Benefits of Community Mental Health, and Other News

Hands in group huddleCommunity-based mental health services can improve outcomes in people with mental health diagnoses, several studies have found. Deinstitutionalization—the push to keep people out of long-term mental health institutions—increasingly means people with mental health conditions are living in their communities rather than treatment facilities. The Olmstead decision, a United States Supreme Court ruling on mental health treatment, enshrined the right to the least restrictive treatment available.

The number of available psychiatric beds dropped from 558,922 in 1995 to 37,679 in 2016. This is good news for those with mental health conditions, most of whom lead more fulfilling lives in their communities than in institutions. Inadequate funding for outpatient, community-based resources, however, has driven the number of homeless people with mental health diagnoses to more than 100,000.

When available and funded, court-ordered treatment programs—known as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT)—can help integrate people with mental health conditions back into their communities. The 21st Century Cures Act, which former President Barack Obama signed into law in December 2016, includes additional funding for AOT. Research in several states points to the efficacy of these programs. In New York, for example, researchers looked at more than 3,000 people with access to AOT. AOT reduced mental health hospitalizations by 77% and homelessness by 74%.

Stop Smoking Services May Boost Mental Health of People With Depression

Smoking cessation services may improve overall mental health, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Behavioural Medicine. Researchers found 66.3% of smokers who had moderate to severe depression when they used quit-smoking services experienced no symptoms a year later.

Good Outcomes With ‘Telepsychiatry’ in Medical Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder

Telepsychiatry, which offers remote therapeutic services via video conferencing, may be a good option for people with an addiction to opioids. According to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, for people using buprenorphine to treat their addiction, telepsychiatry offered similar results to in-person therapy. Participants in the telepsychiatry group were more likely to live in rural areas, making telepsychiatry a more accessible option.

Nicotine May Help Schizophrenia, Study Finds

According to a study published in Nature Medicine, nicotine may treat hypofrontality, one of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Hypofrontality denotes low activity in the prefrontal cortex during cognitive tasks. This leads to cognitive issues in people with schizophrenia. When exposed to nicotine, the prefrontal cortex of people with schizophrenia appears to work better. Smoking, which releases nicotine to the brain, is more prevalent among people with schizophrenia. One study estimated 88% of people with the diagnosis smoke.

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, Mental Health Pioneer, Dies at 80

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, who pioneered mental health treatments for children with disabilities, died of lung cancer January 16. Many public schools use Harrison-Ross’s programs, which were designed to keep children with disabilities out of institutional settings.

Trapped by the Game: Why Professional Footballers Don’t Talk About Their Mental Health

According to interviews with seven male football players, footballers do not feel safe discussing mental health issues. The interviews point to struggle as a common theme among players. They viewed the football field as a battlefield where they felt they had to struggle to “survive.” Shame and stigma often kept them from expressing any sense of vulnerability or emotional difficulties. Many also found it hard to integrate into the real world after careers in professional football.

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  • Britney

    January 28th, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    I think that men in general have a harder time opening up about any health concerns than women do. Thoughts on that?

  • Russell

    January 28th, 2017 at 4:54 PM

    I don’t ever believe that there should be any kind of complaints about therapy modules that make treatment more accessible to others.

    For many people who live in areas either where therapy would be frowned upon or where there may not be anything available to them, online and tele programs may be the be st chance that they have for experiencing some healing in their lives.

    If anything there should probably be more programs like this to help the greatest numbers struggling that we possibly can.

  • Dora

    January 29th, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    Truthfully any time that I have ever tried to stop smoking and I have tried a lot, I always feel so anxious and depressed when I can’t smoke. I know that in the end it is bad for my health but isn’t being anxious and depressed bad too? I feel like I am trading one thing for another, so so far I have just kept the one that I enjoy the most. It might be a crutch that I’m leaning on but I just know in my heart I’m not ready to give it up.

  • Travis

    January 30th, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    So is there any way to administer the nicotine without further harming one’s physical health?

  • Tamela

    January 30th, 2017 at 2:48 PM

    I believe that we all learned so much and profited much with increased knowledge about mental health under the Obama administration. I can only hope that our new president doesn’t under cut much of what has been done and move us backward rather than helping to continue to lead us forward.

  • patricia

    January 31st, 2017 at 10:17 AM

    I do not think that the story about athletes not talking about their mental health only applies to this one group of athletes. I would suspect that this is something that is pretty prevalent among men in general, a real hesitation to talk about their overall physical and mental health. I don’t think that they are for the most part as open as a woman would be to discussing her health. I just think that to them there is something wrong with sharing all sorts of feelings and observations like that. I wish that it weren’t true but I think that the deeper we look into this I think that you will find even more of that.

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