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Thursday, March 17, 2022

California Bill Would Let Parents Sue If Kids Are Hurt By Social Media

Politico and the Los Angeles Times cover a new bill advanced in the California State Assembly designed to hit social media companies like Instagram and TikTok if they cause harm to young users. Separately, a study shows mental health visits to emergency rooms increase after covid surges.

Los Angeles Times: California Bill Would Let Parents Sue Social Media Companies

California parents whose children become addicted to social media apps would be able to sue for damages under a bill advanced Tuesday in the state Assembly by a bipartisan pair of lawmakers. Assembly Bill 2408, or the Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act, was introduced by Republican Jordan Cunningham of Paso Robles and Democrat Buffy Wicks of Oakland with support from the University of San Diego School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute. It’s the latest in a string of legislative and political efforts to crack down on social media platforms’ exploitation of their youngest users. (Contreras, 3/16)

Politico: Instagram, TikTok Could Get Sued For Addicting Kids Under California Proposal

Big tech companies could face a slew of lawsuits for harming children under a new California proposal that takes the toughest industry-accountability stance yet on the mental health toll of intense social media use. The bipartisan measure from Assemblymembers Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), which rolls out on Tuesday, would hold social media companies legally liable for deploying features and apps that addict children to their detriment. Significantly, the legislation is retroactive, which would put the companies at legal risk for any past damage their products caused for teens and younger children. (Luthi, 3/15)

In other mental health news —

Modern Healthcare: Mental Health-Related ED Visits Increase After COVID-19 Surges, Study Finds

Hospitals are seeing more emergency department visits for mental health issues after COVID-19 surges, particularly among young adults and racial minority groups, a recent study found. Compared with before and during peaks in COVID-19 cases, mental health-related ED visits following the pandemic’s surges composed a larger proportion of all ED visits, according to a JAMA Psychiatry report released Wednesday. Using National Syndromic Surveillance Program data, the study looked at a sample of US adults between the ages of 18 and 64 with several million ED visits across 3,600 emergency facilities nationwide between Jan. 1, 2019 and Aug. 14, 2021 that were related to a set of 10 mental health disorders. (Devereaux, 3/16)

Crain’s New York Business: A New Report Shows Lower Rates Of Suicidal Thoughts Among Physicians, But New York Hospitals Maintain Vigilance

Even as COVID-related hospitalizations decrease in the city, the mental health challenges accumulated by providers during the past two years are not likely to dissipate easily. A recent survey from Medscape, a West Village–based medical news source, found that suicide remains a pertinent risk for physicians experiencing stress. In its Physician Suicide Report released this month, surveying more than 13,000 doctors across 50 states, it found that 9% of had had thought of suicide but did not act on it; 1% of survey takers said they’d attempted to take their own life. (Sim, 3/16)

North Carolina Health News: Advocates Worry Pandemic’s Impact On Vulnerable Youth

In March 2020, schools shut down for two weeks to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Nearly a year later, when schools started to head back to consistent, in-person instruction, more than 11,000 North Carolinians had died of COVID-19. Students’ lives changed. They were faced with death and disease in the news and in their families. They didn’t have the same access to their social networks at school. They lived in fear of a constant, invisible enemy, said Marcus Pollard, Justice Systems Reform Council for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. (Thompson, 3/17)

San Francisco Chronicle: How To Cope With Perpetual Pandemic Fatigue

You’re getting up later and later; after work or school you collapse onto the couch, unlikely to move for a few hours. The naps are getting more frequent, and the dishes are piling up in the sink. Your brain can’t take it anymore. This is pandemic fatigue — which not only hasn’t faded, but has been compounded by a parade of new concerns, experts say. As the Bay Area marks the two-year anniversary of shelter-in-place orders, an increasing number of people across the US are reporting heightened levels of anxiety and stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Even though some parts of life are returning to “normal” — offices asking workers to come back in (for real this time) and schools removing their mask mandates — there is still something decidedly not normal about life right now. (Wu, 3/16)


San Francisco Chronicle: California Supreme Court Will Decide If Job-Screening Companies Can Ask Applicants Intimate Medical Questions

California bars employers from asking job applicants about their physical or mental health, at least until they’ve been offered a job. But an occupational health company requires job-seekers with thousands of California businesses to disclose, for example, whether they’ve had venereal disease, diarrhea, constipation or menstrual problems. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court asked the state Supreme Court whether the ban on intrusive medical questioning applies to an employer’s agent, such as a job-screening company like US Healthworks. The order was issued in a proposed class-action suit on behalf of about 500,000 job applicants in the last four years, according to their lawyers. (Egleko, 3/16)

Roll Call: With Eating Disorders On The Rise, Lawmakers Seek Legislative Answer

When Robin Nelson sought treatment for her daughter’s serious eating disorder in 2019, she hit a number of walls. Her adult daughter had left a 72-hour psychiatric hold but couldn’t get into a treatment program near her San Francisco home. The first available appointment was 32 days ahead. Nelson instead found her daughter a program at an Eating Recovery Center in Colorado — but her daughter’s insurance provider said it would be out of network. She ended up taking it, using her retirement and pension money to pay for it. (Raman, 3/16)

The Boston Globe: Baker Unveils New Bill To Expand Primary Care And Mental Health Treatment

Two years after the pandemic derailed his health care agenda, Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping new plan to boost primary care and mental health, control drug prices, and better coordinate care. Baker’s proposal is focused on two unglamorous but essential cornerstones of the health care system. It calls on health care providers and insurers to increase spending on primary care and mental and behavioral health by 30 percent over three years — an investment of $1.4 billion. To keep total costs in check, providers and insurers would be required to cut spending growth in other areas, such as pricey hospital services. (Dayal McCluskey, 3/15)

Detroit Free Press: Oxford Shooting Leads Senators To Propose Mental Health Legislation

Three months after the deadly shooting at Oxford High School, Michigan’s US senators proposed legislation Wednesday that could expand mental health resources to help students and educators in the aftermath of such events. The bill proposed by US Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, would authorize schools where shootings occurred to receive federal grants to hire additional counselors, psychologists and social workers to help students recover. (Spangler, 3/16)

KHN: Long Waits For Montana State Hospital Leave Psychiatric Patients In Jail

A woman delusions sat in Montana’s Cascade County jail for 125 days while waiting for a bed at the state experiencing psychiatric hospital. A man with schizophrenia spent 100 days last year in the Flathead County jail on the hospital’s waitlist, at times refusing food and water. A man complaining of voices in his head was jailed for 19 months awaiting a mental health evaluation. Montana State Hospital’s forensic facility, which evaluates and treats patients in the criminal justice system, has always had a waitlist, court records show, but the pandemic has lengthened it. As a result, people have been behind bars for months on pending charges without adequate mental health treatment. (Houghton, 3/17)

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