News & Announcements

Call for Abstracts: 2nd United States Conference on African Immigrant Health

Posted: July 31, 2014

The 2nd United States Conference on African Immigrant Health -- Health Behaviors of African Immigrants and Refugees: Culture, Integration, Migration will be held September 19-21 in Pittsburgh. Abstracts are invited for poster and oral presentations, related to all health issues that affect African immigrants and refugees (African Diaspora), especially as they are influenced by their culture, migration and integration context. Graduate students, clinicians, policy makers, researchers, academics, community service organizations and community members are especially encouraged to submit posters and participate in the conference. The deadline to submit abstracts is August 8, 2014.

Conference Tracks: Abstracts are being accepted for the following conference tracks

  • Health Behavior: Current or new evidence-based models that address health disparities in HIV AIDS, Hepatitis B, Mental Health, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: diseases that disproportionately affect the African Diaspora.
  • Culture, religion/faith and health: This track will examine the interplay of African culture (language, customs, traditions, religious beliefs, faith) and health behavior, and how this knowledge can inform culturally responsive interventions.
  • Migration, Integration and Health: This track will explore the effect of the migratory process (including the impact of war, torture, rape and trauma), and integration and acculturation factors (language, housing, access, employment, justice system, education) on health outcomes among African immigrant and refugee communities in the United States.
  • Data Collection and Research: This track will provide a forum for professionals, researchers and community leaders to identify the existing gaps in the scientific literature related to the health status of African immigrants and their access to health care in the United States and subsequently formulate a research agenda.
  • Capacity Building: Best practice models to: (1) build capacity among African immigrant and refugee communities and community based organizations, (2) address social determinants of health through culturally appropriate programs and services, (3) enhance mentoring and professional development of young researchers, and (4) encourage development of health care and public health practitioners.
  • Policy / Advocacy: Best practices in advocacy and policy formulation at the local and national level to address social determinants of health, reducing disparities and improve the health of African immigrants and refugees in the United States.

Read more about the call for abstracts. Read more about the conference.



SAMHSA Seeks Comments on Strategic Plan, Leading Change: Advancing Behavioral Health of the Nation

Posted: July 30, 2014

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is seeking comments on its FY 2015 – 2018 Strategic Plan “Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation” (Leading Change 2.0). Leading Change 2.0 outlines how SAMHSA will efficiently focus its work to increase the awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, promote emotional health and wellness, address the prevention of substance abuse and mental illness, increase access to effective treatment, and support recovery. Deadline to submit comments is August 18, 2014.

SAMHSA’s Executive Leadership Team and staff, in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, engaged in a strategic planning process to draft Leading Change 2.0. This process was informed by lessons learned from the current strategic plan, “Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011 – 2014,” and the evolving needs of the behavioral health field.

"This strategic roadmap outlines SAMHSA’s plans to build upon the success of its original strategic initiatives in promoting the behavioral health of the American people. SAMHSA cannot do this alone and so SAMHSA is seeking help and assistance from everyone with a stake in improving the nation’s behavioral health," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Public input is vital to ensuring that the new SAMHSA Strategic Initiatives are responsive to the behavioral health needs of the American public and have the greatest impact for today and in the immediate future."

Leading Change 2.0 summarizes SAMHSA’s current and environment and outlines a roadmap for the future improvement of health in America by reducing the impact of mental illnesses and substance abuse on the nation's communities. The agency is actively soliciting comments and input from outside experts and the general public on all elements of the plan. In this plan, six strategic initiatives and the linkages between these initiatives and SAMHSA’s policy, programmatic, and financial planning are outlined. 

The six strategic initiatives (SI) and their aims are:

  • Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness
  • Health Care and Health Systems Integration
  • Trauma and Justice
  • Recovery Support
  • Health Information Technology
  • Workforce Development

Those interested in viewing and providing comments on SAMHSA’s Leading Change 2.0 FY 2015 – 2018 are encouraged to go to http://store.samhsa.gov/leadingchange/feedback/ to leave their suggestions and read the comments others have provided. The public comment period on the plan will continue until midnight Eastern Time on 8/18/2014.

Read more on SAMHSA.gov. Submit comments online.



HIV Diagnoses Down, Except for Young Gay Males

Posted: July 29, 2014

A new report offers good and bad news about the AIDS epidemic in the United States: The annual diagnosis rate of HIV, the virus that causes the disease, has dropped by one-third in the general population but has climbed among young gay and bisexual males.

