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Latest News Around the Web

Experts: Mental Health A “Major 21st-Century Public Health Challenge.”

In the Huffington Post (5/25), Dr. Susan Blumenthal, a former Assistant Surgeon General, and Deepa Kannappan, a Stanford University health policy intern at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, examined in “The Blog” how America is handling mental health challenges, “a major 21st-century public health challenge.” The two recommended that public policy focus on understanding specific risk factors for various groups, improving education and reducing stigma, and “providing parity for health insurance coverage for mental illness.”

Related Links:

— “Overcoming Stigma and Improving Mental Health in America,”Susan Blumenthal, Huffington Post, May 25, 2012.

Group Cautions On Sensory-Based Therapy For Kids With Autism.

HealthDay (5/29, Goodwin) reports, “Sensory therapies using brushes, swings and other play equipment are increasingly used by occupational therapists to treat children with developmental issues, such as autism, but” the American Academy of Pediatrics “says there isn’t much evidence that such therapies actually work.” Nevertheless, “the group isn’t completely discounting the potential of sensory therapies — it’s a ripe area for research, it noted” in a policy statement appearing online May 28 in the journal Pediatrics. Reuters(5/28, Pittman) also covered the story.

Related Links:

— “Doubt Cast on Usefulness of ‘Sensory’ Therapies for Autism,”Jenifer Goodwin, HealthDay, May 28, 2012.

Study: Kids Who Self-Harm Need Follow-Up Mental Healthcare.

HealthDay (5/26, Thompson) reported that according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “six of every 10 adolescents who went to an emergency room for treatment after harming themselves were released without receiving a mental health assessment or any follow-up mental health care.” The study’s lead author cautioned, “Most young people who self-harm suffer from some underlying psychological disorder.” He added, “It’s critical to conduct a mental health assessment in addition to the evaluation of their physical health if we’re to get to the root of their problems.”

Related Links:

— “More Mental Health Care Urged for Kids Who Self-Harm,”Dennis Thompson, HealthDay, May 25, 2012.

NIMH: 56% Of US School Children With Autism Taking Prescribed Mood Medications.

In continuing coverage, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (5/25, Flinn) reports, “More than half of school-age children with autism in the US take mood-altering drugs as doctors increasingly target the broad range of psychiatric symptoms tied to the ailment,” according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. The survey “found that 56 percent of those age six to 17 with autism, were on one or more drugs normally given for disorders such as anxiety, depression, psychosis or hyperactivity.” In addition, the survey “found about a third of children received stimulants, a quarter anti-anxiety or mood-stabilizers, and 20 percent anti-depressants. Others got sleep, anti-psychotic or anti-seizure” medicines.

Related Links:

— “More Than Half Autistic Kids Prescribed Mood Medicines,”Ryan Flinn, Bloomberg Business Week, May 24, 2012.

Opioids Most Abused Prescription Medication.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (5/18, Smith) reports that even “though other families of prescription drugs also are involved in drug abuse, opioids are the biggest problem, both” on the local and national level. Last year, “some 210 million prescriptions were written last year for opioid medications, Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CBS ’60 Minutes.'” The problem of prescription medication abuse threatens even society’s smallest members. “In 2009, there were more than 13,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome after being exposed to opioids in utero, a three-fold increase since 2000, according to an article just published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Related Links:

— “Abuse of opioid drugs hits all-time high,”Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2012.

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