Articles, Leading Stories

January 1st, 2014

Prison’s mental health unit is expanded in Maine

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A prison-based mental health unit in Maine’s state correctional facility in Warren will see a 16-person staff expansion as part of the state’s plan to address serious issues at one of its psychiatric hospitals. In September, Gov. Paul Le-Page (R) signed a bill passed by the state legislature to expand the prison’s mental health unit to allow the hospital to send certain forensic patients there. The original plan, which allowed for potentially violent patients who have been determined incompetent to stand trial and those who are being examined to determine competency to be placed in the unit, was amended so [More]

January 1st, 2014

States make progress reducing nursing home antipsychotics use

By Janine Weisman

Rhode Island leads the region with the lowest use of antipsychotic medications among long-term nursing home patients with dementia, according to the latest data from Nursing Home Compare on Medicare.gov, the federal government’s official Medicare Web site. The site tracks quality of care information on the more than 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country. The lower the rate of antipsychotic drug use among dementia patients, the better. The data excludes nursing home residents diagnosed with schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease or Tourette’s syndrome. While such medication is an important treatment for these conditions, the FDA warns they also have [More]

January 1st, 2014

Massive survey studies children’s behavior

By Howard Newman

A recently concluded study by Brown University School of Medicine, the Children’s National Medical Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology is unique in several ways: size, scope and, in some ways, subject matter. The three organizations teamed up for a massive online research project called The Learning Habit Survey. Polling parents of K-12 students nationwide, the survey examined the routines, habits, personality traits and abilities of their children, searching for common interactions and causalities. More than 43,000 parents from 4,100 cities participated, making for a sample size that may be unprecedented for this type of undertaking. Responses [More]

January 1st, 2014

Anxiety patients get treated via primary care

By Rivkela Brodsky

Patients dealing with anxiety disorders in primary care appear to get treatment – although it sometimes takes years for it to happen – and this situation occurred less for minorities, according to a recent study by Brown University researchers. The study, which appeared online in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Depression and Anxiety, looked at the types of treatment for 534 patients with anxiety symptoms in primary care over five years at 15 sites in the Northeast (N.H., Mass., R.I. and Vt.). “In a way this is almost a follow up to a paper that came out in [More]

January 1st, 2014

Prescription drug deaths high in R.I.

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Along with the increase of prescription drug use in the U.S., the number of drug-related deaths has risen sharply across the country with some states seeing rates quadruple since 1999. Here in New England, states are above average in preventing deaths – except for Rhode Island which comes in at number 13 overall. According to a recent report by the non-profit organization Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), Rhode Island sees 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 5.5 in 1999. The State’s Medical Examiner’s Office reports an average of four deaths per week. In comparison, the next closest in ratings [More]

January 1st, 2014

Program addresses co-occurring eating disorders and diabetes

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Diabetes Association reports that research suggests eating disorders may be more common among women who also have diabetes than in those who do not. Until recently, no programs existed in New England to address this complex problem; however, in September, Walden Behavioral Care, LLC and the Joslin Diabetes Center teamed up to create the Type I Diabetes Eating Disorder Program. Stuart Koman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Walden, explains that although Walden has a strong program for eating disorders, the facility needed to add a medical component to better serve patients with co-occurring eating disorders and insulin-dependent diabetes. [More]

January 1st, 2014

Departing MPA executive director reflects on tenure

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the past two decades, the same face, the same name has been so linked with the Massachusetts Psychological Association, that it will be very strange when she is no longer executive director. Elena Eisman, Ed.D., recently announced that she will step down from her post as of Dec. 31, a move that comes after 22 years with the organization. During that time, Eisman has represented more than just a membership-based professional organization. She has had to be the face of insurance change as the nation looked to Massachusetts to see how the Affordable Care Act might play itself out [More]

December 1st, 2013

Beyond the black box

By Susan Gonsalves

Benefits of early intervention highlighted It’s time for everyone embedded in the behavioral health world to “move out of the treatment black box,” develop a broad range of early interventions and take a more public health approach to mental illness. Those views among many others were presented by Arthur Evans, Ph.D., commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, during the Kennedy Forum’s inaugural conference in October held in Boston. Evans, formerly a deputy commissioner and director of managed care at Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, was among panelists at a session about prevention and intervention [More]

December 1st, 2013

Outpatient treatment legislation revisited

By Phyllis Hanlon

On October 22, the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Massachusetts held a public hearing on House Bill 1792/Senate Bill 906, which calls for assisted outpatient treatment (AOC). Coincidentally, the non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) released a 13-page report that examined available treatment options for those with mental illness in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth earned a failing grade, based on the quality of its treatment laws. In 1998, at the request of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kay Khan, Democratic representative for the Eleventh Middlesex District, filed H.B.1792 and during the ensuing years, the legislation has [More]

December 1st, 2013

The Kennedy forum

By Phyllis Hanlon

Uniting the community of mental health To mark the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, signed by President John F. Kennedy, former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy created The Kennedy Forum. The event, which took place on Oct. 17 and featured panelists and speakers from several different health care sectors, addressed mental health care issues including policies, research and treatment. Patrick Kennedy launched the Forum by saying, “Civil rights are the struggle of our era.” The on-going fight for parity since Kennedy’s legislation was passed has continued to be a top priority for advocates, he noted. Steven [More]

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