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The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism 1998-1999

Susan Brink

Senior Writer
U.S. News & World Report
Washington, D.C.

Topic: The medical and cultural impact of managed care phasing out long-term psychotherapy

Published Work:

I'm So Fat, I Just Want to Die
Obesity rates in adolescents are going up, but when it comes to weight and suicide, the number on the scale may not matter as much as the teen's self-image.

State of Our Minds
What is the state of our mental health? That's the question that University of Michigan and Harvard researchers, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, attempted to answer in a $ 20 million survey of 9,282 Americans ages 18 and over.

America's Wounded Soldiers: The Mental Toll
As an Army Ranger, Steve battled al Qaeda operatives along the Afghan-Pakistani border, faced down Afghan warlords, and braved the extreme conditions of the western Iraqi desert.

The Price of Booze
Lynn Cooper knew it as she stood in the glow of the refrigerator light against the early evening darkness. She knew it as the warmth of her house penetrated her winter coat and hat, knew it as she reached for the wine bottle in her still-gloved, trembling hand. She knew--as she greedily poured the first of the evening's multiple glasses of wine--that she had a serious drinking problem.

Nora Volkow, Obsessed with Obsessions
Gamblers, new mothers, over-eaters, and substance abusers. One might say they're all obsessed, making them a lot like psychiatric researcher Nora Volkow. Her particular obsession is figuring out why people become obsessed. "It's a pleasure for me to try to understand things that are not obvious. It's a drive," says Volkow, now 44, and a year ago, the youngest person to be appointed associate laboratory director for life sciences at Long Island's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

For Severe Mental Illness, a Higher Profile and New Hope
It was 1970. The conspiracy trial of Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven was ending. Rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had just died of drug overdoses. And Christy James's sister, for the first time, lost her grip on reality. "People were doing drugs. All kinds of strange things were going on," says James. So a little bizarre behavior by her 19-year-old sister--dropping out of a top-tier college, alienating devoted parents--went practically unnoticed.

Drug, Alcohol Abuse Study Measure the High Cost of Under-treated Addiction
Drug and alcohol abuse sets people on a path toward heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. A study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reports that hospital costs for this medical fallout can be substantial -- and could be avoided with more drug and alcohol treatment.

Booster Shots: Easing ADHD is a Walk in the Park
As many as 2 million American children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition that makes it hard for children to control their behavior or pay attention.

Booster Shots: Sex Difference in Antidepressant Response
In the largest analysis of gender differences in response to antidepressant treatment, researchers found that women are more likely to benefit from treatment with common antidepressants than are men.

Doing Ritalin Right: Sure, It Works -- But There are Big Flaws in the Way it's Being Given
In schools across America, as many as 1 million children line up every day for a glass of water and a little yellow pill called Ritalin. Doctors prescribe it, parents hesitantly agree to it, and school nurses supervise the ritual of handing it out because they believe the pill will calm children down and stop them from clowning around or goofing off. The ultimate reward, they hope, will be an academic and social success.

Sleepless Society (link no longer available) 
Americans are loath to say goodnight to responsibilities and fun. Job and family beckon. Late-night television entices. The Internet seduces. Supermarkets and megastores lure shoppers well into the wee hours. By the millions, Americans succumb to the temptations of the night.

The Peril of Pills (link no longer available) 
National experiment. The vast pharmacological experiment on America's children raises larger questions of whether the behavior is a medical or social issue.

Your Brain on Alcohol
Once excessive drinking begins, the new research shows, alcohol begins resculpting the brain regardless of family history. "In even nonsusceptible individuals, chronic use may create addiction," says psychiatrist Raymond Anton, scientific director of the Charleston Alcohol Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Finding Lost Minds
Though there's no cure, brain scans may detect Alzheimer's in time to ease some suffering.It's frustrating, almost cruel, to tell people they're sick and then say there's nothing anyone can do. That has been the case for Alzheimer's disease, but the grim picture may be changing.

