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Mental Health

Mental Health

Department News

  • The Summer 2018 Magazine is live! Several DMH Faculty are featured!
    “Swimming with Dolphins”
    Faculty Mention: Michelle Carlson
    A smiling dolphin named Bandit, part of an immersive video game adapted from an original design by @HopkinsMedicine's Department of Neurology, could help older adults maintain physical and cognitive health.
    “Women Empowered” Reflexes of Resilience
    Faculty Mention: Judith Bass, Sarah McIvor Murray; Student Mention: Daniel Lakin
    The continuing impact of group therapy for sexual violence survivors in the Congo.

  • Opinion: Suicides Rates Are Rising. What Should We Do About It?
    It is estimated that more than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. This means that, in theory, suicide should be preventable if the right treatment can be delivered to people who have these psychiatric illnesses. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know which treatments are most effective at preventing suicides because most studies of mental health interventions specifically exclude suicidal subjects.
    Elizabeth Stuart is a co-author of the Johns Hopkins study featured in the piece in The New York Times.

  • Tragedy of Child Sexual Abuse Takes Financial Toll, Too

    Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health calculated that in 2015 alone, the costs associated with the aftermath of abuse exceeded $9 billion. That figure included costs associated with health care, child welfare, special education, violence and crime, suicide and survivor productivity losses.
    Study author Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in HealthDay.

  • Surge in young Americans using marijuana as first drug
    The proportion of young people using marijuana as their first drug doubled in the 10 years from 2004, a US-based study has found.
    Renee Johnson is quoted in The Guardian.

  • Opioid Prevalence in Suicide Victims Skyrockets
    The prevalence of opioids in the blood of suicide victims has more than doubled in the past decade, new research shows.
    A study conducted by investigators at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that the number of people who died by suicide who had opioids in their system increased from 8.8% in 2006 to 17% in 2017.
    Paul Nestadt is quoted in Medscape.  Commentary by Maria Oquendo (last APA president and psychiatry chair of Penn.

  • 7 Adderall Side Effects You Need To Know About
    Taking Adderall when it’s not needed and when dosing isn’t monitored can have unpleasant and dangerous side effects.
    JHSPH research (Ramin Mojtabai’s study) is mentioned in Women's Health Magazine.

  • Autism Awareness Month [Video]
    April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to shed light on the strides being made and what still needs to be done.
    Gazi Azad is featured on WBFF (Baltimore Fox affiliate).

  • These Office Spaces Will Actually Get You Fit
    Creating a workplace that truly makes us happy and healthy takes a lot more than standing desks and on-site yoga. Thankfully, new research has sparked a growing design revolution.
    Ron Goetzel is quoted in Outside Magazine.

  • 10 Things ADHD Is—and 3 It Isn't
    To dispel some of the common myths surrounding ADHD, SELF breaks down what the disorder actually is—and a couple things it isn’t, too. To wit, ADHD has many more symptoms than just inattention and hyperactivity.
    Ramin Mojtabai’s research is mentioned

  • Graduate students need more mental health support, new study highlights
    There is a mental health crisis in graduate education, and research institutions need to take action to address it. That’s the take-home message from a global survey of Ph.D. and master's students published today, which adds to the meager but growing literature on the subject and corroborates anecdotal evidence and discussion about the topic from recent years.
    Wendy Ingram, Postdoctoral Fellow, is quoted.

  • Opioids no better than NSAIDs for chronic back or arthritis pain
    Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are better than opioids at easing the intensity of chronic pain in the back, knees or hips, a U.S. experiment suggests.
    Marissa Seamans, Postdoctoral Fellow, is quoted.  (Note: This ran in a variety of Reuters publications across the country.)

  • Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Worry About a Link Between Ultrasounds and Autism, Experts Say
    A new study finds no link between autism and number or duration of ultrasound exams. But depth of ultrasound exams needs more study.
    Dani Fallin is quoted.

  • In war zones and refugee camps, researchers are putting resilience interventions to the test
    Hundreds of millions of young people live in countries riven by armed conflict. Roughly 15% to 20% may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses. Psychosocial programs, usually staffed by laypeople with various levels of training, are feasible in war zones and refugee camps in a way that specialized psychological care often is not. The question is: Do they work?
    Wietse Tol is quoted in Science Mag.

