The House voted Thursday, by a narrow margin of 217-213, to repeal and replace significant portions of the Affordable Care Act. The bill now moves to the Senate. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the new law could leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act ended the practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions such as pregnancy and diabetes. Its 10 core health care benefits required coverage for pediatric and maternity care, mental health treatment, and other basic health care needs. It also expanded Medicaid, mandated that people purchase health insurance, and offered subsidies to help people afford insurance.
If the bill becomes law, it could affect coverage for mental health care and substance abuse. It may also penalize people who have previously sought care for mental health conditions or trauma. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, some health insurance companies treated sexual assault, postpartum depression, and domestic violence as pre-existing conditions. If the ACA federal ban on these denials is repealed, health insurers could again discriminate on the basis of a wide range of conditions and experiences.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected another challenge to California’s ban on conversion therapy for minors. This is the second time the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling on conversion therapy. By refusing to hear the challenge, the Supreme Court allows the decision of a lower court—in this case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco—to stand. Most conversion therapy groups argue that being non-heterosexual is immoral and unnatural, but most research shows sexual orientation can only be suppressed rather than changed. This suppression can contribute to lasting psychological harm, especially in young participants who are forced by their parents to undergo conversion therapy. Last week, democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would ban conversion therapy for all people younger than 18.
Mental health issues such as depression and posttraumatic stress can affect work performance. A survey of 1,104 British adults suggests many people would prefer to keep these concerns quiet at work. Forty-nine percent said they would not discuss mental health issues with a boss, and 35% say they would discuss these concerns with colleagues.
Psychiatrist Joseph Lifschutz died last month. Lifschutz’s refusal to produce treatment notes or to acknowledge treating a particular person in therapy landed him in jail for a week in 1969. His argument that confidentiality rights granted to lawyers, married couples, and members of the clergy should also extend to psychotherapists eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, establishing precedent that continues to protect confidentiality rights in therapy.
According to a study of UK National Health Service (NHS) patients, 53% who sought mental health treatment experienced a relapse of depression or anxiety within a year of completing psychological treatment. Seventy-nine percent of relapses occurred within six months after treatment.
A wandering mind can lead to anxious thoughts, but mindfulness may help. According to a study of people with anxiety, just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation can refocus attention, reducing the tendency of the mind to wander.
Older adults are more vulnerable to falls, and conditions such as osteoporosis can make these falls more dangerous. Mental health conditions can also increase the risk of falls, with a moderate increase in depression linked to a 30% increase in the risk of experiencing a fall during the next two years. This is due in part to the effects of psychiatric drugs, a new study suggests. Researchers say remaining active can help reduce the risk of falling, but tweaking medication dosage can also mitigate the risk.
According to an ongoing survey that looked at bullying rates from 2005-2014, bullying rates declined over the last decade. About 13-29% of students reported bullying victimization at various points during the survey, though the overall rate dropped. There was also a 1-2% drop per year in the rate at which students admitted to bullying others. Researchers are uncertain what accounts for the decline, and students did not report statistically significant changes in their perception that adults were being more proactive to stop bullying.
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