News & Announcements

After Jail, Former Inmates Face Higher Risk of Death from Drug Overdose, Suicide

Posted: March 21, 2012

People released from New York City jails face an increased risk of death from drug overdose, homicide or suicide -- especially in the first couple weeks of freedom, city health officials say. In a study of more than 155,000 people released from city jails over five years, researchers found that former inmates were twice as likely as other city residents to die of a drug overdose or homicide. Those risks were especially high in the first two weeks after release -- when they were five- to eight-times greater compared with other New Yorkers' risks during the same two-week period. Some former inmates also had elevated risks of suicide, including whites and people who had been homeless before going to jail.

The findings, which appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology, are not exactly surprising. They are in line with studies from other parts of the U.S., write the researchers, led by Sungwoo Lim of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. But the findings, they say, underscore a need for more programs -- including mental health counseling and drug abuse treatment -- to be offered in jail, and then continued in the community, after inmates are released.

It's been estimated that more than half of Americans behind bars have symptoms of some type of psychiatric disorder, ranging from schizophrenia to major depression. And most of them also meet the definition of drug or alcohol dependence. But only about a quarter of prison inmates, and seven percent of those in jail, receive mental health treatment while incarcerated.

Read more on the Medline Plus website. Read the abstract of the study.


Black Men Who Confront Racial Discrimination and Hide their Emotions at Greater Risk of Depression

Posted: March 19, 2012

Enduring subtle, insidious acts of racial discrimination is enough to depress anyone, but African-American men who believe that they should respond to stress with stoicism and emotional control experience more depression symptoms, according to new findings from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study, Taking It Like a Man: Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial Discrimination - Depressive Symptoms Association Among African-American Men, was published online in the American Journal of Public Health. 

Study author Wizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D., assistant professor of health behavior in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health analyzed data collected from surveys of 674 African-American men, aged 18 and older, carried out at barber shops in four U.S. regions between 2003 and 2010. She found that everyday racial discrimination was associated with depression across all age groups. Younger men (aged under 40) were more depressed, experienced more discrimination and had a stronger allegiance to norms encouraging them to restrict their emotions than men over 40 years old. Furthermore, some men who embraced norms encouraging more self-reliance reported less depression. The results showed associations, not necessarily causation, Hammond noted. 

"We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions - or 'take stress like a man,'" said Hammond. "However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed. "It also is clear that adherence to traditional role norms is not always harmful to men," Hammond said. "But we don't know a lot about how these norms shape how African-American men confront stressors, especially those that are race-related." 

The author studied the phenomenon researchers call everyday racism, which is marked not so much by magnitude or how egregious the prejudice and torment were, but by persistence and subtlety. "It chips away at people's sense of humanity and very likely at their hope and optimism," Hammond said. "We know these daily hassles have consequences for men's mental health, but we don't know why some men experience depression while others do not." 

Read more on the Medical News Today website. Read the abstract of the study.

Innovations for Recovery: Using a Smartphone App to Intervene Before Relapse into Alcohol Abuse

Posted: March 16, 2012

ACHESS is a mobile phone-based relapse-prevention system that offers support to alcohol dependent people when and wherever it is needed. Developed at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS), of which NIATx is a part, the ACHESS smart phone app is now being studied in a randomized clinical trial.

CHESS Researcher Andrew Isham presented some initial findings on the study at the 2011 Medicine 2.0 Congress last September. Read a summary of his presentationView a video of how the app works. Read more on the NIATx website.

Interested in using ACHESS? Learn more on using ACHESS through the CHESS Health Education Consortium.

New Spanish Language Fact Sheet: El VIH entre los afroamericanos (HIV among African Americans)

Posted: March 14, 2012

African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States (US). Despite representing only 14% of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections that year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a fact sheet in Spanish titled El VIH entre los afroamericanos (HIV among African Americans). The fact sheet lists statistics and graphs on new HIV infection, diagnoses and deaths from HIV and AIDS, challenges for prevention that relate specifically to the African American community; these include -- highest prevalence rates; socioeconomic factors; lack of knowledge; stigma, fear discrimination, and negative perceptions about testing. In the end current CDC prevention campaigns are explained, some of the initiatives are:

  • The Campaign Act Against AIDS disseminates culturally appropriate messages about HIV infection. The campaign Take Charge. Take the Test encourages African American women to get tested for HIV. The campaign Testing Makes Us Stronger is designed to increase the number of black MSM who have the HIV test.
  • Initiative to increase testing -- In 2010, CDC announced a second three-year program based HIV testing initiative launched in 2007 to increase the number of screening tests in African Americans. In the first three years of the project, there were over 2.8 million tests and diagnosed HIV in 18.432 people. Most people who were tested (57.4%) who received an HIV diagnosis (66.0%) were African American. ETI initiative comprising 30 health jurisdictions and focuses on increasing HIV testing in African Americans and Latinos, as well as MSM and injection drug users of all races and ethnic groups.
  • In September 2011, CDC awarded $ 55 million to the initiative of projects for HIV prevention in young people of color who have sex with men "HIV Prevention Projects for Young Men of Color Who Have Sex with Men" and transgender youth of color "Young Transgendered Persons of Color," consisting of effective prevention services for HIV over five years to these people and their partners, regardless of age, sex or race and ethnicity.

Read more on the CDC website (in Spanish). Download the Spanish language factsheet (pdf).


SAMHSA & MacArthur Foundation Address Behavioral Health Needs of Youth in Juvenile Justice

Posted: March 13, 2012

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are collaborating on a $1 million effort targeting the behavioral health needs of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. The project is aimed at diverting youth with behavioral health conditions from the juvenile justice system to community-based programs and services.

Most youth in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental, substance use, or co-occurring disorder. Studies have found that 60-70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system met criteria for a mental disorder; over 60 percent of these youth also met criteria for a substance use disorder. Of those youth with mental and substance disorders, almost 30 percent experienced disorders so severe that their ability to function was highly impaired. Youth with these mental, substance use and co-occurring disorders often end up unnecessarily in the juvenile justice system rather than getting the proper help they need – help that could vastly improve their prospects for attaining healthy, productive lives.

Under this initiative, up to eight states will be selected competitively to participate based on their commitment to improving policies and programs for these youth. This innovative collaborative effort integrates SAMHSA’s Policy Academy mechanism, which brings together state leadership teams to learn about effective interventions and the latest research, and the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Action Network strategy, which supports and links teams working on similar innovations in policy and practice. These combined resources will support state efforts to develop and implement policies and programs that divert youth away from the juvenile justice system early.

Read more on the SAMHSA website.

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