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Latest News Around the Web

Experts: Women With Breast Cancer May Often Struggle With Depression

In the “First Person” column in the Miami Herald (1/3), Miami Herald editor Andrea Torres, a breast cancer patient, writes, “Experts in psychosocial oncology say that women with breast cancer have the third highest rate of depression among cancer diagnostic groups, and that major depression is an under-recognized and under-treated problem.”

Torres goes on to describe her particular battle with depression. Currently, she is being treated with antidepressants and “staying connected to others with the help of social media” to improve her outlook on matters. She is also “set to begin behavioral therapy soon.”

Related Links:

— “Facebook, medication help breast cancer patient deal with depression,” Andrea Torres, Miami Herald, January 3, 2012.

AD/HD Medication Abuse Is Increasing On Oregon Campuses

The Oregonian (12/30, House) reports, “Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine [Adderall] and its counterparts, including methylphenidate [Ritalin] and the over-the-counter caffeine [Vivarin], are growing in popularity among students who don’t have ADHD but use the medications as study tools to stay awake and alert during prolonged cram sessions.”

It’s estimated that “as many as a third of college students have used Adderall and its counterparts without a prescription” and “as the rate of ADHD medication abuse increases, higher education institutions are responding with new policies aimed at reducing the drugs’ prevalence on campus.”

A survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found that “students who used prescription stimulants were eight times more likely than their counterparts to use cocaine and tranquilizers and five times more likely to abuse pain relievers.”

Related Links:

— “ADHD-drug abuse popular on Oregon campuses; university health officials fight back,” Kelly House, The Oregonian, December 30, 2011.

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.”

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