Articles, Leading Stories

November 1st, 2013

Maine set to lose federal funding for state hospital

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a situation that was still unfolding at press time, the state of Maine has been informed that Medicare/Medicaid funding for services at the state hospital have been terminated. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was informed that the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had decided to remove Riverview Psychiatric Center from its Medicare Provider Agreement, effectively cutting off $19-20 million, nearly two-thirds of its annual $33 million operating budget. The hospital, which has seen a sharp rise in the number of forensic patients since 2012 without a matching increase in funding, has had a number [More]

November 1st, 2013

Study uncovers disparity during stages of treatment

By Susan Gonsalves

A recent study published in Health Services Research tracking mental health care episodes found that blacks and Latinos are much less likely to initiate treatment. And whites are much more likely to have care that consists solely of filling psychotropic drugs without checking in with a provider. Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D., MPH, study author, is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and senior scientist at the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance. Cook says this research is unusual because it looked at the beginning, middle and end of episodes of [More]

November 1st, 2013

N.H. Suicide Prevention Council engages community

By Howard Newman

In addition to the conventional steps of suicide prevention (education, training, a 24-hour hotline, increased public awareness, etc.), the New Hampshire Suicide Prevention Council (NHSPC) is going the extra mile, actively engaging community sectors that have not traditionally participated in this area. “Suicide prevention belongs to all of us,” says Jo Moncher, vice chair of the Council. Simply stated, suicide prevention is a community issue, not just a concern for the mental health system. By getting different segments of the community involved, educated and active, the NHSPC is attacking the problem at the root, instead of dealing with the tragic [More]

November 1st, 2013

Program focuses on patients with chronic pain syndrome

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For those who suffer from chronic pain, it can be difficult to separate who they are from what they feel. For many, the pain can cause a host of other ailments from depression and anxiety to weight loss or gain, lack of sleep, sexual dysfunction and more. The treatment of choice for many physicians, opiates to curb the pain, can often lead to dependence and substance abuse, further curtailing their ability to live productive lives. While there are many programs that work with chronic pain and/or addiction, the eight-bed, residential Chronic Pain and Recovery Center (CPRC) at Silver Hill Hospital [More]

October 1st, 2013

Children with physical, mental impairments require varied treatment

By Phyllis Hanlon

When it comes to treating mental disorders, psychologists have an arsenal of tools at their disposal. But that armament may need to be refined when the client has a physical disability as well as a psychological impairment. In addition to traditional techniques, psychologists need to draw upon creativity, hone communication skills and practice patience. Mary Talbot-Fox, Ph.D., NCSP, school psychologist at Perkins School in Watertown, Mass. who works with students with vision impairments, explains that psychologists face two major stumbling blocks when working with this population: helping parents and other professionals understand that not every problem is related to the [More]

October 1st, 2013

Wait times rise in Maine

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The numbers are going in the wrong direction for certain clients of the mental health care system in Maine. Although nearly a quarter of a century has passed since Maine settled a lawsuit agreeing to standards of care for patients of the state’s mental health system, the most recent report on its implementation shows a marked increase in the number of those waiting to be assigned caseworkers. According to the report, filed by former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, Esq., who was appointed by the courts to monitor the state’s compliance, there are 543 patients waiting to [More]

October 1st, 2013

Apps embraced by mental health professionals

By Janine Weisman

As a teen with an anxiety disorder growing up in Wilton, Conn., Brandon Cohn felt frustrated spending the first 20 minutes of every therapy session explaining what happened to him over the previous week while the last 10 minutes were devoted to scheduling the next appointment. “Then when I’d left, I would question if I had told her everything I should have told her,” Cohn, now 21, recalls. “I’d realize that I hadn’t slept very well that week so maybe it was just my sleeping habits and she didn’t know about it. All of a sudden, it felt like everything [More]

October 1st, 2013

DCYF grapples with cost of long-term placements

By Janine Weisman

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) has significantly reduced the number of children in state care sent to mental health treatment residential programs in other states over the last several years. But it’s not enough to avoid deficits as the state embarks on the second year of three-year, $107 million System of Care contracts with two non-profit networks. Sixty-eight children were in residential treatment facilities out of state last May when the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held an oversight hearing on DCYF finances at the State House in Providence. Most were in Massachusetts, [More]

October 1st, 2013

Bill authorizes on-site behavioral health treatment at prison

By Phyllis Hanlon

When legislators from Maine toured the Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) in Augusta, as they do every two years, they witnessed firsthand a dangerous situation that promises to get worse. To address the problem, “An Act to Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services” (LD1515/HP1087) was introduced to the legislature this past April. Mary Louise McEwen, BSN, MBA, Riverview’s superintendent reports that the facility, which comprises 44 forensic and 48 civil beds, has experienced a tremendous jump in referrals. “The non-criminally responsible population has steadily grown in the last 10 to 12 years. We have a net gain of five patients [More]

October 1st, 2013

HIPAA Final Rule implemented

By Phyllis Hanlon

On September 23, the Final Rule from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) took effect. This rule reflects changes to HIPAA from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. According to Eric Harris, Ed.D., J.D., consultant to The Trust and member of the APA/ASPPB/Trust Joint Task Force on the Development of Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychologists, any psychologist who, at some point since 2003 when HIPAA was first implemented, has engaged in at least one electronic transaction is responsible for complying with HIPAA regulations. He explains that this refers to any electronic communication, [More]

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