Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2016

WHO proposes removing transgender from diagnosis list

By Phyllis Hanlon

In recent years, society has witnessed a number of changes related to the transgender population that are leading, for the most part, to some semblance of acceptance. In July, the World Health Organization added its voice to the discussion when it proposed the declassification of transgender identity as a mental disorder in its next version of the International Classification of Diseases-11. A study out of Columbia University lends support to the move. Geoffrey M. Reed, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University, conducted a study at a transgender health services clinic in Mexico City. He interviewed 250 [More]

October 1st, 2016

Yale study looks at sub threshold PTSD co morbidity risks

By Susan Gonsalves

According to research, veterans who do not have full blown PTSD but who experience some symptoms are at a heightened risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. They could benefit from screening and treatment in clinical settings but are overlooked. That was the takeaway of a Yale-university led study, published in the World Psychiatry Journal’s June issue. The research looked at 1,484 veterans nation-wide ranging in age from 20 to 94 with a median age of 64 and found that 22.1 percent experienced “sub threshold” PTSD while eight percent met the DSM-5 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. In addition, these [More]

October 1st, 2016

School CEO talks of challenges, pleasures of work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

They say the difference between stress and passion is in the commitment to the outcome; one is putting in hours and the other is a labor of love. Dan Murray, Psy.D., whose work as chief executive officer of the Wellspring Foundation and the Arch Bridge School falls into the passion category. As he explained in a conversation with New England Psychologist’s Catherine Robertson Souter, the challenges that face anyone choosing to work in a residential/treatment school must be balanced with the desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. Q:  While it is the school we are [More]

August 19th, 2016

Brain, mental health link studied

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) five years ago re-defined addiction as a chronic brain disorder, not just a behavioral issue. “The theory seems to have a lot of validity. Addiction changes areas in the brain related to motivation and primacy of reinforcement for salience,” said Michael M. Miller, M.D., past president of ASAM, medical director of the Herrington Recovery Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin and chair of the committee that issued the new definition. Other research is now exploring a connection between the brain and mental health diagnoses. Genetics is one of the risk factors that [More]

August 19th, 2016

Canada may expand new PAD law; U.S. next?

By Janine Weisman

Canada passed new legislation in June legalizing physician-assisted death (PAD) for citizens 18 and older deemed mentally competent and who have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.” The law defines such a condition as “a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that is “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.” The condition causes a person “enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them” and cannot be relieved. The person’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable.” Safeguards to prevent errors and abuse include a 15-day waiting period and having two independent witnesses present when the patient [More]

August 19th, 2016

Mass. DMH releases fresh air regulations

By Janine Weisman

All psychiatric patients in Massachusetts hospitals and residential programs are entitled to “reasonable daily access to the outdoors,” according to new regulations the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health issued July 1. The regulations clarify the so-called “Fresh Air” law enacted in January 2015. The law added a sixth “Fundamental Right” to five adopted in 1998 outlining a patient’s right to make phone calls, send and receive mail, receive visitors, enjoy privacy and humane living quarters and have contact with attorneys, clergy, physicians, psychologists or social workers if desired. Daily fresh air access depends on weather conditions and each patient’s clinical [More]

August 19th, 2016

Dartmouth-Hitchcock awarded contract to staff hospital

By Rivkela Brodsky

Friction over an employment transition at New Hampshire Hospital – the state’s only acute psychiatric care facility – started with the expiration of a contract with Dartmouth College and the state at the end of June. The college’s Geisel School of Medicine had a five-year contract with the state to staff New Hampshire Hospital in Concord with acute psychiatric care professionals. Psychiatrists and nurses providing specialized psychiatric care at the 158-bed hospital do so through a contract with the state, said Jake Leon, director of communications for the state Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the hospital. The [More]

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]

August 19th, 2016

R.I. mandates Mental Health First Aid training for police

By Janine Weisman

Rhode Island law already mandated training for law enforcement officers on hate crimes, domestic violence, and criminal gang activity when the year began. In August, the list grew with the addition of training on mental health and substance abuse emergencies. That’s when Gov. Gina Raimondo signed into law legislation passed by the General Assembly and sponsored by Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) directing the Police Office Commission on Standards and Training to set mandatory training standards on how to identify and interact with victims, witnesses or suspects [More]

August 19th, 2016

Tool created for psychosis risk

By Phyllis Hanlon

Psychologists have attempted to predict the risk of psychosis in young people since the early 2000s. Recently, the National Institutes of Health funded a study to develop a unique tool to calculate this risk. Nine sites participated in the study, including Yale University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Tyrone D. Cannon, Ph.D., Clark L. Hull Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University, has devoted a quarter century of his career in schizophrenia research to creating such a tool. “Up to now, it has been dependent on finding people at risk with recent changes in psychological functioning and who [More]

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