Dr. Carrie Bearden, CAPPS & the NAPLS: Early Detection and Intervention for Psychosis

Under Dr. Bearden’s leadership, CAPPS has revealed new evidence supporting biomarkers for oncoming psychosis, and provided life-saving treatment for hundreds of youth at risk.

Psychosis is one of the most distressing and debilitating mental health symptoms one can experience, and the earlier someone afflicted receives treatment, the better the potential outcome. The best-case scenario: prevention. At the Staglin Music Festival Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States (CAPPS) at UCLA, young persons at clinical high risk or in a first episode of psychotic illness participate in research to discover symptomatic and biological indicators for oncoming psychosis (i.e. the prodrome), and engage in preventive programs to strengthen their mental health. In 2015-16, under the leadership of Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., CAPPS has collaborated with the 9-site consortium of which it is a part to reveal powerful discoveries aiding prediction: elucidating a potential biomarker for the prodrome, and confirming evidence for several other biological markers.


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Message from Schizophrenia Alliance, Coordinator Katie L.

In these eventful times, it may be good to take a moment, for ourselves. Perhaps, leaving Facebook and Twitter to fend for themselves; and to focus on our coping skills. What coping skills are we using to help bring ourselves to the surface? Are we acquainted with the calm place inside of us?
Have you tried meditation or radical acceptance? These skills help bring the busy world into perspective and help us to see our place in it.
Maybe, in the next month, we can work on our positive coping mechanisms. We can bring ourselves closer to that healthy perspective that we all aim for.
Best wishes,
Katie L.

Message from FFS, Family and Friends, Coordinator Mary Ross

Ideally ‘self-care’ should be at the top of our priorities in our lives. We love our family members, our friends, but if we are not at our optimal best we are less able to be there in a support role of them. In my search for self-care I realized that I fortunately have found myself on a health path for decades, but somehow have overlooked the health of one’s brain. I’ve been aware of a renowned psychiatrist by the name of Daniel Amen, MD, who has gone above and beyond, in my opinion, in teaching about the importance of practicing brain health. I found his comprehensive address of this in his book ‘The Brain Warrior’s Way’. Having a stack of books awaiting time to read them I opted for his version of the book in CD form. While on lengthy drives to visit my daughter I listen with interest to his insights. In summary Dr. Amen advocates looking at one’s lifestyle including a health supportive diet (not the SAD…standard American diet), engaging regularly in physical activity and exercise (not being sedentary) and stress reduction by participating in things such as meditation and yoga, among others. Dr. Amen’s website is www.brainhealth.com if you wish to learn more. This message is intended for care partners of those diagnosed, but I believe the information would be appropriate for one on the recovery road or having interest in getting there.

To your health,
Mary Ross

Message From Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for the courageous and brave work you do every day. Everyone who lives with psychosis and wakes up to live each day to their best ability and maintain their plan to pursue a meaningful day, congratulations. Everyone who helps their loved one or others get through each day in their pursuit of hope and success in their life, congratulations. You are heroes and you each have your unique challenges and gifts and success is measured distinctively for each individual. We applaud you all.
We are grateful for your helping us help others and welcome your comments and suggestions.
Please be sure to create a brief video to add to the hearingvoicesofsupport facebook page and add your voice of support on the hearingvoicesofsupport.org website. Based on these entries we will create our very unique and award winning Hearing Voices of Support Experiential event in New York City during Schizophrenia Awareness Week, the third week in May. Your voice can be heard by thousands!
Please share your artwork – we will post the juried items.

Warmest regards,

Linda Stalters, MSN
Executive Director

Strategies to Improve Mental Health Care for Children and Adolescents: Research Review

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review assesses the effectiveness of quality improvement, implementation, and dissemination strategies that seek to improve the mental health care of children and adolescents.

Approximately one in five children and adolescents living in the United States has one or more mental, emotional, or behavioral health disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria in any given year. These disorders contribute to problems with family, peers, and academic functioning; comorbidity (including other mental and substance use disorders and chronic health conditions); and reduced quality of life; they also increase the risk of involvement with the criminal justice system and other risk-taking behaviors and suicide. The evidence base for pediatric mental health interventions that target mood disorders, anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders continues to grow. Despite advances in the evidence base, outcomes for children with mental health problems remain suboptimal because of issues with access to care, failure of systems and providers to adopt interventions with proven efficacy (e.g., evidence-based practices [EBPs]), and variability in the quality of mental health care received. Studies using nationally representative data on U.S. adolescents show that only approximately one in five children with mental health problems receives services, and only one-third of treatment episodes are considered minimally adequate (at least four visits with psychotropic medication or at least eight visits without psychotropic medication). The current health care system continues to provide fragmented care to children in numerous uncoordinated systems, rendering inefficient delivery of needed services. Other issues include providers not having the time available or knowledge/training to identify mental health problems and treat or refer accordingly.

