Friday, November 26, 2010

New study investigates impact of alcohol price on illicit drug taking

A project designed to investigate the impact of alcohol pricing on young Australians’ drinking patterns and consumption of illicit drugs has been awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council linkage grant.

The two year study, by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales, in collaboration with the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR), will use the internet to canvass young Australians' responses to hypothetical changes in prices of alcohol, cannabis and ecstasy, to improve our understanding of which alcohol pricing policies minimise harmful alcohol and illicit drug use on a typical night out.

“There is pretty clear evidence that increasing the price of alcohol is one of the most effective ways of reducing the amount of harmful drinking in Australians aged 18 to 30 years,” says the study’s Chief Investigator Dr Jenny Chalmers.

“What is less clear is whether or not some young people will find other cheaper ways of getting high or intoxicated - that is why we have included the illicit drugs cannabis and ecstasy in our study and allow for different ways of purchasing alcohol.

“We know that drug users sometimes switch between illicit drugs in response to a price increase and that some people switch to cheaper forms of alcohol or buy it in cheaper ways when the price goes up,” says Dr Chalmers. “But not all drugs (including alcohol) are substitutes. People do combine drugs to compensate for the side-effects of one drug or take advantage of the effects of drugs when taken together. ”

Reliable evidence on switching between alcohol and illicit drugs is scant and inconclusive, says Dr Chalmers.

“This project will not only tell us who drinks less alcohol when the price rises, but will help us distinguish the people that replace the alcohol with ecstasy or cannabis from the people who use less illicit drugs as well.”

For more information or to speak to Dr Chalmers contact Marion Downey on 0401 713 850.

The 12th International Mental Health Conference 2011
Radisson Resort, Gold Coast
Wednesday 24th August – Friday 26th August 2011.

Call to fill mental health void

Australia should trial a UK-based program that is helping people with moderate depression and anxiety, and which could fill a major gap in existing services, says a leading psychiatrist.

The nation's thinly spread mental health services can focus on the acute or crisis-support ends of the spectrum, leaving many people with milder though still debilitating problems without a treatment option.

Associate Professor Michael Baigent said "a service such as the UK's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program was proven to be effective at reaching and helping these people. It has operated successfully since 2005, and a roll out in Australia would ensure a 'greeted rather than bounced' response for people whose lives would benefit from treatment." More...

Danny Rose, AAP Medical Writer

Monday, November 22, 2010

US Research - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Report

Researchers of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported on Nov 18 that in 2009, 45 million, or 20 percent, of adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. suffered from some mental disorder or mental illness in the past year. Among those with mental illness, 11 million or 4.8 percent had a serious mental illness.
The report determined that women were more likely than men to suffer mental illness, 23.8 percent versus 15.6 percent – those suffering from serious mental illness is estimated at 6.4 versus 3.2 percent of women and men, respectively.

Also in 2009, an estimated 8.4 million adults or 3.7 percent aged 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide the previous year. Of those who had thought about committing suicide, 2.2 million or 1 percent had a plan and 1 million or 0.5 percent had attempted suicide in the past year.

Among the 45 million suffering from some form of mental illness, nearly 20 percent or 8.9 million adults had substance dependence or substance abuse issues. 25.7 percent had substance dependence or substance abuse in the prior year, compared with 6.5 percent of adults who did not have mental illness.

Of the same 45 million adults, 17.1 million or 37.9 received mental health care services during the prior 12 months - of the 11 million adults with serious mental illness, 6.6 million or 60.2 percent received care. In 2009, 13.3 percent or 30.2 million adults received mental health services during the past 12 months.

Of the 2.8 million adults aged 18 or older with both substance dependence or abuse in the past year, 2.4 percent received treatment at a specialty facility.
In 2009, 2.0 million youths aged 12 to 17 suffered a major depressive episode during the past year. Among those who experienced major depression, 35.7 percent used illicit drugs, compared to 18.0 percent of those who did not have major depression in the past year.

