August 19th, 2016

Use of applied behavior analysis on the rise

By Pamela Berard

The use of applied behavior analysis is increasing and more educational programs are rising to meet the demand. Chrissy Barosky, MA, BCBA, started her ABA master’s program at Columbia University in 2006. “When I was picking a program, there weren’t nearly as many options as there are now,” Barosky said. “I’ve seen a huge growth in it, and I would say with master’s programs specifically.” Barosky is vice president of clinical development, clinical director, at Bierman Autism Center in Boston, which works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, providing early intervention and personalized ABA programs. Barosky said some people may [More]

February 1st, 2013

Use of ECT on the rise?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Practice trends at odds with study results For a treatment that’s existed for nearly a century, the function of electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is still somewhat of a mystery. Researchers are at a loss to explain why sending an electronic current through the brain, causing a convulsion similar to a grand mal epileptic seizure, relieves acute feelings of depression. Once known as “shock therapy” or “electric shock treatment,” ECT began in the 1930s when psychiatrists in Italy noticed that schizophrenic patients improved temporarily after a spontaneous seizure. Early attempts at replicating the effect with patients were partially successful and the [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, 2016

Use of third party vendors reviewed in wake of stabbing spree

By Pamela Berard

The state is conducting a review in the aftermath of a stabbing spree that ended at Silver City Galleria mall in Taunton, Mass., that left three people dead and several others injured. Family members of the man accused of the stabbings – who was shot and killed during the May 10 incident after reportedly stabbing several individuals, two of whom died – reported that he had been taken by ambulance to Morton Hospital the night before for psychiatric issues and was released early the following morning, the day of the attacks. In a statement following the incident, Morton Hospital, part [More]

May 1st, 2017

UVM study links childhood emotional abuse to adult opioid use

By Phyllis Hanlon

Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) have found a correlation between emotional abuse endured during childhood with future opioid use as an adult. Matthew Price, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychological science at UVM and lead author, explained that the study involved 84 Vermont adults who presented with substance use problems. The researchers used the PTSD Checklist (PCL5) as an assessment tool and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale to measure impulsivity. They also administered the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), which evaluates different types of maltreatment, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse and emotional neglect. The goal was to [More]

July 1st, 2012

VA adding 1,900 mental health staff

By Janine Weisman

Increasing demand for mental health services has the Department of Veterans Affairs looking to add 1,900 new positions to its mental health workforce as part of an ongoing review of its operations. “We anticipate the bulk of the hiring to be done within six months,” says VA Director of Mental Health Operations Mary Schohn, Ph.D. “For some harder to fill positions we expect it will take longer than that, but we have a very aggressive hiring campaign going on.” Plans call for hiring approximately 1,600 nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists and nearly 300 support staff positions, which will mean [More]

April 1st, 2010

VA could get psychiatric facility

By Elinor Nelson

There’s no dispute that Vermont needs to replace Vermont State Hospital. At 120 years of age, it’s antiquated and has been denied recertification. The governor knows it and the legislature knows it and Vermont Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman is hoping that the political forces will approve a plan, now evolving, to care for Vermont’s mentally ill in a combination of community and hospital settings. Since 2004, Vermont has been looking at new ways to deliver mental health care. “There is a responsibility not just to replace 54 beds with 54 more, but to create a variety of new programming,” [More]

November 1st, 2012

VA expands support for veterans’ research, education

By Phyllis Hanlon

The wars, both recent and past, have been the cause of significant visible and invisible injuries to military personnel serving in these conflicts. As the number of returning veterans with psychological issues increases, the Veterans Administration (VA) is devoting more attention to resources, programs and services to address the problems they, and their families, face. The National Center for PTSD reports that between 11 and 20 veterans out of every 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return with this diagnosis; 10 percent of Gulf War veterans and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans also carry a PTSD diagnosis. According to [More]

June 1st, 2017

Vacant building in Westborough to become behavioral hospital

By Phyllis Hanlon

Later this year, Westborough will become the site of a new behavioral health care hospital. In April, selectmen in the town gave approval for the construction of a facility that will better serve the mental health care needs in Central Massachusetts. Francisco Torres, Westborough’s economic development coordinator, reported that Signature Healthcare, which is based in Corona, California, approached the town approximately a year ago with a proposal to renovate a long-vacant building at 300 Friberg Parkway. The property, which formerly housed Verizon and Bay State Gas prior to that, was originally intended to serve as a campus for the College [More]

November 1st, 2011

Validity of gene-by-environment studies questioned

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In the eternal discussion between nature or nurture, as to which has greater input on health and well-being, the answer may well be… both. Scientists generally believe that there is a physical interaction between genetics and the environment that may be identified down to the specific gene. Over the past decade, numerous studies have been done and published in leading journals to pinpoint the exact effect of these interactions. But when Harvard School of Public Health post-doctoral fellow Laramie Duncan, Ph.D., began to look closely at the literature in preparation for initiating a gene-by-environment interaction study, she started to have [More]