Leading Stories

October 1st, 2011

Game-Based Programs Help Youth Build Self-Worth

By Pamela Berard

A program in Maine is utilizing adventure and game-based programs to help youth develop self-worth and become competent, connected adults. The Game Loft is an affiliate program of Spurwink Services, which provides behavioral health, educational and residential services throughout the state. Almost 400 youths in the Belfast community participate and a number of other adolescents and alumni volunteer. In a move that seems retro nowadays – an activities center on non-electric gaming. Games and activities include trading card and collectible groups like a Pokemon Club and Yu-Gi-Oh League, special events like a World War II tabletop miniatures game and a [More]

October 1st, 2011

Program provides rest stop for students after hospitalization

By Jennifer E Chase

For teens who aren’t ready for their regular classrooms following a short- or long-term medical absence, a Massachusetts public-school program provides a safe place for them to ease back into the setting where they may learn while they heal. The Brookline Resilient Youth Team (BRYT) is run by the Brookline Community Mental Health Center, which for 50 years has provided a safety net woven of treatment and advocacy services to children, adults and their families suffering serious mental health disorders. BRYT started in 2003 when staff – comprised of medical doctors, licensed psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers – noticed a [More]

October 1st, 2011

Adopted children at greater risk for health problems

By Nan Shnitzler

Adopted children are more likely to develop deficits in physical and behavioral health than children reared in their birth families, 29 versus 12 percent, according to the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. The data are included in the report America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2011 compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 families via telephone. The result was a point-in-time snapshot of the adoption experience. Among the results: children adopted from foster care and older children are more likely to experience moderate to severe problems, as characterized by [More]

October 1st, 2011

Q:A: Psychologist uses music in work, as sideline gig

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Nestled high in New Hampshire’s White Mountains sits Crotched Mountain School, a private, special education residential and day school for children with disabilities. Part of the extensive Crotched Mountain Foundation that also includes a hospital, outpatient clinic, specialty hospital for brain injury patients and outpatient and residential services for adults with disabilities, Crotched Mountain is located on 1,400 acres of beautiful countryside with a swimming pool, athletic center and even New Hampshire’s first wheelchair accessible tree house. A large part of the attraction for parents to the school, which accepts 128 students from ages six through 21, is the fact [More]

October 1st, 2011

Blue chip insurance no promise of psychiatric care

By Nan Shnitzler

Prompt follow-up is key for patients who present to emergency rooms with acute depression. But getting psychiatric outpatient appointments, even for people with premier health plans, can be cumbersome and time consuming, requiring them to navigate tricky voicemail systems and to jump through insurers’ hoops, among other barriers. Both emergency room and primary care physicians report that it’s difficult to secure outpatient mental health services for their patients. Recently, a team of clinicians at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) in greater Boston got so frustrated they staged a “simulated patient” exercise. They posed as patients enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield [More]

October 1st, 2011

CPR for Mental Illness Program is Growing

By Phyllis Hanlon

More than 12 million people receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation training annually, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Mental Health First Aid-USA, a collaborative effort between the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, is attempting to bring similar attention to mental illness. The program originated in Australia in 2001 and came to this country in Feb. 2008. Mary Cimini, MSW, a certified coach and independent trainer of Mental Health First Aid instructors from Smithfield, R.I., attended the first class and notes that only seven states [More]

October 1st, 2011

Cuts to child trauma network affect programs

By Jennifer E Chase

Since Congress formed the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2001 to develop, evaluate and improve treatment models for children suffering trauma, it has achieved one of its primary goals: to increase child and family access to services and programs across the country. The network’s numbers back its success: Between July 2002 and Sept. 2009, when the organization compiled these statistics, the network’s 140 nationwide participating clinics and universities served 322,681 children in 38 states; the network developed 178 downloadable information “products” to educate law enforcement and medical communities about warning signs and trauma treatments, all available at the network’s [More]

September 22nd, 2011

Interest growing in LGBT specialty

By Phyllis Hanlon

For some psychologists, treating clients who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered may present a challenge. Fortunately, a growing body of research, training and educational opportunities exist to help mental health providers offer effective therapy for this population. Bonnie Strickland, Ph.D., president of APA Division 44, The Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, cites growing interest in this area based on membership numbers. “We started in 1985 with 458 members,” she says. “Now we are at 910. We’ve almost doubled in 26 years.” She attributes the boost to the increase in LGBT concerns, [More]

September 22nd, 2011

Task force debates gender identity

By Phyllis Hanlon

A select group of psychologists, psychiatrists and researchers is currently engaged in debate about diagnoses to include, delete and/or add to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which was last updated in 1994. Much of that debate revolves around terminology and definition as it relates to gender. Ellen Schecter, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in private practice in Hanover, N.H., says, “Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is controversial already. Much like homosexuality being better understood as a normal variation rather than a disorder of individuals and hence removed from the DSM, many – including me – think of gender identity [More]

September 22nd, 2011

Vermont on the road to universal health care

By Nan Shnitzler

On May 26, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law a landmark healthcare bill designed to control escalating healthcare costs, expand insurance coverage to all residents and create the first publicly-funded, single-payer insurance system in the country. “This law recognizes an economic and fiscal imperative, that we must control the growth in health care costs that are putting families at economic risk and makes it harder for small employers to do business,” said the Democratic governor at the bill signing ceremony as he turned campaign promise into reality. The law does three main things, says Cassandra Gekas, M.S., health care [More]

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