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Esteban Delisio





    The U.S. Surgeon General says members of ethnic and racial minority groups in America get inferior mental health care to that received by whites. In a 200-page report on the mental-health needs of minorities, Dr. David Satcher said U.S. minorities "suffer a disproportionate burden of mental illness." He cited less access to services, lower quality care and less willingness to seek help as the main reasons for the gap. Because of stigma attached to mental illness in some cultures, there is often a reluctance to use services by members of these groups, he said. The new report is a supplement to the 1999 Surgeon General's report on mental health. It highlights the role culture and society play in mental health, mental illness and the types of mental health services people seek. Overall, one in three Americans who need mental health services receives them, the report notes. "While mental disorders may touch all Americans either directly or indirectly, all do ! not have equal access to treatment and services. The failure to address these inequities is being played out in human and economic terms across the nation -- on our streets, in homeless shelters, public health institutions, prisons and jails," Satcher said at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco. The groups studied included Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and American Indians and Alaska Natives.
    Researchers have found a pathway by which a cell regulates the activity of the "master regulator" of a host of important functions, including the response of the immune system to disease. The regulator is called NF-kB. The protein is central to numerous biological processes, including the production of other proteins that trigger inflammatory and immune responses. The discovery of how cells regulate the activity of this protein sets the stage for developing improved therapeutic approaches, the authors said in the journal Science. "These findings reveal a previously unknown mechanism by which this powerful transcription factor is regulated," said Dr. Warner Greene, senior author of the study and director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology in San Francisco. A chemical reaction called acetylation determines whether NF-kB is active. When active, NFkB is resistant to the effects of an inhibitory protein. When inactive, it triggers a chain re! action that turns on certain biological processes. Drugs that would turn off NF-kB could be useful in the treatment of such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Greene said. "These agents could form an exciting new class of anti-inflammatory drugs," he said.
    Adolescents who participate in religious activities see themselves in a more positive light than do their non-religious peers, a study of eighth graders indicates. Race and gender also play a part in self-esteem, the study authors said. African-American girls have the most positive opinion of themselves and black boys have the lowest, said Yong Dai of Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Dai and colleagues found in their study that black eighth grade females had a better opinion about themselves than their white counterparts. Among boys, however, it was reversed, with white eighth graders evaluating themselves more positively than did black ones. This may reflect a cultural difference in how parents teach their sons and daughters about self-esteem, the study authors said. One of the largest influences on how young people perceive themselves is religious involvement, the authors said. This finding indicates churches and other religious institutions te! ach their members how to have a positive image of themselves, the authors said. "From this we speculate that positive teaching in general may be able to influence early adolescent' self-evaluation in a beneficial way," Dai said.
    Psychologists have found that a child of one race adopted into a family of another may not necessarily need to be exposed and fully knowledgeable about their birth culture, from a psychological point of view. The study found children of another race who identified with the white culture of their adopted parents were neither better nor worse off in terms of psychological adjustment than those who identified with their birth culture. The findings, presented at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in San Francisco, were based on a survey of 51 transracial adoptees, ages 19 to 36, who were born of at least one non-white parent and adopted by a white couple. The study was thus constructed because nearly all of the transracial adoptions in the United States are of white couples adopting non-white children, the study authors said. "Perhaps the psychological adjustment of transracial adoptees may be influenced more by their parental and family ! relationships, peer relationships, achievement or a host of other factors than by the racial and often cultural differences that exist in transracially adopting families," said study author Amanda Baden of St. John's University in New York
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