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Current News & Research for November 2014

Less than 50% with Mental Illness Get Services

Less Than Half of Adults With Mental Illness Received Services in 2013

Only 45% of adults with a DMS-IV defined mental illness received any type of mental health care in 2013, according to new data released from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. For people with serious mental illnesses—characterized by functional impairment that substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities—that number went up to 68%.

“It is a serious issue that millions of Americans are needlessly affected by mental illness when they can get effective treatment to restore their well-being,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in a press release from the agency. “Now more than ever, people can get the help they need to recover from mental disorders and live full, active lives – they just need to take the first step and seek help.”

The survey also found that while the percentage of adults taking prescription medication for mental health problems increased (from 10.5% to 12.5%) between 2002 and 2013, the percentage of adults using outpatient mental health services dropped (from 7.4% to 6.4%).

Here are more key findings:

  • Women were more likely to have any mental illness than men: 22.3% vs. 14.4%. The difference was smaller when comparing serious mental illness: 4.9% of women vs. 3.5% of men.
  • Almost one-quarter (23.1%) of people with serious mental illness also met criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD). That’s compared to only 6.5% of people with no mental illness.
  • Adults with substance use disorders were more likely to have suicidal thoughts (11.4% vs. 3.2%), suicidal plans (4.2% vs. 0.9%), and suicide attempts (2.3% vs 0.4%) than those without SUDs.

Read more on the SAMHSA website

 

Another Study Touts the Effectiveness of Ketamine

Ketamine has shown recent promise in clinical trials for being a fast-acting and effective treatment for depression. Now, a new National Institute of Health (NIH) study has dug deeper into ketamine’s effects and found that it very quickly works on a specific pleasure-related area of the brain. In fact, researchers found that respondents had changes in this area within 40 minutes of a single ketamine infusion. Effects were found to last for up to two weeks.

In the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study, 36 patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression were given a single infusion of ketamine to examine its effects on levels of anhedonia. Ketamine was found to reduce anhedonia independent of its effects on other depressive symptoms. In addition, PET scans traced these results not to the mid-brain region where researchers expected antidepressant effects to take place, but rather to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in the front of the brain and the putamen in the right hemisphere. Action in these areas may be related to anticipation of pleasurable activities, which is a feeling largely absent in anhedonia.

The NIMH has touted this study as being in line with their new Research Domain Criteria project, which aims to focus clinical research on biology and brain function versus diagnostic categories.

You can read more on the NIMH website or see the full study in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

 

Community Mental Providers Not Well-Equipped to Treat Military

Less than 15% of mental health providers meet criteria for cultural competence and evidence-based practice in treating veteran military personnel, according to recent research by the RAND Corporation. Even among professionals who participate in TRICARE, the Department of Defense’s military insurance plan, only around 25% met the threshold for high cultural competence.

While the military has significantly grown its base of mental health providers, researchers point out that many veterans prefer to get their care from civilian providers who may be closer to home or otherwise more convenient.

This research specifically looked at psychiatrists’, psychologists’, social workers’, and counselors’ use of evidence-based practices to treat major depressive disorder and PTSD—conditions that are more prevalent in veterans than in the general population—and if they had specific training in treating veterans.

The full report can be found on the RAND website.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Current News & Research for November 2014