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Mental Health

Mental Health

Department News

  • Study defines differences among brain neurons that coincide with psychiatric conditions
    Previous studies of key brain cells have found little variability in a common cell process that involves how genetic information is read and acted on.
    Andrew Feinberg and Kasper Hansen co-led the study.  Results of the study are published online in Nature Neuroscience.

  • Many Addiction Centers Lack Anti-Opioid Meds: Study
    Although the U.S. opioid epidemic dates back more than a decade, only 6 percent of treatment centers in 2016 offered the three medications approved to treat opioid addiction, new research reveals.
    Ramin Mojtabai, lead author, is quoted in U.S. News & World Report

  • Committee to Study Health Effects of Malaria Drugs Taken by US Troops
    A National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee, on which Elizabeth Stuart serves as a member, will conduct a review of the long-term health effects of an anti-malarial drug taken by U.S. troops that has been linked to brain damage and psychiatric disorders.
    On January 28 the committee will launch an 18-month study of mefloquine, also known by its brand name, Lariam, and other malaria medications used by military personnel, Peace Corps volunteers and State Department employees over the past several decades.
    Alum Remington Nevin, MD, DrPH, Executive Director of The Quinism Foundation, spoke to the Committee on January 28.  He has played a major role in studying the long-term psychiatric effects of mefloquine. Although their group did not ask for this study specifically, Nevin notes that it appears likely their advocacy was in large part what led VA to the decision to pursue it.

  • Depression in adolescents and young adults is rising: Are phones and social media to blame?
    Dr. Mary Alvord, psychologist and professor at GWU, discusses teen depression risk factors and helpful hints to help nurture resilience in your child in USA Today. 
    Ramin Mojtabai, whose study is referenced, is quoted.

  • Mental Illness Doesn't Mean Mass Murderer
    People with mental illness rarely commit homicide, and few homicides are committed by people with mental illness. About 5% of homicides are committed by people with psychotic conditions. People with serious mental illness are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators.
    Paul S. Nestadt, MD, an assistant professor, and Elizabeth Prince, DO, an instructor, both of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Baltimore are among the writers of this opinion piece in MEDPAGE TODAY.

  • Infections in Kids Tied to subsequent mental Illness risk in New Study
    The study, published in the Journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that infections requiring hospitalizations were associated with an about 84% increased risk of being diagnosed with any mental disorder and an about 42% increased risk of using psychotropic drugs to treat a mental disorder.
    Bill Eaton is quoted in an article in CNNHealth.

  • Johns Hopkins Researchers Receive $890,000 CDC Grant to Evaluate Medicaid Expansion’s Impact on Prevention of Violence
    Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, professor in the department of mental health and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Beth McGinty, associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of health policy and management, received a $890,000 three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance the understanding of what works to prevent violence in low-income communities. Article in the ASPPH Friday Letter.

  • What to do when your child is accused of sexually inappropriate behavior
    When it comes to sexual abuse, parents often focus on protecting their children from adult predators; few consider the possibility that their child might be the perpetrator.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in The Washington Post.

  • The Behavioral Health Leadership Institute among 11 community health organizations receiving a grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to help boost addiction treatment efforts.
    Grant will expand the mobile van buprenorphine treatment program that sits outside of the Baltimore jail.  A good article about the mobile van program...
    Deborah Agus, Adjunct Faculty, is director of BHLI. This article was posted in The Baltimore Sun.

  • The high economic toll of mental illness
    Mental disorders are estimated to cost the global community nearly $2.5 trillion each year–and those costs are increasing.
    Judith Bass is quoted in Marketplace.

  • Mental Health Mentions in the Fall 2018 Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine
    M. Claire Greene, PhD ’18, MPH  “Dangerous Drinking”  Alcohol's Global Toll
    Luke Kalb, PhD ’18, MPH   “Crisis Averted” An Emergency Mental Health Screening Tool for Youths with Autism

  • School counselors outnumbered as they struggle to help students with mental health issue
    “Sad” and “frustrating” are words some local school counselors use when they talk about the obstacles they face as more students seek mental health services at school. In Winchester and Frederick County public schools, an increasing numbers of students are seeking help, while staff members grow outnumbered.
    A study by Ramin Mojtabai is mentioned in The Winchester Star.

  • It's difficult to predict: Psychiatrist discusses mental illness's part in mass shootings
    Looking for a motive or root cause of Thursday's shooting in Aberdeen, investigators said they interviewed family and friends of the shooter, Snochia Mosely, who took her own life. Moseley was a licensed gun owner who was diagnosed with a mental health disorder in 2016. That is a red flag, according to experts, but they also said it is a mistake to consider mental health as the primary driver of violence.
    Paul Nestadt, MD is quoted on

  • How to Find the Right Place for the PhD or Postdoc
    Researchers share their advice for approaching this important decision.
    Wendy Ingram
    , PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, is quoted in

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness may signal Alzheimer’s risk
    A study found that adults who reported being very sleepy during the day were thrice more likely to have brain deposits of beta amyloid, a protein that is a hallmark for Alzheimer's, years later.
    Adam Spira is quoted in The Tribune..

  • Brain training: What PCPs need to know
    Cognitive decline is a distressing aspect of growing older for many people and it affects a large proportion of the aging population. Brain training can aid in improving cognitive performance among older patients, according to a presentation from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
    George Rebok is quoted in Healio.

  • Pittsburgh Diocese May Have Improved Sex Abuse Prevention Efforts, More Work Needs To Be Done
    Over the course of 30 years, the Pittsburgh Diocese has made changes in how it prevents and responds to accusations of clergy abuse, including psychological screenings of seminarians so as to identify potential issues in men before they enter the priesthood.
    Elizabeth Letourneau is quoted in NPR - 90.5 WESA Pittsburgh.

  • An urban-rural divide over gun suicide
    There’s a growing understanding that when it comes to suicide, the most significant difference between urban and rural counties may be the ubiquitous presence of guns.
    Paul Nestadt is quoted in The Bulletin.

  • Tamar Mendelson named Bloomberg Professor of American Health
    Associate Professor Tamar Mendelson, PhD, an expert in adolescent mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been appointed as a Bloomberg Professor of American Health.

  • The Hidden Danger of Suicide in Autism
    Many people with autism entertain thoughts of suicide and yet show few obvious signs of their distress. Some scientists are identifying risks — and solutions — unique to autistic individuals.
    The Spectrum article quotes Paul Lipkin, MD, of the Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Lipkin and colleagues have begun using a suicide screening tool in at KKI outpatient clinics, while a team including Holly Wilcox, PhD, an associate director of mental health, used the screener previously at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  The article also quotes Roma Vasa, MD, director of psychiatric services at KKI”s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

  • Through the Eyes of a Teenager
    After infancy, the brain’s most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence, and that growth means things get a little muddled in a teen mind. Teen brains are also wired to seek reward, act out, and otherwise exhibit immaturity that will change when they become adults.

    Sara Johnson (joint) is quoted in The Bay City Tribune.

  • 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).

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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Students and faculty talk about the unique opportunity to pursue their passions in the context of rigorous public health training.