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More than a third of kids displaced by Hurricane Katrina suffer from depression, anxiety, or behavioral and conduct disorders, according to researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.  “From the perspective of children and families, the recovery from Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans has been a dismal failure,” according to  Dr. Irwin Redlener, quoted in the Journal of Disaster Management and Public Health Preparedness (August). Posted 10/20/10

Teaching clinicians about military life is the goal of “Operation Immersion.”  Civilian substance abuse professionals from 24 states spend two days sleeping in barracks, undergoing military-style training and inspections, and eating government-issue MREs.  (That’s meals-ready-to-eat.)  The program is co-sponsored by the Tennessee National Guard and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  There have been three of these in the last year, all in Tennessee, but SAMHSA hopes to see them duplicated in other states.  See more at www.tinyurl.com/2akjs52 Posted 10/20/10

Mama’s boys” have better mental health," according to Carlos Santos, whose presentation on that topic at the recent American Psychological Association convention in San Diego was picked up by Time magazine (August 27).  Boys who are close to their mothers are more emotionally open when they reach adolescence, have fewer mental health problems, and are more likely to disclose the problems they do have to doctors and other authority figures, leading to lower suicide rates.  Santos is a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Social and Family Dynamics. Posted 10/20/10

Deadly Facebook postings:  The social networking site had some bad publicity this summer.  First, in Colombia, the posting of a “death list” with 69 names on it was dismmised by police as a hoax--until the first three people on it turned up dead.  According to a report on ABC News (August 25), a drug gang is suspected...Meanwhile, in Hanford, CA, Anthony Lozano allegedly kidnapped and tortured his girlfriend for four days in August after becoming jealous over a conversation she was having with another man via Facebook. Posted 10/20/10

The public trusts the medical system a bit more than the presidency, but not quite as much as organized religion. Gallup’s annual "Confidence in Institutions" survey came out in July, revealing that the military is the most trusted institution in the country--with 76% of respondents saying they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in it. Number-2 is small business with 66%, then the police with 59%. Organized religion comes in fourth at 48%, then the medical system--40%, and the presidency--36%. Congress brings up the rear at 7%. See more at: http://tinyurl.com/263be6x.

Ceridian providers need to resubmit bills -- that's according to the company itself. In a letter to network providers dated May 4, 2010, Ceridian's vice-president of quality Gary Jeter describes "significant delays in processing claims." Clinicians who haven't been paid for claims submitted before March 1 are asked to resubmit via fax. A PsyFin reader who services dozens of cases per year for Ceridian tells us this is not the first request for resubmission she's gotten. "This is a regurgitation of the letter they sent me in February," she tells us. At that time, she was asked to resubmit claims for    October-December of 2009. She was paid for that work in March, she says, adding that she's still waiting for payment on her January claims.
     Another reader informs us that she's just been paid for her February, 2010, claims, but is still waiting for March. The cause for these delays isn't clear, but in the May 4 letter, Jeter promises a final solution in early June, with "the entire backlog of invoices...paid" shortly thereafter. The fax number for resubmitted claims is (703)908-6235. The voicemail inquiry line listed in Jeter's letter is (800)367-3920, ext. 2971. See the complete Ceridian letter here. Posted: 5/8/10

PTSD and phobias can be treated effectively with "distance therapies," according to Canadian researchers. This confirms the experience of many clinicians featured in PsyFin who do telephone coaching with these clients. Both tele-therapy and face-to-face control group patients "saw a significant decrease in their post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms," according to Stéphane Guay, a psychiatry professor at the University of Montreal. "In fact, comments were more in favor of tele-therapy...It seems patients appreciate a certain distance from their therapist." (Source: PsychCentral.com, March 24. For more, see www.tinyurl.com/pf0210a.) 02/10

Not enough docs to go around: America will face a shortfall of at least 125,000 physicians over the next 15 years--particularly primary care docs. That’s according to psychiatrist Darrell Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The problem will be especially acute given the passage of the health reform law--which will extend health insurance to tens of millions of Americans who aren’t currently covered. A basic problem is that the growth in population over the last several decades has not been matched by growth in medical schools. American med schools produce about 27,000 new docs a year, and estimates are that we import about a quarter of our physicians from outside the country. (Source: Psychiatric News, March 19.)02/10

