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Friday Roundup – Mental Health Awareness Month, Parity Progress, Obama Did What?, and Hugz

Attention lovely readers! We at Healthshire will be providing you with a weekly Friday roundup of the latest in mental health news. Let us do all the work and be your one-stop-shop for all things current!

Mental Health Awareness Month, Parity Progress, Obama Did What?, and Hugz 

The Latest  in Mental Health Research (and other stuff)

National Mental Health Awareness Month

President Barack Obama has officially declared May 2013 as National Mental Health Awareness Month. In his proclamation, President Obama draws attention to the millions of people who are struggling with mental illness. He calls on all Americans to help raise awareness and to start a conversation about progress in the mental health system. So if you know someone who is or might be suffering with a mental illness, reach out a helping hand or lend an empathic ear. Do your part in supporting the mental health community.

Also as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are pushing to increase our “telling our story” section of HealthShire. So cruise on over and read the stories or submit your own!

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Progress in Mental Health Parity

Earlier this week, a federal court in Vermont became the first in the country to interpret the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), a decision that promises to be beneficial for mental health patients.

In C.M. v. Fletcher Allen Health Care, Inc., the plaintiff, identified as C.M., charged that the administrator of her health plan violated MHPAEA in 3 ways: 1.) Requiring pre-approval for mental health services but not for other medical-related services, 2.) Conducting concurrent reviews for mental health services but not for other medical services, and 3.) Initiating automatic review processes triggered by a fixed number of visits for mental health services but not for those related to medical services.

The defendant argued that, to prove an MHPAEA violation, it is the patient’s responsibility to demonstrate not only that there is a difference between the way medical and mental health services are treated, but also “no clinically appropriate standard of care would permit a difference.” The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s argument.

Colleen Coyle, General Counsel of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), summed up the significance of the court’s decision: “This is significant because it clearly puts the burden on the insurance industry to provide clinically appropriate standards of care to justify treating mental health claims differently than medical-surgical claims. Mental health and substance disorder patients have a right to know whether they are being treated differently than patients with other physical or surgical issues, and if so, on what clinical grounds the insurance companies justify that difference.”

Obama Supports “Plan B” Pills for Teenage Girls

In more Obama news, the President came out this week in support of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ruling to allow the over-the-counter sales of morning-after pills to women 15 years-old and older without a prescription. While many groups praise the progress made in allowing the emergency contraception to be sold to some minors, they still frown on the FDA pushing back against a federal order to sell the pill to women of all ages.

Childhood Trauma and Psychosis

Based on a report outlined in the American Journal of Psychiatry, exposure to childhood trauma may predict psychotic experiences. The study also highlights the first direct evidence that suggests cessation of traumatic experience leads to reduced psychotic incidents.

Self-Assessment and Risk for Violence

Predicting who is most at risk for committing violent acts within the mental health community is an increasingly important topic. This has been exacerbated by recent tragic acts of violence around the country that may have been carried out by individuals with a mental illness. A new study, published in Psychiatric Services, notes the efficacy of having patients provide their own assessment of their risk for violent behavior. Comparing the predictive accuracy of patients’ self-reports to two standard risk-assessment tools, researchers found that self-perceptions were more accurate predictors. The researchers also note that self-assessments should be used as an adjunct to other risk-assessment methodologies and not as a replacement.

Depression Late in Life Linked to Dementia

A recent review in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that depression experienced later in life is associated with a heightened risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers stressed the importance of preventing depression and other mental-health disorders, along with promoting a healthy lifestyle with a reduction of cardiovascular burden, in public-health policies for the older adult population. So next time you see an older person who seems a little down, get your hug on.

Seriously, look how cute. Hug one today.

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1 comment to “Friday Roundup – Mental Health Awareness Month, Parity Progress, Obama Did What?, and Hugz”

  1. Katherine · May 3, 2013 · Permalink

    I love the information about Mental Health Parity! Here in New Mexico, I have stopped seeking mental health services because my mental health copay is 3x more than a regular doctor visit. The plan administrator states that my employment group is too small for mental health parity to apply, bummer! I hope someday there will be a change on the Federal level that requires mental health parity for insured employee groups of all sizes, no matter how small.

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