Obama Calls for Ban on Conversion Therapy, and Other News

A flagpole displaying an American flag and an LGBT equality flag

Last December, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn jumped in front of a tractor-trailer and died. Her online suicide note indicated that pressure to conform to the male gender assigned to her at birth played a role. Alcorn’s parents took her to a conversion therapist to “cure” her of being transgender. She also stated in her suicide note, “My death needs to mean something.” LGBT advocates responded with an outpouring of grief and a petition to enact “Leelah’s Law,” a law that would ban all attempts to change the sexual orientation or identity of LGBT people.

In response to the petition, the White House issued a public statement calling for an end to conversion therapies. “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” the statement read, adding that, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Mental Health Care: NAMI Report Finds Insurance Discrimination, Lack of Transparency Under Parity Laws

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act of 2008 requires some employer-backed insurers to provide equal coverage for mental and physical health care. According to a NAMI report, many insurers continue to ignore the law by routinely denying mental health benefits, charging high co-pays for mental health medications, and establishing extensive out-of-pocket costs for those in need of mental health services. 

Veterans Mental Health Bill Introduced in the Senate

The Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2015 promises to expand the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. The earlier law attempted to expand access to mental health care by allowing veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic to seek care outside the VA system. The new law attempts to fill holes in the old one by loosening the 40-mile rule incentivizing mental health care providers within the VA system. 

Impact of Domestic Violence on Women’s Mental Health

According to a study of 1,052 mothers, domestic violence endangers women’s mental health, not just their physical well-being. Women were only recruited for the study if they had no prior history of depression. During the study, a third reported suffering domestic violence. These women were also more likely to report a history of childhood abuse, early pregnancy, and poverty. Even when controlling for these factors, women exposed to domestic violence were twice as likely as other women to experience depression. They were three times as likely to develop symptoms of psychosis.

Texting Too Tempting for College Students Even When Inappropriate

Stories about young adults who constantly text frequently frame the behavior as a new communication style. According to a study from Pennsylvania State University, though, college students may text not because they want to, but because they can’t resist. Researchers surveyed college students about their views on and use of texting. While most agreed that texting while showering is socially unacceptable, 34% reported that they’d still do it. Students also agreed that texting while having sex or attending religious services was problematic. But 22% reported texting during religious services, and 7.4% admitted to texting during sex.

Ivy League School’s ‘Withdrawal Policy’ for Extremely Depressed Students Is Under Fire

Mental health issues can require time-consuming treatment, and psychological pain can make it difficult to complete even basic daily tasks. Yet Yale University places a significant burden on students who withdraw for mental health reasons. To re-enroll at Yale, students must complete two courses at another school, receiving a “B” average in the courses. They must also prove that they are “constructively occupied.” The second requirement, which was also the title of a Yale Daily News piece, has come under scrutiny for being needlessly vague. The piece also says that some students have been forced to withdraw for mental health reasons, with no guarantee they can later return.

New Treatment for Dementia Discovered: Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation, which has proven effective at treating neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, may also effectively treat dementia. Researchers successfully used the process to generate new brain cells in middle-aged rats.

Lonely Seniors Visit Doctors More Often

According to a survey of 3,500 seniors, those who are chronically lonely are more likely to visit the doctor. The survey, conducted in 2008 and 2012, labeled any senior who reported high degrees of loneliness in both surveys as “chronically lonely.” Those seniors went to the doctor more, but were not more likely to be hospitalized, suggesting that loneliness—and not serious health problems—might explain the increase in medical visits.

1 in 10 Americans Has Anger Issues and Access to Guns: Survey

A national survey of 5,600 adults has found that many people with anger problems also have access to guns. Nearly 9% of survey respondents reported being “short-fused” and having access to firearms. And 1.5% of respondents with anger problems admitted to carrying guns outside their homes.

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  • Patti

    Patti

    April 10th, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    I know that this is important, but is it really up to the White House to call for an end to this? Do we really think that in a country so divided politically as we are right now that this will make any kind of difference?

  • Fran

    Fran

    April 10th, 2015 at 1:40 PM

    Ok so you know that texting is a problem if you can’t even go thru a church service or a shower without phone in hand.

  • Bryan C.

    Bryan C.

    April 10th, 2015 at 5:58 PM

    I spent my teens and 20’s desperately involved in “conversion therapy.” I was a true believer. At 31, I had a girlfriend…but there I was, taking the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building and thinking the unthinkable. I just didn’t see a way out. My truth was abominable to the Church and shameful to my family should they ever find out… While it’s often called “reparative therapy,” it almost destroyed me.

  • craine

    craine

    April 12th, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    Any one who wants a gun badly enough here in the US is gonna have some access to it. I don’t have guns in my own home but I know that with or without a criminal record there is always a way and a pipeline for finding a firearm if I wanted one.

  • Kim p

    Kim p

    April 13th, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    I sure wish that Yale would leave more of a guarantee for return a possibility than what this current policy states. The way it stands feels like it is so judgmental and punishing for students who withdraw for legitimate reasons

  • martin

    martin

    April 13th, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    I want to be able to go to whatever doctor that I want regardless of how far away it is or whether they are in network. Will the new veterans bills mandate that or am I still going to be stuck within a certain mile constraint and a certain provider. What if I don’t like that person? Shouldn’t I be able to go to whom I want/

  • Geneen

    Geneen

    April 14th, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    Aww how sad about seniors and that they might actually feel closer to their doctor than anyone else. Could it be that this is the only person that they have in their lives who they feel will listen to them and cares for them?

  • ted

    ted

    April 17th, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    If there is any hope out there for treating dementia it sounds as if deep brain stimulation shows a lot of promise.

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