Email therapy is skyrocketing, according to a survey of psychologists reported in the March APA Monitor. The number of psychologists using email with patients at least occasionally shot up from about 10% in 2000 to over 40% in 2008. And the percentage of those using it up to three times per month rose from less than 5% to more than 20%. Survey results on other "distance therapies" indicate that while the number of respondents doing at least some therapy by phone didn’t change much between 2000 and 2008 (about 80%), those who do it are doing it more often. In 2000, about 40% said they did phone therapy up to three times a month; by 2008 it was over 60%. 02/10

 

A list of the fastest-growing cities in each state was compiled by Business-week and published online early in the year. Growth in the Northeast and Midwest is generally lower than in the West and South. For instance, California’s fastest growing city is Lincoln--with 10% population growth from 2008 to 2009. But in Massachusetts, the leader is Lexington which grew by just 2%. The study also furnishes average annual income for each of the 50 featured cities. (See www.tinyurl.com/pf0110b for more.)01/10

Has the recession made people happier? The "Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index" reports that Americans are happier and more upbeat than they were in the summer of 2008--before the banking crisis and the recession it precipitated. Why? According to mental health professionals quoted in a Time article (www.tinyurl.com/pf0110a), we’re happier now because our expectations have fallen. During long economic booms, the theory goes, "expectation inflation" outpaces actual economic growth, leaving people disappointed with their lives. A recession brings everyone back to earth, lowering expectations and making us feel better about what we actually have.01/10

 

The dark side of green: Researchers at the University of Toronto are claiming that people who go out of their way to buy eco-friendly consumer products are more likely to behave in negative or anti-social ways in the immediate aftermath of the purchase. Why? The theory is that they confer on themselves a "halo associated with green consumerism" and feel entitled to make up for it in other ways. An abstract appears here: www.tinyurl.com/pf1209a. A lengthy article on the topic appeared on Slate.com on December 7--see that here: www.tinyurl.com/pf1209b.12/09

 

Daily marijuana use in adolescence is linked with the onset of psychosis, according to Emory University research reported in the November American Journal of Psychiatry. "We were surprised that it wasn't just whether or not they used cannabis in adolescence," says Michael Compton, the study’s lead author. "Rather, it was how quickly they progressed to becoming a daily cannabis user that was the stronger predictor." 12/09

Predicting who might be most at risk for PTSD is the goal of a study being conducted by military doctors at Twentynine Palms in California. Marines are put through a battery of tests--startle response, neuropsych exams, in-depth psychiatric interviews, and genetic sampling--prior to deployment in Afghanistan. The idea is to generate baseline data which can be used later to determine risk factors for PTSD. Previous studies--generally focusing on veterans rather than active duty personnel--have linked PTSD with the most severe battlefield traumas, but also with a history of childhood abuse and mental illness. Even so, "we can’t determine with certainty who will and who won’t develop PTSD," according to Paula Schnurr, a deputy executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 12/09

Different drinks really do give you different hangovers, according to Brown University research published December 17 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Compounds in wine, bourbon, and beer leave their imbibers with more headaches, nausea, and general physical discomfort the next day than symptoms experienced by vodka drinkers. See an abstract here: www.tinyurl.com/pf1209c. 12/09

 

Junk food affects the brain like heroin--users get a flush of pleasure, but gradually need more and more to get the same feeling. That’s according to research done at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL, and widely reported in November. For more, see: www.tinyurl.com/pf1109c.11/09

Adolescent girls are more likely than boys to drink, but boys are more likely to binge drink, according to a comprehensive survey of teens between 2003 and 2006. A new report on the survey--issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration--also finds that girls are more likely to use tobacco, and use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, while boys are more likely to use marijuana. Overall, girls aged 12-17 were slightly more likely than boys in the same age group to be dependent on drugs or alcohol. For more, see the SAMHSA report here: www.tinyurl.com/pf1109a. 11/09

MDs vs. chiropractors: Who is more receptive to mental health professionals? It’s MDs, according to David Sternberg, a Washington, DC, clinician who spent several months attempting to build referral relationships with both professions. The chiropractors were the harder sell. "They’d say, ‘We don’t believe in psychotherapy.’ Or they’d say, ‘I have no time available to talk to you for the next 12 months.’" (Sternberg’s practice is profiled on page 4.) 11/09

