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Latest News Around the Web

IOM Report: US Unprepared To Meet Mental Healthcare Needs Of The Elderly.

The AP (7/11, Neergaard) reports, “A new report finds as many as one in five American seniors has a mental health or substance abuse problem.” What’s more, “as the population rapidly ages over the next two decades, millions of baby boomers may have a hard time finding care and services for mental health problems such as depression — because the nation is woefully lacking in doctors, nurses and other health workers trained for their special needs, the Institute of Medicine said Tuesday.” Rather, the US “is focused mostly on preparing for the physical health needs of what has been called the silver tsunami.”

According to the CNN (7/11, Young) “The Chart” blog, “‘The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Americans: In Whose Hands?’ report concludes that Medicare and Medicaid payment codes must be revised to ensure counseling care and other critical services are covered so that doctors are willing to treat patients with these conditions.” The piece quotes one of the report’s authors, Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, of the Duke University Medical Center, as saying, “There is a conspicuous lack of national attention to ensuring that there is a large enough health care work force trained to care for older adults with mental health and substance use conditions.” Blazer added, “This report is a wake-up call that we need to prepare now or our older population and their extended families will suffer the consequences.”

The report concludes that “a continued lack of specialists and other trained [clinicians] including primary care physicians and nurses will likely make it difficult for aging patients to receive treatment for depression, dementia and other conditions,”

Related Links:

— “Report: Too little mental health care for seniors, “Lauran Neergaard, USA Today, July 11, 2012.

Psychiatrist: ACA “Is Reason To Cheer” For Americans With Mental Illness.

In the “Mind” column in the New York Times (7/10, D6, Subscription Publication), Richard A. Friedman, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, writes, “Now comes the Affordable Care Act combining parity with the individual mandate for health insurance. As Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, president of the American Psychiatric Association, told me, ‘This law has the potential to change the course of life for psychiatric patients for the better, and in that sense it is both humane and right.'” While the law is not perfect, Dr. Friedman asserts that “on the whole, the Affordable Care Act is reason to cheer. Americans with mental illness finally have the prize that has eluded patients and clinicians for decades: the recognition that psychiatric illness should be on a par with all other medical disorders, and the near-universal mandate to make that happen.”

Related Links:

— “Good News for Mental Illness in Health Law, “Richard Friedman, The New York Times, July 9, 2012.

Patients With Health Scares More Likely To Seek Mental-Health Services.

MedPage Today (7/10, Fiore) reports, “Patients who have a major physical health event may be more likely to seek mental health services,” according to a 6,017-patient study published online June 28 in the journal Health Services Research. “In a series of models, patients who had such an event were about three times more likely to seek mental healthcare during clinician visits and be prescribed drugs for their condition,” researchers reported. The study authors theorized that “the finding is probably due to worsening of mental health, rather than the identification of untreated severe psychiatric symptoms.”

Related Links:

— “Health Scare May Send People for Psych Help, “Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today, July 9, 2012.

New York Law Requires Schools To Establish Protocols To Curb Online Bullying.

The Buffalo (NY) News (7/10, Precious) reports, “While schools already can have anti-bullying bullying policies in place in their required codes of conduct, the new law further defines cyberbullying as part of a 2010 law meant to crack down on incidents of bullying in schools.” The new “law specifically defines cyberbullying as harassment taking place through any electronic means and that ‘reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student.'” The News adds, “For purposes of involvement by school districts, the incidents of cyberbullying of a student could occur on or off school grounds.”

Related Links:

— “Cuomo signs cyberbullying measure into law, “Tom Precious, Buffalo News, July 9, 2012.

FDA Releases Safety Measures For Prescription Pain Relievers.

The New York Times (7/10, B2, Meier, Subscription Publication) reports, “The Food and Drug Administration, overriding the advice of an expert panel, said Monday that it would not require doctors to have special training before they could prescribe long-acting narcotic painkillers that can lead to addiction.” The FDA, however, “said companies that make the drugs…would be required to underwrite the cost of voluntary programs aimed at teaching doctors how to best use them.” The Times adds, “In introducing the plan on Monday, both Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the FDA commissioner, and R. Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama’s top drug policy adviser, said they were hopeful that Congress would eventually enact mandatory physician training,” although the Obama administration has not yet drafted legislation.

Related Links:

— “F.D.A. Won’t Order Doctors to Get Pain-Drug Training, “Barry Meier, The New York Times, July 9, 2012.

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