News & Announcements

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.

Read more on the Health Day website. Read the abstract of the study.



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."

Read more on the Health Day website. Access the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.



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:

Substance Use among Black Adolescents:

  • Compared with the national average for adolescents aged 12 to 17, black adolescents had lower rates of past month cigarette use (5.8 vs. 10.2 percent), alcohol use (10.5 vs. 16.0 percent), marijuana use (6.5 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs (2.9 vs. 3.3 percent)
  • The rate of marijuana use among black adolescents increased from 5.9 percent in 2008 to 7.5 percent in 2010
  • The rates of past month cigarette use and alcohol use among black adolescents living in poverty were lower than the national averages for adolescents living in poverty (6.8 vs. 10.6 percent and 10.7 vs. 13.5 percent, respectively)

Substance Use among Asian Adolescents:

  • Asian adolescents aged 12 to 17 had lower rates compared with the national average of past month cigarette use (3.9 vs. 10.2 percent), alcohol use (7.4 vs. 16.0 percent), marijuana use (2.9 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs (1.8 vs. 3.3 percent)
  • Among Asian adolescents, substance use varied by Asian subgroup; past month alcohol use, for example, ranged from a high of 9.7 percent among Filipino adolescents to a low of 5.1 percent among Asian Indian adolescents
  • Asian adolescents who were born in the United States had a higher rate of past month alcohol use than Asian adolescents who were not born in the United States (8.7 vs. 4.7 percent), while the rate of nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs was higher among Asian adolescents not born in the United States than among those born in the United States (2.7 vs. 1.4 percent)

Substance Use among Hispanic Adolescents:

  • Compared with the national average for adolescents aged 12 to 17, Hispanic adolescents had lower rates of past month cigarette use (8.1 vs. 10.2 percent), marijuana use (6.5 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs (2.9 vs. 3.3 percent)
  • Among Hispanic adolescents, marijuana use increased from 6.1 percent in 2008 to 8.1 percent in 2009, and remained steady at 8.0 percent in 2010; nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs increased from 2.2 percent in 2008 to 3.3 percent in 2009, and remained steady at 3.4 percent in 2010
  • Among Hispanic adolescents, substance use varied by Hispanic subgroup; past month alcohol use, for example, ranged from 21.6 percent among Spanish adolescents to 13.8 percent among Puerto Rican adolescents
  • Among Hispanic adolescents, those who were born in the United States had higher rates of past month cigarette use, alcohol use, and marijuana use than those who were not born in the United States

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.



Suicide and Church Attendance among African Americans and Black Caribbeans

Posted: March 03, 2012

A new study published in Archives of Suicide Research reports on a study that examined the relationship between suicidal behavior and church attendance by African Americans and black Caribbeans, the study is titled Church-based social support and suicidality among African Americans and Black Caribbeans. The suthors found that (1) a sense of closeness to other members of the congregation helps protect churchgoers from suicidal ideation, (2) frequent interaction with church members is higher among those who have made suicide attempts, (3) frequency of church attendance is not protective against suicidality, and (4) negative interactions with other church members are not related to suicidal behavior. This research used data from the National Survey of American Life to explore the relationship between church attendance, social support, and suicidality among African Americans and black Caribbeans.

The authors of the article based on this research write that “Research on suicidal behavior has clearly established that religion, and in particular, religious service attendance serves as a protective factor for suicidality.” They point out that the relationship between suicidality and religion has often been used to explain the relatively low rate of suicide among African Americans. The study sought to clarify the relationship of church attendance and social support to suicidal behavior among both African Americans and black Caribbeans, given the similar role that the church plays in both communities. The research did not find any significant differences between the two groups.

Read more on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website. Read the abstract of the study.



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