Significantly fewer heterosexuals, drug users and women were diagnosed each year with HIV, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the annual diagnosis rate more than doubled for young gay and bisexual males.

The push for safer sex may be falling on deaf ears in a generation too young to have seen the ravages of AIDS, said report co-author Amy Lansky, deputy director for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory sciences at the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

"It's been more than 30 years since the first cases were reported," she said. "It's harder to maintain that sense of urgency."

The report only looked at people diagnosed with HIV, and health officials think many more are infected with the virus but don't know it. The statistics also don't say anything about when these people were infected, making it hard to pinpoint trends in efforts to prevent transmission of the virus.

Still, "we're making significant progress and seeing declines overall," said Lansky. However, she added, the rising numbers of diagnoses among young men who have sex with other men are "a considerable problem."

Read more on WebMD.com.



Children Who Experience Family Members’ Trauma at Twice the Risk for Substance Abuse as Adults

Posted: July 28, 2014

We know the effects of childhood traumas like abuse and neglect on later substance abuse. But what impact does second hand trauma have? A study published in the August issue of the journal Addiction shows that when a child under age 15 is exposed to a family member’s trauma (e.g. a parent or sibling being the victim of violent assault or a parent’s cancer diagnosis), that child has approximately twice the risk of struggling with drug and alcohol problems 6 years later.

The data comes from 1.4 million children born in Sweden between 1984 and 1995. Researchers used codes from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register to discover which of these children had family members that had experienced medical trauma. Specifically, researchers could tell from these codes when a child’s parent or sibling had been diagnosed with cancer, had suffered an injury leading to permanent disability, had been the victim of an assault, or had died. Using these four events, researchers gave each of these 1.4 million children a score from 0-4 roughly representing the amount of secondhand trauma children had experienced while young.

From medical, legal and pharmacy records, researchers could also tell which of these children went on to be diagnosed with substance abuse problems in their 20s.

Of course, the researchers tried to control for all of the many factors that might also cause drug use in populations that also happened to experience childhood trauma. For example, they took into account things like socioeconomic status, drug use in the family, psychological wellbeing, and parents’ education.

What levels of trauma led to what levels of substance abuse? Not only kids who scored a “4” on the scale of traumas, but even kids who experienced one of these secondhand traumatic events had twice the risk of later drug abuse.

Read more on PsychCentral.com.



Military Suicides up a Bit in 2014; More Seek Help

Posted: July 26, 2014

Suicides among active-duty military have increased a bit so far this year compared with the same period last year, but Pentagon officials say they are encouraged that more service members are seeking help through hotlines and other aid programs.

Pentagon documents show there were 161 confirmed or suspected suicides as of July 14, compared with 154 during the same time frame in 2013. The uptick was among the Air Force and Navy, while soldiers and Marine suicides went down. The documents were obtained by The Associated Press.

While the 2014 numbers are likely to change over time as each death is investigated, the slight increase this year is a reversal in the sharp decline in active-duty suicides last year, compared with 2012.

According to the final report released Tuesday, active-duty suicides dropped by nearly 19 percent in 2013, compared with the previous year, going from 319 to 259. Suicides among National Guard and Reserve members increased by about 8 percent, going from 203 to 220. The AP reported preliminary 2013 numbers in April.

Jacqueline Garrick, director of the Defense Department's suicide prevention office, said in an interview Tuesday that while there is always a concern when officials see the number start to go up again, it's still too early to tell because things could change.

She also noted that while often military suicides spike in the summer months, this year the number has gone down in the last month or so.

Alarmed by the steady increase in suicides over the past decade, military officials in recent years beefed up the number of programs and behavioral health specialists available for troops. Data hasn't found a definitive link between suicides and service members who deploy to warzones, and officials say that more often the deaths are tied to familiar, societal problems such as financial or job stress and marriage and relationship issues.

Garrick said service members are increasingly using the help programs. For example, she said there has been a 25 percent increase in the calls to the military crisis line. And a website for troops — www.vets4warriors.com — saw a 500 percent increase in visitors after a suicide prevention program linked to it was publicized in late May.

"Whenever we see people reaching out for help," said Garrick, "That's a win."

Read more on ABCNews.com.



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