What Your Patients are Hearing

Coffee shop founder provides mental health intervention


Some residents shortchanged on services

Policymakers in Chicago are discussing the possibility of reopening some of the city’s mental health clinics.

A city council committee recently unanimously voted to approve a Public Mental Health Clinic Service Expansion Task Force to look into the possibility.

“We are all aware of the anecdotal issues related to the gaps in mental health care that face our wards,” Alderman Sophia King, who sponsored the measure, said in an article published in the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the article, six of the city’s mental health clinics were shut down in 2012. Mental health clinics said funding for mental health care in the city has continued to decline. A report issued last year by the Collaborative for Community Wellness focusing on mental health services on the city’s southwest side said there were 0.17 licensed mental health clinicians for every 1,000 residents. Meanwhile, on the city’s near north side, also known as the Gold Coast, there were 4.45 clinicians for every 1,000 residents, the report said.

Increase in suicides raising concerns

A recent report from the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network reveals a dark picture. As reported by the Tennessean, the suicide rate continued to climb last year, continuing an increase that began in 2014. The suicide rate of 17.3 of every 100,000 people is markedly higher than the national rate of 14.5, according to an article in the Tennessean.

For children and adolescents aged 10-17 years, the situation is worse. In that cohort, rate of suicide climbed by more than 24% from 2016 to 2017, and a huge 55% between 2015 and 2017. In 2017, 142 people between 10 and 24 years of age ended their own lives. Overall, there were 1,163 suicides in 2017, an average of 3 every day.

Among the states’ demographics, suicide is three times higher among white non-Hispanics. Whites comprise 79% of the population of Tennessee and account for 91% of the suicides.

A national study in 2015 estimated the total national cost of suicides and suicide attempts at $93.5 billion. A single suicide can cost $1,329,553 in medical treatment and the lost productivity.

But those losses cannot be quantified. “For every number and rate that is provided in the 2019 ‘Status of Suicide in Tennessee’ report, a family member, loved one, neighbor, coworker, and friend suffers an unimaginable loss,” said Scott Ridgway, executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Anticonversion therapy bill introduced

A state senator in Arizona has reintroduced legislation aimed at preventing mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors.

Under the bill reintroduced by state Sen. Sean Bowie, a Democrat, psychotherapists who engage in practices aimed at changing the sexual orientation of a person under age 18 years would be “subject to disciplinary action.”

“This (practice) is completely discredited and actually hurtful for young people,” said state Sen. Bowie, according to azcentral.com, which is part of the USA Today network. “There’s really no medical proof that it’s helpful or effective at all.”

Late last year, the American Psychiatric Association reiterated its strong opposition to the practice. “Conversion therapy is banned in 14 states as well as the District of Columbia,” the group said. “The APA calls upon other lawmakers to ban the harmful and discriminatory practice.”

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