News & Announcements
Report on Mental Health Care Identifies Need for Research on Immigrants
Posted: March 12, 2012
The methods psychologists and other health-care providers are using to treat immigrants to the United States need to be better tailored to deal with their specific cultures and needs, according to a task force report released by the American Psychological Association -- Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the New Century, Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration.
The report of APA's Presidential Task Force Report on Immigration presents a detailed look at America 's immigrant population and outlines how psychologists can address the needs of immigrants across domains of practice, research, education and policy. "We have identified an urgent need in scientific research and clinical settings to consider the unique aspects of immigrant populations, particularly with regard to culture and language," said task force Chair Carola Suárez-Orozco, PhD.
Immigrants face psychological implications of racism, discrimination and racial profiling, while their expressions of distress vary across cultures, the report points out. Most evidence-based psychological treatments currently used with immigrants are based on research performed with samples consisting of ethnic minorities rather than immigrants, according to the report. Current psychological assessment tools, such as tests and batteries, often are not adapted to account for culture and language, it notes. "Rather than approaching culture through a preset middle-class American framework, the research should use methodologies to understand the worldview of the immigrant population," the report states.
"The implications are that programs to assist immigrants with adapting to life in their new country must value both the need to learn the ways of the new culture and the need to maintain a connection with the old," said Suárez-Orozco.
People in Poor Neighborhoods Have More Pain, Depression and Anxiety
Posted: March 09, 2012
Men and women who lived in poorer neighborhoods had more pain, pain-related disability and mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, according to a new study titled The Association Between Race and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status in Younger Black and White Adults With Chronic Pain.
The investigators found Adults under the age of 50 who lived in low-income neighborhoods experienced more chronic pain than those in more affluent communities. Blacks, however, experienced more chronic pain and disability than whites regardless of where they lived, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.
The study, published in a recent issue of The Journal of Pain, included more than 3,700 adults under age 50. Men and women who lived in poorer neighborhoods had more pain, pain-related disability and mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, the investigators found. The link between pain and the economic status of a neighborhood was especially strong among young black Americans, the study authors pointed out. "Our findings show an unequal burden of pain in blacks and among those living in poor neighborhoods among the 116 million adults who experience chronic pain," lead study author Dr. Carmen Green, a pain medicine expert at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a university news release. Reasons for the disparities may include barriers to good health care, including adequate pain management, the researchers suggested.
Gender Identity Issues Can Harm Childrens Mental Health
Posted: March 07, 2012
New studies show that children struggling with their gender identity also face higher risks for abuse and mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. One study, titled Children and Adolescents With Gender Identity Disorder Referred to a Pediatric Medical Center, looked at the emotional and behavioral problems of children and teens referred to its specialty clinic for evaluation and possible medical treatment. "The study only focuses on kids who experience profound distress or sadness with their changing bodies, so the psychiatric manifestations of that distress include much higher risks for self-injurious behavior, depression, suicide attempts and anxiety," said Dr. Scott Leibowitz, a pediatric psychiatrist affiliated with the hospital's Gender Management Service. Ninety-seven patients younger than 21 were included, 43 born as males and 54 as females. Forty-three patients already had psychiatric symptoms, 20 reported self-mutilation and nine had attempted suicide. The studies appear online and in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Walter Meyer III, author of an accompanying journal editorial, said many problems arise from the reactions these children face at home and in school. "These kids are really normal -- they just want to be the other gender," said Meyer, a psychiatrist who works with transgender patients at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston. "The ones who are well-adjusted and well-accepted by their families and at school don't have the psychiatric issues."
The other study, titled Childhood Gender Nonconformity: A Risk Indicator for Childhood Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress in Youth, looked at long-term data on nearly 10,000 young adults, average age 23. Those who rated high for childhood gender nonconformity were more likely to report physical, psychological and sexual abuse as children. They were almost twice as likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder as young adults. "Gender conformity" relates to how children express themselves -- through their clothes, their interests, their mannerisms -- and how these behaviors mesh with what's typical for their biological sex. One expert said the study is "important," and that it helps tease out why these kids have trouble coping. It "tests one of the key proposed factors -- childhood abuse," said Stephen Russell, a professor of family studies at the University of Arizona. "There has been concern that parents may react to gender nonconformity in harsh ways. This is perhaps the first study to show evidence of that and of the lasting implications for health."
Fear of the unknown is part of the problem. "We've seen in studies of gender nonconforming LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] youth that what most people think of as abuse comes from a place of concern and fear on the part of parents -- that is, they think they can help their kid by 'toughening them up' or teaching them to 'fit in,' " Russell said. "Many parents literally have no framework for understanding gender nonconformity in children."
Meyer, meanwhile, said he sees signs of growing awareness and acceptance, spurred by the media. Once parents are onboard, treatment can begin, sometimes quite early, he said. "At age 5 or 6, treatment is mainly psychotherapy and working with family to help them [kids] adjust," Meyer said. "Sometimes that means reassuring them and letting them dress up at home. Some might start school taking on a new gender."
Pent-up need for treatment appears to exist. Since Children's Hospital Boston established a Gender Management Service in 2007, the population of gender nonconformists seeking treatment quadrupled. "By having clinical services that are specialized and interdisciplinary, you're providing an avenue for parents to come and present for treatment," Leibowitz said. "That brings a lot of people out of their closets, so to speak, and shows this is a less stigmatized issue, so that people can get the appropriate assessments and treatments that they deserve."
The NNED Prepares for National NNEDLearn 2012
Posted: March 06, 2012
The National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health is getting ready for its second annual training opportunity National NNEDLearn 2012, to take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico from March 13 to March 15, 2012. Over 150 participants from 35 NNED Partner Organizations will participate in 2½ days of training. Based on input from the NNED, six training tracks are being offered to build skills in evidence-supported and culturally appropriate clinical, consumer, and organizational practices. The training also includes a Plenary Session on Understanding Trauma and Trauma Informed Care by Dr. Sandra Bloom from the Drexel University Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice. The Lieutenant Governor of the Santa Ana Pueblo will offer an opening invocation in the Pueblo tradition and dialect on Day 1 to welcome NNEDLearn participants.
Learn more about NNEDLearn 2012.
Substance Use among African American, Asian and Hispanic Adolescents
Posted: March 05, 2012
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has released three briefs on substance use in minority youth titled:
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence.