Congress Passes Mental Health Legislation, and Other News

U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.The U.S. Congress explored two pieces of mental health legislation this week.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Rep. Tim Murphy’s, R-Pa., Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. The legislation was stalled for years, and many of its most ambitious goals were eliminated—including a provision that would require Medicaid to cover more mental health care. The modified bill now covers residential mental health care for no more than 15 days. Lawmakers also removed a provision that would allow information about a person with a mental health condition to be shared with caregivers.

The new bill authorizes more suicide prevention and child mental health provisions, and it is substantially similar to legislation already passed in the Senate, potentially increasing the likelihood that the bill will become law.

The Senate and House also met Wednesday to negotiate changes to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Legislators introduced a few amendments, including a $10 million per year anti-heroin task force and an act designed to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs.

Certain Medications, Psychological Therapy May Help Adults with Binge-Eating Disorder

According to a study that looked at 34 trials of medication, therapy, or no treatment, the right combination of medication and therapy can treat binge eating. Researchers found that the nervous system stimulant lisdexamfetamine, cognitive behavioral therapy, and second-generation antidepressants such as fluoxetine all resulted in better outcomes than a placebo.

Neuroscientists Say Multitasking Literally Drains the Energy Reserves of Your Brain

Switching between two or more tasks makes it more difficult to perform both tasks, steadily draining the brain of energy. Research consistently shows that people who multitask become more tired and make more errors. Instead of multitasking, neuroscientists say people should consider frequent 15-minute breaks to allow their minds to wander before getting back to a task.

The 1970s ‘Gay-Cure’ Experiments Written Out of Scientific History

Homosexuality remained a mental health diagnosis until the 1980s, and attempts to “cure” it were popular in the 1970s. At Tulane University, Dr. Robert Galbraith Heath led many controversial experiments to treat homosexuality and schizophrenia, but most logs of scientific history have glossed over the research.

Zika Virus Identified in Brain, Placenta Tissue, Strengthening Link to Birth Defects

Though skeptics continue to doubt the role of mosquitoes in Zika and the role of Zika in birth defects, doctors continue to strengthen both links. Researchers found the Zika virus in the brain tissue of a deceased 2-month-old baby in Brazil who had been diagnosed with microcephaly—a birth defect—as well as in the placentas of two miscarried fetuses. These findings suggest Zika directly attacks brain tissue and the placenta during pregnancy.

Growing Pains for Field of Epigenetics as Some Call for Overhaul

Epigenetics refers to changes in expression of genes without affecting underlying DNA structure, and research has shown they may help explain why certain environmental factors can affect gene expression, potentially leading to changes in behavior, personality, or resilience to stress. However, a recently published study in the journal PLOS Genetics suggests many studies of epigenetics may have been weakly designed, leading to problems with the findings. The study’s authors say it may actually be close to impossible to confirm that the outcomes from previous research resulted from epigenetics.

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  • Kenneth


    July 8th, 2016 at 1:21 PM

    I know that at one time I had two friends whose parents had put them into therapy because they are gay and they wanted to try to “talk” them out of it.
    Obviously that didn’t work and we kind of laugh about it now, but it was pretty painful at the time to all of us who knew that this was not socially acceptable and yet we knew this is who we were.

  • Jaye


    July 11th, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    today it’s zika… what will be next?

  • Petra


    July 11th, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    No matter the steps that the good lawmakers have in DC, it is like there are always others who are holding them back from getting the real work accomplished. Hands are always tied, deals are always struck and the ones who could most use the help are the ones who consistently lose because of all of the back room deals.

  • gregory


    July 12th, 2016 at 2:01 PM

    Until we are honest about all aspects of our history, the good and the bad, it can often be destined to repeat itself. Sometimes this will be good and sometimes, bad. We all have to be willing to learn from past mistakes but if we are only making the effort to wipe out the uncomfortable parts then how are the future generations ever supposed to learn from what we have learned in the past?

  • Vera


    July 13th, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    I feel like if I do not multitask then someone will think that I am not doing my job. It is kind of like a badge of honor to be able to do multiple things at one time at my job, so the ones who spend their time doing one thing and doing it well? They might be champs at that but they are never gonna be the ones getting ahead.

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