Articles, Leading Stories

January 1st, 2015

Prison unit addresses abuse

By Catherine Robertson Souter

According to N.H. Corrections Department officials, nearly 85 percent of prisoners in the state’s penitentiary system are dealing with substance abuse issues. While not all have been incarcerated as a direct result of addiction, it is a problem that does not go away, even under secure lockup. “It is an issue all prisons have to deal with,” says Jeffrey Lyons, public information officer for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections. “Drugs come in behind postage stamps or on envelopes or thrown over walls or passed through a kiss by a visitor or hidden in a body cavity. They will find [More]

January 1st, 2015

WRAP workshops expand across Vermont

By Pamela Berard

Vermont’s Blueprint for Health initiative is helping to coordinate and expand throughout the state a series of free, evidence-based self-management workshops to help residents with health maintenance as well as prevention of a range of chronic health issues. As part of this effort, Blueprint for Health and the Department of Mental Health, in collaboration with the Vermont Center for Independent Living and Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, worked to help spread Copeland Center Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) workshops across the state. WRAP, a peer-led and peer-engaged wellness and recovery system, helps participants decrease and prevent troubling feelings and behaviors, increase personal [More]

January 1st, 2015

Greater Burlington takes step to address homelessness

By Howard Newman

Sixteen nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations in the greater Burlington, Vt., area have joined to try a different approach to combating homelessness. It’s the 100,000 Homes program, modeled after a national initiative of the same name and covering the towns of Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski and Colchester. The nation-wide 100,000 Homes program was run by Community Solutions, a national non-profit. Although the national program is no longer running – it’s been replaced by a new initiative called Zero: 2016 – Community Solutions has established guidelines which the greater Burlington project is now using. “In a small state that has [More]

January 1st, 2015

Search for new director underway

By Pamela Berard

As 2014 came to a close, interviewing for a new executive director of the Massachusetts Psychological Association was underway. Operations Manager Pamela Goodspeed, who is serving as interim executive director during the search, says the MPA would continue to accept resumes for the position through the end of January, if need be, until the position is filled. “When the right candidate is here, the timetable will move quickly,” Goodspeed says. Former Executive Director Elena Eisman, Ed.D., who also served as director of professional affairs, stepped down from her post a year ago, after more than 20 years in the role. [More]

January 1st, 2015

Brattleboro Retreat responds to third failed inspection

By Phyllis Hanlon

On Oct. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted a follow-up visit to the Brattleboro Retreat after previous inspections in June and August revealed conditions that jeopardized patients’ safety. Staff interviews and record reviews at that time found the hospital not to be in compliance with “Conditions of Participation: Governing Body, Patient Rights and Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement,” according to the CMS survey report. Brattleboro Retreat developed a Plan of Correction that addressed three specific issues: a patient who had wrapped an elastic bandage around the neck; an unattended patient who attempted to drown in a bathtub; and [More]

January 1st, 2015

Impact of medical marijuana to be studied

By Rivkela Brodsky

As more states move toward legalizing the use of medical marijuana, the timing is right for researchers to start examining the impact of the substance on the brain. Thanks to a $500,000 grant from best-selling author and mental health advocate Patricia Cornwell, researchers at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School are launching a study on the effects of medical marijuana on the mind. “It’s a new thing to look at the impact of medical marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function,” says Staci Gruber, Ph.D., lead investigator, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital and associate [More]

January 1st, 2015

Research focuses on creativity

By Catherine Robertson Souter

From Beethoven to Vincent Van Gogh to Sylvia Plath, the path to creative greatness is strewn with men and women who are said to have suffered from mental health disorders. At least in popular culture, the line between creativity and mental illness has long been a fine one. As far back as Aristotle, it was believed that madness was connected with genius and that the “Muse” was strongest in those who were unstable. Current researchers, including Shelley Carson, Ph.D., associate of the department of psychology and lecturer in extension at Harvard University, have a different take on the issue. While [More]

December 1st, 2014

Epidemics: psychologists urge vigilance

By Phyllis Hanlon

Government officials attired in hazmat suits; dead bodies under blankets; hospital personnel wearing facemasks, gowns and head coverings – images like these have flashed across the front pages of newspapers and television screens across the country since word of the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa broke. Once the illness arrived in the United States, news stories became personal for some individuals. But psychologists urge watchfulness, rather than panic, when it comes to the possibility of an extensive outbreak. An Oct. 14 poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 73 percent of Americans believe that Ebola will be [More]

December 1st, 2014

Behavioral health system examined at hearing

By Janine Weisman

A  55-year-old patient with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and chronic depression potentially may have three entities overseeing his health care – his employer-sponsored health plan, a behavioral health manager and a pharmacy benefits manager. If only the entities communicated with each other. An example of how this scenario might play out is if the patient’s depression worsens and he ignores a message from his pharmacy benefits manager to replenish his supply of ACE-inhibitors and beta blockers prescribed by his primary care physician. The patient then becomes suicidal and ends up in the emergency room where his Managed Behavioral Healthcare [More]

December 1st, 2014

Study shows access to psychiatric care is difficult

By Rivkela Brodsky

Just getting that first appointment with a private psychiatrist is a difficult process and having insurance doesn’t make it easier, according to a new study by Harvard Medical School researchers. “Having insurance does not mean having access to care,” says J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study, an attending psychiatrist at Cambridge Health Alliance and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The study, published online in October by Psychiatric Services, found that access to outpatient psychiatric services in Boston, Houston and Chicago was scarce even if the patient had private insurance or was [More]

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