Leading Stories, Articles

April 1st, 2012

Hospital studies CBT for treatment of body dysmorphic disorder

By Jennifer E Chase

A new five-year study at Rhode Island Hospital – in collaboration with the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston – will for the first time test psychosocial treatment for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), an often chronic disorder that clinicians leading the study say affects 1.7-2.4 percent of the U.S. population, and over the course of their lifetime can cause suicidal ideation in some 80 percent of those diagnosed. With suicide attempts in roughly 25 percent of BDD patients, its statistics are higher than most other mental disorders. Katharine A. Phillips, M.D., is the director of the BDD Program at [More]

April 1st, 2012

Possible change in autism definition raises concern

By Jennifer E Chase

With the publish date of the DSM-5 roughly a year away, a new community of skeptics has emerged in autism advocates and clinicians, many of whom fear a revision to the autism spectrum disorder definition may prevent ASD patients from accessing services for which advocates have long fought. A wave of concern was set off in January when at a meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, autism specialist and director of Yale Child Study Center, Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., referred to data in a study that showed that the new diagnostic criteria for autism being considered could exclude many patients who had [More]

March 1st, 2012

APA to develop treatment guidelines

By Nan Shnitzler

For the first time, the American Psychological Association has launched an initiative to develop evidence-based clinical treatment guidelines. The Council of Representatives approved the move at its February 2010 meeting. Since then, a nine-member steering committee has been formed that chose depression and obesity as the first topics to take on. “The APA has been talking about treatment guidelines for quite a few years,” says Jeffrey Magnavita, Ph.D., ABPP, of Glastonbury, Conn., the only full-time practitioner on the steering committee. “APA realized if we’re not the ones leading the movement, other groups would do it without the same level of [More]

March 1st, 2012

Plans to close Taunton State meet with opposition

By Catherine Robertson Souter

With the announced plan to close the 157-year-old Taunton State Hospital, a Massachusetts mental health facility, by the end of the year, the state has taken another step towards consolidating its continuing care mental health services. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) also closed Westborough State Hospital in 2010. The plan is to send 124 of the beds to a new state-of-the-art facility opening this summer, the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (WRCH). Another 45 will be transferred to Tewksbury Hospital, near the New Hampshire border. This move will keep the total number of mental health beds at 626 throughout [More]

March 1st, 2012

Maine tackles DHHS budget

By Nan Shnitzler

For the past three months, Maine has been grappling with a supplemental budget that cuts $220 million from the Department of Health and Human Services for the current and following fiscal years. To varying degrees, the shortfall has been blamed on a jump in MaineCare (Medicaid) enrollment, the tough economy, loss of federal stimulus funds, bad budget assumptions, computer problems in the claims system and unsustainable healthcare costs in general. The across-the-board cuts affect people young and old, disabled and low-income, but don’t target those with mental illness for a change, says Carol Carothers, LCPC, LADC, executive director of NAMI [More]

March 1st, 2012

Initiative prompted by rash of suicides

By Pamela Berard

Youth suicide prevention is at the forefront of efforts in two New England states. Connecticut experienced a rash of suicides last fall while a Rhode Island study showed an increase in events among children under age 15. In the aftermath of five Conn. suicides, psychologists and social workers from state and local agencies joined school officials, students and parents for a public forum. Michael J. Schultz, Ed.D, licensed psychologist, family therapist with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and co-director of its Academy of Workforce Knowledge and Development, says 350 people attended the December forum in Enfield, where two [More]

March 1st, 2012

Options for licensure draw mostly positive reviews

By Phyllis Hanlon

Five years ago, the American Psychological Association shifted its thinking regarding licensure requirements. In lieu of the traditional postdoctoral experience, the APA suggested states allow applicants to substitute supervised training. Recently, Connecticut voted to implement this change. Lisa Gersony, Psy.D., a private practitioner and consultant in Glastonbury, Conn., was among the group of psychologists who lobbied the licensing board to change the state regulation. “We felt the rule had become burdensome,” she says. In her experience, few pertinent or geographically convenient post-docs were available. “So I thought I’d create my own but got a shock. No employer wanted to hire [More]

March 1st, 2012

Commissioner leaves post

By Janine Weisman

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Commissioner Barbara Leadholm delivered the bad news to Taunton State Hospital staff Jan. 24: the 169-bed psychiatric facility would close by year’s end. Leadholm won’t be in charge when the hospital is shuttered. Feb. 5 marked her last day on the job. She announced in December she was leaving to become a principal at Boston healthcare research and consulting firm Health Management Associates, Inc. Leadholm was appointed in 2007 by Gov. Deval Patrick, who announced after his 2010 re-election he would not seek a third term in 2014. Her successor is Marsha Fowler, who had [More]

March 1st, 2012

Maine school engages college community in spotting suicide signs

By Jennifer E Chase

A spate of suicide prevention programs have cropped up on U.S. college and university campuses since the end of 2011, thanks to a nationwide grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Presented under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act of 2004 – so named in honor of Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) whose son committed suicide – $102,000 grants renewable for up to three years are making it possible for anyone to recognize and act on suicide warning signs they see in college students – one worried professor, staff member or friend at a time. In New [More]

March 1st, 2012

New Hampshire charged with violating ADA

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2008, the Bureau of Behavioral Health within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) analyzed the state’s mental health system and presented its findings and suggestions for improvements in a report. “Addressing the Critical Mental Health Needs of New Hampshire’s Citizens: A Strategy for Restoration,” a comprehensive 10-year plan, recommended increasing community residential supports and community-based psychiatric care, developing assertive community treatment teams and creating a retention and development plan for community mental health workforce as well as a budget to implement the changes. But on Feb. 9, six N.H. residents with psychiatric illnesses filed a class action [More]