Victims of child sexual abuse are at increased risk of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose later in life, according to the authors of a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Dr Margaret Cutajar, a psychologist from the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Monash University, Melbourne, and her co-authors, Professors James Ogloff and Paul Mullen, investigated rates of fatal self-harm in 2759 people who were medically ascertained as being victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) between 1964 and 1995. They found significantly higher rates of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose in the CSA cohort compared with age-limited national data for the general population, with relative risks of 18.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) urges individuals and families to familiarize themselves with the draft of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which is used by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to classify and diagnose mental disorders in children and adults. The DSM historically has had a very significant impact on the treatment of mental illnesses and on the payment of mental health treatment and related services. A committee created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been working on a DSM revision to reflect current scientific understanding about mental disorders. Earlier this week, the APA posted the draft of the revised DSM, known as the DSM-5.
Two new European studies show how The University of Queensland's Triple P - Positive Parenting Program can treat childhood depression and tame out-of-control teenagers. The findings of the independent Belgian and Dutch research projects will be presented at Helping Families Change, an international parenting conference at The University of Queensland on Wednesday, February 17 and Thursday, February 18. In the Belgian study, conducted at a youth mental health unit at the University of Antwerp, mothers who had a child receiving psychiatric care (for conditions including depression and anxiety ) completed an eight-week Group Triple P program, in addition to their own regular therapeutic support and the child's usual treatment.
Health Affairs : Trends In Health Care Spending For Immigrants In The United States This paper examines the spending for health care of adult naturalized citizens and immigrant noncitizens (including some undocumented immigrants) compared to U.S. natives, as documented in data from the 1999-2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPS): "inflation and age-adjusted health care expenditures among noncitizen immigrants were consistently ... lower than those of naturalized citizens and U.S. natives during 1999-2006." However, "noncitizen immigrants were more likely than U.S. natives to have a health care visit classified as uncompensated care, " the authors note (Stimpson, Wilson and Eschbach, 2/11).
People who spend a lot of time browsing the net are more likely to show depressive symptoms, according to the first large-scale study of its kind in the West by University of Leeds psychologists. Researchers found striking evidence that some users have developed a compulsive internet habit, whereby they replace real-life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites. The results suggest that this type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health. Lead author Dr Catriona Morrison, from the University of Leeds, said: "The internet now plays a huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker side.
Virginia AG Works To Increase Outpatient Treatment For Mentally Ill; Iowa Hospitals Oppose Medicare Fraud Bill
News outlets report on health care developments in Virginia, the District of Columbia, California, Iowa, Maryland, Maine and Michigan. The Virginia attorney general wants to increase access to outpatient treatment for the mentally ill, The Washington Post reports. "After the shootings at Virginia Tech by a mentally ill student in 2007, the Virginia General Assembly changed the law the next year to allow more outpatient treatment. But even fewer people were ordered into outpatient treatment in the law's first year." On Thursday, recently-elected Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II "will push for a new law that would allow doctors to order patients into outpatient treatment after they are stabilized in a hospital or institution.
The New York Times : "The State of New York does not have a single full-time staff psychiatrist charged with overseeing the treatment of the 800 or so young people who are detained in state facilities at any given time." The Times reports that all 17 psychiatrists at the detention facilities in the state's juvenile justice system are working either on contract and part time. "Weeks often pass between their visits with each troubled youth, and state officials say their turnover rate is very high." A report in August by the federal Justice Department "criticized the state for failing to properly diagnose juveniles' mental health problems, administering medication inappropriately and making inadequate treatment plans.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) rejects claims that the higher than expected demand for psychological services under Medicare is bad news. "We have known for several years that the public demand for professional psychological help is considerably higher than was anticipated when psychological services were included in Medicare, " said APS President, Professor Bob Montgomery. "The high take up indicates just how much unmet need there has been for evidence-based psychological assistance in the Australian community. That's what our own survey has found, that many people now consulting with psychologists tell us that they couldn't afford to before the Medicare rebate was made available and they are finding it very helpful now that they can.
The Wall Street Journal : "Mental-health experts wrestling with how to fit temper tantrums, hoarding and even Internet addiction into the current understanding of mental illness are proposing changes to the field's primary reference for diagnoses for the first time in 16 years. The draft revisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - the bible for mental health clinicians and researchers - unveiled Wednesday could have effects that ripple through mental health care." Researchers, clinicians and insurance companies use the DSM to make diagnostic, treatment and coverage decisions. For drug companies, changes could open up opportunities for new drugs or expand the uses of existing ones" (Wang, 2/10).
A group of claimants who were prescribed the diet drug Acomplia (Rimonabant) are bringing proceedings against the manufacturer, Sanofi Aventis, for compensation for depression and suicidal ideation suffered as a result of taking the drug. Acomplia was withdrawn from the European market in December 2008, following findings that the drug doubled the risk of patients suffering from depression and other psychiatric disorders compared with patients taking a placebo. If you have suffered similar side effects from Acomplia, and would like information on joining the group action against Sanofi Aventis, please email Bozena Michalowska-Howells at Leigh Day & Co solicitors.