promoting mental health for young Australians

Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association Ltd
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Collated Mental Health News Items for 2009
Collated Mental Health News Items for 2009

Displaying items 1 to 5

Half of U.S. Kids With Mental Issues Are Getting Help
MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A little over half of the children in the United States who have mental problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, get professional help, federal health officials report.
However, "you could look at it the other way -- that half don't," said Kathleen Merikangas, a senior investigator at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and lead researcher of a study published online Dec. 14 in Pediatrics.
Depression and anxiety often go undiagnosed and untreated, the study found.
"We have a substantial number of kids in America who are suffering from a current [mental] disorder," Merikangas said. The researchers found that 13 percent of the 3,042 children and adolescents in the study had at least one mental disorder and about 2 percent had more than one, usually a combination of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder.
The data came from youths aged 8 to 15 whose families participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2004. The youths were interviewed, and parents and caregivers also provided information about their children's mental health.

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Posted:Dec 18, 2009

Computers Help Kids Open Up About Health
( - COLUMBUS, Ohio - Parents of teenagers know how hard it can be to get them to talk about their personal lives, especially when it comes to their health. Luckily, though, a new study from Nationwide Children?s Hospital shows that allowing young people to confide in computers could make a dramatic difference in their healthcare.
Results from a study recently published in the journal Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research showed that teens involved in a screening program using a hand-held device were 24 percent more likely to have a follow up medical visit and six times more likely to get care for behavioral problems like substance use or depression.
The device is called a Health eTouch pad and was developed by doctors at Nationwide Children?s. It makes valuable use of a teenager?s time in the waiting room, asking them personal questions dealing with issues like depression, drug use and sexual activity. Teens say they feel more comfortable answering to a computer than their parents or doctors.
?It?s given specifically to the physician caring for the patient before the visit so the clinician can come up with a game plan and know specifically what to ask about,? says Kelly Kelleher, MD, MPH, the study?s senior author and director of the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children?s.
Because young patients feel more comfortable with a computer, they?re often more open and honest with their answers. Those answers give doctors an immediate opportunity to talk to adolescents about their health concerns and bring up issues that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

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Posted:Dec 18, 2009

Young adults with an autism spectrum disorder
When Damian Santomauro was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at age five, the paediatrician told his mother Damian would never marry and never leave home.
But Josie Santomauro was determined she and her son would prove that doctor wrong. And, 15 years later, it seems they are well on their way to doing that.
Damian is now completing a psychology degree at the University of Queensland, has a job at a laboratory and a steady girlfriend. He and his mother have co-authored a book about his experiences, Asperger Download, which they hope will help other young people with the condition negotiate the difficult path through adolescence.
"When I tell people that I have Asperger's, most people are quite shocked," he says now. "They say that I have perfect social skills, displaying eye contact as well as other things."
Simple social skills are often a struggle for people with Asperger syndrome, which means holding conversations, making friends and understanding social situations can be very difficult.
For Damian, early intervention, speech therapy, the special education unit at his high school, his mother's support and - perhaps most importantly - his own determination to come to grips with social interactions have all played a part in his success.

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Posted:Dec 15, 2009

IACAPAP Bulletin now released
IACAPAP BULLETIN No 24, Nov 2009, with lots of relevant IACAPAP news has recently been published.
You can access the report by visiting the website through the link below.

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Posted:Dec 15, 2009

Media Should Tread Carefully In Covering Suicide
Scientists define a suicide cluster as three or more suicides in a specific location that occur over a short period of time. On average, there are five suicide clusters each year in the United States, according to psychiatric epidemiologist Madelyn Gould at Columbia University in New York City.
Gould has found that suicide clusters are a relatively rare event, accounting for fewer than 5 percent of all suicides in teenagers and young adults. The most distinctive feature about suicide clusters is that they occur almost exclusively in teenagers, she says.
"Suicides following the exposure to someone's death by suicide, was about two to four times higher among 15- to 19-year-olds than [in] other age groups," Gould says.
So what is it about teenagers that make them particularly vulnerable? For one, Gould says, adolescents are intensely focused on other teenagers and on imitating the behaviors of other teens. It's a developmental phenomenon that scientists call "social modeling."
And for adolescents, says Gould, "it's the peer group members who often serve as models. So during this age it's the peers that replace family members and other adults as the most influential group. And suicide is another behavior that can be modeled, unfortunately."
Another characteristic typical of teenagers that puts them at increased risk of suicide is their tendency to act impulsively. This behavioral inclination is a function of a still-maturing brain. Neuroscientists have found that complex cognitive functions - such as inhibiting impulsive behaviors, planning ahead, and problem solving - occur in the prefrontal cortex, a brain area that continues to develop throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood.
So until an adolescent's brain is more fully mature, he or she will tend to behave impulsively, neglect future consequences, and perhaps view suicide as an immediate solution to problems, especially if a friend or acquaintance has taken that route.

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Posted:Dec 1, 2009

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