Severe Mental Illness Appears Not To Be A Barrier To Undergoing Bariatric Surgery

Medscape (5/3, Davenport) reports, “Severe mental illness need not be considered as a barrier to undergoing bariatric surgery,” researchers found after studying “patients who underwent bariatric surgery in 2012–2013 in seven US healthcare systems in the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network.”

The study revealed that “patients with preexisting mental-health disorders can achieve comparable weight loss to those without mental illness.” The findings were published in the May issue of Obesity. The author of an accompanying editorial wrote that a diagnosis of mental illness “can no longer be considered a viable exclusion criterion.”

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Virginia Residential Treatment Programs Expand Significantly for Medicaid

STAT (5/3, Joseph) reports there are now 71, up from four, residential treatment programs for substance abuse for Medicaid beneficiaries in Virginia, “made possible in part by a new type of ‘waiver’ from federal rules that has dramatically expanded treatment options.” According to STAT, up to 200,000 of Virginia’s “1.1 million Medicaid beneficiaries have a substance use disorder, and fatal opioid overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2016.” The “growing opioid epidemic…stirred federal Medicaid officials to take action and widen access to care.”

Related Links:

— “How Virginia dramatically expanded treatment options for addiction (and skirted federal law),” ANDREW JOSEPH, STAT, May 3, 2017.

Gender Differences In Depression Diagnosis, Symptoms May Start To Appear Around Age 12

HealthDay (5/2, Dallas) reports, “Gender differences in depression diagnosis and symptoms start to appear around the age of 12,” researchers found after “reviewing existing studies that involved a total of about 3.5 million people from more than 90 countries.” The meta-analysis revealed not only that “depression affects significantly more women than men,” but also that “the gender gap appears two to three years earlier than previously thought.” The findings were published online April 27 in the Psychological Bulletin.

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— “Depression’s Gender Gap Shows Up in Pre-Teen Years,” Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay, May 2, 2017.

Mental Health Myths, Stigma Still Common Among Americans

HealthDay (5/2, Preidt) reports that a Michigan State University survey indicates “ignorance, myths and stigma are still common among Americans when it comes to mental health.” The online survey of approximately 4,600 people nationwide found, among other things, that “most people don’t know what to do about depression even if they recognize it.” Meanwhile, “nearly 80 percent don’t believe prescription drug abuse is a treatable problem.”

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— “Mental Health Myths Abound in the U.S.,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, May 2, 2017.

Los Angeles County Adapts Policies To Provide Psychiatric Treatment to Inmates

The AP (4/29, Balsamo) reported from Los Angeles, CA that “the Twin Towers Correctional Facility is home to about 4,000” inmates with mental illness, about 30% of the inmate population there. That increase in prisoners with mental illness “has led the sheriff’s department to adapt its policies as deputies and clinicians work to treat people dealing with both psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.”

In fact, “over the past year,” the Los Angeles County “sheriff’s department has rolled out new training programs that focus on de-escalating potentially violent situations and teach deputies to handle mentally ill inmates…said” Kelly Harrington, “the assistant sheriff in Los Angeles who oversees the county jail system.” What’s more, “county officials have launched a program to transition” inmates with mental illness and comorbid “substance abuse problems to continue their treatment in community programs so they don’t return to a life of crime to get quick cash to buy drugs.”

Related Links:

— “SPIKE IN MENTALLY ILL LA JAIL INMATES LEADS TO NEW POLICIES,” MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press, April 29, 2017.

Parents should be willing to discuss their drug, alcohol use with kids

The Wall Street Journal (4/25, Shellenbarger, Subscription Publication) reports it can be beneficial for parents to talk with their children about their own experimentation with drugs or alcohol. According to Marcia Lee Taylor, president of the non-profit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, children who learn about the dangers of risky behavior from their parents are less likely to engage in that behavior themselves. While some parents avoid the topic at all, another common mistake is offering too many details. In addition, Wendie Lubic, an instructor for the Parent Encouragement Program, advises parents to avoid glorifying their experiences or overemphasizing the dangers.

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— “Should You Tell Your Teen You Tried Alcohol or Drugs?,” Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2017.

Likelihood Of Chronic Opioid Use In Patients May Increase On Third Day Of Medication

Healio (4/25, Miller) reports, “The likelihood of chronic opioid use in patients increased with each additional day of medication supplied starting with the third day and saw sharper increases as time went on,” researchers found after studying some “1.2 million patient records randomly chosen from the IMS Lifelink+ database.” The findings were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Related Links:

— “Risk for chronic opioid use can be triggered in as little as three days,” Shah A, et al., Healio, April 25, 2017.

College Mental Health: A Checklist for Parents

The Huffington Post has published a guide for parents preparing to send their children off to college for the first time. As stated in the article, over four million new students enroll each year, and, considering mental illnesses peak at the ages of 18-21, it’s good for parents and children to know resources and options at this critical time. The checklist includes preparation, planning, staying in touch, confronting stigma, and more.

We feel this is an important checklist and have featured it on our Links and Publications page.

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— “College Mental Health: A Checklist for Parents,” Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, Huffington Post, March 3, 2017.

CDC Study Suggests Opioid Deaths May Be Underestimated

NBC News (4/24, Fox) reports online that opioid deaths may be higher than report because opioids suppress the immune system and can result in infection deaths, researchers suggested at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting on Monday. CDC field officer Victoria Hall found 59 examples of such cases in Minnesota’s Unexplained Death surveillance system. According to Hall, 22 of the “deaths involved toxic opioid levels.”

CNN (4/24, Scutti) reports online that Hall conceded the data could not indicate “what percent we are underestimating,” but she insisted that “we know we are missing cases.”

Related Links:

— “http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/deaths-infections-may-be-masking-opioid-deaths-n750336,” MAGGIE FOX, NBC News, April 24, 2017.

Scientists Working On Vaccines To Prevent Addicts From Getting High

According to the NBC News (4/24, Gammon) website, data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveal that “approximately one in seven people who try addictive substances will get hooked, and the abuse of illicit drugs costs the economy $193 billion each year in healthcare, crime prevention, and loss of productivity.” Currently, scientists “are working on vaccines that block drugs from reaching the brain, preventing addicts from getting high.”

Related Links:

— “Anti-Drug Vaccines Could Be a Game-Changer for People Battling Addiction,” KATHARINE GAMMON, NBC News, April 24, 2017.