12th International Mental Health Conference 2011 Radisson Resort, Gold Coast
Personality Disorders: Out of the Darkness
Wednesday 24th August – Friday 26th August 2011.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Outback rain brings rejuvenation of land and spirit

Sarak Elks From: The Australian November 13, 2010 12:00AM

During the decade-long drought, there were anecdotal reports of rates of depression and suicide among those on the land rising, deepening the divide between those in the city and the bush.

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that 14 out of every 100,000 men in metropolitan areas die by suicide compared with 18 out of every 100,000 in rural areas and 27 out of every 100,000 in very remote areas.

While mental health problems do not exist only in drought, Mr McNicholl said many on the land had an emotional connection to their properties. "For men on most farms, the visual impact of drought has a very negative effect," he said. "It's a peculiarly rural phenomenon. The landscape dies, and you die with the landscape. Your spirit dies with your cattle and your crops.”

"Your will to fight, your will to live, to get up in the morning, is sapped away."

Mr McNicholl said those struggling with depression in rural and remote areas often had to travel for several hours to access professional help. In small towns, men often found support and solace in the tight-knit community of a sporting team.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Rhona Rees at RRMH Conference in 2010

Rhona Rees from AST Management on Vimeo.

David Crosbie at the Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium 2010

David Crosbie Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium from AST Management on Vimeo.

Post-natal depression and smoking cessation before, during and after pregnancy

Background: A substantial proportion of women give up smoking before, during and after pregnancy. It is estimated that between 7% to 17% of post-partum women may experience depression, with a higher risk among those women with a history of clinical depression. However, little is known about the relationship between maternal mental health and smoking cessation. Our longitudinal study explores whether post-natal depression is related to changes in patterns of tobacco consumption before, during and after the pregnancy.

Method: Each participant was assessed for symptoms of depression at the first clinic visit (entry to the study), and reassessed at various intervals – at 3-5 days, at 6 months, and again at 5 years after the birth of the child-using the DSSI-D( Delusions-Symptoms- States Inventory/ Bedford and Foulds, 1976). Smoking was also assessed at each stage of data collection and there was a retrospective report of smoking prior to the pregnancy.

Results: There is a linear association between tobacco consumption in pregnancy and the proportion of women who experience anxiety and depression in the postnatal period. The test for the two main causal pathways, smoking leading to depression and depression leading to smoking suggests that prior poor mental health (anxiety/depression) precede smoking behavior and the changes in smoking do not impact on maternal mental health.

Conclusion: The analysis examines whether post-natal depression contributes to smoking behavior/relapse or whether smoking cessation leads to worsening of pre-existing poor mental health and subsequent post natal depression in women. Poor mental health predicts patterns of smoking behavior but the reverse is not the case.

Dr Divey Rattan
School of Population Health, University of Queensland

Monday, November 8, 2010

Defence eyes states for health overhaul

Sean Parnell, FOI editor From: The Australian November 08, 2010 12:00AM

MORE medics will work in public hospitals and dozens of military clinics will close in a major restructuring of defence health services.

There will also be a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and mental health care.

As operations in Afghanistan become more dangerous and protracted, multi-disciplinary health hubs are being established on home bases and new links formed with state health departments and universities for high-end care, training and research.

Queensland Health has already agreed to set aside an acute care ward at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital for military patients. A military surgical team will be embedded at the facility, and Defence will also fund the appointment of a chair of military surgery at the University of Queensland.

Defence documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the ward is being provided as a quid pro quo for Queensland Health being able to use the military surgery team and facilities at Enoggera barracks for public patients.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mental health a top Aussie worry

Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent
From: The Australian November 03, 2010 12:00AM

GLOBAL warming and mental health problems provoke more public concern in Australia than in any other country covered by an international survey.

When people in eight countries that have almost half the world's population were asked to choose the greatest challenges facing their country, 37 per cent of Australians named global warming compared with an overall average of 25 per cent and just 18 per cent of Americans and 20 per cent of Britons.

An even more eye-catching difference between Australia and the other nations was its concern about mental health issues. About 35 per cent of Australians named mental health as one of their country's two or three greatest challenges, in contrast to the international average of just 10 per cent, with the second-most worried country on that issue being China on 15 per cent... more