News Roundup: ACA Enrollment Deadline, a Backpack Inspires Change

Boy walking to schoolIt’s been in the news for months: Obamacare is here; it’s more affordable for many people than the alternatives; and you will be penalized if you are currently uninsured and do not sign up for it. Oh, and the deadline for enrollment is fast approaching: Monday, March 31, 2014.

Several news organizations have reported recently on the upcoming enrollment deadline, stating that many Americans may not fully understand the benefits of signing up for a plan under Obamacare, as well as the fees they will be charged if they do not choose a plan.

With mental health parity officially now in effect, access to therapy and other mental health services is expected to improve across the board, provided there are enough providers to meet the need. Some mental health practitioners still harbor concerns regarding compliancy on the part of health care companies, but the hope is that moving forward, equal treatment of and coverage for physical and mental health conditions will be achieved.

In many states, low-income individuals and families may qualify for extended Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, so if finances are an issue, check with your state’s current offerings. Visit for more information or to peruse the health insurance marketplace for available plans.

In other mental health news this week…

 ‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Help Anorexics Fight Food Fixation

For those experiencing anorexia nervosa, the greatest source of help may be in a boost of love—in its chemical form, otherwise known as oxytocin. Treatment with oxytocin is proving to be successful in alleviating the unhealthy obsessions associated with the condition, a discovery that could potentially help millions of people worldwide.

ANGI-Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative

A current research initiative is underway in the effort to identify potential genetic links involved in anorexia nervosa. The University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine has issued an open call to anyone who has experience with the condition to participate in the investigation, and participants receive a $25 gift card for

SAMHSA Issues Call for 2014 Voice Awards Nominations

Now is the time to nominate those who have made “outstanding contributions” along their respective paths to recovery from behavioral and mental health conditions for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s 2014 Voice Awards. Those who have received or are currently receiving treatment for a mental health or substance abuse condition are eligible. All nominations are due by Friday, April 18.

Clinical Update: Use of Methylphenidate During Pregnancy

The Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health released a clinical update that encourages women who are taking medication for symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) to stop taking their medications while pregnant. This call is based on a number of studies that have shown psychotropic medications containing methylphenidate, such as Ritalin and Concerta, to be potentially harmful to the developing fetus in utero.

Sleep Deprivation Described as a Serious Public Health Problem

You’ve heard it before, and researchers are saying it again: Get some rest! Adequate sleep is essential for optimum health and overall functioning, yet many Americans do not manage to work it in to their busy schedules. This is now being deemed as a “serious public health problem.”

Running as Therapy

One woman writes about her personal journey turning to running as a form of therapy, which has grown into marathon training and participation.

Mental Health On the Go: Reducing Anxiety with Smartphone App

Can a Smartphone App actually alleviate the unpleasantness that is chronic anxiety? Researchers are currently exploring the possibility using an emerging cognitive anxiety treatment known as attention-bias modification training (ABMT).

Thank Your Gut Bacteria for Making Chocolate Healthful

Research has revealed that keeping the bacteria in our guts happy helps keep us happy, too. Relief from anxiety, depression, and fatigue have already been linked to balancing intestinal microbiota by way of dietary changes and probiotics; now, scientists say that the “friendly” bacteria in our guts love good quality chocolate just as much as those of us who are chocolate lovers do.

Sixth Grader Suspended for Taking Self-Harming Classmate’s Razor Blade and

Student Involved in Razor Incident Will Return to School Friday

At a middle school in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a sixth-grade student who took a razor blade away from another student when she found him cutting himself was suspended when she reported the incident to a school guidance counselor. Her parents and the public—primarily via social media—were baffled, and school officials have responded by lifting the suspension.

Boy Reportedly Told Not to Wear My Little Pony Backpack to School

Nine-year-old Grayson Bruce was reportedly told not to wear his My Little Pony backpack to his school in Buncombe County, North Carolina. His mother said that school officials claimed it was a “trigger for bullying.”

Feel-Good Story of the Week: Widespread Support Emerges for Grayson and His Pony-Themed Backpack

Following The Huffington Post’s report on the incident involving nine-year-old Grayson Bruce and his My Little Pony backpack, people expressed their support for him from all over the country. There is now a Support for Grayson Facebook page and a petition to show the young lad just how many people think he is fine just the way he is. A U.S. Navy officer also decided to publicly send some encouragement Grayson’s way in the form of a YouTube message (below).

