Rep. Peters Introduces Bipartisan ‘National Mental Health No Stigma Week’ Resolution

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Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced bipartisan legislation, as part of his efforts to promote wellness, to designate the first full week of May each year as “National Mental Health No Stigma Week.” As of introduction, 54 Members of Congress have signed on as supporting co-sponsors of the bill, and 34 medical, academic, and professional associations have stated their support.

“Our mental health is often something we take for granted, but millions of our neighbors, friends, family members, and colleagues are working through mental illness issues every day,” Rep. Peters said. “It’s time to work together to end the stigma attached to mental illness and focus in on increasing awareness and prevention. A National Mental Health No Stigma Week would give this effort the recognition it deserves and would save lives.”

Mental illness affects millions of Americans each year, including 20% of teenagers, but stigmas around mental health often prevent treatment – only half of young adults believe that treatment can help return those with a mental illness back to a healthy life. Given that more than 300,000 Americans attempt suicide each year, with fear of stigmatization listed as among the top factors for preventing the mentally ill from seeking help, there is clearly much work to be done toward acknowledging this problem.

Read Full Press Release by Rep. Scott Peters

Support Letter signed by SARDAA and other organizations

Colleagues Toast Dr. Torrey’s Career Achievements

Last Thursday, some of the world’s top mental illness researchers and advocates gathered at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to celebrate the many achievements of Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and to applaud him towards his continuing career with a Festschrift.

eft -- color head and shoulders thumbnail 3.20.11Colleagues offered moving reflections on their relationships with Dr. Torrey, who has inspired, encouraged them to venture into new research and advocacy territory. Among the many topics they discussed were the accomplishments they and their teams have made as a direct result of Dr. Torrey’s leadership.

One such example is the “revolutionary” brain bank at the Stanley Medical Research Institute which has created unprecedented availability of a rare sample for brain research on schizophrenia. Another is his stature as a modern leader in investigating viral implication in schizophrenia’s cause and course, one of the most exciting and well-followed theoretical paths in studying the nature of the disease.

Dr. Torrey’s persistent questioning of traditional beliefs about schizophrenia has led to greater acknowledgment of epidemiology as an important avenue for investigating the causes and nature of the disease, said Dr. Dr. Preben Mortensen of University of Aarhaus and Sir Robin Murray of King’s College, London.

Dr. Steven Sharfstein of Sheppard Pratt Health System and others recounted the ways Dr. Torrey’s dedication to putting severe mental illness on the agendas of policy makers and service agencies has changed the landscape of mental health in the United States for the better.

Many things are clear about Dr. Torrey’s career: he has demonstrated compassion, principle, ingenuity and courage to so many – and he has mobilized a true movement towards a world where severe mental illnesses can one day be treated effectively, allowing individuals and their families and communities the resources they deserve to live free of these diseases.

But as Dr. Torrey humbly said at the event, “Our work is not done. We aren’t where we need to be,” and so onward we all must go.

–The Treatment Advocacy Center

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Casual Marijuana Use Linked to Brain Changes

Using marijuana a few times a week is enough to physically alter critical brain structures, according to a new study published Tuesday in The Journal of Neuroscience.

….The study found volume, shape and density changes in two crucial brain areas — the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala — involved with emotion and motivation and some types of mental illness. “This is a part of the brain you do not want to mess around with,” Breiter said.

by Karen Weintraub, USA Today

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Study Finds Most People Have Obsessive Behaviors or Thoughts

94% of the population experiences unwanted, intrusive thoughts. So, if you are one to check whether your hands are clean, imagine your house might be on fire, or worry that the gas or propane has not been turned off, you are not alone.

Researchers clarify that the often devastating diagnosis of OCD is not a result of the thoughts, but the actions that follow or result from the thought.

by Nick Nauert, PhD, Psych Central

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NIH-funded Study Shows Disrupted Cell Layering Process in the Developing Brain

The architecture of the autistic brain is speckled with patches of abnormal neurons, according to research partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 27, 2014, this study suggests that brain irregularities in children with autism can be traced back to prenatal development.

“While autism is generally considered a developmental brain disorder, research has not identified a consistent or causative lesion,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH. “If this new report of disorganized architecture in the brains of some children with autism is replicated, we can presume this reflects a process occurring long before birth. This reinforces the importance of early identification and intervention.”

–National Institute of Mental Health

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Therapists’ Apps Aim To Help With Mental Health Issues

Games like Flappy Bird and Candy Crush have helped many of us de-stress during long waits at the doctor’s office and crowded Metro rides. But what if an app could actually help with mental health?

….”What this game is doing is trying to train your attention toward the positive,” says Tracy Dennis, a professor of psychology at Hunter and the lead researcher behind the game. It’s modeled after a cognitive treatment for anxiety called attention-bias modification training, Dennis tells Shots. The idea is that if people can learn to ignore threatening stimuli and focus on the good, they’ll feel less anxious in stressful situations.

by Maanvi Singh, NPR

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African Americans Less Likely to Receive Follow-Up Care After Psychiatric Admission, Study Finds

Poor integration of follow-up treatment into the continuum of psychiatric care leaves many individuals, particularly blacks, with poor-quality treatment.

….Rates of follow-up were generally low, particularly rates of adequate treatment, which were on average less than 26%. Outpatient treatment prior to inpatient care was a strong predictor of follow-up. After adjustment for need and socioeconomic status, the analyses showed that blacks were less likely than whites to receive any treatment or begin adequate follow-up within 30 days of discharge.

–Psychiatric News Alert

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SARDAA Executive, Linda Stalters, Will be Interviewed on Small Business Today Internet Radio April 16th 4 – 5 PM Central Time

Access radio live (or listen to archive afterwards): www.mjwjtalkradio.com

Call-in with questions and comments: 281-809-4856 or 800-970-8716

 

Growing Evidence That A Party Drug Can Help Severe Depression

Teens call it “Special K,” a club drug that produces hallucinatory, out-of-body effects. But evidence is mounting that it’s also a fast-acting treatment for patients with severe depression.

The latest study shows that ketamine, an FDA-approved anesthetic, can act in a matter of days for some people who don’t respond to traditional antidepressants. Those drugs don’t work for 40 percent of patients.

by Linda Poon, NPR

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Shooting Unfairly Links Violence With Mental Illness — Again

With the Army’s disclosure that Army Spc. Ivan Lopez was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder before he went on a shooting rampage Wednesday, there were once again questions about whether the Army could have prevented the violence at Fort Hood.

Experts in mental health say (even as more facts about Lopez emerge) that it’s highly unlikely the violence could have been predicted. Just raising that question, psychologists and psychiatrists say, shows how much Americans misunderstand the link between mental illness and violence.

One national survey in 2006 found that most Americans — 60 percent — believed people with schizophrenia were likely to be violent. But the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders are not violent. In fact, another study found they are far more likely to be the victims of violence, and that 1 in 4 experience violence every year.

by Joseph Shapiro, NPR

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