  • The Spring 2018 Magazine is live!
    The Department has two featured articles in the Public Health Magazine:
    Patients with mental health disorders are getting more personalized treatment, thanks to a new way of tracking the course of illness.  Faculty mention: Peter Zandi
    The Game that Keeps On Giving Faculty Mention: M. Danielle Fallin, Kelly Schaffer, Sheppard Kellam, James Anthony, Nicholas Ialongo

  • New tech 'addictions' are mostly just old moral panic
    The WHO took an unprecedented step in January when it decided to include "gaming disorder" in its 11th International Classification of Diseases (IDC). Not everybody in the medical community is on board with such an assessment. Some researchers have argued that this is simply another example of "moral panic.”
    Michelle Colder Carras, a;um is quoted in Engadget.

  • Are African Youth Gangs in Australia a Real Threat?
    The short answer: If we are to take the recent hyperbolic headlines literally, probably not. The column argues that prevention is the right solution to Australia's African youth gang activity.
    This post in Psychology Today was written by Stephane Shepherd, a visiting professor in forensic mental health at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

  • Johns Hopkins: Paper among Health Affairs’ 2017 Editor’s Picks
    A paper by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was selected by Health Affairs editor Mr. Alan Weil as the year’s “picks” – articles with, in his words, the “shared attribute is that the authors chose to focus on interesting and important questions.” The paper found that only 5 percent of people referred for opioid treatment in the criminal justice system were getting the recommended “agonist” treatment. The lead authors were Dr. Brendan Saloner, assistant professor in the School’s department of health policy and management, and doctoral candidate Ms. Noa Krawczyk. 

  • DMH Global Mental Health website has a new look!
    The Global Mental Health website in the Department of Mental Health has been expanded to better reflect all of the interesting research and collaboration among faculty and students.  Check it out!

  • Only One In Twenty Justice-Referred Adults In Specialty Treatment For Opioid Use Receive Methadone Or Buprenorphine named among the top ten favorite articles for 2017 by Health Affairs editor-in-chief Alan Weil. 
    Noa Krawczyk, Kenneth Feder and Brandon Saloner’s are authors of the article.  View article...

  • Opioid Plan May Reuse Old City Jail  
    Hogan weighs turning part of closed facility into a treatment center.
    Deborah Agus, (adjunct) is quoted in The Baltimore Sun.

  • 6 ways no sleep can wreak havoc on your health
    Sleep is vital for good mood, weight loss and looking healthy. So what happens when you don’t get enough?
    Adam Spira's research is mentioned in Now to Love.

  • Neurontin prescriptions surge amid opioid crisis
    Prescriptions for nerve pain medicines like Neurontin and Lyrica have more than tripled in recent years, driven by increased use among chronically ill older adults and patients already taking opioids, a U.S. study suggests.
    Marissa Seamans, Postdoctoral fellow, who wasn’t involved in the study, is quoted in Reuters.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Warns of 'Gang Violence' by African Migrants
    Australia’s prime minister has warned of the threat posed by African migrants forming criminal gangs in one of the country’s most populous states, but had little statistical evidence to support his claim, leading to accusations of fear-mongering and counterclaims of political correctness.
    Stephane Shepherd, Visiting Professor in Mental Health at BSPH and Professor at Swinburne University, is quoted in Australia.

  • Van parked outside of Baltimore jail offers drug treatment
    It is the city’s latest and perhaps most in-your-face option for a population of people who circulate in and out of jail and prison, often for addiction-related crimes, but receive no treatment on the inside.
    Doctoral student Noa Krawczyk and Adjunct Professor Deborah Agus are quoted in The Baltimore Sun.  The publication to which this article refers is co-authored by Kenneth Feder and Brendan Saloner.

