Repetitive Head Impacts Can Affect Learning in College Athletes

A new study suggests that athletes who suffer head impacts during contact sports, such as football or hockey, may see a decrease in the ability to acquire new information.

The study involved college athletes at three Division I schools, comparing 214 athletes in contact sports to 45 athletes in non-contact sports such as track, crew, and Nordic skiing.

The contact sport athletes, who wore special helmets that recorded the acceleration speed and other data at the time of any head impact, experienced an average of 469 head impacts during the season.

All of the athletes took tests of thinking and memory skills before and after the season. Additionally, 45 contact sport athletes and 55 non-contact sport athletes also took an additional set of tests of concentration, working memory, and other skills.

By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor


Psych Inpatient Suicides Fall, But Post-Discharge Suicides May Be on the Rise

(May 17, 2012) The rate of psychiatric inpatient suicide in England fell by nearly one-third from 1997-2008, according to a new study, but the risk of suicide by patients following discharge appears to be on the rise, making “swift and effective support” for discharged patients “even more important.”

Sounds like a case for assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) to us.

“Psychiatric in-patient care and suicide in England, 1997 to 2008” (Psychological Medicine, May 17) attributed the 29-31% drop in suicide rates to “Increased awareness of risk, a safer ward environment and improved professional practice,” according to summary in MedicalXpress (May 16). The drop was greatest among young patients and those with schizophrenia and exceeded the drop in the general population.

But lead author Nav Kapur said, “(A)s in-patient services are now dealing with patients who may be more unwell than in the past, swift and effective support for people following discharge has become even more important. We also need to keep a careful watch on suicide in services and settings which are alternatives to in-patient admission.”

Assisted outpatient treatment is a vital strategy for providing “swift and effective support” following discharge. As an increasing number of US states shutter or shrink state hospitals and increasing numbers of psychiatric patients are left with more limited inpatient care or no inpatient care at all, the use of AOT as a means of maintaining stability in psychiatrically fragile individuals becomes more urgently needed.

There’s no reason to think the English trend would not hold in the US as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t take former patients taking their own lives to drive home the point that court-ordered outpatient treatment can play a lifesaving role in recovery from psychiatric crisis.

(A copy the paper is available upon request from the University of Manchester.)

–Treatment Advocacy Center

20 Ways Shrinks Stay Sane

After nearly 20 years in the field, I’ve noticed that a lot of therapists (myself included) tend to be caretakers, people-pleasers, and self-sacrificers, making us particularly vulnerable to neglecting our own mental health in the name of caring for others. I have learned to become fiercely dedicated to self-care, self- awareness and to maintaining my own relationships in order to protect and nurture my own mental health.

I wanted to reach out beyond my own experience to therapists around the world to see how they nurture their own mental health in a profession that can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Here’s what they had to say.

By JULIE HANKS, LCSW at PsychCentral

Kendra’s Law: Results from New York’s First Ten Years with Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Kendra’s Law reduces the severest consequences from lack of treatment

During the course of court-ordered treatment, when compared to the three years prior to participation in the program, AOT recipients experienced far fewer negative outcomes. Specifically, the OMH study found that for those in the AOT program:

  • 74 percent fewer experienced homelessness;
  • 77 percent fewer experienced psychiatric hospitalization;
  • 83 percent fewer experienced arrest; and
  • 87 percent fewer experienced incarceration.

The related findings of the independent evaluation were also impressive. AOT was found to cut both the likelihood of being arrested over a one-month period and the likelihood of hospital admission over a six-month period by about half (from 3.7 percent to 1.9 percent for arrest, and from 74 percent to 36 percent for hospitalization).

–the Treatment Advocacy Center

Voluntary Vs. Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment

Voluntary treatment for any medical condition is always desirable. However, the nature of severe mental illness is that it attacks the brain – the very organ central to the capacity for making a choice. As a result, every state has established civil commitment laws and standards to empower the court to order individuals with untreated severe mental illness into treatment.

Civil commitment occurs in all states, but the standards vary from state to state.

  • In eight states, the sole grounds for civil commitment is “dangerousness” – a requirement that an individual with severe mental illness must demonstrate an immediate, physical danger to self or others before a court can intervene and order treatment.
  •  In the remaining 42 states, laws permit intervention based on additional criteria that are broader than “dangerousness to self or others.” The specifics vary but generally include a second standard, referred to as “grave disability,” which typically focuses on the person’s inability to meet his or her basic survival need.
  • In 26 of those states, there is a third provision under which a court can intervene in a mental health crisis – what the Treatment Advocacy Center calls the “need-for-treatment” standard. Need-for-treatment standards are particularly relevant for individuals who lack insight into their illness (the syndrome known as “anosognosia”) because they focus the court’s attention on needless personal suffering, from which the person is incapable of seeking relief. Need-for-treatment standards typically include qualification for care based on at least one of the following conditions:
    – the person’s inability to provide for needed psychiatric care,
    – the person’s inability to make an informed medical decision,
    – the person’s need for intervention to prevent further psychiatric or emotional deterioration.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s efforts to eliminate barriers to treatment for severe mental illness include:

  • Advocating for a broader civil commitment standard than mere “dangerousness” in the eight states with only that standard
  • Advocating for more comprehensive civil commitment standards in the 24 states where the need for treatment is not considered in civil commitment proceedings
  • Advocating nationwide for active use of the civil commitment laws and standards already in place to provide timely intervention that prevents or reduces the consequences of non-treatment for severe mental illness

–the Treatment Advocacy Center

Iraq war veteran uses rap to treat his PTSD

LAS VEGAS – On one of the many days Leo Dunson wanted to die, the Iraq veteran put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. The loaded weapon misfired. For the troubled former soldier, it was another inexplicable failure, like his divorce or inability to make friends after returning from the war.

