NIHCM Newsletter / June 2024

Maternal Mental Health is Worsening Nationwide

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Source: Zivin, K, et al. "Perinatal Mood And Anxiety Disorders Rose Among Privately Insured People, 2008–20." Health Affairs, vol. 43, no. 4. (March 2024)

The State of Mental Health & Persistent Issues

Many Americans believe mental health issues are less likely to be diagnosed and treated than physical health issues. Recent federal initiatives to support mental health include $46.8 million in funding and a national strategy to address maternal mental health and substance use issues. Learn more about mental health below.

  • Maternal Mental Health: Mental health is identified as a circumstance contributing to as many as 28% of pregnancy related deaths. Research published in Health Affairs highlights the increasing mental health challenges for women before and after birth. A new article by a NIHCM grantee reports on how the Maternal Mental Health Task Force will address the maternal mental health crisis.
  • Loneliness: The mental health crisis also reflects a lack of social connections among many Americans. Global research shows loneliness is higher in younger and older adulthood. Evidence is also growing on how loneliness impacts brain health, including cognitive decline. College students experiencing loneliness were over four times more likely to experience severe psychological distress.
  • ADHD: A recent study found that approximately 1 in 9 children in the U.S. have ever received an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. The increase in diagnoses may be due to increased awareness of the condition and pandemic-related stressors. Progress is being made in understanding ADHD in adults, though there are few established treatment and diagnosis guidelines. Additionally, while ADHD medication shortages have eased, accessing medication remains difficult for some patients.

Resources & Initiatives

Addressing Cybersecurity

A cyberattack on Ascension Hospitals rendered patient information inaccessible, forcing health care workers to divert ambulances and resort to paper filing. Fortunately, access is being restored for electronic health record access. A new survey reports that more than a third of health care organizations are not prepared for a cyberattack.

  • Investment: The Department of Health and Human Services has launched the UPGRADE program to invest $50 million into the creation of a cybersecurity tool for health care. As health care organizations navigate cyber threats, leaders contemplate using external consultants and IT support.
  • Impact on Care: A study found that after a ransomware attack, ED visits and hospital admissions decreased, while there were temporary increases in ED visits for nearby hospitals. Cyberattacks have also slowed hospital operationsdue to the lack of access to electronic health records, resulting in increased wait times for lab results.

Resources & Initiatives

Updates on GLP-1 Drugs Used for Weight Loss

A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association offers insight into GLP-1s, with findings revealing most patients stop treatment prior to their clinically meaningful weight loss target. It also unveils how the effectiveness of the drugs differs by demographics such as age. A Gallup survey reveals 64% of U.S. adults perceive these drugs as “extremely effective” or “effective.”

  • Increased Use: A JAMA article reveals a nearly 600% increase in GLP-1 drug use among young people since 2020. As consumer demand for GLP-1s increases, spending is expected to rise to $150 billion in the early 2030s.
  • Examining Costs: The Senate continues investigating the pricing of weight loss drugs. Research shows that the list prices of the drugs are much higher than production costs. The Federal Trade Commission is scrutinizing Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic patent and a slew of other ‘junk’ patents, which can create barriers to producing generics.

Resources & Initiatives

Trends in Substance Use

The CDC released preliminary data indicating that the number of fatal overdoses has leveled off in 2023. Concurrently, there is an increase in fentanyl overdose deaths among teens. Additional evolving trends in substance use includes daily marijuana use outpacing daily drinking.

  • Cannabis: A new study found that in 2022, there were 17.5 million daily and near-daily users of cannabis, versus 14.7 million daily and near-daily users of alcohol. Another study found that cannabis use during adolescence increased risk of psychotic disorders elevenfold.
  • Vaping: Research indicates that vaping early in life can increase exposure to toxic metals. Additionally, the FDA shared that new nicotine alternatives may be more potent and addictive than nicotine. However, they are not subject to the same regulations.

Resources & Initiatives

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