11/21/2017: Brain Health News Roundup

Agency Confirms That Improper Wait Lists Were Used For Veterans’ Mental Health Care

Associated Press/Washington Post

Investigators with the VA Office of Inspector General confirmed a whistleblower’s claim that staff kept unauthorized lists instead of using the department’s official wait list system. That made it impossible to know if veterans who needed referrals for group therapy and other mental health care were getting timely assistance, according to the report.”

Push for Statewide Mental Health Screenings Gains Momentum

New Jersey Spotlight

A legislative proposal to effectively double the reach of New Jersey’s county-based mental-health screening system is one step closer to reality, an advance advocates hailed as necessary to help the state better address — and possibly reduce — a growing behavioral health crisis.

But the Democratic-sponsored measure, which would cost more than $10 million annually, still faces two significant hurdles: a final vote in the state Senate, which is scheduled to meet only a handful of times before the end of the legislative session, and the signature of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican whose second term ends in mid-January.”

 

Universal Health Plans Big Psych Expansion in New Jersey

Philadelphia Inquirer

Universal Health Services Inc. was the big winner in New Jersey’s largest expansion of its inpatient psychiatric capacity in 20 years, securing the right to add 336 beds, 41 percent of the 811 approved by the state’s Department of Health. The King of Prussia company, which is the largest U.S. operator of behavioral health facilities and which has long been dogged by federal investigations of potential billing fraud, told the state it planned to open two new 120-bed facilities, in Passaic and Monmouth Counties. It also said it would expand hospitals in Burlington and Union Counties by 48 beds each.”

Allegheny County grapples with parents on opioids

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

When opioids hijack a parent, there’s no proven playbook for getting the family back on course. Caseworkers have to decide whether to take the kids away, and policymakers are now trying to provide other options, including novel ones like whole-family rehab.”

 

It’s Time We Talk About Police Suicide

The Marshall Project (from two weeks ago)

More officers die of suicide than die of shootings and traffic accidents combined. It’s a problem that cries out for answers and remedies, but too many departments are reluctant to admit it exists, much less implement programs to address it.

While a few of the known deaths are publicly attributed to depression or PTSD, the overwhelming majority are listed as having “unknown causes.” Stigma — the fear that it will reflect negatively on a department or result in liability claims by the family — appears to be a motivating factor behind such vague information.”

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