Headlines in Mental Health: Prez Exams & More

Top mental health news headlines from recent weeks:

I. CNN poll: 8-in-10 favor presidential exams for health, mental well-being. Jennifer Agiesta, CNN.

This excerpt summarizes the prevailing public opinion:

The poll finds that 82% feel a president should be required to take an annual physical examination to check the condition of his physical health. Only slightly fewer, 77%, say a president should be required to take an annual exam to check for mental conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or depression…

Support for both physical and mental exams for the president are about the same as they were in polling conducted during the 2004 presidential campaign, when 84% favored annual physical exams and 79% backed annual mental checkups.


Any sitting president’s health and mental health is a public health concern, and forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee, editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, and government ethicist Norman Eisen have an opinion (USA Today) about the need for a more in-depth neurological exam as well as a psychological assessment of Trump. The latter hasn’t been conducted at all.

Regarding the recent physical that Trump underwent: “[It] was insufficient to thoroughly judge his mental fitness for office, and could even be giving Americans a false sense of reassurance…”

III. Is Trump Warping Our Sense of Time? Alan Burdick, New York Times.

Depends on your general perspective, of course. A pertinent excerpt:

Under Mr. Trump, did 2017 fly by or did it feel interminable? The brain manages time perception differently over long intervals, like hours, days and years, than over short ones. At those longer time scales, the speed at which time seems to pass depends far less on momentary moods than it does on how engaged you are with life. A study done in geriatric homes found that the people who say some version of ‘Time is speeding by’ tended to be more active and happier, whereas those who said time was moving slowly tended to be inactive and depressed.

IV. More College Students Seem to Be Majoring in Perfectionism. Jane Adams, New York Times.

“New data from American, Canadian and British college students indicates that perfectionism, especially when influenced by social media, has increased by 33 percent since 1989.”

As stated in the published study (Psychological Bulletin), “Thinking that others in their social network expect a lot of them is even more important to young adults than the expectations of parents and professors.”

Read the article for tips parents and others can use.

V. So Many Young Women Are Being Prescribed ADHD Meds. Melissa Dahl, The Cut.

Why? Who knows. Notable intro:

Sometimes news is best delivered in the starkness of numbers. From 2003 to 2015, prescription rates for ADHD increased ‘by 700 percent among women aged 25 to 29, and by 560 percent among women aged 30 to 34.’ That’s according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported this week by the New York Times. More numbers: This study included more than 4 million women (all with private health insurance that covered prescription drugs) over a dozen years, tracking only prescriptions — not diagnoses — for medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.

Reading news reports on studies like these is fascinating but often frustrating, because the CDC only tracked the rise in the use of these medications, and not the reasons for that rise…

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