Trending News Today: Companies Begin Investing in Mental Health of Employees

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The number of Californians on dialysis has significantly increased because patients are living longer with end-stage renal disease, according to California Healthline. Data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development showed more than 139,000 kidney patients sought treatment last year at dialysis clinics across the state—–a 46% increase from 95,000 patients eight years prior. Generally, the number of new cases has leveled off in recent years. Anjay Rastogi, professor of nephrology at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, told California Healthline that dialysis patients are living longer because treatment of medical conditions frequently associated with kidney failure has improved.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is twice as common now as it was before the 1950s, a recent study shows. Scientists examined human skeletons from as long ago as 4000 BC that ended up in museums or were donated to medical schools across the country, according to NPR. It is commonly believed osteoarthritis of the knee is a result of wear and tear, and is most common among older individuals and those with excess body weight. Based on this knowledge, the investigators hypothesized that people in the past would have a higher prevalence of osteoarthritis than those today; however, to their surprise, the opposite was true. Furthermore, the findings held true after the investigators adjusted for body mass index and age. Although the cause remains unclear, co-author Daniel Lieberman told NPR. “If I were a betting man, I would guess physical activity is especially important,” Lieberman told NPR. “One of the things that’s really shifted in our world today is that we sit all the time, and kids sit all the time. And that may be affecting how our joints are forming and how our joints are aging.”

Companies are beginning to pay more attention to the importance of good mental health and the overall wellbeing of their employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. Fortune 500 company Ernst & Young has an initiative called “r u ok?” which is designed to encourage employees to check in with one another and offer support for those who may be struggling. American Express Co offers onsite access to mental health professionals and free counseling. Prudential Financial Inc provides employees with flexible work arrangements and access to mental health professionals. Approximately 1 of 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year, and 1 of 25 adults experience serious mental illness that substantially interferes with or limits 1 or more major life activities, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.