Oct 8, 2019

Mental health stigma may be getting worse

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mental health stigma is back on the rise, thanks to the political response to mass shootings, a new study featured in Health Affairs says.

Why it matters: President Trump and other politicians have been conflating mental illness with violence — and experts fear that kind of marginalization only makes it harder to live with a mental illness.

What they're saying: "There’s a difference between saying somebody is troubled and is angry and saying they have a brain disorder," said the study's lead author, Bernice Pescosolido of Indiana University.

Associations between mental illness and violence are growing, the study found, as is support for forced treatment of those conditions.

  • In 2018, more than 60% believed people with schizophrenia are dangerous to others.
  • 30% characterized those with depression as likely to be violent toward others.

Reality check: People with mental illness are more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators of anonymous mass shootings, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

  • Mental health reporting laws, which both Republicans and Democrats have endorsed, are not as effective as background checks and safe storage laws, Wired reports.

The bottom line: Progress has been made in reducing the stigma of mental illness, but that progress is fragile at best.

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A grieving widow's slide into depression landed her in a hospital for five nights, which then turned into a $29,894.50 medical bill that her insurance didn't cover, Kaiser Health News reports with NPR. The bill was then reduced to $21,634.55 because her insurance didn't cover mental health care.

Why it matters: The woman had an association health plan. Her story illustrates how these plans can backfire on patients.

Go deeperArrowNov 1, 2019

The dark side of psychiatric hospitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Psychiatric hospitals are often the last resort for people suffering from mental illness, but recent news stories serve as a reminder that too often, these hospitals aren't the safe haven they should be.

The big picture: There are plenty of horror stories about mental health patients caught in abusive or predatory situations, but experts say there's really no good data on the quality or safety of psychiatric inpatient facilities, making it difficult to hold them accountable.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019

Barr outlines mass shootings prevention plan

Attorney General Bill Barr at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center in Topeka, Kansas, this month. Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr outlined in a memo released Wednesday plans to adopt terrorism prevention initiatives to stop mass shootings via "forward leaning" strategies via court-ordered mental health treatment, supervision and counseling.

Driving the news: Activism around gun violence increased following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in August, per Axios' Neal Rothschild.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019