Thursday, March 17, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

California bill would let parents sue if children are harmed by social media

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

Los Angeles Times: California bill would allow parents to sue social media companies

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

Politico: Instagram and TikTok could be sued for child addiction in 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 toll of mental health from heavy use of social media. The bipartisan measure by Assembly Members Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), which will roll out Tuesday, would hold social media companies legally responsible for rolling out features and apps that make children dependent to their detriment. Significantly, the legislation is retroactive, which would expose companies to legal risk for any past harm their products have caused to adolescents and young children. (Luthi, 03/15)

In other mental health news –

Modern healthcare: Mental health-related ER visits increase after COVID-19 surges, study finds

Hospitals are seeing more emergency room visits for mental health issues after COVID-19 surges, especially among young adults and racial minority groups, a recent study found. Compared to peaks before and during spikes in COVID-19 cases, mental health-related ER visits after pandemic surges accounted for a greater proportion of all ER visits, according to a published JAMA Psychiatry report. Wednesday. Using data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, the study examined a sample of American adults ages 18 to 64 with several million emergency department visits to 3,600 emergency facilities nationwide between on January 1, 2019 and August 14, 2021 which were linked to a set of 10 mental health disorders. (Devereaux, 3/16)

Crain’s cases in New York: New report shows lower rates of suicidal ideation among doctors, but New York hospitals remain vigilant

Even if COVID-related hospitalizations decline in the city, the mental health issues accumulated by providers over the past two years are unlikely to dissipate easily. A recent survey by Medscape, a West Village-based medical information source, found that suicide remains a relevant risk for stressed doctors. In its Physician Suicide Report released this month, which surveyed more than 13,000 physicians in 50 states, it found that 9% of respondents had thought about suicide but did not act on it; 1% of respondents said they had attempted suicide. (Sim, 3/16)

North Carolina Health News: Defends worry pandemic’s impact on vulnerable young people

In March 2020, schools closed for two weeks to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Nearly a year later, when schools began to return to consistent in-person instruction, more than 11,000 North Carolinas had died of COVID-19. Student life has changed. They faced death and disease in the news and in their families. They did not have the same access to their social networks at school. They lived in fear of a constant and invisible enemy, said Marcus Pollard of the Justice Systems Reform Council of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. (Thompson, 3/17)

San Francisco Chronicle: How to cope with perpetual pandemic fatigue

You get up later and later; after work or school you collapse on the sofa, you are unlikely to move for a few hours. The naps are more frequent and the dishes pile up in the sink. Your brain can’t take it anymore. It’s pandemic fatigue – which not only hasn’t waned, but has been compounded by a parade of new concerns, experts say. As the Bay Area marks the second anniversary of shelter-in-place orders, growing numbers of people across the United States are reporting increased levels of anxiety and stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Even as parts of life return to ‘normal’ — offices asking workers to come back (for real this time) and schools scrapping their mask mandates — there’s still something decidedly not normal about life. right now. (Wu, 03/16)

Also –

San Francisco Chronicle: California Supreme Court to decide whether job-screening firms can ask candidates intimate medical questions

California prohibits employers from asking applicants about their physical or mental health, at least until they are offered a job. But an occupational health firm is asking job seekers at thousands of California companies 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 applied to an agent of an employer, such as a job-screening company like US Healthworks. The order was issued as part of a proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of around 500,000 job seekers over the past four years, according to their lawyers. (Egleko, 3/16)

Roll Call: With Eating Disorders on the Rise, Lawmakers Seek a Legislative Response

When Robin Nelson sought treatment for her daughter’s severe eating disorder in 2019, she ran into a number of walls. Her adult daughter had been discharged from a 72-hour psychiatric hospital but was unable to attend a treatment program near her home in San Francisco. The first available appointment was 32 days in advance. Nelson instead found a program for his daughter at a food recovery center in Colorado – but his daughter’s insurer said he would be out of the 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, Gov. 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 focuses on two unglamorous but essential cornerstones of the health care system. It calls on healthcare providers and insurers to increase spending on primary care and mental and behavioral health by 30% over three years, an investment of $1.4 billion. To control total costs, providers and insurers would be required to reduce spending growth in other areas, such as expensive 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, US senators from Michigan on Wednesday proposed legislation that could expand mental health resources to help students and educators in the wake of such events. The bill proposed by US Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, would allow schools where shootings took place to receive federal grants to hire additional counselors, psychologists and social workers to help students get well. (Spangler, 3/16)

KHN: Long Waits for Psychiatric Patients to Leave Montana State Hospital in Jail

A woman struggling with delusions sat in the Cascade County jail in Montana for 125 days while waiting for a bed at the state mental hospital. A man with schizophrenia spent 100 days last year in Flathead County Jail on the hospital waiting list, sometimes refusing food and water. A man complaining of voices in his head has been jailed for 19 months pending an assessment of his mental health. Montana State Hospital’s forensic facility, which assesses and treats patients in the criminal justice system, has always had a waiting list, 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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