Hormones and Emotions
Archie Bunker called it "mental pause," his malapropism in sync with myth and folklore: Women of a certain age turn into shrieking hags or sobbing wimps. Mark Helmke--once press secretary for Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana and former president of a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm with a staff of 300--found himself in bed, in a fetal position, unable to return phone calls or even get up. Larry Gellerstedt, the master builder behind Atlanta's Olympic stadium, dropped to his knees in his walk-in closet and couldn't stop sobbing. Heinz Prechter turned $11 into a multimillion-dollar business, employed 5,300 people, hobnobbed with presidents, and then hanged himself one morning after breakfast.

The Mental Toll
As an Army Ranger, Steve battled al Qaeda operatives along the Afghan-Pakistani border, faced down Afghan warlords, and braved the extreme conditions of the western Iraqi desert. So when he was discharged in August 2003, he figured the transition to civilian life would be, by comparison, a "bowl of cherries."

The Secrets of Sleep (link no longer available) 
Health education teacher Pacy Erck remembers what it was like back when Edina High School students had to show up by 7:25 a.m. "The kids were always very tired," she recalls. But these days, Erck rarely has a kid nod off in class.

Are Antidepressants Taking the Edge Off Love?
LOVE'S first rush is a private madness between two people, all-consuming and, if mutually felt, endlessly wonderful.

After a Disaster, Talking About it Doesn't Always Help
The MORE [Virginia Tech students] can talk about what they've lived through, the more that they can be encouraged to emote . . . that gives them some security and insulation against burying those feelings and then having them surprise them later in life.

Guilt Lurks for Layoff Survivors
In industries where pink slips are being passed out with abandon, the still-employed survivors are getting pretty bummed out.

Can a Troubled Economy Actually Improve Public Health?
AS MORE people watch their home equity erode, put off retirement because their nest eggs are taking a dive, and bike or bus to work to save gas money, many are thanking their lucky stars that they still have a job to commute to.

Booster Shots: Boys and Dating Violence
We think we know who they are, these teenage boys who abuse their girlfriends. But despite multiple studies on the consequences of dating violence for girls, researchers know little about the factors that lead a boy to hurt a girl.

Booster Shots: Mental Illness: No One Much Cares
When I was in high school, I volunteered at the Chicago State Hospital. This was back in the days before public policy turned to de-institutionalization, releasing people who were mentally ill to care for in so-called community programs -- which for the most part didn't actually materialize

Mental Illness Sans Cliches
Denny Crane calls it "mad cow," but viewers of "Boston Legal" know William Shatner's character is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Another character on the show, Jerry Espenson (played by Christian Clemenson), has strange tics, can't keep his hands off his thighs, but, despite having obsessive-compulsive disorder, makes his living as a lawyer.

Managed Care Does Not Benefit the Mentally Ill
Kathy Rhinehart knew the routine. Voices in her head. Paranoia. She thought the television set was talking about her. The lyrics of a song-a Carly Simon tune, she thinks-took on personal and ominous meaning.

The Importance of Counseling After a Cancer Diagnosis (link no longer available)
People who face cancer and those who care for them experience many stresses and emotional upheavals. Talking with an objective and caring professional can help the patient and family and non-family caregivers express feelings, share fears, talk about family issues, raise concerns about the healthcare team, improve the ability to solve problems, and tap into inner sources of strength and hope.

Prime Time to Learn
Americans more than just believe the health information they get from fictional television shows. Spurred by what they see on shows like "ER" or "The Bold and the Beautiful," surveys suggest, they take action. They go to the doctor. They tell a friend to have that cough checked. They ask a lover to use a condom.

Racism May Affect Black Men's Health
Terry Davis didn't know he was having a stroke, much less that, as an African-American male, he had a three to four times greater risk of suffering one than a white man.

All Part of Managing the Disease
Mel Gibson's relapse was a public humiliation. Robin Williams, who "found himself drinking again" after 20 years of sobriety, according to a statement released last week, had a private one. Both are back in treatment as some of their legion of followers "tsk-tsk," shake their heads and conclude that two more stars have failed.

Go Ahead, Hold It In 

The Toll of Racism? 

Racism May Affect Black Men's Health

All Part of Managing a Disease

On the Bright Side

Sing Out, Sister

Mental Health Now Covered Under ACA But Not for Everyone

Breaking the Chains that Bind the Mentally Ill

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