Mental health

Ohioans with developmental disability face extra challenges during pandemic

Families and support workers are doing all they can to help people with developmental disabilities manage isolating effects of the coronavirus outbreak  (Source: “‘We made it through today’: Coronavirus adds to issues for those with developmental disabilities,” Columbus Dispatch, March 20, 2020).

Government and private agencies that serve people with disabilities say they are doing all they can to deploy crucial front-line workers and services, even as schools and other day programs for adults scale back or shut down. The stress on those workers and on the families at home is enormous.

“One of the most critical needs that can’t be met” is behavioral needs, said Erin Nealy, executive director of Bridgeway Academy, a Columbus nonprofit education and therapy center for children with autism and developmental disabilities. “We have families who were already in crisis, with behavioral and medical concerns, even before this began.”

Rural Ohioans struggle with behavioral health access, stigma


When it comes to rural parts of Ohio, stigma and access to behavioral health services are two barriers parents are forced to navigate when trying to help their child. There is only one child psychiatrist in southeast Ohio, in Athens County, and two in south central Ohio, in Lawrence County, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Source: “Rural Ohio struggles with access to mental health services,” Columbus Dispatch, March 2, 2020).

“The more you get out into those rural areas, the less opportunity you have for behavioral health care,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “There aren’t a number of providers in rural areas, and you combine that with the stigma and no one talking about it, it really is a perfect little storm that we’ve got going there.”

Rural parts of Ohio, especially southern, southeast and pockets of northwest Ohio, had the highest rates of suicide from 2014 through 2018, according to the state health department. For example, for every 100,000 residents in Appalachia’s Meigs County, nearly 24 died by suicide.

FCC proposes new 9-8-8 suicide prevention number, anticipates spike in calls

The Federal Communications Commission last week unanimously approved a proposal to set aside 9-8-8 as the replacement for the existing national suicide hotline number, a move that is expected to generate a substantial increase in the number of callers (Source: “New Suicide Prevention Number Could Lead to Surge in Calls,” Stateline, Dec. 20, 2019).

In response to rising suicide rates in the U.S. over the past two decades, Congress enacted the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, to encourage more people to seek help. It directed the Federal Communications Commission to study the feasibility of creating a three-digit suicide hotline number, like 9-1-1, that more people could remember. Last week’s FCC proposal designated 9-8-8 for that purpose. The new number isn’t expected to go live for a year or more.

The easy-to-remember number is projected to generate a substantial increase in the number of callers, which suicide prevention experts roundly support. But the network of local call centers that respond to distraught and suicidal callers is woefully underfunded, said John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides infrastructure and support for the nation’s more than 170 local suicide hotlines.

Black mothers more likely to have postpartum depression but less likely to get treatment, studies find

Cultural barriers may keep some African American women from seeking treatment for postpartum depression as early as they need it, and the standard screening tools aren’t always relevant for some black women (Source: “Black Mothers Get Less Treatment For Postpartum Depression Than Other Moms,” Kaiser Health News, Dec. 6, 2019).

Nationally, postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 mothers. Medical guidelines recommend counseling for all women experiencing postpartum depression.

But recent advances in treatment of women with postpartum depression help only if women’s needs are identified in the first place — a particular challenge for women of color and low-income mothers, as they are several times more likely to suffer from postpartum mental illness but less likely to receive treatment than other mothers, according to recent studies.

The consequences of untreated postpartum depression can be severe. A report from nine maternal mortality review committees in the United States found that mental health problems, ranging from depression to substance use or trauma, went unidentified in many cases and were a contributing factor in pregnancy-related deaths.

ODH report: Suicides spike across Ohio

Suicides across the state have climbed 45 percent since 2007, signaling an alarming crisis that is hitting everyone from pre-teens to elderly Ohioans, according to a new report by the Ohio Department of Health (Source: “Suicides dramatically increasing across Ohio, report finds,” Hamilton Journal-News, Nov. 13, 2019).

According to the ODH report, between 2007 and 2018, suicide deaths increased 45 percent among all age groups and by 56 percent among youths ages 10 to 24, according to state health officials. Over the past dozen years, 18,391 Ohioans have died by suicide.

The most common method of suicide is firearms, followed by hanging and drug overdose, the report said.

