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Nearly 10 Million U.S. Adults Suffer From Mental Illness

MONDAY, June 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 10 million American adults have a serious mental illness, and a similar number have considered suicide during the past year, according to a new government report on the nation's behavioral ills.

The report also said that 15.7 million Americans abuse alcohol and 7.7 million abuse illicit drugs.

The nation's growing opioid epidemic was also a focus in the report. The researchers found that 12.5 million people are estimated to have misused prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) or hydrocodone (Vicoprofen).

Despite the growing number of Americans with mental health problems, about a third of those who need help aren't getting it, said researcher Dr. Beth Han. She's from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"These are real increases," Han said. The reasons people aren't getting the help they need are varied. They include not having health insurance and not knowing where to go for help, she said.

Han believes that stigma continues to play a part in why people with mental health problems don't seek help. "They are afraid that other people may find out," she said.

Among teens, marijuana use has gone down slightly, from nearly 8 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2015, though with more states legalizing its use, more people continue to accept the drug as safe and discount its potential harms, the researchers said.

"For teens, marijuana is a substitute for other behaviors like binge drinking," said Dr. Scott Krakower. He's the assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

Often, substance abuse is driven by other mental problems such as depression or bipolar disorder, Krakower said. These mental problems may also be a product of the substance abuse, he said.

On the bright side, fewer teens are smoking cigarettes. And fewer teens started using marijuana, drugs or alcohol in 2015 than in previous years, the researchers said.

Mental illness is a growing problem among adolescents. Three million teens from 12 to 17 had major depression in 2015. The problem is particularly acute among girls, the researchers found.Among teens, depression increased from 2 million in 2011 to 3 million in 2015, Han said.

Among adults, 9.8 million Americans reported having serious thoughts about suicide in the past year. This continued an upward trend that started in 2012. In 2011, 9 million adults reported thoughts of suicide, Han said.

These numbers are rising along with the opioid epidemic, she said.

In addition, 9.8 million adults have a serious mental illness. That number has remained about the same since 2011, Han said.

Despite this, only about two-thirds of those who need it are getting treatment for mental health problems.

Poor people have less opportunity for treatment, Krakower said.

People who are uninsured or who have insurance with large deductibles may be more likely to deal with a physical problem rather than a mental problem, he said.

In addition, wait times for treatment can be very long -- up to a year, Krakower said. That's because of the lack of trained staff and resources.

"The country needs to figure out a better model so people get the mental health care they need," he said.

The prescription drug abuse epidemic also continues, Han said.

Many of these people get their drugs from a friend or relative or from a doctor, the researchers said.

People without health insurance were nearly twice as likely to have misused a prescription painkiller as those with insurance in the past year, according to the report.

In 2015, more than 1 million Americans were being treated for substance abuse. From 2011 to 2015, the number of people receiving medication-assisted therapy, mostly methadone, as part of a narcotic treatment program has increased about 16 percent.

Looking for an explanation for the behavioral health problems in the country, Krakower speculated that the mood of America is feeding mental health and drug issues.

"The morale of the country has been down," he said. "The economy drives a lot of people's mood. I don't think people feel comfortable in this country. When that kind of morale happens, it has an effect on people's psychology," Krakower said.

The findings are published in the Behavioral Health Barometer -- United States, 2016, which was released June 12 by SAMHSA.

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4 Tips For A Safe Vacation With Diabetes

Are you planning for some fun in the sun this summer? Before you hit the beach, consider these tips to make sure your vacation is safe and fun.

1. Keep Diabetes Medications Readily Available

Older African American adults on cruiseNo matter how you travel – plane, train, or automobile, it’s important to keep your diabetes supplies readily available.

When traveling by plane, be sure to put all of your diabetes supplies and medications in your carry-on. Checked baggage goes in the bottom of the plane where it can be exposed to extreme cold or heat that can spoil insulin and destroy your glucose meter. Dacia Bryant, Founder and Chief Health Officer at A ONE C LifeBox, a digital healthcare engagement company that equips Black and Hispanic people with the tools to manage their diabetes more effectively, suggest using a cool storage pouch for insulin. These are small enough to fit into your carry-on luggage.