  • Ron Manderscheid, PhD is elected to National Register of Health Service Psychologists Board of Directors
    At its December meeting, the National Register Board of Directors elected Ron Manderscheid, PhD, to a four-year term that began January 1, 2018.  Read the press release…

  • Gastrointestinal research and ASD
    JHSPH doctoral student Calliope Holingue and WKC Director Dani Fallin, PhD, recently wrote an editorial for the online autism news site Spectrum calling for better tools to measure gastrointestinal symptoms among people with autism spectrum disorder. Holingue received WKC student grant funding in 2017 to study the gut microbiome composition among children with ASD.

  • Depression in Teens Linked to Increased Dropout Rate
    A study of Canadian teenagers found that older teens with clinically significant depression were more likely than their peers to drop out of high school.
    Tamar Mendelson, who was not involved in the study, is quoted in ADDitude Magazine

  • You Can't Be Lonely and Be a Healthy Person: How Seniors Can Combat Isolation
    Michelle Carlson, a researcher and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, said more attention is being paid to whether changes in behavior can positively affect cognitive health because, despite the expenditure of millions or even billions of dollars on pharmacological ways to delay and treat Alzheimer’s disease, “no meaningful drug to offer people” has been found. Article in Chicago Tribune.

  • Opioid Painkiller Prescriptions May Run in Families
    When one person in a household gets prescribed opioids, the other people who live with them are more likely to get their own prescriptions for these narcotic painkillers, a U.S. study suggests.
    Marissa Seamans, Postdoctoral Fellow, study lead, is quoted in Reuters. The study was also covered by

  • Addicted in Jail
    Deborah Agus (adjunct), Director, Baltimore Health Leadership Institute (BHLI), talks about BHLI’s mobile clinic parked outside of the Baltimore City Detention Center to offer just-released people immediate access to addiction and mental health services on WYPR On the Record.

  • New Faces of Research: Mental Health
    DMH Postdoctoral students Wendy Marie Ingram is featured in Healthline.

  • Court-mandated opioid rehab rarely meets medical standards
    Fewer than one in 20 people with opioid addiction problems who are ordered into rehab programs by the courts receive methadone or buprenorphine, two drugs doctors consider the best treatment option, a U.S. study suggests.
    Noa Krawczyk, doctoral student, is quoted.  This was also picked up by WMAR, Studies show not all opioid addicts receive the best form of treatment for their disorder.  JHSPH News Release:  JHU HUB:

  • Ireland Settles Mefloquine Case with Veteran as Canada Prepares to Fight Suit
    As Canada prepares to fight a suit launched by veterans who say the anti-malarial drug they took on deployment in Somalia caused permanent damage, the Irish government has settled a case with one of its former soldiers who says he, too, is suffering the effects of having consumed mefloquine.
    Remington Nevin, an alumnus, is quoted in The Globe and Mail.

  • Trauma May Trigger Suicide Risk for Those Predisposed to Bipolar Disorder
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers believe the study highlights the importance of severe environmental stressors in the development of suicide attempts in those at higher genetic risk for bipolar disorder.
    Holly Wilcox is quoted in PsychCentral.

  • Having trouble sleeping? It is not just because of aging
    Many older adults have sleep problems that can be caused by aging. But other issues also contribute to the prevalence of sleep complaints, and they should be discussed and investigated, experts say. A national poll conducted by the University of Michigan and released in October found that almost half of those 65 and older have trouble getting to sleep, and more than a third are taking prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids.
    Adam Spira is quoted in the Washington Post. It appeared in other outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and Gold News USA, and The Toronto Star.

  • Combating Suicide in Rural America
    Experts say it’s important to understand factors that may raise risk in less populated areas. Suicide rates have been climbing across the U.S., and the problem is most pronounced in rural America.
    Paul Nestadt, postdoctoral fellow, is quoted in U.S. News and World Report.

  • Rodricks: Time to turn some prisons into hospitals
    What I really want to say is what I’ve said before, and then some: Declare victory in the war on drugs, put the money we spend on law enforcement into drug treatment. And, while doing that, we should turn the prison system inside out: Keep violent criminals in maximum security, but give just about everyone else a room in a rehabilitation hospital.
    Deborah Agus is quoted in The Baltimore Sun.