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  • Caty


    March 21st, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    I for one am having a nightmare with the supposed ACA. It’s not affordable for me when I used to have employer coverage, he dropped it and now I have to pay for a plan that is horrible and I can barely afford. How is that supposed to help me one bit at all? And oh yeah, the premiums are much higher than before with far less coverage than what I used to have, but yet this is supposed to be better across the board? I guess there are some people who are seeing things better with this, but it sure ain’t me.

  • Carson


    March 21st, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    I have always found running to be therapeutic for me, even though there are very few people who believe me! There is nothing like being out there with the wind blowing through your hair, finding your stride, and working through all those problems. Sometimes it’s funny how the events jof the day just kind of magically resolve themselves when you have one of those great running days, and you wonder why can’t every day be like this?

  • ryan p

    ryan p

    March 22nd, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    I work 3rd shift, and let me tell you, there are days where I seriously feel like a zombie because i just can’t get enough sleep. Or good sleep I guess. I come home from work and try to go to bed but even though I have been doing this schedule for a few months my body still knows that this isn’t right to sleep during the day and it resists even though I am bone tired. So I just lay there and lay there and never really go to sleep. Sometimes I feel like I am just going trough the motions but if I take something like a sleep med I feel even worse because they make me feel so groggy. The ideal would be to have a normal schedule job but since that doesn’t look to be in my future anytime soon I have to come up with something else.

  • Jas


    March 22nd, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    The article about oxytocin is weird because anytime I start liking a guy the last thing I want to do is eat! For me that hormone kicks in and takes away my appetite so this doesn’t seem like it would be safe for girls who already have an eating disorder.

  • stoney


    March 24th, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    mental health app? no thanks i like to sit and take my time!

  • Cloe


    March 24th, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    With an incident like the one with the child and the razor blade I know that the schools are ionly trying to do what they can to protect their students but I think that there have been times that have made the headlines that they have failed to use some common sense along the way.

    You would have to be an idiot to not see that this was a child who was only trying to do the right thing and she was the one who ended up being punised for those actions. What was she supposed to do? Let the child hurt himself and let the incident go unreported? That’s not what any of us would have wanted to have happen had it been our child so I am still just baffled by the crazy decision that school boards make in some of these cases when most of the time they should just keep calm and carry on!

  • Fallon


    March 25th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    I will be very interested to hear if anything comes of the study about a genetic link in eating disorders. I have always suspected that there could be somekind of family link but I always thought that this could be more from a behavioral standpoint versus a genetic issue. Glad to see that someone is actually going to put a little time into this and study it and see if there is any kind of validity to it.

  • Kim D

    Kim D

    March 25th, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Unless it was a life and death situation I would never want to have to take any type of medication while pregnant. I can’t believe that there are women who would even think that would be ok, or that there are doctors who would be ok with that.

  • estelle r

    estelle r

    March 26th, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    So the deadline to sign up for insurance is March 31, supposedly, even though this has been moved so many times I think we are all confused by now! What are the real take away numbers? Can this in any way be the successful program that the administration has been saying that it could be? I know that this has all become such a game of politics but for every happy story about fibally being able to get health care coverage it is like there are 100s more about those who can no longer afford theirs. If that is the case then how can this actually be a success? It can’t be a positive if more people are being hurt in the end than those who are being helped. I didn’t think that this would be the goal of the program in the beginning and I don’t think that it was but I think that there were far too many mistakes that were made and now no one knows which ones to change and even if they did, it’s probably too late.

  • Grant


    March 26th, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Who are these people who don’t want to sleep? Seriously, I make sleep a priority when nothing else is! How is it that it is this much of a public health issue nationwide when it is so critical to living right and feeling good?

  • tONY b

    tONY b

    March 27th, 2014 at 4:49 PM


  • Bree


    March 28th, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Does the chocolate that is cited have to be a certain percentage of good chocolate or will any old percentage do? Because I am just as good with Hersheys as I am with that from France!

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