Living near a park or a wooded area promotes better mental health, according to Dutch health authorities. Examining 350,000 medical records from across the Netherlands, and using patients’ postal codes to determine which of them lived within two miles of a "green space," researchers found that those who did were a third less likely to be treated for an anxiety disorder or clinical depression. Interestingly, there was little or no impact on physical health. (Source: WebMD, October 14; for more, see www.tinyurl.com/pf1109b.) 11/09

Why do so many clinicians take inadequate session notes? According to one lawyer we spoke to recently, there are three reasons: 1) laziness; 2) a desire to protect clients’ confidentiality; and 3) out of fear, "because they’re worried about lawyers like me getting access to the record." But that’s the wrong approach, insists Dallas attorney Thomas Hartsell. "What they end up doing is leaving out material that could be helpful to them in a lawsuit." This is particularly true when clients express suicidal ideation. "That’s when it’s most important to document what they’re saying and what you’re telling them--and to gauge their compliance. That can go a long way to mitigating claims of negligence." Hartsell and two other lawyers who specialize in mental health issues are quoted in the article starting on page 1. 01/10

Dress up marketing materials with a cartoon. Claire and Tom Caines, a clinician-consultant team we spoke to recently, stay in touch with clients and referral sources with a humorous greeting card. "We use a single frame cartoon as the face of the card," Tom Caines explains. They download cartoons from the web, paying about $150 for the privilege. "We pick cartoons with a mental health theme, often ones with animals in them." The cards invariably pay off with a string of phone calls. "They call and say, ‘What a great card,’ or ‘I got your card again this year.’" There are many sources for artwork like this, but the Caines use www.glasbergen.com, which features a surprising number of cartoons featuring dogs or cats in therapy settings. (The Caines are featured in the marketing article beginning on page 6.) 01/10

Substance abuse professionals (SAPs) can be excellent referral sources, says David Carbonell, an anxiety disorder specialist in Chicago. Since SAPs generally can’t self-refer, they need a roster of solid professionals they can send their patients to. The same is often true of employee assistance professionals, he adds. "I’ve worked to make good connections with them, presenting at their conferences." (On page 5, Carbonell talks to us about promoting community presentations on the cheap.) 12/09

Promote your health-related niches now. New Year’s resolutions related to smoking, overeating, and other bad habits are already being broken--making this the perfect time to sell programs that help people deal with these problems. As we reported early in 2009, health clubs and gyms always see a membership boost in January. 12/09

The problem with trying to study the effects of pornography on young men, researchers find, is that you can’t assemble a control group. Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse from the University of Montreal explains: "We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography...We couldn’t find any." The average age at which his subjects first watched porn was 10, Lajeunesse told The Telegraph (Britain, December 2). Roughly 90% of their "porn consumption" was via the Internet...Meanwhile, according to a Nielsen survey quoted in the November/December Psychotherapy Networker, 25% of U.S. employees admit to accessing Internet porn at work. A long article about the effects of pornography titled "Out of the Shadows" is available online at www.psychotherapynetworker.com. 11/09

The employment picture is grimmer for men than for women, according to the latest Labor Department stats. In October, 2009, the unemployment rate was 8.8% for women, but a whopping 11.4% for men. That gap is wider than at any time since 1948, when gender figures were first kept. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal (November 27), more than 70% of the 7.3 million jobs lost in the recession so far were lost by men--owing to the disproportionate impact of the downturn on the construction and manufacturing industries. Women currently account for 49.9% of people in employment. 11/09

Diagnosis of ADHD in kids is a spotty affair, according to a survey of 934 parents of ADHD-diagnosed children conducted by Consumer Reports. For instance, while a wide variety of mental health professionals were involved in the diagnoses, classroom teachers were contacted by the diagnosing professional just 56% of the time. Children were observed in the classroom 53% of the time, and given a hearing test 52% of the time. The child’s own pediatrician was involved in the process only 69% of the time. Meds were prescribed immediately after diagnosis in 56% of cases. Survey results were released online at www.consumerreports.org on October 5. 11/09

 

 

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