  • The Most Lethal Means: Guns and Suicide
    Paul Nestadt, MD, Postdoctoral Fellow, is interviewed by NPR on the Record.  His recent research paper compares urban and rural suicide rates in Maryland (Ramin Mojtabai, MD and Patrick Triplett are also authors on that paper.)  

  • Depression tied to shorter lifespan
    Stephen E. Gilman, ScD (Adjunct Professor) is quoted in Reutrs.  Dr. Gilman, in collaboration with colleagues at University of Ottawa and Harvard, completed a study of the long-term association of depression and mortality. The paper, “Depression and mortality in a longitudinal study: 1952-2011” was published late last week in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

  • New research shows potential of explaining, treating autism
    A team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are conducting a study that might help understand autism. By using data from blood and brain tissues, the researchers found mechanisms that might help explain, treat, and prevent the disorder.
    Dani Fallin and the School’s research are mentioned in an article at WMAR.

  • Finally, mixed methods—combining quantitative and qualitative research—is all the rage
    Joe Gallo is mentioned in an article in the JHSPH Fall 2017 magazine.

  • Environmental exposures can alter gene activity for anywhere from minutes to a lifetime—maybe even generations.
    Dani Fallin is mentioned in an article in the JHSPH Fall 2017 magazine.

  • Scientists narrow down the startling risk factors that can cause autism
    In the past decade, researchers have come a long way in narrowing down which conditions may make autism more likely to develop. What they learn could lead to more sophisticated treatments for autism at its early stages, or even prevent the disorder from developing in the first place.
    Heather Volk is quoted in an article in CNBC.

  • Long-Term Opioid Prescription Use Jumps Threefold Over 16-Year Period, Large-Scale Study Suggests
    A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that opioid prescription use increased significantly between 1999 and 2014, and that much of that increase stemmed from patients who’d been taking their medication for 90 days or longer.
    Ramin Mojtabai, MD is study author. Article from JHSPH News Release.

  • Exercising in midlife offers no protection against dementia, study finds
    Contrary to previous research, a new study has found that exercising in midlife is not associated with delaying the onset of cognitive decline and dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease — later in life.
    Alden Gross, lead author, is quoted and Joe Gallo was involved in the study. Article from the Minnesota Post.

  • 5 Innovative People Improving Brain Health and Performance
    Beneath the drive for professional success is the desire for personal growth. And one crucial part of continued growth is researching one of our most vital organs--the brain. These are five BrainFutures presenters who are doing science-backed things with the brain.
    Michelle Carlson is one of the presenters mentioned in INC.

  • Higher Rural Suicide Rates Driven by Use of Guns
    Rural suicide rates in Maryland, 35 percent higher than urban rates, can be traced to significantly higher use of firearms in rural areas.
    Paul Nestadt, MD (postdoctoral fellow in DMH) led the study.

  • How characters with autism got starring roles on TV’s ‘Good Doctor,’ ‘Atypical,’ ‘Claws’
    As autism has increased in frequency and recognition in society, TV is welcoming more characters with the condition. But as TV seeks more representation of people with physical or developmental challenges, it's important to present accurate and honest portrayals, while not defining characters solely by their condition.
    Heather Volk is quoted in USA Today.

  • Civil unrest related to Freddie Gray death caused depressive symptoms among mothers in affected neighborhoods, study finds
    Article in The Baltimore Sun about new research by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
    amar Mendelson is quoted in the article.

  • Mother petitions for playground safety, telling school board her first-grader was attacked by classmate
    The attack occurred on an open and highly visible field next to the playground and was observed by at least one child that the child’s mother knows of. The incident, which was of a sexual nature, has made the child’s mother into an advocate for school playground safety at Guilderland (NY).
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in The Altamont Enterprise (Guilderland, NY).

  • Tooth Fairy in the Lab
    #JHSPH researchers are bringing the latest, greatest tools in #autism diagnosis and treatment to the whole world.
    Heather Volk's and Dani Fallin's research discussed in an article in the Summer Edition of the Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine.

