Articles, Leading Stories

May 1st, 2017

Study: patients prefer psychotherapy over drugs

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Add one more piece of data to the on-going debate about the efficacy of pharmaceutical medication versus therapy to treat mental illness. In a decision about the best form of treatment, patient compliance should play a role, according to Roger Greenberg, Ph.D, distinguished professor and head of the psychology division at SUNY Upstate Medical University. A major roadblock to the effectiveness of any treatment is the participant’s willingness to engage in and to comply with the full course of treatment. And, according to a review of research done by Greenberg and published by the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychotherapy in [More]

May 1st, 2017

Study: Tablet use reduces agitation in dementia patients

By Susan Gonsalves

The idea of using tablet devices as an intervention for older adults, including those with severe dementia, was partially born at a restaurant dinner table, according to Ipsit Vahia, M.D.. He observed that his friends’ boisterous four-year-old, when handed an iPhone, was able to calm down enough so that everyone could enjoy their meals. Vahia, the medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, led a pilot study that built upon previous research showing how art, music and other therapies are viable non-pharmaceutical options for reducing dementia symptoms. The study involved using a wide range of free apps [More]

May 1st, 2017

UVM study links childhood emotional abuse to adult opioid use

By Phyllis Hanlon

Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) have found a correlation between emotional abuse endured during childhood with future opioid use as an adult. Matthew Price, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychological science at UVM and lead author, explained that the study involved 84 Vermont adults who presented with substance use problems. The researchers used the PTSD Checklist (PCL5) as an assessment tool and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale to measure impulsivity. They also administered the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), which evaluates different types of maltreatment, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse and emotional neglect. The goal was to [More]

May 1st, 2017

Austen Riggs CEO talks about future of hospital, health care

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When he came on board at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program in Stockbridge, Mass., as medical director and CEO two years ago, Andrew J. Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., had big plans for the nearly 100-year-old facility. Coming from a post at Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry where he was the director of the MRI Research Program, Gerber was ready to move from a research setting to one where he had greater opportunity to put some of his work into practice both within the hospital and beyond its grounds. Gerber has begun to steer [More]

April 1st, 2017

Mobile psychologists: House calls making a comeback

By Phyllis Hanlon

In the 1930s, approximately 40 percent of all patient encounters happened in the home, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. By 1950, that number had dropped to 10 percent and 30 years later, the practice was almost non-existent. Recently, however, house calls have been making a comeback, but with a twist. In some cases, behavioral health specialists are becoming part of an integrated care team that aims to treat the whole patient. Kirke McVay, MA, private practitioner in Bennington, Vermont, made his first mobile visit several years ago, when one of his patients had spinal surgery and was [More]

April 1st, 2017

Advocates worry about Medicaid reforms

By Janine Weisman

The state of Maine is seeking federal permission to limit the eligibility of “able bodied” adults for Medicaid benefits to five years among other coverage restrictions designed to lower costs. Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary C. Mayhew announced the state’s intention to seek demonstration waivers from the federal government in a Jan. 25 letter to then-incoming U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price posted on her state department’s Web site. The waivers would allow Maine to implement a series of proposed reforms changing the benefits and type of access Mainers have to MaineCare, as the [More]

April 1st, 2017

Task force studies custody status of voluntarily admitted children

By Pamela Berard

Under proposed Connecticut legislation, a task force will study voluntary admissions to the Department of Children and Families and determine whether general law amendments are needed to prohibit DCF from requesting or requiring that the parent or guardian of voluntarily admitted children terminate parental rights or transfer legal custody of the child to DCF. The task force is part of a substitute bill stemming from earlier proposed legislation (H.B. 6297) heard in the Joint Committee on Children and introduced by State Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, to prohibit DCF from “requesting, recommending or requiring” a parent/guardian terminate parental rights or transfer [More]

April 1st, 2017

Executive orders raise fears

By Pamela Berard

The Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA) strongly condemned President Trump’s executive orders related to refugees, immigrants and other visitors to the United States. In a statement, the MPA said President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which created extensive and in some cases indefinite, limitations on the admission of refugees and other visitors from specific countries, and the Jan. 25 executive order, which makes it easier to deport immigrants, are “very likely to increase stress and trauma among vulnerable populations, limit scientific progress and increase the likelihood of discrimination and stigma.” Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D., MPA director of professional affairs, said the MPA [More]

April 1st, 2017

Connecticut report assesses coverage rates

By Janine Weisman

Connecticut’s top insurers denied fewer claims for mental health services in 2015 than the year before even as they continued to reject claims for residential care at high rates, according to a recent state report. Eight managed care insurance companies rejected about 6.4 percent of claims for mental health services, an analysis of the 2016 Consumer Report Card released by the Connecticut Insurance Department shows. That’s compared to the roughly 8.3 percent of mental health claims submitted in the previous year. For nearly two decades, the state agency charged with regulating the insurance industry has published an annual report providing [More]

April 1st, 2017

School culture change is goal of Commission

By Pamela Berard

A Massachusetts commission of educators and mental health leaders is helping schools create safe and supportive learning environments for students. The 19-member Safe and Supportive Schools Commission was created as part of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework through An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence in 2014. The law directed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to develop a state-wide safe and supportive schools framework and self-assessment tool, based on those created and outlined by the Behavioral Health and Public Schools (BHPS) Task Force in 2011. Commission Co-Chair Susan Cole, director of the Trauma and Learning Policy [More]

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