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News & Views - November, 2001 Issue (page 3)

Page 3 of 3 - Previous

(October 26, 2001)  The New York Times reports authorities in New York state there is no evidence of the existence of any uncared for orphans from the 9/11/01 World Trade Center bombings, despite public comments from several sources including US Senator Hillary Clinton, that there were as many as 10,000 or more children who were orphaned by the tragedy.  Officials say there is not a single documented case of any child losing both parents, and only a handful of verified cases where children lost their only parent, and those all have close relatives who have taken over their care.

(Nov. 5, 2001) According to a New York Times article by Robert Pear, a plan newly passed by the Senate to broaden health insurance coverage for mental illness, has touched off an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill. The measure, approved by the Senate last week and now headed for a conference with the House, would outlaw disparities in coverage between mental and physical illness under all group health plans sponsored by employers with more than 50 employees. “All too often insurance discriminates against illnesses of the brain,” said Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, who offered the proposal with Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota. The drive for parity has gained momentum with the discovery that many mental illnesses have a biological basis and can be treated with drugs. The two authors have also worked with lobbyists from groups like the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the National Mental Health Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association. Nearly three dozen states and the federal government have experimented with various types of parity for their own employees, and they say the costs have not been significant, with premiums typically rising less than 1 percent.

(Nov. 8, 2001) According to a Detroit Free Press article by Julie Hinds, the Mikkelsons, “a Los Angeles-based couple are the voices of reason behind www.snopes.com, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for urban legends…Snopes.com has debunked several rumors,” and “the site has become so popular, it’s drawn more than 2 million hits on some days.” It color-codes the latest rumors, as to which are true, which are false, and which are still being scrutinized. To check the facts, the Mikkelsons scour the Web and nearby libraries, sometimes turning to government agencies or private businesses for help. They claim, “urban legends are a reflection of society’s fears and coping mechanisms.”

(November, 2001) Kyle P. Johnson, M.D., writes in the Harvard Mental Health Letter: “Teenagers need more sleep than school age children but usually get less, and the shortfall causes many problems. Daytime fatigue and drowsiness may affect schoolwork by reducing concentration and short-term memory. Sleepy teenagers are more easily injured, especially in traffic accidents, and lack of sleep raises the risk of depression and the use of alcohol and drugs.” He discusses the various factors, both environmental as well as physiological, that interfere with sleep, and states: “Many teenagers will have fewer problems if they are allowed to start school at a time that accommodates their biological tendency to delay circadian rhythms. Several school districts across the country have taken this measure, and systematic studies in Minnesota suggest that it is effective,” though he points out those with severe delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) may need more measures taken. Resources include: the National Sleep Foundation, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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