Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

This Week's Behavioral Health Headlines

Study finds link between Great Recession, increase in suicide among middle-aged Americans
By Maiken Scott
March 16, 2015
The Great Recession that started in 2007 and lasted for several years years may have led to a jump in suicide rates among people between the 40 and 64, according to new research.
The suicide rate among middle-aged people in the U.S. has increased by 40 percent over the last 15 years.
To investigate a possible connection to the recession, researchers at Rutgers University used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, which offers insight into contributing circumstances around suicides.
With middle-aged people, external economic factors were present in 37 percent of suicides in 2010, said Rutgers sociology professor Judy Phillips who conducted the study. She said job loss is especially difficult for this group.
"Those who are in middle age are most likely to be the breadwinner in the family, and so loss of job and financial difficulty is going to be especially devastating," she said. "They also have dependents, both children and often supporting parents."
NJ may require docs to discuss possibility of addiction when prescribing painkillers
By Phil Gregory
March 16, 2015
Advocates are pushing for a new law to require doctors in New Jersey to talk with patients about the risks of addiction when they initially prescribe painkillers.
Leaders of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey say abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions and can lead to heroin addiction.
A poll conducted for partnership founds that 91 percent of those surveyed support such a measure.
Doctors have an array of alternative treatments to prescribe for their patents' pain, said Dr. Shuvendu Sen of the Raritan Bay Medical Center.
"There's a whole world of treasure lying out there -- cognitive behavioral therapy, massage medication, music, acupuncture," he said. "We've got to focus on those things. There's no point in giving them medication when it takes off your pain but it takes off your life."

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Mental illness a main driver for frequent hospitalizations in Pa.
By Maiken Scott
March 17, 2015

Mental health issues are a leading cause for hospital admissions among Pennsylvania's "super utilizers," those patients who are hospitalized five or more times in a year.

Along with heart failure and septicemia, a life-threatening infection, mental illness is among the top three reasons for frequent hospitalizations.

"This is not the patients' fault," said Joe Martin, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, which analyzed the data. The report is aimed at finding better ways to serve patients and avoid hospitalizations when possible, he said.

One of the trouble spots is an information disconnect between providers. Over the course of a year, Martin said, patients with mental illnesses are often treated in different hospitals, which is inefficient, "Often the system is not doing a good job of keeping track of them, knowing what medications they are on, and so on," he said.

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NFL standout quits, citing brain damage risk
By Maiken Scott
March 19, 2015
On Tuesday, ESPN's investigative unit "Outside The Lines" broke the story that an upcoming NFL standout was retiring after just a year in the league.
Football is a tough sport on the human body, and early retirements aren't unheard of, but San Francisco 49er inside linebacker Chris Borland's announcement was a first. Instead of leaving the game because of injuries, he was leaving to preempt a particular type of damage that's become synonymous with football players in recent years—a brain injury.
"I just honestly want to do what's best for my health," Borland told Mark Fainaru-Wada and his brother Steve Fainaru, who broke the story and who authored the book League of Denial about traumatic brain injuries in former NFL players. "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk."
And Borland had done his research, talking to friends, family, and professionals in the field. His decision was largely respected by fellow players, though no one else joined him Tuesday in exiting the league as a cautionary measure.