“I often recommend packing a cooler like the Frio Insulin Cooling Case or a Medicool pouch. These cool storage pouches will protect insulin and other injectables from extreme heat not only during hot summer months but also throughout the year if you travel to warm climates where air conditioning may be limited, and power loss is common,” says Bryant.

The same rules for air travel apply when traveling by train or car. Bryant also reminds her patients to keep insulin and other medications handy either in a clear plastic baggy in a handbag or carry-on when traveling instead of the trunk of a car or in checked luggage

2. Avoid Tanning and Tattoos

African American woman in beach chair covered with towelAny increase in skin pigment as a result of tanning is a sign of damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause dry skin, wrinkles and dark spots. People with diabetes tend to have dry skin, increasing the risk of damage from the sun’s rays. Dry skin can lead to cracking and peeling which allows bacteria to enter the body and cause infection.

Tattooing also puts you at risk for infection – particularly HIV and hepatitis, if you are exposed to unclean tools, practices, or products. Also, if your diabetes is in poor control, a tattoo might not heal properly.

Tight blood glucose – also called blood sugar, control is crucial to help protect your skin from sun damage and facilitate healing if damage occurs. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C score less than 7 percent or an estimated average glucose of 154 mg/dl.

3. Be Careful With Contact Lenses

Patients with diabetes are more susceptible to dry eye syndrome, which occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly. Dry eye syndrome increases the risk for inflammation, infections, and scars on the cornea. To avoid these problems make sure your contacts are prescribed by an eye care professional. It’s also important to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Research shows the higher the hemoglobin A1C values, the higher the rate of dry eye syndrome.

Don’t be tempted to buy colored or decorative lenses sold along the boardwalk, in convenience stores or internet sites that do not require a prescription. They can damage your eyes and cause infection.

Handle your lenses with care. Always, wash your hands before touching lenses, and be sure to use only sterile solution. Remove your contacts before swimming or getting in a hot tub.

4. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration happens when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. For people with diabetes, dehydration can lead to dangerously high blood glucose levels.

“Monitoring for high blood sugar is especially important in the hot summer months when dehydration is common. Becoming dehydrated from sweating and not replacing that water can lead to high blood sugar. When fluids leave your body, your blood becomes more concentrated with glucose,” says Bryant. “Dehydration also leads to a decrease in blood flow supplied to the skin where insulin is injected. Your insulin dose may not be fully absorbed, and blood glucose can remain high.”

So avoid getting dehydrated. For instance, when you spend a late afternoon at the beach bring water and drink even before you feel thirsty. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 11 cups of fluid per day; men should have 16 cups of fully daily to stay fully hydrated. About 80 percent of your daily fluid intake should come from water and other beverages that you drink. The other 20 percent can come from juicy foods like fruits and vegetables.

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Inland Health Professions Coalition is training students in the fight against teen suicide

Pomona, CA (June 6 -7th) Suicide and mental health have come to the forefront of the national conversation in recent months, sparking interest amongst high school students who wish to prevent such tragedies. The Inland Health Professions Coalition (IHPC,) in partnership with Tri-City Mental Health, is offering students, 16 or older, mental health first aid training June 6th and 7th, from 10 AM - 2:30 PM at the Tri-City Wellness Center in Pomona. This 8-hour certificate course will help students identify those who are having a panic attack, contemplating suicide, or struggling with substance abuse.

Students will hear from Lora Illng, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) who will be sharing personal stories and how to support friends or family struggling with mental health issues. Participants who complete the course will receive a 3-year certification through the National Council for Behavioral Health. This event is free for students but requires online registration.

RSVP:

www.inlandcoalition.org/events

"Students have expressed concerns over family members or friends whom they know are suffering from mental health illness. Educating students on how to react and how to help someone will empower them and provide support to someone in need." -Sonia Ventura, Outreach Specialist for Reach Out

Where: Tri-City Wellness Center 1403 N. Garey Avenue Pomona, CA 91767

About IHPC

IHPC helps address the need for health professionals in the Inland Empire by helping students identify health-related careers and providing work-based learning experiences. IHPC is part of Reach Out, a non-profit organization serving the San Bernardino and Riverside communities. For more information, visit www.inlandcoalition.org and www.facebook.com/inlandcoalition

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