News & Announcements

SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness Recognition of Excellence in Wellness

Posted: July 19, 2017

Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Program to Achieve Wellness, organizations and communities will be acknowledged for their exemplary wellness efforts with the Recognition of Excellence in Wellness (pdf). The goal of the “Recognition of Excellence” is to identify and showcase programs and practices that put the concept of wellness into action. Recognized programs will be those that:

  • Create meaningful improvements in the lives of people in recovery from mental and/or substance abuse disorders, including those living with serious mental illness (for example, improving cardiovascular health, decreasing blood pressure, decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases)
  • Effectively work to address the rates of chronic illness and premature death experienced by this population

SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness is inviting applications from programs that have demonstrated exceptional achievements in integrating effective wellness practices into services for people in recovery from behavioral health disorders. Three programs will be selected and highlighted as models that other communities can adopt and implement. The application deadline for the 2017 Recognition is Friday, July 28, 2017

Learn more about Recognition of Excellence in Wellness. Learn more about the Program to Achieve Wellness.

Stress and Poverty May Explain High Rates of Dementia in African-Americans

Posted: July 18, 2017

Harsh life experiences appear to leave African-Americans vulnerable to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, researchers reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference held July 16 in London.

Several teams presented evidence that poverty, disadvantage and stressful life events are strongly associated with cognitive problems in middle age and dementia later in life among African-Americans. The findings could help explain why African-Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to develop dementia. And the research suggests genetic factors are not a major contributor.

"The increased risk seems to be a matter of experience rather than ancestry," says Megan Zuelsdorff, a postdoctoral fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholars Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Scientists have struggled to understand why African-Americans are so likely to develop dementia. They are more likely to have conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, which can affect the brain. And previous research has found some evidence that African-Americans are more likely to carry genes that raise the risk.

But more recent studies suggest those explanations are incomplete, says Rachel Whitmer, an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Northern California.

The research presented at the Alzheimer's conference suggests the missing factors involve adverse life experiences beginning in childhood. These experiences have already been linked to a range of diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

Read more on Read more on the Alzheimer's Association website.

Integrated Health Care for Foster Youth

Posted: July 17, 2017

In 2015, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) found that nearly 28,000 children across the state were in the custody of Child Protective Services (CPS). Of these tens of thousands of youths, an estimated 40 to 60 percent have behavioral health problems.

The complex emotional and behavioral challenges faced by foster youth demand an exceptional amount of individual attention and care — a demand that, for many, is left unsatisfied.

When a child falls through the cracks of the Texas foster care system, a lack of services isn’t always to blame. Gaps in accessibility play a major role in who receives treatment and who doesn’t, making it difficult for services to find their way to those who need them most. The system’s haphazard structure also makes it prone to breakdowns in communication and organization, resulting in overburdened caseworkers and even neglected allegations of child abuse.

Two years ago, the Hogg Foundation commissioned an evaluation of the Harris County Protective Services (HCPS) Integrated Health Care Program for Foster Children, a pilot program funded in 2012 and launched in 2014. The program led to the creation of the HCPS Integrated Health Care Clinic, which adapts the integrated health care model to foster care settings.


Communication Barriers May Complicate Interactions between Providers, Spanish-Speaking Parents

Posted: July 14, 2017

Spanish-speaking parents seeking care for their children may encounter communication barriers with providers, according to a study published in the January-February issue of Academic Pediatrics. Children often must depend on their parents or guardians to relay their health issues to providers, making communication between parents and providers all the more important.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2011 and 2012 California Health Interview Survey public use child files. The survey assessed children’s health and health care experiences through interviews with their parents. The study looked at experiences of Hispanic children in relation to their parents’ household language and citizenship status. While there were no significant differences in care in regard to parents’ language or citizenship, disparities in provider-patient communication were identified.

Parents who both only spoke Spanish and those who were both non-citizens were the least likely to report that their children’s providers gave them clear instructions, and were also the least likely to communicate with their children’s doctors via phone or email. Parents who were both non-citizens were also less likely to report that their children’s doctors listened carefully to them.

Even non-citizens are afforded relatively good access to care in California, with enrollment in the state-funded Medicaid program, according to Roby, director of graduate studies in the Department of Health Services Administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. However, the study indicated gaps in access among people who are not citizens and do not speak English fluently persist.

While people who do not speak English have the right to a health care interpreter, people may be unaware that the option is available to them, Roby said. In addition, he noted, some health care systems rely on LanguageLine Solutions for interpretation services, but the system may complicate communication when passing a phone back and forth between a health care provider and parent.

Read more on Read the abstract of the study.

SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Barometer Provides Key Insights on the Nation’s Behavioral Health

Posted: July 13, 2017

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Barometer, United States, Volume 4 (pdf) report provides a powerful overview of the nation’s behavioral health. The Barometer includes key behavioral health issues such as the prevalence of substance use, serious mental illness, serious thoughts of suicide, and related treatment. Furthermore, the Barometer breaks down its findings into major groups according to age, gender, racial and ethnic categories, poverty status, and health insurance status.

For example, the Barometer shows the national annual prevalence of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use as well as increases in receipt of medication-assisted treatments over time. Among individuals aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2015, about 12.5 million persons (4.7 percent) reported misusing prescription pain relievers, and about 828,000 persons (0.3 percent) reported using heroin.

Regarding facility-based substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, from 2011 to 2015, the number of individuals who received methadone as part of their SUD treatment increased by about 16 percent from 306,440 to 356,843, and the number who received buprenorphine as part of their substance use disorder treatment more than doubled from 32,676 to 75,724.

The Barometer also shows trends in an array of mental health issues and related treatment. For example, it shows a significant increase in the national annual prevalence of major depressive episodes among adolescents aged 12 to 17, which rose from 8.2 percent in 2011 to 12.5 percent in 2015. Only 39.3% of adolescents aged 12 to17 with a major depressive episode in the past year received treatment for depression, compared with 60.7% who did not receive treatment.

Read more on Read the full report (pdf).

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