Therapists’ Apps Aim To Help With Mental Health Issues

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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):

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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KU Wichita Clinical Trial Seeking Adults with Schizophrenia

Researchers at the KU School of Medicine–Wichita are seeking adults, age 18-40, with schizophrenia to participate in a study of cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia (CIAS).

The study is aimed at testing the theory that a virus is the cause of CIAS and is testing an anti-infective agent for this component of the disease.

Participants who qualify will receive study-related medications and procedures at no cost and will receive compensation for each visit.

Those interested in learning more about the study may call 316-293-1833.

Schizophrenics and Home Care

Home treatment for schizophrenics overseen by local health workers is more effective than institutionalization, a recent large study in India has found.

The study — a clinical trial involving 282 patients at three sites in India — found that supervised home treatment, with limited hospitalization available, was somewhat better at reducing patients’ disability and much better at getting them to stay on their medications.

In poor countries with doctors overwhelmed by the struggle against physical diseases, mental disease is often ignored. In extreme cases, those with mental illness are simply kept in chains.

Many effective anti-psychotic drugs are too old to patent, so if they were available, even the poorest countries could offer some treatment, the study suggested. The health workers needed only six weeks of training.

Still, in the India study, home care was about $150 per patient more expensive than hospitalization or psychiatric care. Travel costs for the workers was a major factor.

by Donald G. McNEIL Jr., The New York Times

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Value-Based Financially Sustainable Behavioral Health Components in Patient-Centered Medical Homes

Because a high percentage of primary care patients have behavioral problems, patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) that wish to attain true comprehensive whole-person care will find ways to integrate behavioral health services into their structure. Yet in today’s health care environment, the incorporation of behavioral services into primary care is exceptional rather than usual practice. In this article, we discuss the components considered necessary to provide sustainable, value added integrated behavioral health care in the PCMH. These components are to:(1) combine medical and behavioral benefits into one payment pool; (2) target complex patients for priority behavioral health care; (3) use proactive onsite behavioral “teams;” (4) match behavioral professional expertise to the need for treatment escalation inherent in stepped care; (5) define, measure, and systematically pursue desired outcomes; (6) apply evidence-based behavioral treatments; and (7) use cross-disciplinary care managers in assisting the most complicated and vulnerable. By adopting these 7 components, PCHMs will augment their ability to achieve improved health in their patients at lower cost in a setting that enhances ease of access to commonly needed services.

Roger G. Kathol, MD1,2

Frank deGruy, MD3

Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH4

Published in the Annals of Family Medicine

Full Article (PDF)

Video — Integrating Mental and Physical Healthcare: Roger Kathol

How would your healthcare experience be different if you could obtain best-practices mental healthcare and physical healthcare in one place? This topic has been pretty buzzworthy in recent mental health advocacy. For example, Mary Palafox’s essay from IMHRO’s 2013 Brainstorm Essay Contest, Reclassify All Organic Brain Diseases Under Medicine, explores some of the reasons why integrating healthcare might benefit people with severe mental illness. Now, with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, this integration is gaining steam. One doctor who has dedicated much of his career to this integration process is Roger Kathol, M.D., C.P.E. He joins us on this month’s Brain Waves segment to discuss the whys and hows of healthcare integration, as well as why some stakeholders oppose it.

View Video

–International Mental Health Research Organization

Inclusion of Excellence Act in Medicare “Doc Fix” — $900 Million Dedicated to Mental Health Services

Washington, DC (March 26, 2014) — Congressional negotiators released a final Medicare SGR Repeal bill today that includes $900 million to fund the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act. The Excellence Act, sponsored by Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Blunt (R-MO) along with Representatives Matsui (D-CA) and Lance (R-NJ), would improve quality and expand access to mental health care and substance use treatment through community behavioral health clinics. The legislation would establish a two year demonstration program in eight states to offer a broad range of mental health and substance abuse services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric services while setting new high standards for providers. The legislation now moves to both chambers for consideration.

“After decades of devastating state and federal budget cuts, the time has come to reinvest in mental health and substance abuse services. The Excellence Act does just that.” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.  “As many as 240,000 people will be able to receive critical mental and behavioral health services as a result of Excellence Act funding.  When people receive the quality mental health and substance abuse services they need, the benefits of treatment extend far beyond the individual – to their families, their professional colleagues and their community at large. We are all better off when quality mental health and substance abuse services are available.  This is an historic day and it would not have been possible without the tireless work of Senator Debbie Stabenow and the bill’s bipartisan sponsors.”

The National Council for Behavioral Health has long been a champion of the Excellence Act, which expands access to evidenced-based community health care for children and adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses. If enacted, the legislation will reduce high hospital emergency room utilization among persons living with behavioral health conditions while easing the burden on hard-pressed law enforcement agencies in urban and rural areas.  Additionally, the Excellence Act demonstration will assist the Veterans Administration (VA) with serving the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service connected mental disorders including clinical depression and PTSD.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with our 2,000 member organizations, we serve our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — the more than 8 million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. We are committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. The National Council pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained nearly 150,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. Learn more at