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Students Seeking Mental Health Help Often Stranded On Waiting Lists

‘I Just Couldn’t Hang On’ 

There's a booming demand for mental health services for college students, and the institutions just can't keep up. In other public health news, cancer rates and geography, a rare brain disease, heart stents, e-cigarettes and more.

Stat: As Mental Health Crises Soar, Colleges Can't Meet Student NeedsColleges across the country are failing to keep up with a troubling spike in demand for mental health care — leaving students stuck on waiting lists for weeks, unable to get help. STAT surveyed dozens of universities about their mental health services. From major public institutions to small elite colleges, a striking pattern emerged: Students often have to wait weeks just for an initial intake exam to review their symptoms. The wait to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe or adjust medication — often a part-time employee — may be longer still. (Thielking, 2/6)

WBUR: The 'Nantucket Effect'? Latest Cancer Stats Find Island's Death Rate Has PlummetedYou may have heard of the "Roseto Effect," referring to a famous community of Italian immigrants in Roseto, Pennsylvania — made even more famous by Malcolm Gladwell — who get shockingly few heart attacks, apparently because their social ties with each other are so robust. Well, the latest county-by-county cancer statistics suggest there may be something of a "Nantucket Effect." Cancer death rates are down nationwide, the study in the journal JAMA finds, but on the island of Nantucket, they've plummeted so dramatically that Nantucket County ranks in the top 10 counties that have cut their mortality the most. (Goldberg, 2/3)

NPR: Test For Rare Brain Disease Might Lead To Earlier Diagnosis Of Parkinson's, Alzheimer'sBy the time Kay Schwister got her diagnosis last summer, she couldn't talk anymore. But she could still scowl, and scowl she did. After weeks of decline and no clue what was causing it, doctors had told Schwister — a 53-year-old vocational rehab counselor and mother of two from Chicago — that she had an incurable disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD. The disease was shrinking Kay's brain, and riddling it with holes. She would likely only live a few more weeks, the doctors said. (Bichell, 2/6)

The New York Times: His Doctors Were Stumped. Then He Took Over.They called him the Beast.David Fajgenbaum was the fittest of his friends at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, a 6-foot-3 gym addict and former quarterback at Georgetown. His mammoth hands seemed more suited to spiraling footballs than the fine fingerwork a doctor-in-training might need. He had endurance to match, taking multiple hits and returning to the field to play on. ... In July 2010, that all changed. (Thomas, 2/4)

Columbus Dispatch: Absorbable Heart Stent Does Job, DisappearsA central Ohio doctor said he is seeing success with a new heart stent that is absorbed by the body after delivering medication and helping to strengthen arteries in people with coronary artery disease. The stent is used to hold open arteries clogged with plaque and disappears within about three years, leaving four small platinum markers embedded in artery walls so cardiologists know where it was, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved its use last summer. Before dissolving, it administers a drug that inhibits the growth of scar tissue and reblockage. (Viviano, 2/5)

CQ Roll Call: More Young People Turning To E-CigarettesWhile traditional cigarette smoking is falling among both adults and teens, the use of e-cigarettes among young people rose in recent years. In 2005, about 20.9 percent of adults were current smokers versus 15.1 percent in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. That’s a decrease of around 8.5 million people. (Siddons, 2/6)

Stat: 'Dr. Oz Show' Will Again Talk Miracles With Faith Healing Segment“The Dr. Oz Show,” which has come under fire from physicians and politicians for promoting “miracle” cures with no evidence, will launch a new weekly segment on the connections between spirituality and health that veers, once again, into the territory of miracles. Christian author and motivational speaker Priscilla Shirer and several pastors will join Oz for “Faithful Fridays.” Among the topics to be explored: “Miraculous medical recoveries only God can explain,” according to a press release from the show. (Thielking, 2/3)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.