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The Key Update, Volume 2 No. 10, April 2006
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Proposals are due by April 22 from those who want to present at the 2006 Alternatives Conference, October 25-29 in Portland, Ore. The theme is “Blazing the Trail to Recovery Through Transformation.” The annual event is organized each year for consumers of mental health services by one of the three consumer-run national technical assistance centers funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Scholarships are available, with applications due by May 19. To read more about the conference and/or download applications, visit: http://www.alternatives2006.org.* * *
Nominations will be accepted through April 14 for the second annual Voice Awards, which honor entertainment-industry professionals whose work offers accurate portrayals of people with mental illnesses. The awards, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); the Writers Guild of America, west; and other organizations, were created to give voice to people with mental health issues. Eligible nominees include writers and producers of television programs and movies. Details and nomination forms are available at http://www.allmentalhealth.samhsa.gov/voiceawards.
Nominations will be accepted through April 21 for the Consumer Voice Awards, which recognize outstanding efforts by mental health consumers to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses. For details and guidelines, visit http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/consumersurvivor/listserv/030206d.asp.* * *
Mary Ellen Copeland, who created the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), is seeking stories from those who use the program in their daily lives for possible publication. Submissions must be less than 1,500 words and either pasted into an e-mail with “WRAP stories” in the subject line and sent to email@example.com, or typed or written legibly and mailed to Mary Ellen Copeland, Mental Health Recovery, P.O. Box 301, West Dummerston, VT 05357-0301. Stories sent as e-mail attachments will be disqualified, and entries must be received by July 15. Copeland also seeks stories from WRAP facilitators and from those who have seen others’ lives change because of WRAP. Your story can be published under an assumed name if you prefer not to use your real name. Those whose stories are used will receive a free, autographed copy of the book.* * *
The Journal of Primary Prevention, in partnership with the National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness (funded by the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), is preparing a special issue on homelessness prevention. The Journal is soliciting “papers that provide new knowledge and insight into services, programs, and policies that help individuals, youth, and families with serious mental illness and/or substance use disorders avoid becoming homeless and exit homelessness quickly.” Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2006. Please see the link below for guidelines and contact information.
The Yale School of Medicine is seeking people who experience auditory hallucinations for a clinical trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. “TMS utilizes an electromagnet placed on the scalp that generates magnetic-field pulses roughly the strength of an MRI scan,” the Yale Web site reports. According to Medical News Today, the treatment is generally painless and feels like “a knocking sensation”; it is given while people are awake. Previous studies conducted at Yale and in Europe suggest that TMS directed to brain areas responsible for perceiving speech may be useful in reducing auditory hallucinations, Dr. Ralph Hoffman, the study’s principal investigator, said. For more information, contact Joan Nye, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, 203-737-2762; or firstname.lastname@example.org.Sources:
http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/clinics/rTMS.html * * *
NEWS AND REPORTS
Providing equal insurance coverage for mental illnesses and physical illnesses does not increase the cost of behavioral healthcare, as long as the care is managed, according to a study published March 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The New York Times reported that, with adequate management of services, expanding mental health coverage can improve insurance protection without extra expense. The study was based on the 1999 changes in insurance policies for federal workers made when President Clinton ordered parity between mental and physical health insurance.
Source: “Study Backs Equal Coverage for Mental Ills,” The New York Times, 3/30/06
The Pennsylvania Health Law Project, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and the Center for Medicare Advocacy have reached a verbal settlement agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Erb v. McClellan, a class action suit filed on behalf of Pennsylvanians eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare who were passively enrolled in a Medicare HMO under Medicare Part D. The agreement includes, among other terms, an extension of the transition period giving people until June 30, 2006, to decide whether to stay in the HMO. For more information, see the Pennsylvania Health Law Project Web site at the link below.
About 50 percent of people who have depression can eliminate their symptoms by either adding a drug to their treatment routine or switching to a different drug, according to a new study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The research is part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The principal investigator of the study stressed the importance of not giving up if the first treatment doesn’t fully work or if it causes side effects. The results of the study, published in the March 23 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, also indicate that the typical four weeks of drug therapy is often not enough.Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=60638& * * *
Researchers have designed a protocol to study the recent high rate of suicide attempts by teenage Latinas in the United States. The young women are caught between the typical pressures that face U.S. teens and the expectations of traditional Latino culture, in which girls are expected to control their anger and subordinate their own needs to those of their families, according to a spokesman for the research team, at Washington University in St. Louis. He noted that the attempts -- by one in five U.S. teenage girls of Latina ethnicity, a much higher rate than their non-Latina peers -- seldom result in fatalities, and studies show most of the girls did not really intend to die. He added, “Other studies have shown that suicide rates are higher among Latinos in the U.S. than in their countries of origin and that the process of coming in contact with American culture, or acculturation, may be related to the higher risk.”
