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New Mental Health Hotline, Access to Psychedelic Therapies Urged, and Adult Health Conditions Found Linked to Childhood Abuse
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
The New 988 Mental Health Hotline is Live. Here's What to Know
People experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to reach out for help in the U.S. They can simply call or text the numbers 9-8-8.
Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.
"If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there," said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, at a recent press briefing. "988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help."
The primary goal of the new number is to make it easier for people to call for help. Lawmakers and mental health advocates also see this launch as an opportunity to transform the mental health care system and make care easily accessible everywhere in the United States. The Biden administration has invested more than $400 million in beefing up crisis centers and other mental health services to support the 988 system.
Currently, the majority of people experiencing a mental health emergency end up dialing 911.
The problem is that 911 wasn't set up to address mental health needs. Either callers end up in a frenetic emergency room, waiting for hours and sometimes days to get care, or they end up interacting with law enforcement, which can lead to tragedy or trauma.
"Unlike other medical emergencies, mental health crises overwhelmingly result in a law enforcement response," says psychologist Benjamin Miller, president of Well Being Trust. "If you look at the data from the police, about 20% of their total staff time is spent responding and transporting individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis."
Just last year, he adds, more than "2 million people with serious mental illness were booked in jail." And nearly a quarter of fatal shootings by the police in recent years have involved people with mental illness, he adds.
"Over time, the vision for 988 is to have additional crisis services available in communities across the country, much the way emergency medical services work," said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the HHS assistant secretary for SAMHSA, in a statement.
Doctors Urge Access to Psychedelic Therapies in New Mexico
Physicians and researchers are urging New Mexico legislators to allow the use of psychedelic mushrooms in mental health therapy aimed at overcoming depression, anxiety, psychological trauma, and alcoholism.
A legislative panel on Tuesday listened to advocates who hope to broaden the scope of medical treatment and research assisted by psilocybin, the psychedelic active ingredient in certain mushrooms.
Oregon is, so far, the only state to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin.
Recent studies indicate psilocybin could be useful in the treatment of major depression, including mental suffering among terminally ill patients, and for substance abuse including alcoholism, with low risks of addiction or overdose under medical supervision.
Physician Lawrence Leeman, a medicine professor at the University of New Mexico, urged legislators to move forward without waiting for federal decriminalization or regulatory approval to expand responsible therapies using doses of psilocybin.
Leeman and other advocates outlined emerging psilocybin protocols, involving six-hour supervised sessions and extensive discussions about the experience in subsequent counseling. He warned legislators that public interest is spawning illicit, underground experimentation without safeguards.
Researchers Surprised to Find Seven Adult Health Conditions Linked to Childhood Abuse
Researchers found a "significant" association between childhood physical abuse and seven health conditions. Two of those health conditions were mental health-related, and five were related to physical health. The five physical health conditions are diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, migraines, and cancers. The two mental health conditions are depression and anxiety. Both were found to occur later in life, and with disproportionate frequency, among adults who had been physically abused as children.
"The association between CPA [childhood physical abuse] and 2 mental health and 5 physical health conditions remained significant, even after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and other ACEs [adverse childhood experiences]," the authors explain. "Further research is needed to investigate potential pathways through which childhood physical abuse is linked to a wide range of later-life health problems."
"Health professionals serving older adults need to be aware that it is never too late to refer people for counselling," professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, who supervised the thesis, explained in a statement. "A promising intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT], has been tested and found effective at reducing post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive and anxiety symptoms among survivors of childhood abuse."
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