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Mental Health

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Sleep and Alzheimer's

Can disturbed sleep cause Alzheimer’s disease? Assistant Professor Adam Spira, PhD, led a study linking shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality to greater Alzheimer's plaque levels in the brains of community-dwelling older adults.

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  • Ten-Year Effects of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Cognitive Training Trial on Cognition and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults
    George Rebok’s article on advanced cognitive training has been named the fifth most cited paper out of 155 papers for consideration in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) from 2000 - 2015.

  • Prevention is Possible! Exploring the Public Health Approach
    Elizabeth Letourneau’s latest Psychology Today column discusses ways to prevent children from engaging in sexually abusive behavior towards others. One third to one half of child sexual abuse is committed by other youth.

  • The Weak Evidence Behind Brain-Training Games
    Seven psychologists reviewed every single scientific paper put forward to support these products—and found them wanting. George Rebok is quoted in an article in The Atlantic.

  • FDA Black Box, VA Red Ink? A Successful Service-Connected Disability Claim for Chronic Neuropsychiatric Adverse Effects From Mefloquine
    Remington Nevin, MD, DrPH ’16,  recently had a case report published in Federal Practitioner.

  • Counterpoint: After Jacob, work harder to prevent child sexual abuse [Op-Ed]
    Instead of just reacting to perpetrators, create programs so they don't offend in the first place.
    Elizabeth Letourneau urges policymakers and the rest of us who want to end child sexual abuse to invest our efforts and resources. She writes in the wake of the news that 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was sexually assaulted before he was murdered 27 years ago by Danny Heinrich.

  • Return to school means return to bullying for some, expert says
    Anxiety about going to school is really a big sign (about being bullied).
    Kathryn Van Eck, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mental Health is interviewed by WBAL TV.

  • FDA Issues New Warning Involving Opioid-Based Prescriptions, Antidepressants
    Federal regulators say they are concerned about the increase in people taking opioid-based medications and antidepressants together.
    Colleen Barry’s research is mentioned in Healthline.

  • Malaria drug causes brain damage that mimics PTSD: case study
    The case of a service member diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but found instead to have brain damage caused by a malaria drug raises questions about the origin of similar symptoms in other post-9/11 veterans.
    Remington Nevin is quoted in Military Times.

  • Opinion: Punishment That Doesn't Fit the Crime
    The writer urges reforms to listing juveniles on state sex offender registries. Many of the kids branded as sex offenders are guilty of nothing worse than public urination, exposing themselves or having consensual sex.
    Elizabeth Letourneau, director of The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, is quoted in The New York Times.

  • Brain Training Cuts Dementia Risk a Decade Later
    How a brief intervention could have such long-lasting results remains unclear
    Article in Scientific American describes how for the first time ever, researchers have managed to reduce people’s risk for dementia — not through a medicine, special diet, or exercise, but by having healthy older adults play a computer-based brain-training game.
    George Rebok is quoted.

  • Marking kids for life on sex offender registries
    A new bi-partisan coalition called Just Kids is advocating for this much-needed changes to the way sex offender registries treat minors.
    Research by the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse is mentioned in an article in The Hill.

  • Rethinking the Service Delivery System of Psychological Interventions in Low and Middle Income Countries
    Laura Murray, PhD, Associate Scientist, recently published a paper in BMC Psychiatry, which presents a brief overview of the scientific progress in global mental health, and suggests consideration of an internal stepped care delivery approach.

  • For Effective Brain Fitness, Do More Than Play Simple Games
    Brain exercise classes offer useful skills to older people and are seen as helpful by many experts in improving the overall health and quality of life for participants – even though there is no known cure for dementia, or any evidence that exercising the brain in different ways can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
    George Rebok is quoted in The New York Times.

  • Medical Marijuana Reduces Prescription Drug Use, Study Finds
    Patients fill significantly fewer prescriptions for such conditions as nausea and pain in states where medical marijuana is available, researchers reported Wednesday in one of the first studies to examine how medical cannabis might be affecting approved treatments.
    Brendan Saloner (joint faculty) is quoted in Philly.com.

  • Should a Juvenile Sex Offender be Locked Up Indefinitely?
    The segment looks at how in some states sex crime offenders in are being held years beyond their release date. Laws giving jailers discretion in releasing convicts for being too dangerous are facing increased scrutiny.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is interviewed in segment on PBS News Hour.

  • State Action Limits Opioid Addiction Treatments
    Why is Maryland's Medicaid policy coming from the secretary of corrections?
    Op-ed by Deborah Agus in The Baltimore Sun.  Deborah is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Mental Health, and executive director of Behavioral Health Leadership Institute (BHLI).

  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health turns 100
    From water to drugs and disease, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has studied it all.
    Those who were educated or employed by the school over the past century have had a hand in the eradication of smallpox, the chlorination formula that makes municipal water supplies safe, and the screening process that protects the nation's blood supply. They also were responsible for discovering that vitamin D prevents rickets, that penicillin treats syphilis, that HPV causes cancer and that smoking reduces life expectancy.
    Dean Klag is quoted. Faculty, past and present, are mentioned in are article in The Baltimore Sun.

