People in Psychiatric Emergencies Wait Longer in the ER, and Other News

empty hospital waiting roomPeople experiencing mental health emergencies wait almost four times longer for hospital admission from the emergency room than those with physical health emergencies, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine. Although the study looked exclusively at Massachusetts hospitals, mental health access and parity are nationwide issues.

Researchers looked at admission reasons and wait times at 10 hospitals in Massachusetts. They found people pursuing physical health treatments waited an average of 4.2 hours, compared to an average 16.5-hour wait for people seeking mental health services. People who needed to transfer to another facility waited an average of 3.9 hours if they presented with a physical ailment, but 21.5 hours when they sought mental health care.

People without insurance or who were insured under Medicaid faced even longer wait times than those with private insurance. Uninsured people were 2.8 times more likely to be in the emergency department for longer than 24 hours. Medicaid patients were twice as likely to remain in the emergency department for more than 24 hours.

The study’s authors highlight the need for community mental health resources. Mental health parity, including for people without insurance and those living in poverty, is a continual subject of political debate. Last year, President Barack Obama announced the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force, an interagency organization with a mandate to promote mental health parity.

Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Risk of Dementia, Say Scientists

People exposed to the chronic noise and air pollution associated with heavy traffic may be at a higher risk of developing dementia, according to new research. Researchers say 1 in 10 cases of Alzheimer’s could be linked to noise pollution in urban areas. This follows previous research, which linked noise and air pollution to reduced white matter and decreased cognition in the brain.

App to Help Smokers Quit is Developed by Health Psychologists and Game Designers

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Kingston University have developed an app designed to help smokers kick the habit. Cigbreak Free turns quitting into a game, encouraging smokers to track their progress through various levels while offering in-game rewards for successes. To promote smoking cessation, the creators of the app programmed messages and techniques to help boost behavior change.

Gambling Addiction Triggers the Same Brain Areas as Drug and Alcohol Cravings

According to research published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, gambling cravings activate regions in the brain similar to those affected by drug and alcohol cravings. Researchers found the insula and nucleus accumbens—brain areas linked to impulse control and reward—show increased activity among people with a gambling addiction.

The VA Hooked Veterans on Opioids, Then Failed Them Again

Overprescription of opioid pain relievers is linked to the opioid abuse epidemic that claims thousands of lives each year. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently admitted to overprescribing opioids to veterans seeking help. But now, veterans with an addiction have few substance abuse treatment options because rehabilitation clinics are overflowing with veterans in need of help.

With Its New Feature, Instagram is Making Mental Health a Priority

Facebook and Twitter recently took measures to help users experiencing mental health issues. Now Instagram is following suit, with a feature that allows users to anonymously report posts that suggest a mental health emergency.

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  • Steven

    January 6th, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    Why wouldn’t someone presenting with a psychiatric emergency be viewed as just as important as someone with any other kind of emergency? Sometimes these are even more dangerous than others!

  • Boyd

    January 9th, 2017 at 4:51 AM

    Gambling, shopping, drugs and alcohol. All of these addictions and so many others I would suspect are mostly about filling some void in your life that you believe is missing something . No matter what to conquer these demons you have to get to the root of the problem first, figure out what is actually driving these addictive behaviors before you can go forward.

  • marcine

    January 12th, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    We all know that the VA has had its faults but I am sure that as an organization they were no more complicit in upping the numbers of opiod addiction that any other team of medical doctors. I just do not believe that this is anything that any respectable medical provider would intentionally set out to do.

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