family member, or simply a resident of Anytown, USA, this website is a place of support for developing healthy, hopeful, compassionate communities." The courageous individuals served at Step Up on Second are part of a sobering national picture: 50% of individuals who are homeless are affected by serious mental illness;

Suicides By Mental Health Patients Preventable, Says Report

Preventing patients from leaving psychiatric wards without staff agreement could avoid up to 50 suicide deaths every year, say University of Manchester researchers. A new report by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness suggests that the ward environment may play a part in the level of patients leaving the ward, and that attempts should be made to optimise it. It also urges mental health services to improve awareness among staff of the antecedents of suicide among high-risk groups. The study, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, collected data on 50, 352 people who had died by suicide or unexplained causes in England and Wales between 1997 and 2006. During this 10-year period there were 13, 331 suicide deaths in individuals who had been in contact with mental health services in the year prior to death, of which 1, 851, or 14%, were suicides by current psychiatric patients. The report noted that patient deaths had fallen sharply over the course of the study period, from 221 in 1997 to 141 in 2006.

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting In New Orleans, May 22-26 Features Renowned Experts And Cutting-Edge Research

Top experts and researchers in psychiatry will present cutting-edge research and important clinical updates at the American Psychiatric Association's 2010 Annual Meeting in New Orleans in May. The APA's 163rd Annual Meeting, the world's largest psychiatric meeting, will run Saturday, May 22 to Wednesday, May 26, 2010 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. APA President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D., identified strengthening the scientific program at the Annual Meeting as one of his top priorities, and he has worked with the Scientific Program Committee to recruit prominent speakers, including: -- Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., Deputy Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, headlining the NIDA-sponsored track; -- Francine Benes, M.D., of Harvard, whose work in neuroscience has furthered our understanding of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; -- Daniel Weinberger, M.

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