  • Ron Manderscheid Receives the Howery Memorial Award from theNational Association for Rural Mental Health
    The historic and prestigious Victor I. Howery Memorial Award is given each year by the NARMH Board of Directors to an individual who has made significant and sustained contributions to the rural mental health field. We are delighted to announce that this year’s recipient is Dr. Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of NARMH and NACBHDD.

  • Study: News Stories Often Link Violence With Mental Health Illness, Even Though People With Mental Health Illness Are Rarely Violent
    Research finds little has changed in media portrayal of mental illness over 20-year period
    Nearly four in 10 news stories about mental illness analyzed by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers connect mental illness with violent behavior toward others, even though less than five percent of violence in the United States is directly related to mental illness.To learn more, see the School’s news release and the Health Affairs article.
    “Trends in News Media Coverage of Mental Illness in the United States: 1995—2014” was written by Emma E. “Beth” McGinty, Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, Seema Choksy and Colleen Barry (holds joint in MH).

  • Nicholas Ialongo, PhD receives the SPR Presidential Award
    The Recognition and Honors Committee with nominations from the membership of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) has selected Nick Ialongo to receive the 2016 Presidential Award.  Dr. Ialongo has been selected for his outstanding contributions to advancing the field of prevention science.
    The SPR Presidential Award is given to an individual or a team of individuals who have made a major specific contribution to prevention science research.  This award is a “lifetime achievement” award for a significant body of research or theory in any area related to prevention that has had a major impact on the field.

  • It's Autism Awareness Month
    We're lighting it up blue. But which aspects of autism most need more attention?
    Experts comment on they wished received more attention or was better understood about autism. 
    Heather Volk is featured in Psychology Today.

  • Correcting the Record: Leo Kanner and the Broad Autism Phenotype
    James C. Harris, MD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Joseph Piven, MD, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote the above-linked Viewpoint article in the latest edition of Spectrum, an online publication by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.   Dr. Harris was Leo Kanner’s student during his residency training and was a successor to Kanner as director of the child and adolescent psychiatry division at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Dr. Harris is joint faculty in DMH.

  • Suicide in America
    The suicide rate in the U.S. is at its highest level in nearly 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s the suicide rate declined. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows suicides rose by 24 percent between 1999 and 2014.
    Holly Wilcox and other suicide expert panelists explain what’s behind the rise and to talk about prevention on the Diane Rehm Show.

  • Treating Depression, Anxiety Saves Everyone Money
    Treating mental illness is not only a good medical decision, but it also makes good economic sense.
    Judy Bass
    is quoted in Healthline.

  • The fed's new 'war on drugs': Obama proposes $1.1 billion to expand care for opioid addicts
    Amid a prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic largely fueled by overprescribing among doctors, President Obama has suggested allocating $1.1 billion to expand affected individuals’ access to care— a proposal that has garnered bipartisan support. Although some experts question whether throwing money at the issue will be enough, many believe that, if used properly, the funding has the potential to save lives.
    Brendan Saloner is quoted in Fox News.

  • Association of DNA Methylation Differences With Schizophrenia in an Epigenome-Wide Association Study
    DNA methylation may play an important role in schizophrenia (SZ), either directly as a mechanism of pathogenesis or as a biomarker of risk.
    Dani Fallin and Andy Feinberg are contributors in JAMA Psychiatry Online First.

  • Laysha Ostrow on Live & Learn Inc.: On the future of mental health
    A Q&A with Laysha Ostrow, founder of Live & Learn, a consulting firm that works with community and government organizations on mental health issues on Psychology Today blog: Rethinking Mental Health.
    Laysha Ostrow, PhD, is an alumna of the department.

  • Social and Emotional Readiness for Kindergarten Key to Future Academic Success
    Children who enter kindergarten behind in social-behavioral development are more likely to be held back, require more individualized supports and services, and be suspended or expelled in later grades.
    Amie Bettencourt is quoted in The Examiner. (Amie is an alum of MH and is currently Associate Faculty.)

  • The List
    When juveniles are found guilty of sexual misconduct, the sex-offender registry can be a life sentence. That misconduct can include elementary school students engaged in pranks and play.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in The New Yorker.

  • In the last months or days, these treatments can make things worse
    A look at what has research found about commonly used end-of-life interventions  -- which ones can be useful and which are not, and when should they be administered.
    Joseph Gallo is quoted.
    The story ran in other outlets, including the Bangor Daily News

  • Students Should Heed the Dangers of Speed
    If Adderall use at USC looks anything like it does at other universities, chances are, it’s everywhere.
    Ramin Mojtabai’s research is cited in the Daily Trojan (USC Student Newspaper).

  • An Ice Bucket, an Autistic Child, and a Cruel Joke
    Victimization worsens when autistic children cannot verbally express themselves.  A social media campaign aimed at raising awareness for one health problem becomes the cruel vehicle by which awareness is raised for another.
    Research led by Wendy Klag Memorial Scholar Benjamin Zablotsky, PhD ’13 (Mental Health) is mentioned in Psychology Today.

  • Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults
    Prescriptions for the stimulant unchanged, but study finds more nonmedical use and emergency room visits among adults
    Study authors Ramin Mojtaibai and Lian-Yu Chen are quoted in the JHSPH News Release. The study, which appears in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry is getting broad media coverage.

  • 'Mindfulness' May Help Ease Sleep Problems for Seniors
    Mindfulness meditation may help older adults get a better night's sleep, a small study suggests. The study appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.
    Adam Spira, who wrote an editorial published with the study, is quoted in HealthDay.com.

  • Senate HELP Committee Brings Reason, Civility and Comprehensiveness to Mental Health Reform
    Something remarkable happened at the recent US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Hearing on Improving the Federal Response to Challenges in Mental Health Care in America. Civility, respect and a desire to be comprehensive were ever present at this hearing.
    William Eaton, who testified at the hearing, is mentioned in Huffington Post.

  • Our heroin, opioid epidemic is a national emergency, Washington needs to treat it like one
    New England is in the grip of an uncontrolled epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse, which has spread to our small towns and rural areas. As one addiction specialist put it: “It’s easier to get heroin in some of these places than it is to get a UPS delivery.” But this is also a nationwide crisis, and it requires an urgent federal response. In Congress we are advancing an emergency funding bill that would provide an additional $600 million to mobilize major new resources for prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.
    Brendan Saloner (joint appointment in MH) is quoted in Fox News.

  • Obesity, Diabetes in Mom Increases Risk of Autism in Child
    New study offers new evidence that autism spectrum disorder risks may begin in utero
    Dani Fallin is quoted in this JHSPH News Release
    .

  • Hopkins Study Says Areas Around Drug Treatment Centers May Be Safer Than You Think
    Plans for methadone clinics and other treatment centers are often looked at with suspicion or worse by neighbors, believing they bring with them a criminal element. A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds the reverse may actually be true, that there may be less violent crime near those clinics.
    Debra Furr-Holden and Adam Milan (co-author) are quoted by WBAL.com.

  • Realizing You're a Pedophile Can Make You Want to Kill Yourself
    Pedophilia can be especially hard to live with for those who haven't committed a crime, and are forced to come to terms with an identity that most people regard as monstrous.
    Ryan Shields is quoted in Vice.

  • Peaceful Rally in West Baltimore after Porter Mistrial
    Call for peace continues in Penn-North community
    Several groups peacefully gathered there Wednesday after a mistrial was declared in the trial of Officer William Porter. He was the first of six officers to go on trial for charges related to the death of Freddie Gray.
    Philip Leaf is interviewed (at 00:52) by WBAL TV.

  • Autism's Lost Generation
    Some autistic adults have spent much of their lives with the wrong diagnosis, consigned to psychiatric institutions or drugged for disorders they never had.
    David Mandell, PhD, DMH alum, is quoted in The Atlantic.

  • The Commons Defence Select Committee recently announced an inquiry into the MoD’s use of the drug
    In response to growing concern over the dangers of Lariam, prompted by a series of reports in The Independent, the Commons Defence Select Committee recently announced an inquiry into the MoD’s use of the drug. The anti-malarial drug has dozens of psychiatric side effects including psychotic behaviour, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
    Remington Nevin testified before a panel. Listen to the hearing on Parliamentlive.tv…

  • States Scale Back Juvenile Sex Offender Registries
    Driving the changes are concerns that putting juveniles’ names and photos on a registry stigmatizes them in their schools and neighborhoods and makes them targets of police. Thirty-eight states now add juveniles to sex offender registries. The remaining 12 states only add the names of youths convicted in adult courts.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in The Herald.

  • Smoking during Pregnancy Leaves a Generic Mark Imprinted in Your Baby's Blood 'that's still detectable 5 years later - and could be linked to autism'
    Smoking during pregnancy could leave damaging markers in your child's blood for at least five years after birth, experts have warned.
    Dani Fallin is quoted in Daily Mail (UK).

  • Sleep Could be the Missing Link in Dementia
    A growing body of research is exploring links among sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. Poor sleep is a common symptom of Alzheimer's patients, particularly those suffering moderate to severe forms of the cognitive disorder. Researchers still haven't established whether the poor sleep causes Alzheimer's or is only a symptom of the incurable disease.
    Adam Spira is quoted in The Chicago Tribune.

  • Tide Turns Against U.S. Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders
    Increasingly tough laws adopted in the United States over the past 20 years have had the unintended consequence of forcing many of the nation's 800,000 registered sex offenders into homelessness.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in Reuters.

  • Sympathy for the Deviant (Cover Story)
    The intense stigma surrounding child sexual abuse clouds an already misunderstood subject—and may ultimately prevent potential abusers from getting help before they commit harm. One convicted offender shares his story.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in Psychology Today.

  • Lack of Exercise Linked to Alcohol Misuse
    African-Americans who did not engage in physical activity were nearly twice as likely to abuse alcohol.
    April Joy Damian, PhD students, is quoted in EurekAlert! Science News.