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#mental health

Morning News Read 8 November 2013.

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Morning News Read 19 September 2013.

…Quietly, lawmakers have been working on several plans that would lead to some of the most significant advancements in treating mental illness in years, proponents said. All stand a good chance of being in the final gun-control bill the Senate is now taking up.

The legislation would, among other things, finance the construction of more community mental health centers, provide grants to train teachers to spot early signs of mental illness and make more Medicaid dollars available for mental health care.

There would be suicide prevention initiatives and support for children who have faced trauma. The sponsors of one of the bills estimated that an additional 1.5 million people with mental illness would be treated each year.

The issue is one of the more distinguishing - and unnoticed - aspects of the gun-control debate, which has been stymied by partisan squabbling.Unlike other initiatives that the Senate is likely to vote on - expanded background checks, a restriction on high-capacity ammunition magazines and a ban on certain semiautomatic weapons - mental health unites lawmakers Republican and Democrat, urban and rural, even those with safe seats versus those who may face competitive races.

One bill, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, has been joined by some of the Senate’s most conservative members who are strongly backed by the National Rifle Association, including Marco Rubio of Florida and Roy Blunt of Missouri, both Republicans.

Another bill, which has the support of Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, and Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, unanimously passed a Senate committee this week, something that could hardly be said about any of the gun legislation.

“This is a place where people can come together,” Ms. Stabenow said. “As we’ve listened to people on all sides of the gun debate, they’ve all talked about the fact that we need to address mental health treatment. And that’s what this does.”

The New York Times, “Rare Accord in Gun Debate on Fixes to Mental Health System”

President Obama’s budget proposal will include $235 million in funding for new mental health programs, focused initiatives to help schools detect early warning signs and train thousands of new mental health professionals.

These proposed new commitments come after the Newtown, Conn. shootings increased interest in the relationship between gun violence and mental health.

“We’ve never seen this kind of sustained interest before,” said an administration official who asked for anonymity to discuss funding that has not been publicly announced. “The administration is very united about addressing this issue.”
This is the first White House budget to include these new programs, which were first outlined in a January report on administration strategies to reduce gun violence.

The new budget plan will propose $130 million for programs that train teachers and other adults to help recognize early signs of mental illness, referring them to help when they detect such warnings. That includes $55 million for a new program called Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education). That will give states and local school districts grants to administer such programs, while also collecting data on how well they work.

Another $50 million in funds would go toward training masters-level mental health specialists such as psychologists, nurses and counselors who work in schools. The idea is to expand the mental health workforce to prepare for the demands of millions of Americans who will gain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“We can’t take 12 years training doctors and post-docs to meet the need in 2014,” the administration official said. “We’re taking a very promising and practical approach.”

Another $25 million would be put towards helping schools, where violence is pervasive, to address the trauma experienced by children and test violence prevention strategies.

The Washington Post, "Obama Budget Includes $235 Million In New Mental Health Spending"

Afghanistan.

If there’s anything that this weekend’s tragic, cold-blooded murder of 16 Afghans by a lone U.S. staff sergeant has taught us, it’s not just that we need to leave this more-than-decade-old theater of war sooner rather than later, but also that now more than ever, the physical AND mental health of our soldiers need to be an absolute top priority for the U.S. military.

We need to stop being surprised that soldiers suffer mental health issues at levels greater than previously thought and actually do something about it.  How many more times does Panjwai need to happen before we start taking this problem seriously?

For adolescents, Facebook and other social media have created an irresistible forum for online sharing and oversharing, so much so that endless mood-of-the-moment updates have inspired a snickering retort on T-shirts and posters: “Face your problems, don’t Facebook them.”

But specialists in adolescent medicine and mental health experts say that dark postings should not be hastily dismissed because they can serve as signs of depression and an early warning system for timely intervention. Whether therapists should engage with patients over Facebook, however, remains a matter of debate.

And parents have their own conundrum: how to distinguish a teenager’s typically melodramatic mutterings — like the “worst day of my life” rants about their “frenemies,” academics or even cafeteria food — from a true emerging crisis.

Last year, researchers examined Facebook profiles of 200 students at the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some 30 percent posted updates that met the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for a symptom of depression, reporting feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, and difficulty concentrating.

Their findings echo research that suggests depression is increasingly common among college students. Some studies have concluded that 30 to 40 percent of college students suffer a debilitating depressive episode each year. Yet scarcely 10 percent seek counseling.

The New York Times, “Trying to Find a Cry of Desperation Amid the Facebook Drama”

Hey, the New York Daily News: no need to be assholes in your hed-writing, okay?

Hey, the New York Daily News: no need to be assholes in your hed-writing, okay?