Articles Posted in Mental Illness

anxietykid-150x150Americans live such nerve-wracking, glum, stressful lives that not only young people but also adults up to age 65 would benefit from regular screening during their doctor visits for anxiety and depression.

That’s the draft recommendation, newly issued and up for public comment, by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, blue-ribbon group that provides influential guidance to the federal government on medical tests and treatments.

As the New York Times and other media outlets have reported, the task force recommendations on anxiety and depression screening for most regular folks in this country were in the works before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The advisory has only taken on greater urgency as the pandemic worsened what already were grave concerns about the nation’s mental health.

suicidehotlineFederal officials have launched a new 988 number for callers with suicidal thoughts or other mental health emergencies, hoping that the public adopts this three-digit alternative and finds it as familiar and useful as 911 has become for medical and other urgent help needs.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which those in distress could reach by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) or texting HOME to 741741, will keep operating for a time.

But mental health advocates say they hope 988 soon will become embedded in the public consciousness as the line to call 24/7 to tap into resources — many of them which will rely more on individual states — for what have become big needs. Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nationwide grass-roots group, told the Washington Post this about the new hotline:

MLSlogo-150x150In 2015, public attention galvanized around the significant risks of head trauma and the sport of football with the disclosure that Andre Waters, 44, a hard-hitting, onetime Philadelphia Eagles player, had been diagnosed after his suicide with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Has soccer — one of the most popular pastimes on the planet and a dominant game of U.S. suburban life — also hit its day of reckoning for head injuries? The issue has been brought to the fore with the revelations that Scott Vermillion, 44, a onetime soccer pro, has been posthumously diagnosed with CTE, the degenerative brain disease “linked to symptoms like memory loss, depression and aggressive or impulsive behavior,” the New York Times reported, adding:

“The diagnosis gave Vermillion the grave distinction of being the first American professional soccer player with a public case of CTE. It was a solemn milestone, too, for MLS, a league that has, even in its young history, seen the consequences of the type of brain injuries more commonly associated with collision sports like football, boxing and hockey. For soccer as a whole, the finding will add another note to a small but growing chorus of concern about the health risks of playing the world’s most popular game. ‘Soccer is clearly a risk for CTE — not as much as football, but clearly a risk,’ said Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University.”

cbstulsavictims-300x120In Tulsa, Okla., a 45-year-old patient angry over what he claimed was the pain he suffered after a back operation, bought a handgun and an assault rifle. He stormed into the office of his orthopedic surgeon,  killing him, another doctor, a receptionist, and an office visitor, police say. The man then killed himself.

In Dayton, Ohio, a 30-year-old county jail inmate receiving care at a hospital wrestled with the 78-year-old contract guard accompanying him, fatally wounding him, threatening others, and finally killing himself.

The relentless spate of gun violence and multiple deaths has spread once again into settings designed to heal the sick and treat the injured.

Experts fear the country is veering dangerously into a widespread acceptance of mass death as just a regular part of life — not only by moving on with little more than faint acknowledgement of more than 1 million coronavirus pandemic fatalities but also with a tragic resignation about  fatal shootings at schools, groceries, movie theaters, and other public places.

It has been chilling to watch the “new normal” of the public reactions to a racist shooting that killed 10 in a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery, and the slaughter of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas with destructive disinformation spreading, public officials fatally bungling, and political partisanship calcifying apace.

Most Americans recognized that the coronavirus was the worst health threat to the global community in a century. Most of us listened to experienced, evidence-based experts and followed their recommendations to quell the disease. But Republicans, with their White House running a shambolic, counter factual pandemic response, quickly politicized the efforts to battle the disease, experts say, and that helped bring about hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.

ecrilogo-300x112The coronavirus pandemic and the wrenching demand this public health nightmare has put on the U.S. health care system and its people have become such a worry that staffing shortages and workers’ mental health have become top safety concerns in 2022.

That is the evidence-based view of ECRI, aka the nonprofit, independent Emergency Care Research Institute. It has provided rigorous research to the public and parties in health care to better safeguard patients and their medical care for more than a half century.

The organization issues a Top 10 annual list of patient safety concerns, which is “typically dominated by clinical issues caused by device malfunctions or medical errors,” ECRI reported. But the group is raising different alarms this year about “crises that have simmered, but [that] Covid-19 exponentially worsened.”

abuse-150x150Women suffer significant, sustained damage from head traumas inflicted on them during domestic abuse, and victims themselves, doctors, law enforcement, and too many others have underestimated the severity of this problem.

Here is the harsh reality of too many women’s terrifying experiences, as reported in a tough-to-read but important New York Times magazine article that quotes, among others, Eve M. Valera, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and a leading researcher on traumatic brain injuries among survivors of domestic violence:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five women in the United States experience severe intimate-partner violence over the course of their lifetimes, resulting in physical injuries, most commonly to the head, neck and face. Concussions are likely to appear with alarming regularity. Every year, hundreds of concussions occur in the [National Football League]; thousands occur in the military. Valera’s estimated number of annual brain injuries among survivors of domestic abuse: 1.6 million.

anxietygal-300x200Not all grievous injuries are apparent to the eye, as anyone who has experienced catastrophic illness or injury can attest. And now we’re learning a lot more about the hidden costs — mental, emotional, social, and spiritual — inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporters Emily Baumgartner and Russ Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times surfaced intriguing points of view on what has now become normalized but widely aberrant behaviors in the age of Covid. They did so, as they dug into the reasons for the unacceptable increase in road fatalities at a time when the public, overall, drove less and many people had open byways. The deadly toll that took in 2020 was expected to, but did not, reverse in 2021.

It got worse — and the reasons why need urgent attention, sources told the newspaper, which reported:

drugselderly-150x150The nation’s nursing homes, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, are under more fire for their resurgent reliance on powerful and risky psychiatric drugs and shaky diagnoses of mental illness to treat elderly residents, as well as for the institutions’ inability to safeguard the old, sick, and injured in their care by ensuring their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Facilities across the country have recorded a 70% spike in dubious designations of elderly residents as schizophrenic. This means they may be dosed with potent antipsychotic drugs, which, critics say, act akin to pharmaceutical restraints and can reduce the vulnerable to near vegetative states, the New York Times reported, based on its investigation of the issue.

The newspaper noted that federal regulators and mental health professionals have campaigned for years to get nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stop using certain medications, which once were more routinely administered and pack more than a wallop for the old:

osaka1-172x300biles-300x225The early coverage of the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo has been dominated by an unexpected but rising concern — the importance of mental health to our overall wellbeing. Courageous efforts by young women superstars like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have helped raise consciousness globally about the importance of this issue, especially for elite competitors.

Their outspoken candor has made refreshingly inarguable the short-hand formula that says: mental health = health. The two are inseparable.

But can this country, with its go-go, get-ahead mentality, also absorb crucial lessons that athletes struggle with, including the power of prioritizing care of oneself, just saying no, and refusing to be forced to perform under professional or personal duress? As the Washington Post reported:

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