Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2014

Proposed hospital to chip away at region’s shortfall

By Susan Gonsalves

Southeastern Massachusetts is taking a step toward addressing a shortage of facilities for behavioral health needs with plans to build a 77,000 square foot, 120-bed inpatient hospital in Dartmouth. The anticipated opening date for the $30 million project is fall of 2015. Acadia Healthcare, a national provider of psychiatric and addiction care based in Tennessee, is partnering with Southcoast Health, a local non-profit provider. The hospital is expected to be located on a 21-acre site with parking for more than 200 cars and feature five core units on three stories servicing a population ranging from adolescents to the elderly. Because [More]

October 1st, 2014

New PTSD study reveals high correlation with physical ailments

By Howard Newman

There are approximately 283,000 male and 400 female Vietnam combat veterans currently living with posttraumatic stress disorder. Another 83,500 male and 150 female combat veterans have sub- threshold PTSD. And now there’s a new generation of PTSD sufferers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a significant problem for many American families. Yet our understanding of PTSD, along with its psychological and physical ramifications, remains a work in progress. Abt Associates, a research firm in Cambridge, Mass., recently completed a new analysis of PTSD, the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS). This comprehensive study assessed the course of warzone-related [More]

October 1st, 2014

Law requires Medicaid coverage of autism services

By Rivkela Brodsky

A new law in Massachusetts will expand assistance and services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders when it goes into effect in November. Signed by Gov. Deval Patrick on Aug. 5, House Bill 4047 requires Medicaid coverage of evidence-based services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders; allows individuals on the spectrum with a higher IQ to qualify for disability services; creates a teacher endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders; creates a savings and expense account so that families can save money for the future of a child on the spectrum; and makes a Massachusetts commission on autism permanent, among other items. [More]

October 1st, 2014

Heywood Healthcare to purchase property for mental health services

By Phyllis Hanlon

As early as the end of the year, Heywood Healthcare, an independent system that operates the non-profit, 134-bed acute-care Heywood Hospital in Gardner and Athol Hospital, a 25-bed, non-profit critical access facility, could close a deal to purchase a 20-acre property in Petersham. According to Win Brown, president and CEO of Heywood Healthcare, his system is seeking to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services in North Central Massachusetts. “There is a lack of inpatient, residential and outpatient services as well as rehabilitation for addiction,” he says. “Our board of trustees created a strategic plan that focused on [More]

October 1st, 2014

‘Quack’ psychology practices come under fire

By Phyllis Hanlon

In October 2012, a team of researchers from Simmons College, the University of Scranton and DePaul University conducted a Delphi poll, i.e., a structured, two-round systematic forecasting method, to identify “pseudoscientific, unvalidated, potentially harmful or ‘quack’ psychotherapies” used in the treatment of children and adolescents. This past April, the authors published their findings. Lead researcher Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., dean, College of Science and Health at DePaul University in Chicago, previously professor of psychology, health sciences dean and associate provost at Simmons College in Boston, together with Simmons’ graduate students Madeline R. McMann and Annika O. Stout, polled 139 doctoral-level [More]

October 1st, 2014

Study: xenon gas could reduce or omit painful memories

By Rivkela Brodsky

There may be a new treatment for those dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. The study, published Aug. 27 in PLOS ONE, suggests that xenon gas – used as an anesthetic and for diagnostic imaging – could reduce or erase the memories of traumatic events. Researchers studied the use of xenon gas in rats who had been conditioned to fear certain environmental stimuli by foot shocks. “We were able to block this learning and memory phenomenon called reconsolidation,” says Edward G. Meloni, Ph.D., assistant psychologist at McLean Hospital and [More]

October 1st, 2014

Legalization of marijuana could harm young users

By Pamela Berard

Psychologists discussed the possible public health implications of marijuana legalization – including the negative effects on the brains of teenagers and young adults who engage in frequent marijuana use – during a symposium at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. Krista Lisdahl, Ph.D, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says that regular cannabis use – considered once-a-week – is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth. Lisdahl says marijuana use is increasing among young people, and that brain imaging studies of regular marijuana users have shown significant [More]

October 1st, 2014

Psychologist studies how culture affects visual pathways

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The scientific research that makes a big splash on the front page of local media or gets top billing in a scientific journal tends to be information that has a direct application in the real world. How exercise helps children with ADHD or research on how to attain happiness are samples of topics that will draw attention on the newsstand or get page clicks up. But what these outlets don’t usually show are the many years of research that led to those “groundbreaking” studies. For some researchers, those who do not expect their work ever to make the front pages, [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Predictive neglect: programs may modify outcomes

By Phyllis Hanlon

In spite of awareness and education campaigns, mental illness still carries a stigma that can affect individuals in the community, workplace and home. For families, a mental health diagnosis can have devastating consequences when it leads to termination of parental rights under the “predictive neglect” doctrine. A legal term, predictive neglect refers to the removal of a child from the home when there is reasonable certainty the child is in danger, says Barbara Claire, agency legal director for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). “But this is more about abuse. For instance, if three kids previously had been abused, [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Reforms proposed for Bridgewater State Hospital

By Janine Weisman

One patient was held in seclusion for 13 months despite no evidence he showed a risk of imminent harm. Another was held in seclusion for five months, even though progress notes indicated he was “well behaved.” And a patient presenting symptoms of paranoia who was refusing medication was strapped in four-point restraints and forced to take medication – but no court decree had authorized involuntary medication. Several of these cases of individuals with mental illness subjected to abuse and neglect at Bridgewater State Hospital are detailed in a July 11 report by the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts. Despite its [More]

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