The Weekly MashUp is a recurring segment on Hear Me Out, the Young Minds’ Blog, highlighting the most pertinent local and national news for children’s mental health advocates. If you haven’t already, sign up for our email list today to get the Weekly MashUp delivered to your inbox every Friday!
Promising New Approach Helps Curb Early Schizophrenia in Teens, Young Adults
The Washington Post – 8.6.14
Some mental health researchers are turning to a new approach to find and treat young people with early signs of schizophrenia. The Early Assessment & Support Alliance Program (the EASA) includes “an intensive two year course of socialization, family therapy, job and school assistance, and, in some cases, antipsychotic medication.” So far, this approach has lead to sharp decreases in hospitalization rates for first psychotic episodes. According to The Washington Post “proponents do not claim to be preventing schizophrenia. But they say the treatment helps patients remain functioning members of society and avoid chronic disability.” However representatives from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) say more research is needed before the EASA is implemented more widely.
What is Schizophrenia? Scientists Call for New Thinking
KQED – 8.4.14
In the second installment of a three-part series, KQED Science reporter Amy Standen discusses new science around the treatment of schizophrenia. Because there is no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose someone with the disease, schizophrenia historically has been “defined by symptoms patients described about themselves, particularly a blurring of the boundaries of reality.” Until recently, treatment for schizophrenia focused on suppressing these symptoms through the use of antipsychotics. However, these powerful drugs can have serious side effects such as making patients catatonic and drastic weight gain. Within the last few years, scientists have begun asking whether this treatment strategy may be ignoring the causes of a patient’s symptoms. Vikaas Sohal, a researcher at UCSF explains it this way, “If someone came to you with cancer and said, ‘My back is hurting, my gums bleed, I’m tired, I have headaches,’” Sohal says, “okay, there’s all these things, but that’s not what cancer is. Cancer is this group of cells that are dividing uncontrollably.”
Scientists are now researching ways to prevent and treat cognitive problems that could lead to a psychotic break. Daniel Mathalon, a neuroscientist at UCSF says that by focusing on cognitive problems, “we might have greater impact on outcomes for patients. We might have a greater impact on whether they can successfully work, have relationships, than if we just quell their psychotic symptoms, keep the voices from intruding.”
Read Part 1 of the series: New Clinic in California Seek to Stop Schizophrenia Before it Starts. KQED will release the final installment of the series next week.
Insurers Face Tougher Mental Health Coverage Fines
SFGate – 8.4.14
A new bill in California, on it’s way to the governor’s desk, would increase penalties for health insurance companies that provide substandard benefits for mental health care. According to SFGate, SB 1046 “aims to strengthen long-standing rules designed to increase patient access to psychiatric treatment by preventing insurers from skimping on benefits.” The bill will extend the power to enforce the Mental Health Parity law beyond The Department of Managed Health Care to include The Department of Insurance. Once signed, the number of insurance companies that can be fined for failure to comply will grow substantially. State Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose said “It puts health insurers on the alert that they must live up to the law or face fines.”
What do you think of the Weekly MashUp?
Thank you for reading our Weekly MashUp each and every week! Our goal is to continue to expand our coverage on issues that matter to children’s mental health advocates like YOU! Do you have suggestions for how we could improve the Weekly MashUp?Please send us your feedback! We look forward to hearing from you!
**News stories shared by Young Minds in the Weekly MashUp do not necessarily represent the views of the organization.