Tag Archives: mentally disabled

Comments invited on latest draft of DSM

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

A new version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has come out every decade or so (it varies widely) since 1952. dsm-5It hasn’t substantially changed since 1994, but the next revision is slated to come out in 2013. It’s a pretty big event, as the book’s diagnostic criteria are used around the world to determine who is diagnosed with mental disorders.

With the release of the new version, lines may shift and folks who were diagnosed with mental disorders may find themselves “undiagnosed.” Others will have labels changed and gain labels they didn’t have before.

The latest draft proposal of the May 2013 revisions, upon which public comment will be accepted until April 20, 2010, was posted on Feb. 9. APA workgroups will review the comments and begin trials soon after. Benedict Carey rounded up and evaluated some of the biggest proposed changes for The New York Times. In addition to bipolar disorders in children and autism spectrum disorders, Carey discusses the sheer significance of the changes.

“Anything you put in that book, any little change you make, has huge implications not only for psychiatry but for pharmaceutical marketing, research, for the legal system, for who’s considered to be normal or not, for who’s considered disabled,” said Dr. Michael First, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who edited the fourth edition of the manual but is not involved in the fifth.

“And it has huge implications for stigma,” Dr. First continued, “because the more disorders you put in, the more people get labels, and the higher the risk that some get inappropriate treatment.”

Texas Tribune’s launch has health data, stories

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

As you may have noticed, the much-anticipated nonprofit news site Texas Tribune launched today. From the start, the venture is including hard-hitting health news, leading with a data-driven story on the restraint of special education students in Texas schools and following through with a number of state-oriented health stories.

A quick examination of the lead story gives a few hints as to where Texas Tribune health coverage might be going:

Disabled students restrained, injured in public schools

Texas is one of four states that collects data on instances in which special education students are restrained, and Texas Tribune reporter Emily Ramshaw has taken advantage of that data to dig into the practice of restraining special education students in Texas and uncover illuminating statistics and a few distressing anecdotes. With the story, Ramshaw provides PDFs of a federal report and a simple pie chart of the data. The story’s arresting photos were contributed by a victim’s family.

Service allegedly exploited disabled workers

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Clark Kauffman of the Des Moines Register reports on the allegations of abuse and regulatory failures at “a network of labor camps staffed by mentally retarded men.” Henry’s Turkey Service was  run by a Texas family who “deployed at least 600 mentally disabled men to nine bunkhouses in six states.” After connecting it with an operation shuttered by regulators in tiny Atalissa, Iowa, Kauffman visited the family’s last such bunkhouse, deep in rural Texas.

Kauffman looked into the workplace death of Robert Graham and allegations that he and his co-workers had been over-worked and underpaid. Kauffman makes several related documents available as PDFs, including a year 2000 lawsuit against the labor camps’ owners, an older company history of the farms and a 1980 government memo requesting assistance with related inspections.

He also looks at the history and regulatory failures around the bunkhouse in Atalissa. When it was closed, “many Iowa officials expressed amazement that a labor camp made up of disabled men had somehow managed to escape government oversight and public notice” but Kauffman’s review of government and corporate records shows that many of the agencies were fully aware of its existence for years. He reports that some agencies refused to investigate because they didn’t think they had jurisdiction, some documented violations but didn’t take action and other agencies “simply failed to share valuable information with others who might have been willing to act.”

Read the Register’s ongoing coverage of Henry’s Turkey Service.