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HHS selects eight states for new demonstration program to improve access to high quality behavioral health services

HHS announced the selection of eight states for participation in a two-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program designed to improve behavioral health services in their communities. This demonstration is part of a comprehensive effort to integrate behavioral health with physical health care, increase consistent use of evidence-based practices, and improve access to high-quality care for people with mental and substance use disorders. The eight states HHS selected for this demonstration program include Minnesota, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

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Chantix and Zyban: Drug Safety Communication – Mental Health Side Effects Revised, FDA

Based on a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of a large clinical trial that FDA required the drug companies to conduct, FDA determined the risk of serious side effects on mood, behavior, or thinking with the stop-smoking medicines Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) is lower than previously suspected. The risk of these mental health side effects is still present, especially in those currently being treated for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia, or who have been treated for mental illnesses in the past; however, most people who had these side effects did not have serious consequences such as hospitalization. The results of the trial confirm that the benefits of stopping smoking outweigh the risks of these medicines. FDA review of the clinical trial results also confirmed that Chantix, Zyban, and nicotine replacement patches were all more effective for helping people quit smoking than was an inactive treatment called a placebo. These medicines were found to better help people quit smoking regardless of whether or not they had a history of mental illness.

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Adding Better Mental Health Care to Primary Care

Many people visit a primary health care provider to treat physical diseases and injuries; however, it is also common for patients to see a primary care provider because of brain health issues, including such as depression, anxiety, alcohol use and might be the first contact for schizophrenia prodrome. The primary care provider can treat some brain disorders, particularly through medication, but that may not be enough. Integrating a “Collaborative Care” approach is one proven way primary care providers can enhance the quality and effectiveness of their brain health treatment. This Science Update describes new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare coverage policy in which CMS will begin paying primary care clinicians separately for Collaborative Care services that they provide to patients who are being treated for a mental, or behavioral health condition. It also summarizes an analysis of the new CMS behavioral health integration policy by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and CMS staff.

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The challenges that adults with mental illness face are made more difficult if they are living in poverty. For example, adults with mental illness who are living in poverty may face higher health care costs, decreased productivity, and poor general health. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had a serious mental illness (SMI), including 2.5 million adults living below the poverty line. SMI is defined in NSDUH as adults who in the past year have had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders) of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria and has resulted in serious functional impairment substantially interferes with major life activities. Adults aged 26 or older living below the poverty line were more likely to experience SMI than those living at and above the poverty line (7.5 percent vs. 4.1 and 3.1 percent, respectively). In contrast, the percentage of young adults with SMI was similar in each of the  levels of poverty.

The relationship between mental illness and poverty is complicated. Poverty may intensify the experience of mental illness. Poverty may also increase the likelihood of the onset of mental illness. At the same time, experiencing mental illness may also increase the chances of living below the poverty line. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides resources for those  with mental illness. For information on accessing treatment, please visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov

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As Some States Implement New Marijuana Laws, Science Should Guide Public Health Policy

After the election on November 8, marijuana is now or will soon be legal for adult recreational use in eight states plus the District of Columbia. These states, and those that may join them in the future, will have choices to make in how they enact and implement their policies. Careful thought should be given to creating regulatory frameworks that prioritize public health. Science needs to be the guide.

A 2015 report prepared by the RAND Corporation for the state of Vermont pointed out that marijuana policy need not be seen as a binary choice between maintaining the status quo (prohibition) or putting in place a for-profit commercial model, such as those that now exist in Colorado and Washington. The latter could create an industry that stands to profit from encouraging heavy drug use by aggressively marketing its product and lobbying for less regulation. Heavy users account for the majority of sales currently in both the alcohol and tobacco industry. But a broad spectrum of models exists, varying in terms of who can provide marijuana (the state versus private or not-for-profit entities), what regulations govern how they operate, what kinds of products can be produced and distributed, including potency of the products, and how they are priced.

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