Ohio bill aims to free psychiatric beds for potentially violent patients

Ohio is taking steps to change how the 1,100 beds in the six state-owned psychiatric hospitals are filled — in part to assure there is room available for those threatening gun violence (Source: “Ohio lawmakers look to free up state psychiatric beds,” Dayton Daily News, Oct. 23, 2019).

The Ohio Senate voted 30-1 in favor of Senate Bill 58, which is included in Gov. Mike DeWine’s 17-point plan to address gun violence.

Currently, a large portion of the high-security beds are occupied by people facing non-violent misdemeanor criminal charges who need to be restored to mental competency. The DeWine administration wants to give courts the ability to send non-violent defendants to step-down facilities for treatment when appropriate, leaving the secure beds for violent patients.

The bill now moves to the Ohio House for consideration.

Involuntary commitment in DeWine gun plan sparks calls for more capacity, planning

A provision of Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun safety plan that would allow 72-hour commitments of people with serious drug and alcohol problems is prompting worries about effectiveness and capacity (Source: “More capacity, planning needed for involuntary commitments in DeWine gun bill, groups say,” Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 8, 2019).

Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed gun legislation was light on new regulations that limit how people can keep or sell guns. But it greatly expanded the number of people who can be deprived of their freedom for up to 72 hours because of serious drug or alcohol problems.

A spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association said the facilities’ emergency departments should have the capacity for such commitments. But the group that represents Ohio’s 88 county drug and mental health agencies says those resources are already strained. And, the group’s leader said, state officials have to plan for care well beyond 72 hours if they want to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who might be committed.

In presenting his plan, DeWine said he would only propose measures he thought would be effective in reducing gun violence and that he believed the legislature would pass. In doing so, he dropped universal background checks for all gun sales and a “red flag” provision, which would allow a judge to order the temporary seizure of a person’s weapons if the person is judged to be a danger.

Feds move forward with plan for national 3-digit suicide hotline

With suicides on the rise, the U.S. government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach (Source: “Gov't wants a new 911-like number just for suicide hotline,” Toledo Blade, Aug. 15, 2019).

Once implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.

A law passed last year required the Federal Communications Commission to study assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention, like 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. The FCC said in a Wednesday report that there is “overwhelming support” for a three-digit number because it would be easier for distressed people to get help.

Ohio Medicaid gets $100 million budget increase to address mental health, addiction

The Ohio Department of Medicaid is receiving $100 million to increase payments to mental health and addiction recovery providers, who say they have been financially struggling under changes made in recent years (Source: “Ohio Medicaid gets $100 million with aim to improve mental health care,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Aug. 2, 2019).

The announcement was made official in an executive order signed this week by Gov. Mike DeWine. The money is coming from the budget bill passed last month -- $50 million for this fiscal year and $50 million for next fiscal year. This year’s Ohio Medicaid budget – both in state and federal dollars – is $25.3 billion.

DeWine’s executive order also allows Ohio Medicaid to relax some Gov. Kasich-era policies that service providers said prevented them from easily getting to mental health and substance abuse patients.

During the Kasich administration, Medicaid payments changed for mental health providers. Providers formerly billed the state and were paid directly by the state. The change required them to bill and get paid by managed-care organizations – companies such as CareSource or UnitedHealthcare. The state was paying the managed-care organizations. As part of that change, medical billing codes for mental health were updated and policies about what services could be reimbursed changed.

Study: Mental health issues spiking among young Americans

A new national study has found that young Americans may be more vulnerable to depression, distress and suicidal thoughts or attempts than their parents' generation (Source: “Mental Health Woes Are Rising in Young Americans -- Is Social Media to Blame?” HealthDay News, March 14, 2019).

According to the study, which reviewed a decade's worth of data on roughly 200,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, and 400,000 young adults over 18, those under the age of 26 started reporting a significant rise in symptoms over the past decade related to all three mental health problems. The spikes ranged from about 55 to 70 percent. No such jump was seen among adults over the age of 26.

"Other studies had also documented an increase in mental health issues among adolescents, but it was unclear whether this was a shift among people of all ages or a generational shift," explained study author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

The latest findings suggest a generational shift is indeed underway. These young adults "are experiencing mental health issues at a much higher rate than millennials were and are, even after accounting for year and age," Twenge said. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996.