News & Announcements

Study on Feasibility of an AI/AN Suicide Prevention Hotline (posted 6/17)

Posted: June 17, 2010

At the request of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation conducted a study intended to inform a SAMHSA/National Suicide Prevention Lifeline pilot project entitled Lifeline Native American Community Liaison Initiative, Suicide Prevention Resource Center reports. The study consists of a literature review and telephone discussions with 13 respondents working in the area of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) suicide prevention. Although the literature review did not identify studies of AI/AN suicide prevention hotlines, evaluations of non-hotline suicide prevention programs have indicated that AI/ANs prefer helpers of their own background who are able to address key cultural factors unique to AI/ANs. Experts participating in the telephone discussions felt that an AI/AN hotline would be used if the service provided appropriate resource information, included a local and national public awareness component, and were implemented by culturally responsive AI/AN staff who protected confidentiality. To view the study online click here.

Transition-Age Youth Have Highest Rates of SMI, Least Likely to Receive Treatment (posted 6/16)

Posted: June 16, 2010

According to a national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) there are an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older living with serious mental illness. Among adults, the prevalence of serious mental illness is highest in the 18 to 25 age group, yet this age group is also the least likely to receive services or counseling for mental health issues.
To help address this problem, SAMHSA and The Ad Council launched a new series of national public service announcements (PSAs) designed to encourage, educate and inspire young adults (18-25 years old) to step up and support friends and family they know are experiencing a mental health problem. The campaign aims to promote acceptance of mental health problems by encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to step up and talk openly about mental health problems. The PSAs direct audiences to visit the campaign website,, where they can participate in a new discussion forum, find tools to help in the recovery process, learn about the different types of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery, and to see how friends can make all the difference.
The importance of this effort is underscored by the new 2009 HealthStyles Survey, a collaborative effort by SAMHSA and Porter Novelli, which reveals that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. The study, however also shows that far fewer young adults (33 percent) believe that a person can eventually recover. Other findings include:

  • Less than half (40%) of Americans believe a person with mental illness can be as successful at work as others.
  • While almost two thirds (65 percent) of young adults who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives, only one in five (22 percent) young adults believes that people are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.

"Now more than ever we know that people can recover from mental health problems," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Today we are getting the word out that support from friends and family can make a difference in helping people overcome these illnesses."

"Mental health problems are far too often misunderstood and sometimes friends don’t know how to help," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "This campaign provides steps young people can take to help support their friends experiencing a mental illness."

To read the full SAMHSA Press Release click here.

Journal Supplement on HIV/AIDS Social Determinants of Health (posted 6/16)

Posted: June 16, 2010

On June 7, 2010 the journal Public Health Reports released a special issue focusing on Social Determinants of Health. This issue included a special supplement focusing on the Social Determinants of Health in the on-going battle to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and Tuberculosis. This supplement covers the constant barriers society faces when fighting and attempting to rectify diseases that have plagued our society for centuries. From economic to cultural to racial obstacles, Public Health Reports examines the “cause and effect” relationships that continue to be the main hindrance to decreasing the spread of these diseases. Hazel D. Dean ScD, MPH, Deputy Director and Kevin A. Fenton MD, PhD, Director, of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta, Georgia were guest editors for the supplement:

"This special issue of Public Health Reports (PHR) focuses on innovations and advances in incorporating a socialdeterminants-of-health (SDH) framework for addressing the interrelated epidemics of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and tuberculosis (TB) in the United States and globally. This focus is particularly timely given the evidence of increasing burden and worsening health disparities for these conditions, the evolution in our understanding of the social and structural influences on disease epidemiology, and the far-reaching implications of the global economic downturn." To read their blog post on co-writing this piece, click here.

Articles in this supplement include: Include a Social Determinants of Health Approach to Reduce Health Inequities; Social Determinants of Health and Health-Care Solutions; Addressing Social Determinants of Health in the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Tuberculosis. To read the online version of this issue of Public Health Reports click here.

HHS advisors consider mapping disparities via HIT (posted 6/14)

Posted: June 15, 2010

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is exploring using health informtion technology (HIT) to help map out disparities in healthcare access and outcomes, reports Government Health IT.  The first stage of meaningful use requirements for HIT require providers to collect data about their patient’s race, ethnicity and language, and it is this data that can help to map out disparities in access and care.  Additionally, starting in 2011, providers must show quality reports by race, ethnicity and language.  Government Health IT reports:

Dr. Paul Tang, co-chairman of the meaningful use workgroup, said he hoped providers will have to do more with the data in 2013 second stage meaningful use requirements to change health outcomes for underserved populations. “The stratified quality reports combined with more standardized, granular ethnicity data, and requiring that providers be able to capture that, I think will be a way of giving [providers] the necessary tools,” said Tang, who is also chief medical information officer of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation...Dr. Neil Calman, a work group member, said that a mechanism should be put in place to monitor whether disparities increase with the wide adoption of electronic health records and other health IT. A number of the speakers at the meeting cautioned, “If we don’t get this right, we’re going to do damage,” Calman reminded the work group members.

To read the full article click here.

Conduct Your Own Public Health Research (posted 6/14)

Posted: June 14, 2010

The Kaiser Family Foundation has produced an online tutorial that provides an overview of how individuals and organizations can use online public health data sources to answer questions about health care and health policy.  For small community-based organizations that are looking to collect data on health in the nation, their state, city, or community but have no resources that can be dedicated to hiring a data analyst or purchasing expensive software, this tutorial teaches individuals how they themselves can collect and analyze the needed data.  Additionally, rather than relying on secondary sources, organizations can now access primary data to find and present and numbers that are unique to your community, population of focus, or health condition.  Using the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS); AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS); and USAID’s Development’s Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Anthony Damico, M.H.S., statistical analyst for the Foundation, provides an overview of how individuals can use 'online query tools' to answer health care and health policy questions. To access the online tutorial, "Conducting Research with Online Data Query Tools: A Primer" click here.  For data sources where raw datasets and statistics on health policy topics can be accessed click here.

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