Outdated legislation that requires MPs who have been detained under the Mental Health Act to stand down has been branded 'untenable' by the Government, representing the strongest move yet towards outlawing mental health discrimination in Parliament. Section 141 of the Mental Health Act means that MPs have to resign if they are sectioned for more than six months, and the Government has come under considerable pressure this month to repeal the law 'as soon as practicable' (1). There is widespread agreement amongst mental health organisations and parliamentarians alike that requiring an MP to resign after a period in mental health hospital care is unfair and unfit for modern times, with a survey of MPs showing that over two-thirds believed that Section 141 was 'wrong'. However, this latest move would see a review of the law go to a select committee for consideration, rather than being repealed in a current bill (2), adding delays to the process meaning the law may not change ahead of the General Election.
People across England will be joining forces to demonstrate their outrage at Gordon Brown's failure to act on his promise to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions, by taking part in a simultaneous 'wake-up phone call' to No 10. The wake-up call will take place at 11am on Monday 1 February 2010, representing the eleventh hour of the campaign, with large numbers of people with long-term conditions, their carers, families and health care professionals expected to call the Downing Street phone lines. Due to the urgency of the situation, the coalition is encouraging people to take this unusual campaigning approach. If legislation is not implemented during the next few weeks, free prescriptions will not become a reality before the General Election. In fact, if Mr Brown does not abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions before the election, the whole policy is at risk of failure as Labour are behind in the opinion polls and no other party has indicated any intention to change current legislation.
News outlets look at developments in Medicaid issues. The Associated Press/ABC News reports on Louisiana: "Sen. Mary Landrieu defended the Senate's version of health care overhaul legislation - and language in it that provides up to $365 million in Medicaid money for Louisiana - as she discussed what her fellow Democrats should do after losing a crucial Senate seat to a Massachusetts Republican." Landrieu said she supports continuing efforts to reach a consensus on reform. Landrieu's support for the Senate health overhaul, which came after the provision for Medicaid money for Louisiana was added, led to criticism from opponents that Democratic leaders bought her vote (McGill, 1/20). The Kansas Health Institute reports on a Medicaid call-in center in the state: "A toll-free help line for Medicaid clients and their medical providers that was slated to be dismantled due to budget pressures will remain open, officials announced today. HP Enterprise Services, the contractor that processes Medicaid claims for the state, has agreed to accept reduced rates for providing customer service calls in exchange for having its annual contract with the state extended to 2013 with options to extend again in 2014 and 2015.
An interdisciplinary team coordinated by researchers from the University of Castilla La Mancha (UCLM) and the Canary Islands Health Service has evaluated the economic impact of mental illness in Spain, and estimated their social cost. According to the study, despite health resources being invested to alleviate the effects of such illnesses, informal care and lost work time places a heavy burden on society. Mental illnesses affect a large number of people, impact on their quality of life and have high socioeconomic costs. "The three disease groups that the National Health System spends most on in Spain are cancer, circulatory system diseases and mental illnesses", Juan Oliva, lead author of the study and a researcher at the UCLM, tells SINC. The study, published recently in the European Journal of Health Economics, shows that mental illnesses are the second leading cause of temporary and permanent sick leave, after osteomuscular complaints. In addition, people suffering from mental illnesses are the fourth most likely to receive informal care (provided by non-professional carers, usually families), following those who have suffered strokes and heart attacks, dementia and osteomuscular disease.
The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury today jointly issued new rules providing parity for consumers enrolled in group health plans who need treatment for mental health or substance use disorders. "The rules we are issuing today will, for the first time, help assure that those diagnosed with these debilitating and sometimes life-threatening disorders will not suffer needless or arbitrary limits on their care, " said Secretary Sebelius. "I applaud the long-standing and bipartisan effort that made these important new protections possible." "Today's rules will bring needed relief to families faced with meeting the cost of obtaining mental health and substance abuse services, " said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The benefits will give these Americans access to greatly needed medical treatment, which will better allow them to participate fully in society. That's not just sound policy, it's the right thing to do." "Workers covered by group health plans who need mental health and substance abuse care deserve fair treatment, " said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin.
