July 1st, 2010

Providing care is an ongoing challenge

By Ami Albernaz

Mental health care doesn’t carry the stigma it once did and more is understood about mental health disorders than ever before. Yet millions of those meeting the criteria for a psychological disorder still don’t receive care, presenting an ongoing challenge in how to improve access and make sure effective treatments are delivered. Around 26 percent of U.S. adults meet the criteria for a disorder within a given year, while the lifetime prevalence is around 46 percent. These were the conclusions of the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), a National Institutes of Mental Health-funded study of more than 9,000 adults first done [More]

July 1st, 2010

Firms place limits on mental health treatment

By Elinor Nelson

Psychologists may be seeing more managed care from their patients’ insurers. Faced with increasing costs, some employers and insurers are controlling utilization by authorizing limited numbers of sessions and requiring forms or phone calls to allow additional sessions. A year ago, one major employer changed its policies. That party was the Group Insurance Commission, which insures about 180,000 Massachusetts state employees and retirees and their dependents, totaling about 340,000 people. Executive Director Dolores Mitchell explains the changes actually affect the policies of about 294,000 of those people, and amounts to about the approximately 10 percent of that group who access [More]

July 1st, 2010

Programs seek to assist children with mental health issues

By Ami Albernaz

Mental health care doesn’t carry the stigma it once did and more is understood about mental health disorders than ever before. Yet millions of those meeting the criteria for a psychological disorder still don’t receive care, presenting an ongoing challenge in how to improve access and make sure effective treatments are delivered. Around 26 percent of U.S. adults meet the criteria for a disorder within a given year, while the lifetime prevalence is around 46 percent. These were the conclusions of the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), a National Institutes of Mental Health-funded study of more than 9,000 adults first done [More]

July 1st, 2010

Is excessive tanning a disorder?

By Ami Albernaz

You’ve perhaps known someone with a seemingly insatiable need to tan, no matter how bronzed he or (probably) she already is. And though these so-called “tanorexics” will probably never enter therapy for their sunbathing habit, there do indeed appear to be some psychological factors that entice people to ignore the well-publicized health risks. Excessive tanning is nothing new. Yet when summer rolls around, efforts to get people to think twice about that “healthy,” sun-kissed glow are renewed. Although melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills about one person an hour in the U.S., the threat pales in comparison to [More]

July 1st, 2010

Military Support Program running out of funds

By Pamela Berard

A Connecticut program that provides behavioral health services to soldiers and their families is seeking federal funding to continue. The Military Support Program (MSP) has helped hundreds of military personnel and family members with free confidential outpatient counseling, referrals, advocacy and case management services since its inception in 2007. The state created the program – said to be the first of its kind in the nation to serve both military personnel and family members – with funds from the sale of Fairfield Hills Hospital and it falls under the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funds are [More]

July 1st, 2010

Vermont Senate nixes proposal to track free drug samples

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]

July 1st, 2010

Q&A: Theory: Psychological development has two dimensions

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A school of thought, first introduced in the 1970s, holds that depression and perhaps most mental illness, stems from disruptions in psychological development. Introduced by Sidney J. Blatt, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, the theory contends that psychological development has two basic dimensions: a sense of self and a relationship with others. Any disruptions or an exaggerated emphasis on either dimension will lead to mental disorders. According to Blatt, this theory is a break from current treatment modalities that would see illness as a cluster of symptoms. In two books on the subject, “Experiences of Depression: [More]

June 1st, 2010

Bullying – 21st century style presents challenges for targets, caregivers

By Phyllis Hanlon

Go back to your middle school years and you’ll probably remember at least one student who picked on the boy with a lisp or the girl who wore glasses. He might have shoved other students in the cafeteria, disrupted the kick ball game on the playground or shouted obscenities from the bus windows. Fast-forward and you’ll find similar behavior today, but with a twist – advanced technological tools and shifts in societal thinking have made bullying a 24/7, equal opportunity problem. Elaine Ducharme, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in Glastonbury and member of the Connecticut Children and Youth [More]

June 1st, 2010

Study on homelessness offers many insights

By Ami Albernaz

As complex and overwhelming an issue as homelessness is, there’s plenty psychologists can do to tackle its separate components and help alleviate the problem. Such were the findings of a report released in February by an APA presidential task force on psychology’s contribution in ending homelessness. The report, commissioned by James Bray, Ph.D., during his tenure as APA president last year, concludes that psychologists can help on both a one-on-one level – helping to treat substance abuse and other mental health disorders – and by serving as liaisons to community services, whether related to housing, employment or other areas. In [More]

June 1st, 2010

Recognizing and treating adult ADHD

By Nan Shnitzler

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., recalls how one adult patient described a case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: erectile dysfunction of the mind. “That captures the sense of helplessness and puzzlement folks have about this disorder,” says Brown, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. “Normal people can make themselves focus. For ADHD sufferers, it’s really tough. Everyone gets down on them, parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, even themselves.” The estimated prevalence of adult ADHD is 4.4 percent, according to the National Comorbidity Survey. Only about 11 percent of eligible patients receive treatment. The disorder typically starts in [More]

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