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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2009; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.11.1566
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New CSG Justice Center guide and resource center: Of the more than four million people under probation supervision, as many as one in six have serious mental illnesses, and many jurisdictions are developing initiatives to improve outcomes for this population. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has released a 24-page guide, Improving Responses to People With Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of Specialized Probation Initiatives. Designed as a planning tool for use by state and local officials, the guide outlines each stage of initiative development, implementation, and evaluation. The CSG Justice Center has also launched the National Reentry Resource Center, an initiative to advance successful return of individuals from incarceration to their communities. The center will offer communities the best thinking on complex reentry issues, provide comprehensive resources and supports to help reduce recidivism, and give training and technical assistance to Second Chance Act grant recipients. The CSG Justice Center was selected as the site for the resource center through a competitive grant process by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. More information is available at justicecenter.csg.org.

MHA-NAMI survey documents recession's toll: A new national survey conducted for Mental Health America (MHA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has found that current economic difficulties are placing the public's mental health at serious risk. Unemployed individuals were four times as likely as those with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness. Nearly 20% of the sample reported that they had experienced a forced change such as pay cuts or reduced hours in their employment during the past year. Although most of these individuals remained employed, those with a forced change were twice as likely as those without to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness. They were also five times as likely to report feeling hopeless most or all of the time. Of those who had not spoken to a health professional about these concerns, 42% cited cost or lack of insurance coverage as the main reason. The telephone survey was conducted in September in a national probability sample of 1,002 adults (500 men and 502 women) in private households in the continental United States. It has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points for results based on the total sample.

Comparative-effectiveness research explained: Comparative effectiveness research has been a key topic in the health care reform debate. The aim of such research is to develop and disseminate evidence-based information to patients, providers, and health care decision makers about the effectiveness of treatments relative to other options. Identifying the most effective and efficient interventions has the potential to reduce unnecessary treatments, which in turn may help lower costs. A Kaiser Foundation issue brief examines current funding for comparative effectiveness research, provisions included in health reform proposals, and issues regarding which treatments to study, whether and how to weigh costs, and how such findings will be used and shared with health care practitioners and the public. Explaining Health Reform: What Is Comparative Effectiveness Research? is available at www.kff.org.

David Mechanic receives IOM's 2009 Sarnat Prize in Mental Health: The Institute of Medicine (IOM) awarded the 2009 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health to David Mechanic, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. The prize was presented to Dr. Mechanic in recognition of his decades of effort to increase scientific knowledge about the causes and factors shaping mental health and to improve mental health care services. The Sarnat Prize, consisting of a medal and $20,000, was presented to Dr. Mechanic at IOM's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

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