Source: Mental Health E-News of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services http://mednews.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/6753.html* * *
A report published on April 1 in Schizophrenia Bulletin examines six long-term medication studies involving 623 individuals with psychotic symptoms. Two studies found that patients on medication – the older antipsychotics, such as Haldol; the newer antipsychotics have not been studied -- did better on scales of social interaction, employment success and risk of rehospitalization than those who originally did not receive medication. The other four studies found the opposite. “I think the implications of this are that we need to be additionally careful about medicating people after their first psychotic episode if there’s reason to think they could” function without taking medication, the report’s author told The New York Times. At the same time, another expert said that, “if the diagnosis is clear,” it was “just flat-out nuts” not to treat people with medication. Both camps agree that further studies are needed. “The most striking observation in this review is the dearth of evidence that addresses the long-term effects of initial treatment,” the report’s author wrote.
Sources: “Revisiting Schizophrenia: Are Drugs Always Needed?” The New York Times, 3/21/06
Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to become depressed and the more they smoke, the greater the risk of depression, according to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway who studied 1,190 adults over an 11-year period found that people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day were four times as likely as non-smokers to experience depression. The study did not find evidence that past symptoms of depression were strongly linked to taking up smoking. One hypothesis is that, over time, nicotine can affect serotonin levels in the brain.
Source: “Smoking Tied to Risk of Depression,” Reuters, 3/3/06
People with schizophrenia who are hospitalized for reasons unrelated to mental illness are at least twice as likely as patients without schizophrenia to experience medical problems associated with poor outcomes, including death, according to the results of a study published in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers at Johns Hopkins evaluated more than 1,700 patients who had schizophrenia and about 700,000 who did not.
One hypothesis of the researchers is that a lot of the increased risk may result from inferior medical care. For example, other studies have indicated that health care professionals might not take the medical symptoms of people with schizophrenia seriously, leading to a delay in treatment. Among other possible factors are drug errors involving the interaction of psychotropics with other medications, too-high dosages, and the use of restraints.Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=39618 * * *
Studies have shown that the children of mothers who have depression at are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than their peers, Now, new research shows that treating a mother’s depression helps her children. The results of the study were published in the March 22/29 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers gave medication to mothers who had depression while assessing their children for psychiatric problems. Among the study’s findings were that, within three months of mothers’ remission, children had an 11 percent reduction in diagnoses and symptoms, while the children of mothers whose symptoms did not improve had approximately an 8 percent increase in rates of diagnosis. At the same time, 33 percent of children diagnosed with depression at the beginning of the study experienced symptom remission, as opposed to 12 percent of children whose mothers’ depression did not lift. The researchers did not study fathers but predicted similar results for them.
Source: HealthDay News, 3/21/06
In April 2007, Stuart Baker-Brown of Dorset, England, hopes to become the first person diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia to climb Mt. Everest. His goal is to demonstrate that mental illness is no barrier to a meaningful life. He has established a Web site, where readers can follow his progress as he gets in shape by a training regimen involving less ambitious treks and climbs:http://www.onemansmountain.com/ * * *
In April 2006, “Letters to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life,” by Dr. Dan Gottlieb, will be published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Dr. Gottlieb is a family therapist; longtime host of "Voices in the Family," an award-winning mental health call-in radio show aired on a Philadelphia public radio station since 1985; and author of a semimonthly column on mental health for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The book, in the form of letters to his grandson, who has autism, covers issues concerning family, compassion, disappointment, and self-awareness. He felt a special bond with his grandson because of his own disability: In 1979, after a near-fatal automobile accident, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Dr. Gottlieb will donate proceeds of the book sales to charities supporting autism research.
Source: Sterling Publishing Co.
The Norristown State Hospital 2005 Art Show can be viewed on the Web at http://www.mentalhealthvoice.org. Click on the Literature/Art link in the navigation bar.
The show is part of a site created, designed, and maintained by mental health consumers. The home page reads, “Too often our voices are not heard, not respected, or overlooked. We hope that this site will serve to inspire us to build on the strengths we have and encourage us to continue having hope in the midst of the challenges we face as mental health consumers.”Source: http://www.mentalhealthvoice.org * * *
The Clearinghouse welcomes all programs in which consumers play a significant role in leadership and operation to apply for inclusion in its Directory of Consumer-Driven Services. The directory, accessible at http://www.cdsdirectory.org, is searchable by location, type of organization, and targeted clientele and serves as a free resource for consumers, program administrators and researchers.
Apply online at http://www.cdsdirectory.org/contact, via fax at 215-636-6312, or by phone at 800-553-4KEY (4539). To receive an application by mail, write to email@example.com or NMHCSH Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19107.***
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