Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Los Angeles Times: Economy got you down? Try new federal website!

Los Angeles Times
Economy got you down? Try new federal website!
8:59 AM, March 31, 2009

Anxious and depressed about the economy, your finances and, well, your state of anxiety and depression over the economy and your finances? While the $800-billion stimulus package is designed to boost the economy, the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, today unveils a new website to boost your mood and help you cope with the psychological effects of unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy and financial losses and generalized financial worry (which is not yet characterized as a psychiatric disorder).

It's a first-of-its-kind website designed to be one-stop shopping (except that it's free to use) for information and resources on how to protect, sustain and improve your mental health in the midst of economic hardship.

As you've no doubt read in the L.A. Times Health section, economic troubles can increase your risk for a wide range of psychological ills, including substance abuse, compulsive behaviors such as over-eating, excessive gambling, buying too much and, of course, depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. The SAMHSA website lays out warning signs for those and other psychological adjustment problems, and offers advice -- based on the latest research -- on how to cope with them and where to go to seek help.

SAMHSA's acting director, Eric Broderick, explains in a news release that "by helping people remain resilient, we can help promote the overall recovery of our nation." The idea that the government wants to help its citizens with their mental health needs drew jeers of derision from conservative quarters, which promptly dubbed the website a stalking horse for the "nanny state."

What do you think? Should a government agency worry about your state of worry over the economy?

-- Melissa Healy

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