Amid the mental and behavioral challenges fueled by COVID-19, expanded telehealth capabilities have contributed to a surge in mental health care. Use of the technology appears to have contributed to fewer no-show psychiatric and other counseling appointments among both new and existing patients and expanded access to care for patients in regions that pre-pandemic were bearing the brunt of the nation’s lack of mental health providers.
Once we’re safely past this pandemic, at least some emergency telemedicine expansions, granted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state governors, likely will remain. As that future is being sorted out, it’s important to consider what’s beneficial and what’s concerning about treating mental illnesses from a distance. Continue reading
Cannabis. Weed. Pot. Whatever you call it, marijuana use is on the rise among the older population, especially the Baby Boomers.
Thirty-six states plus the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have so far approved the drug for medical purposes; 15 of those also allow recreational use and several others are considering it or already have bills in the works. My home state of New York, which had approved the use of medical marijuana, recently passed legislation to legalize small amounts for recreational use. Continue reading
The pandemic laid bare the woeful underfunding of the nation’s public health system as states and localities continue to struggle to provide timely testing, contact tracing, clear guidance to the public and reach vulnerable and underserved communities.
Though the pace of vaccinations has picked up considerably in the past month, the paucity of staff and resources at state and local health departments has meant that many public health departments could not get vaccines into the arms of the public as quickly as hoped, given the continued spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Continue reading
Dear AHCJ members,
As a membership organization, we want to make sure we are offering the best possible resources to journalists. With that said, it has been some time since we have conducted a member-wide survey to gather your thoughts on AHCJ’s benefits and offerings. Well, the time has come and we need your feedback. Let us know what we are doing well, and what processes, resources and benefits could use some work.
The survey will only take about 10 minutes to complete, and you can do it from your phone or computer.
At the end, register for one our raffles. You can enter to win free registration to the Health Journalism 2021 conference, or a $100 gift card. We will select 10 winners for each raffle. Continue reading
During Election 2020, Oregon became the first state to approve the use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in more than 100 different species of wild psilocybin mushrooms, as a mental health treatment done in certified therapeutic settings. Last year, District of Columbia voters also decriminalized these wild, “magic” psychedelic mushrooms, a hallucinogen popularly known as a recreational drug.
Denver in 2019 became the first U.S. city to decriminalize mushrooms, and the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the first psychedelic, esketamine, to treat psychiatric disorders, including major depression that didn’t improve through previous use of other anti-depressants. Because of its psychedelic effects and potential to trigger suicidal ideation, dissociation disorders and other serious side effects, esketamine legally can be administered as a nasal spray only in a certified medical office and in conjunction with an oral anti-depressant. Trademarked as Spravato, esketamine is a more potent form of the anesthetic ketamine, which also is used to treat depression. Continue reading
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2020 journalism contest, reflecting how well the profession explained the new coronavirus and how officials responded to it.
Seven of the 12 first-place winners focused on aspects of the pandemic. The contest drew 451 total entries, with strong interest in all divisions.
Lisa Krieger, science and research reporter for the Mercury News in San Jose, won first place in the beat reporting category for a set of compelling pieces about the crisis, including how the virus infects people, why there were so few treatments and why scientists believed vaccines could be successful.
“Lisa Krieger recognized this story earlier than most and explained it clearly, drawing real patients into almost every piece,” the contest judges wrote.