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HealthDay (4/24, Preidt) reports, “Cyberbullying is different than traditional bullying, and anti-bullying programs need to use specific measures to combat online aggression,” according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. For the study, researchers “looked at 17,000 students in grades eight to 12 in Vancouver and found that 25 percent to 30 percent of them reported they had experienced or taken part in cyberbullying, while 12 percent said they had participated in or experienced schoolyard bullying.” Notably, students perceived that “95 percent of what happens online was intended as a joke and only five percent was intended to harm,” the study’s lead author pointed out. She added, “Students need to be educated that this ‘just joking behavior has serious implications.”
— “Cyberbullying May Call for New Prevention Tactics,”Robert Preidt , HealthDay, April 23, 2012.
Monday’s release of a report on mental healthcare services at Veterans Affairs generated extensive, mainly negative coverage for the agency.
The AP (4/24) reports, “Federal investigators reported Monday that nearly half of the veterans who seek mental health care for the first time waited about 50 days before receiving a full evaluation, a much longer lag-time than cited” by Veterans Affairs. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to discuss the inspector general’s report at a hearing on Wednesday. On Monday, the panel’s chair, US Sen. Patty Murray, said the report is “deeply disturbing and demands action from” VA.
USA Today (4/24, Zoroya) quotes from the report (pdf), which says that VA’s “mental health performance data is not accurate or reliable” and that VA has “overstated its success” in providing mental health services to vets. The agency “said it concurred with the investigation results and would move ‘rapidly’ to revamp its process for measuring delays.”
The New York Times (4/24, Dao) “At War” blog notes that VA’s “under secretary for health, Dr. Robert A. Petzel, said in a letter to the inspector general that the VA generally agreed with the recommendations and that it would initiate a timeliness review of its entire medical system, not just the four regions analyzed by the inspector general.” In a statement, VA “said that in addition to hiring new clinicians, it had taken several other measures to improve mental health services, including creating a new office to oversee its mental health programs.”
The Washington Post (4/24, Vogel) reports, “On Thursday, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced that the department will hire 1,900 mental health workers, an increase of more than 9 percent, an action taken based on a review of mental health operations that began in 2011. ‘We have made strong progress, but we need to do more,’ the VA said in a statement released Monday afternoon.”
Modern Healthcare (4/24, Barr, Subscription Publication) notes, “A number of problems exist with the Veterans Health Administration’s tracking and providing of mental-health services, a new report” from VA’s inspector general finds. The “report, which was requested by members of Congress and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, recommends an overhaul of the VHA measurement methods and an examination of whether staffing vacancies at the VHA played a role.”
Experience Of Killing In War Associated With Suicidal Thoughts. HealthDay (4/24, Preidt) reports, “The experience of killing in war is strongly linked with suicidal thoughts,” according to a study published online in the journal Depression and Anxiety. “Researchers analyzed data from a survey of a nationally representative sample of Vietnam War veterans and found that those with more killing experiences were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those with fewer or no experiences of killing.”
— “Mental health help for vets untimely,”Gregg Zoroya , USA Today, April 24, 2012.
HealthDay (4/21, Esposito) reports, “High school and youth football players sustained 14 brain injuries with long-lasting damage in 2011 — the highest number in more than 25 years — and this is a ‘major problem,’ a new report claims.” The data are “based on an annual survey, conducted by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, which collects data on catastrophic football injuries.” While “deaths from brain injuries among high school players have decreased every decade, from 128 in the 1960s to 32 in the 2000s, brain injuries with incomplete recovery reached the double digits in three of the past four years.”
— “‘Catastrophic’ Head Injuries to High School Football Players Rising,”Lisa Esposito , HealthDay, April 20, 2012.
The Time (4/21, Sifferlin) “Healthland” blog reports that “your kids might be getting more exposure to such background TV than you think,” according to a study from the International Communication Association. Investigators “found that the average American kid was exposed to 232.2 minutes of background television per day — when the TV was on, but the child was engaged in another activity.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/21, Healy) “Booster Shots” blog reports, “African American kids’ daily exposure to background TV was 45% higher than the national average — the highest of all ethnic groups polled.”
— “TV On in the Background? It’s Still Bad for Kids,”Alexandra Sifferlin , Time Healthland, April 20, 2012.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (4/23, Torpy, Davis) reports, “A congressional report in February said studies indicate between 15…and 23 percent of the two million who have served in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced” a traumatic brain injury (TBI), “which would mean 300,000 to 460,000 cases. Army experts say those figures are too high.” The US military, however, now quickly takes soldiers with suspected head injuries out of combat duty. Still, some soldiers do not report head injuries, because, as Dr. Inge Thomas, coordinator of the TBI Injury Program at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, explained, they “don’t want to be seen as sissies.”
— “Soldiers’ brain trauma cases disputed,”Bill Torpy , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 22, 2012.
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