Leading Stories, Articles

March 1st, 2012

Social justice activism a key component of work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” When Susan E. Hawes, Ph.D., started a yearly trip to the impoverished South African community of Soweto, it was not to change the world. Rather, it was an opportunity to give back in a way that was meaningful to her. For the past three years, she has brought a group of four students to the town to work with HIV positive children and the agency that serves them, providing screening to help [More]

February 1st, 2012

Involuntary outpatient treatment bill on legislative docket

By Phyllis Hanlon

Fourteen years ago, Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) filed a bill (H.1419) intended to prevent tragedies because of medication non-compliance and inadequate treatment for mental health issues. In light of mental health-related tragedies in Danvers and Weymouth this past fall, the bill is garnering renewed attention. According to Khan, who is a psychiatric nurse and clinical specialist and serves as house chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, in 1998, NAMI (the National Alliance of Mental Illness) of Massachusetts approached her with a request to file this bill. In the ensuing years, she has continued to [More]

February 1st, 2012

Flooding impacts VT facilities

By Pamela Berard

Legislature ponders plan Since flooding from Tropical Storm Irene forced the closure of the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital (VHS) last August, community care facilities have stepped up to fill the void. Staff members are gamely coping with their new reality, while hoping for quick action from the state. Among facilities that have stepped up are the Brattleboro Retreat, which originally took in 15 state hospital patients and Fletcher Allen Health Care, which took in seven. Both facilities are now admitting patients who in the past would have been sent to the state hospital, meaning they are seeing patients with higher [More]

February 1st, 2012

Cuts to mental health budgets affect New England

By Jennifer E Chase

Massachusetts is worst hit Of the changes to healthcare budgets across the country since 2009, New England is among the regions most in flux, according to a report issued by the National Alliance for Mental Illness. And though some New England states have actually seen an increase in their mental health budgets, Massachusetts has cut care by $55 million, more than any state in the region. In NAMI’s report “State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis,” Mass. is listed as losing 8.1 percent of its operating costs, which has resulted in cutting or shuttering programs offered by the Department of [More]

February 1st, 2012

Meditation linked to improved cognitive control

By Phyllis Hanlon

When Judson Brewer, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and medical director at the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic began meditating 13 years ago, he hoped to achieve a sense of calm and become “less of a jerk.” What he didn’t expect was that this practice would lead to greater cognitive control and theoretical links to conditions like attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism and Alzheimer’s disease. According to Brewer, lead researcher on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, during meditation certain regions of the brain are deactivated, specifically the “default mode network,” which deals with [More]

February 1st, 2012

Mental illness tops disease burden among youth

By Jennifer E Chase

According to a study released by the World Health Organization at the end of 2011, neuropsychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and others, now account for 45 percent of the disease burden among youth ages 10-24. But in spite of mental illness diagnoses as the main source of the burden (the next closest categories are “unintentional injuries” and “infectious diseases” at 12 and 10 percents, respectively) psychologists treating young people are encouraged by the report for its highlighting diagnoses whose stigmas may diminish the more people talk about how common they have become. Randy Auerbach, Ph.D., directs [More]

February 1st, 2012

Psychologists bring insights to stage

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Was Hamlet depressed or suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder? Would Medea, who turned a vengeful hatred for her ex-husband toward her own children in the ancient Greek tragedy, be diagnosed today with borderline personality disorder? How would other heroes or anti-heroes, fare on today’s therapeutic coaches? In creating a new theater company, Boston’s Psych Drama, clinical psychologist Wendy Lippe, Ph.D., decided to use the theater as a way to both take a closer look at the psychology behind these classic and classical plays and to give audiences insight into their own psyches. Starting with a modern take on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” [More]

February 1st, 2012

Legislative, other priorities are highlighted

By Pamela Berard

Editor’s note: A team of reporters from New England Psychologist recently spoke with key state association members to learn about legislative and practice issues important to them in 2012. Connecticut Legislators in Hartford last year approved the establishment of a quasi-public agency to develop a health insurance exchange, making Connecticut one of 14 states to set up marketplaces for consumers to shop for health insurance either online or by telephone. The move meets a requirement of federal healthcare reform. The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange would serve individuals not enrolled in an employer-sponsored insurance program, Medicare or Medicaid and small businesses [More]

January 1st, 2012

Prevention methods part of new law

By Phyllis Hanlon

It’s been a long road since Gov. Deval Patrick introduced his proposal to bring gambling to Massachusetts on Sept. 17, 2007. But after more than four years of additional study, debate and compromise, Patrick signed a bill on Nov. 22 that will allow construction of three casinos and a slot machine operation in the Commonwealth. Although supporters hail the new legislation, some consumers and advocacy groups have expressed concern about potential negative social consequences. While much of the wrangling over the casino issue has taken place on the political stage, some community-minded agencies have been working diligently to prevent repercussions [More]

January 1st, 2012

Insurance fight for eating disorder patients continues

By Jennifer E Chase

Some New England companies support population For 10 years, James Greenblatt, M.D. has fought a near-daily occupational hazard. It has followed him from his last job to his current one and has robbed him of hours he’ll never get back while highlighting unfairness in the country’s managed care system – case by upsetting case. As the new medical director of the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center in Massachusetts, instead of spending more time with patients who need CEDC’s aggressive residential care, Greenblatt is often subsumed with arguing the severity of their cases to prove that their diagnosis of having an acute [More]