The University of Queensland has joined a consortium trialling a new support program for families caring for relatives with mental illness. The Manager of UQ's Research Centre for Youth Substance Abuse, Dr Angela White, said families in this situation often experienced significant levels of emotional and practical stress, trauma, anxiety, disruption and strain. She said more family members were needed to take part in trialling the new program entitled "Family Connections" and funded by Rotary Health Australia. "Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of these families have significant physical, emotional and psychiatric health problems including depression, " Dr White said. "Some family members may also face difficulties accessing existing services, for example due to issues of geographical isolation, or work commitments. Other family members may access treatment programs but may not receive adequate information." The new program, being trialled by UQ in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Wollongong, is a correspondence-based support program for family members caring for relatives with psychosis.
A study that looked at how people behave during pandemics has identified key demographic and psychological factors that may predict protective behaviours. The study is published online, in the British Journal of Health Psychology. Dr Alison Bish and Professor Susan Michie at the Health Psychology Unit, University College London, investigated the results of a number of studies into how people behave during pandemics, such as the recent swine flu outbreak, to better understand protective behaviour and to improve interventions and communication in the future. The review included the results of 26 published studies on associations between demographic factors, attitudes and behavioural measures during outbreaks including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) between November 2002 and July 2003, Bird Flu (Avian influenza) in 1997, and Swine Flu (in 2009). Dr Bish said: "These illnesses have far reaching effects because of how easily they are transmitted. When an outbreak occurs however, people can choose to take steps to protect themselves.
Interim rules for implementing parity include victories for fairness in insurance coverage for individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders, but some important issues must still be resolved, the American Psychiatric Association said today after the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury released implementation rules. The APA is reviewing and analyzing the newly announced regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The law applies to employers with 50 or more workers whose group health plan chooses to offer mental health or substance use disorder benefits. MHPAEA requires that any group health plan that includes mental health and substance use disorder benefits ensure that the benefit is no more restrictive than medical and surgical coverage in terms of out-of-pocket costs, benefit limits and practices such as prior authorization and utilization review. The APA believes an important clarification in the regulations is a clear statement that the law requires that any group health plan that includes mental health and substance use disorder benefits along with standard medical and surgical coverage must treat them equally in terms of practices such as prior authorization and utilization review.
Suicide Risk In Men With Prostate-specific Antigen-Detected Early Prostate Cancer: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study From PCBaSe Sweden
UroToday.com - PSA screening remains controversial. In addition to questions over decreased mortality, concerns exist over the psychological trauma from an elevated PSA level and the results of a prostate biopsy. The ultimate tragic endpoint would be a patient committing suicide over a new diagnosis of prostate cancer (CaP). In the online version of European Urology, Anna Bill-Axelson and Swedish colleagues report that there is no increased risk of suicide among men with CaP diagnosed by PSA testing, but increased risk does exist for men with advanced CaP. The study cohort is a combined Swedish database of men diagnosed with CaP between 1997 and 2006. Cross-linkage permitted identification of socio-economic variables and cause of death with these CaP patients. Among the 77, 439 men in the database, 128 suicides were identified, for a suicide rate of 48.3 per 100, 000 person-years. The corresponding age and standardized suicide rate in the general population was 31.9 per 100, 000 person years and the expected number of suicides was 84.
Boys face high rates of a variety of mental health issues, in addition to lagging behind girls in academic performance and college attendance, according to two new papers by University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Judith Kleinfeld. The studies, recently published in the journal Gender Issues, note that boys have higher rates of suicide, conduct disorders, emotional disturbance, premature death and juvenile delinquency than their female peers, as well as lower grades, test scores and college attendance rates. The first paper, "The State of American Boyhood, " offers a status report on the academic, mental and social health of boys in the United States. Her conclusion: There is neither a "girl crisis" nor a "boy crisis." "Rather, boys and girls suffer from different types of characteristic problems, " Kleinfeld wrote, noting that girls have higher rates of depression, suicide attempts and eating disorders. "Schools need to pay attention to the difficulties of both girls and boys and bring these problems to the attention of families, teachers and mental health professionals.