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Latest News Around the Web

SAMHSA Report Examines Mental Illness In US Population.

The National Journal (4/26, Fox, Subscription Publication) reports, “Just under five percent of US adults, or 11 million people, had a serious mental illness in 2009,” according to a report (pdf) issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “The latest data” also show that “13 percent of US children aged eight to 15 had a mental health disorder.”

Related Links:

— “Mental Health Report Shows 11 Million With Serious Illness,”Maggie Fox , National Journal, April 25, 2012.

Young People With Autism Find Few Programs To Help Transition To Adult Life.

The Detroit Free Press (4/26, Walsh-Sarnecki) reports, “The number of those diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, threatening to overwhelm the already limited services available for those…who are entering adulthood with the brain disorder.” While educational programs exist in schools to help children with autism, “most of those aging into adulthood will find an alarming lack of services designed to help transition into the next stage of their lives.” For many of these young adults with autism, it is difficult, if not impossible, to live a normal adult life. “Some experts estimate that 90% or more of adults with autism spend their lives in their parents’ home or group homes, playing video games or drawing pictures — over and over and over.” Not enough money exists on the state or local level to provide the special social skills training needed for young adults with autism to hold down a job successfully.

Related Links:

— “Lack of state services for aging autistic makes adulthood like ‘falling off a cliff’,”Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki , Detroit Free Press, April 25, 2012.

Survey: Many Seniors Not Receiving Recommended Mental-Health Interventions.

The Kaiser Health News (4/24, Graham) “Capsules” blog reported that according to a survey by the John A. Hartford Foundation, “large numbers of seniors aren’t receiving recommended interventions that could help forestall medical problems and improve their health.” The 12-month survey found, for example, that 62 percent of respondents said that clinicians did not ask after their mental health. The survey also revealed that “more than two-thirds of the time doctors and nurses didn’t ask older patients whether they’d taken a tumble or provide advice about how to avoid tripping on carpets or slipping on the stairs,” even though falls are the cause of some two million injuries each year in US seniors.

Related Links:

— “Poll: Doctors Fall Short In Helping Many Seniors,”Judith Graham , Kaiser Health News, April 24, 2012.

IG: VA Cannot Accurately Determine If Its Patients Receive Timely Access To Mental Healthcare.

A new report on how long it takes Veterans Affairs to provide mental healthcare to vets who seek such care continues to generate extensive, somewhat negative coverage for the department.

The AP (4/25) reports, “Veterans are waiting an average of 80 days for mental health appointments at the Spokane VA Medical Center, far short of the 14-day goal set” by the US VA. Spokane “was one of four VA medical centers included in a review of mental health care access” by VA’s IG. The “report released Monday found that the average wait time for an appointment turned out to be 41 days.”

On its website, NPR (4/24, Abramson) published an online version of a story that will be broadcast on Wednesday’s “Morning Edition.” According to NPR, the IG’s “report says, rather than starting the clock from the moment a vet asks for mental health care, the VA has been counting from whenever the first appointment became available. That could add weeks or months to the wait time.” NPR adds, “At a Senate hearing Wednesday, the VA will have another chance to explain how it’s going” to improve its mental healthcare system.

According to CQ (4/25, Norman, Subscription Publication), the VHA assertion “that 95 percent of veterans who report mental health problems receive a full evaluation within 14 days has ‘no real value,’ with the reality being that veterans are waiting much longer for help, says a Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s report that will be explored” at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Shinseki “said in a statement…that the department has expanded its mental health services to add marriage and family therapists as well as licensed professional mental health counselors.”

NYTimes Says VA Must Do More For Vets Who Need Mental Healthcare. In an editorial, the New York Times (4/25, A24, Subscription Publication) is fairly critical of Veterans Affairs, saying a new report indicates that VA must do more to help vets who seek mental healthcare offered by the department. The Times does add, however, that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “has taken admirable steps to help veterans by expanding and improving programs to fight homelessness and provide more psychological care.” The Times urges “President Obama and Democratic leaders” in Congress to resist House Republicans who have “made a target of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which runs a housing-voucher program” with VA that has “saved many thousands of veterans from homelessness.”

Related Links:

— “VA Struggles To Provide Vets With Mental Health Care,”Larry Abramson , NPR, April 25, 2012.

Frequency Of Child Abuse May Predict Future Health, Behavioral Problems.

Medscape (4/24, Waknine) reports, “Maltreatment frequency is a strong predictor of future negative health and behavioral outcomes among low-income children, according to a…study published online April 23 in Pediatrics.” The study of data on nearly 6,000 children “found a linear dose-response relationship between number of abuse incidents and likelihood of adverse outcomes during childhood, including head injuries, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), mental health conditions, juvenile court petitions for violent offense or use of alcohol or illicit drugs, and suicide attempts before age 18 years.” In addition, “the frequency of maltreatment during childhood was linked to…an increased risk for mental health issues and problematic substance abuse.”

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