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Latest News Around the Web

No Agreement On When Colleges Should Call Parents When Their Kids May Be Suicidal

The AP (12/30, Pope) in a story appearing on at least 17 news websites reports, “The issue of when colleges should notify parents their adult children may be suicidal remains fraught with legal, medical and ethical dilemmas. College policies, state laws and professional codes of conduct vary widely – and occasionally conflict.”

A “2010 survey of counseling directors found that when a client was considered a ‘suicidal risk’ but didn’t meet the state-law criteria for involuntary hospitalization, 41 percent wouldn’t notify anyone else without a signed release from the student” and “only 13 percent said they would notify family; 22 percent said they would notify a superior, and 19 percent said it would depend on the situation.”

However, Carolyn Wolf, a mental health lawyer who advises college officials, said, “I’m in favor of notifying parents” and “advises parents to remember that FERPA, the federal education privacy law, has clear exceptions for risks to health and safety, as do state laws.”

Related Links:

— “Colleges and suicide threats: when to call home?

Read more:,” Justin Pope, Sioux City Journal, December 29, 2011.

China Discusses First-Ever Mental Health Law

The Detroit Free Press /USA Today (12/29, MacLeod) reports, “The Communist Party does not acknowledge its mental facilities are used to silence critics, but according to numerous human rights groups and Chinese dissidents, China’s Communist-led government has for decades incarcerated healthy people in mental wards to suppress dissent.” Notably, “the rise in confinements is greatest among petitioners — the ordinary people who complain about local problems.”

Now, however, “some Chinese officials are pushing back against the political confinements. Prodded by academics, activists and former patients, China’s National People’s Congress is discussing what would be the country’s first ever mental health law.” According to psychiatry professor Wang Yue, of Peking University, “the draft legislation represents both a legal and social milestone for the world’s most populous country,” despite its shortcomings.

VA Says Goal Of Ending Homelessness Among Veterans Is Within Reach

USA Today (12/29, Vogel) reports, “Halfway into an ambitious five-year campaign to end homelessness among veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs says it has made enough progress that the goal is within reach, even as a new generation of veterans returns from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Over the past two and a half years, the VA has aggressively used a “voucher program” to house “more than 33,000 veterans.” The VA “did so by changing its longtime policy of requiring homeless veterans to be successfully treated for substance abuse and mental ailments before being given apartments.”

To curb homelessness among returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the VA has allocated $160 million in grants to non-profit community agencies to prevent low-income from falling into homelessness. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said, “We’ve learned we can’t end homelessness by street rescues alone.”

Army Changes TBI Treatment

The CBS Evening News (12/28, story 7, 2:30, Ward) reported that the US Army is changing treatment for troops that suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Previously, soldiers that suffered mild concussions during battle continued fighting, which “sometimes” caused “serious long-term health issues.” Now, all concussions are treated. Army Capt. Amy Gray, an occupational therapist, said, “What we found is within the first 24 hours, if we can get them down, get them a good night’s sleep, the symptoms usually go away.” Since Gray arrived in Afghanistan last May, she’s treated nearly 200 soldiers for TBI and under her care, most have returned to battle within a week.

Eating Disorders May Continue Into Adulthood.

HealthDay (12/29, Thompson) reports, “Unhealthy eating patterns adopted in adolescence or teen years often continue into adulthood, according to a University of Minnesota study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study, which followed 2,287 kids as they grew into young adults, found that more than half of the girls had unhealthy eating patterns that continued into their mid- to late 20s.”

Now, “more and more middle-aged and older people are coming forward to receive treatment for eating problems that began in their youth and have been reignited by adult stress or personal crises,” HealthDay points out.

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