In a Las Vegas recording studio, Dunson rapped about his life: “What’s wrong with me? Got PTSD. These pills ain’t working, man, I still can’t think.”

One in six Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some committed suicide. Others are receiving mental health services at military hospitals. Many more are like Dunson and have refused help, according to research by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD.

Dunson, who was discharged from the Army in 2008 and diagnosed by the military with PTSD, uses his music to examine his disappointment with veteran life. It is the only thing keeping him alive, he said. He refuses to attend counseling or visit his local VA hospital.

The use of music to heal war wounds is part of an emerging field of alternative treatment being embraced by military officials eager to help veterans suffering from PTSD. In Wisconsin, New Jersey, California and other states, government doctors in recent months have launched experimental music therapy programs that rely on the smoothing sounds of classical or acoustic music to help veterans get well.

By Cristina Silva, Associated Press

Some People Will Commit Suicide No Matter What You Do?

And, in point of fact, several organizations have proven that zero suicides aren’t just a lofty goal but an attainable reality. After a new initiative was instituted at the Henry Ford Health System, the rate of suicide decreased by 75 percent in four years. But it gets much better than that. For two years running ,they have zero suicides in their population.

That’s right. They had zero suicides.

It’s in a small population of only 500 people, but the point is, it can happen. To quote C. Edward Coffey, M.D., Henry Ford Health System vice president and CEO of Behavioral Health Services,
“Pursuing perfection is no longer a project or initiative for our team but a principle driving force embedded in the fabric of our clinical care.”

And they aren’t the only ones that believe a zero suicide rate is achievable. Magellan Health Services instituted a new initiative that brought suicide rates down 42 percent in their patient population of 80,000 individuals. The Veterans Administration has also made suicide prevention a major healthcare priority.

by Natasha Tracy at Healthline

SAMHSA Community Programs Improve Outcomes in Traumatized Youth

Children and youth involved in child welfare and juvenile justice face significant challenges, but improve when in SAMHSA community-based programs

According to data released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), children and youth participating in SAMHSA community-based programs who are involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems demonstrate improved outcomes after receiving trauma-informed services. This includes reduced behavioral and emotional problems, reduced trauma symptoms, reduced substance use problems, improved functioning in school and in the community, and improved ability to build relationships.

The report, Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems, shows that upon entering SAMHSA’s Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and Their Families (CMHI), 34 percent of children and youth involved in the child welfare system and 28 percent involved in the juvenile justice system had experienced four or more types of traumatic events. Among children and youth entering SAMHSA’s Donald J. Cohen National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative services, 67 percent involved in child welfare and 57 percent involved in the juvenile justice system had experienced four or more types of traumatic events. Traumatic events can include witnessing or experiencing: physical or sexual abuse; violence in families and communities; natural disasters; wartime events and terrorism; accidental or violent death of a loved one; and a life-threatening injury or illness. Trauma-informed services take into account knowledge about how the experience of trauma can impact the health and well-being of a person and a community.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 6.3 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 attempted suicide, which is consistent with SAMHSA data. Within 6 months of receiving services through CMHI, suicide attempts for children and youth in the child welfare system decreased from 6 percent to 3 percent and decreased further after12 months to 1 percent.

“Children and youth involved in the juvenile justice or child welfare system are more likely to be exposed to potentially traumatic events and face significant challenges,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “The good news is that SAMHSA initiatives help these children and youth build resilience and begin to recover by connecting them with supportive adults and providing trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment.”

The report was released today, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day), SAMHSA’s annual celebration highlighting the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. Awareness Day is part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on public awareness and support. More than 130 National organizations and Federal agencies and programs are collaborating to provide greater access to community-based mental health services and supports for all children and youth with serious mental health conditions and their families as part of Awareness Day 2012. Across the country, more than 1,100 communities are celebrating this annual observance with local events; social media campaigns; and dance, music, and visual activities with children to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health.

May 2012 Detroit Workshop

Linda Stalters, SARDAA Founder opens the conference
Linda Stalters, SARDAA Founder opens the conference. Joanne Verbanic, Brian Donahue, Jim Cronin, and Larry Akerman shown in the picture.

Our symposium and workshop on May 12, “Living with Schizophrenia and Related Disorders: A Call For Hope and Recovery” was AMAZING!  The workshop included how to start, support and maintain Schizophrenics Anonymous (SA) Self-help/Peer Support Groups for people with schizophrenia-related disorders.

Jim C., SA member, talked about how Schizophrenics Anonymous saved his ife. Our other speakers included Dr. Thomas Powell (self-help/peer support expert) and Dr. Tamara Navarro (who spoke about having a meaningful life).

It was very powerful to hear people tell their stories. One of the most moving was about a guy who debated whether to even come because it was going to take him 45 minutes to walk to the hotel where the event was held. He finally decided to attend, walked 45 minutes there and told Linda that the best decision he made that day was getting up early and walking the 45 minutes there and attending the conference.

See Photos of the Conference


New Manual Provides Guidance in Managing Chronic Pain in Adults With Substance Abuse

Managing Chronic Pain in Adults With or in Recovery From Substance Use Disorders , is a new manual developed to equip clinicians with practical guidance and tools for treating chronic non-cancer pain in adults with histories of substance use disorders . The manual was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The manual is one of the latest in the Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) series. TIPs are best-practice guidelines developed by SAMHSA to help provide state-of-the-art information to behavioral health care providers about effective treatment approaches.