August 21st, 2010

E-mail screening for depression studied

By Ami Albernaz

In an age in which most college students spend vast amounts of time online, screening for depression via e-mail might make sense as a simpler, more cost-effective alternative to in-person screenings, recent research from a Massachusetts General Hospital team suggests. Prompting depressed students to get professional help, however, is still a challenge. An MGH team led by Irene Shyu, B.A., a former research coordinator at the hospital’s Depression Clinical and Research Program, invited undergraduate and graduate students at four unidentified U.S. colleges to complete a depression screening survey online. A total of 631 consented. Shyu says the study was an [More]

August 21st, 2010

Project gives hope, direction

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Many times, the people on the front lines of mental health care, those in recovery or currently being treated, can feel lost in the maze. From finding appropriate care to making their way in the world, getting back to an ordinary life can be confusing and overwhelming. Thanks to a project called “A Day In The Life: Breaking a Deafening Silence,” those voices are being heard and it’s a sound that can make a room full of people eerily silent or erupt in spontaneous applause. With a new project created by Connecticut’s North Central Regional Mental Health Board, the experiences [More]

August 21st, 2010

Smoking bans: the right step or an unnecessary burden for patients?

By Pamela Berard

In May, Vermont State Hospital joined a growing number of psychiatric facilities to ban smoking from its grounds. The trend is divisive in the field. Those in favor of the ban cite how smoking disproportionally shortens the lifespan of those with mental illness and also can interfere with the metabolism of medications. Others believe it may be too much for someone in the throes of a crisis to tackle smoking cessation, too. A 2006 National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors survey of 222 facilities indicated that 41 percent had already banned smoking on the premises, but many more [More]

August 21st, 2010

Oil spill exacts collective mental health toll

By Nan Shnitzler

Direct mental health effects of the Gulf oil spill appear to be scarce in New England, but that doesn’t mean there is no psychological impact. On an individual basis, such an unnatural event can elicit a host of fears and concerns and dramatize how much in the world is out of our control, says psychiatrist Keith Ablow, M.D., an assistant professor at Tufts Medical School. “This breach in the earth’s surface can speak to people who lost loved ones to uncontrollable cancer, it can reawaken a sense of helplessness as the economy makes their lives messy and anyone who is [More]

August 21st, 2010

Setting up a practice

By Phyllis Hanlon

With degree in hand and passion in their hearts, many newly graduated psychologists seek to launch their own businesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 Edition reports that 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, either as private practitioners or independent consultants. For those just starting out, the idea of setting up a practice may be daunting, but with a bit of investigation, legwork and diligence, this goal is certainly attainable. Anne Perschel, Psy.D., leadership and business psychologist and president, Germane Consulting in Worcester, Mass., emphasizes that psychologists opening a practice should consider themselves entrepreneurs and, as such, [More]

August 21st, 2010

Sleep changes proposed in DSM

By Ami Albernaz

As work continues on the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), still three years away, one of the sections that might see the greatest overhaul relates to sleep disorders. Around 10 disorder names are expected to be added to the category, while just as many might be removed or subsumed under other categories. Most of the traditional sleep disorders will be classified in the primary groups’ insomnia, hypersomnia, and arousal disorder, with “specifiers” that give more detail but don’t suggest a possible cause, as the current manual does. The sleep disorders work group believes [More]

August 21st, 2010

Q&A: Pioneer discusses mind/body perspective

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Have you gone to a store to get mustard and come home with three bags of groceries…but no mustard? When we are lying on our death beds, how many of us will slap our foreheads and claim, “Oh no, I forgot the mustard!”? It’s an interesting tale, or life lesson, but an important one, says Jim Manganiello, Ed.D., a Massachusetts-based clinical psychologist. It’s about how people need to become aware of what direction they want to head and not let themselves get distracted by the other issues in life. Manganiello is former director of the Center for East-West Psychology and [More]

July 24th, 2010

Use of restraint, seclusion is controversial, Part 1

By Edward Stern J.D.

The first of a two-part column. When the justice and mental health systems believe that someone is a risk to himself/herself or a threat to others, the courts may intervene and involuntarily commit that person. To the public, an involuntary commitment might be the end of the inquiry regarding the treatment and care of those in mental health treatment. This month’s column focuses on the use of seclusion and restraint for patients being treated within the mental health system. These issues are important, especially settings where the program is understaffed. First, it’s important to discuss the variety of people who [More]

July 1st, 2010

Excessive emailing/texting: The newest addiction?

By Phyllis Hanlon

In June 2008, the British Broadcasting System (BBC) published a story about two adolescents in Spain undergoing treatment at the Child and Youth Mental Health Centre near Barcelona for dependency on their mobile phones. Studies out of South Korea, China and Australia have also raised questions about potential cell phone addiction. While concerns around the globe about compulsive emailing and texting via cell phone are growing, the jury is still out on whether or not this behavior actually constitutes addiction. To date, no formal studies have been conducted in the United States, but some respected groups have released pertinent data. [More]

July 1st, 2010

Vermont’s Challenges for Change seeks reductions via efficiencies

By Nan Shnitzler

Last November, the Vermont Department of Mental Health faced budget cuts in excess of $20 million for the 2011 fiscal year. When the legislature adjourned its session in the wee hours May 13, the cut had been trimmed to about $3 million. Credit a slightly improved economy, a few more federal dollars and a state budget approach called Challenges for Change. Challenges for Change is legislation designed to fund desirable outcomes by focusing on efficiencies rather than eliminating services and hiking taxes. On paper, it saved nearly $38 million of a $150 million budget deficit in a total state budget [More]

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