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in Elderly May Predict Amyloid Deposition
    Older cognitively normal adults who tend to be sleepy during the day may be more likely to have future beta-amyloid deposition, according to a new study. Beta-amyloid deposition thought to be is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
    Adam Spira, study lead, is quoted.

  • B’More Clubhouse Helping Their Members Build Meaningful Lives
    It’s called “psychiatric rehabilitation.” Simply put, it’s helping people with mental illness transition from patient-hood to person-hood.
    JHSPH research is mentioned in article at WJZ. (Bill Eaton has been strongly involved with B'More.)

  • How the American Health Care Act Would Affect Mental-Health Coverage
    The Republican bill would decrease access for millions, and in the process dismantle the tools used to fight substance abuse.
    Elizabeth Stuart is quoted in The Atlantic.

  • Are Bullies Getting Run Out of U.S. Schools?
    The long-feared, lunch-money-stealing schoolyard bully may soon be a thing of the past, a new analysis suggests. The analysis stems from an ongoing survey conducted from 2005 to 2014 that found bullying has been on a decade-long downswing.Tracy Evian Waasdorp is quoted in U.S. News and World Report.

  • Right wing relapse? How the Opioid Fight is Threatened by Healthcare Reform
    Newsweek features the work of Professor Deborah Agus's opioid treatment program through her organization, the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute (in which Joint Professor Michael Fingerhood is also involved). Brandon Saloner is also quoted about his research.
  • Childhood Sex Abuse Could Accelerate Puberty in Girls, Study Finds
    A study that tracked small cohort of child sex abuse survivors over three decades say they’ve observed another phenomenon: that child sex abuse accelerates the timeline of puberty in adolescent girls. Early puberty has been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers, like ovarian and breast cancer, due to prolonged exposure to estrogen.
    Ryan Shields is quoted in CBS News.

  • Social Media is Causing Depression Among Teen Girls
    A "steady stream of research" suggests that far more girls than boys are battling major depression in their almost-adult years — and the growing psychological dependence on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media may be making young women more vulnerable to mental illness.
    Ramin Mojtabai’s research is mentioned in MSN Lifestyle.

  • Loss of Spouse or Partner to Suicide Linked to Physical, Mental Disorders
    In this nationwide register-based cohort study, an increased risk of mental and physical disorders, mortality, and adverse social events were noted among people bereaved by spousal suicide. Bereavement by suicide differed from bereavement by other manners of death. Paper published in JAMA Psychiatry by Annette Erlangsen, PhD (Adjunct). Holly Wilcox, PhD is contributing author. View paper:
    Coverage in Baltimore Sun: Suicide causes partners more mental, physical ailments

  • When the First Report Is Ignored, Terrible Things Happen
    Organizations serving youth need strong child sexual abuse prevention policies.
    Elizabeth Letourneau discusses her and Ryan Shields’ work at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Pychology Today . They were asked to make recommendations as to how a Pennsylvania Dioceses should reform policies and procedures to make child sexual abuse prevention a focus.

  • Game Played at School May Curb Bad Habits Down the Road
    Thousands of students at dozens of schools in the region have learned to control potentially destructive behavior through a program called the Good Behavior Game, which ongoing research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has shown has immediate rewards in the classroom and long-lasting public health benefits.
    Sheppard Kellam and Nicholas Ialongo are featured in this Baltimore Sun article.

  • Why do Myths About Vaccines Persist?
    Despite extensive scientific evidence, myths persist about the safety of vaccines, and their connection to autism.
    Dani Fallin discusses the impact these misperceptions have on autism research
    on WYPR Morning Edition.

The Department of Mental Health conducts research to advance the understanding of mental and behavioral disorders; develops, implements, and evaluates methods to prevent and control these disorders; and promotes mental health in the population.

Our department -- the only department dedicated to mental health in a school of public health -- brings together leading researchers across multiple disciplines joined by their passion for understanding, preventing, and treating mental health and substance use disorders. Faculty, students and community health leaders in Mental Health are dedicated to educating the next generation of public health workers and scientists about the importance of mental health, the specific skills needed to address public mental health issues and the integration of mental and physical health.

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The Department of Mental Health holds a weekly seminar in various areas related to public mental health.

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