Articles, Leading Stories

September 22nd, 2011

Hospital fires psych unit staff

By Nan Shnitzler

Boston’s Carney Hospital fired the entire staff of its adolescent psychiatry unit at the end of May after allegations of abuse prompted an investigation that raised significant concerns about patient safety and quality of care, reported The Boston Globe and the Dorchester Reporter. On July 6, The Boston Globe reported that the state validated three complaints of abuse by mental health counselors plus one complaint of neglect. The hospital fired 13 nurses and 16 mental health counselors after engaging former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, now a lawyer with Proskauer Rose LLP, to investigate and report on conditions on the 14-bed [More]

September 22nd, 2011

New gambling e-tool unveiled

By Pamela Berard

A new e-tool is said to be a breakthrough for the screening and intervention of gambling-related problems. The Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, this spring rolled out a free online screening and intervention device that they say is the first extremely brief online gambling screen for current gambling-related problems to provide targeted brief interventions. The three-item Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen is based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for pathological gambling. Individuals complete the anonymous, three-item screen, which then provides a brief intervention [More]

September 20th, 2011

Bills concern licensure for behavior analysts

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Last year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a law mandating health plans cover “medically necessary” services for the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Services covered under this law include habilitative or rehabilitative care such as evidence-based treatment programs including applied behavior analysis. Often called the “gold standard” of care for autism, behavior analysis as a field has grown exponentially in recent years with the explosion of the disorder. With more than 780 behavior analysts in the state (according to the Web site for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, or BACB, a private certification corporation), the state is taking a closer [More]

September 19th, 2011

The perils of ‘puppy love’ bring teen dating violence to the forefront

By Jennifer E Chase

If you walk out of your office and pass a gaggle of kids in your community, one of them has been abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend. The numbers vary depending which national organization you listen to, but whether it’s one in 10, one in five, or one in three, the statistics for dating violence among youth are unsettling. Worse, two of three teens know someone in their circle who is being harmed by a partner. Adolescent dating violence can mirror adult domestic violence, so most professionals could recognize the signs. But with teens’ rapture with social media and today’s [More]

September 18th, 2011

Kennedy launches 10-year initiative

By Pamela Berard

Patrick Kennedy is beginning a new chapter, but his dedication to mental health issues continues. The former Rhode Island Congressman retired this year after eight terms in office, where he championed mental health causes, authoring the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The cause remains a personal one for Kennedy, who himself had a long-term struggle with depression and addiction and he has recently launched a 10-year initiative, One Mind for Research (1mind4research.org), which aims to unify research and funding initiatives for seemingly disparate brain ailments. Kennedy co-founded the initiative with California businessman and philanthropist Garen Staglin, who [More]

December 16th, 2010

Crimes against children are decreasing

By Catherine Robertson Souter

If you took the nation’s pulse only by reading newspapers, you’d probably believe that bullying and crimes against children are on the rise. In fact, those reports, sensationalized or not, may be positively impacting the rates of crimes against children. In a study conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, researchers found that rates of bullying and reports of sexual assault against children had declined in the years between 2003 and 2008. Based on two nationally representative sample of children ages two to 17, the study saw a reduction of bullying from 22 [More]

December 16th, 2010

Bill would extend technology assistance to mental health providers

By Pamela Berard

Time is running out, but Congress is considering legislation that would amend the Public Health Service Act and the Social Security Act to extend health information technology assistance eligibility to mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities. The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 would add mental health and substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities and community mental health centers to those eligible for electronic health record incentive payments established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Companion bills were introduced in the Senate (by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, [More]

December 1st, 2010

CDC adds depression module to behavioral risk survey

By Nan Shnitzler

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included a depression questionnaire in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey for the first time in 2006 and again in 2008. Combined data revealed that an estimated nine percent of U.S. adults experienced depression during the two weeks preceding the survey, including 3.4 percent who met criteria for major depression. A total of 235,067 adults in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were polled in telephone surveys. The findings were reported in this past Oct. 1 CDC “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” Depression [More]

December 1st, 2010

Shared decision making embraces consumers

By Nan Shnitzler

Shared decision making (SDM) is an interactive, collaborative process between consumers and their health care providers about decisions pertinent to the consumer’s treatment and services, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The SDM model promotes self-determination and empowerment and enhances consumer involvement in health care. The Institute of Medicine cited consumer-centered care and approaches like SDM as a way to achieve better outcomes in mental health care and substance abuse in its 2006 report, “Crossing the Quality Chasm.” SDM has gained traction in physical health care and is starting to make inroads in mental health care [More]

December 1st, 2010

Guidelines for depression treatment revised

By Ami Albernaz

The American Psychiatric Association recently revised its guidelines for treating Major Depressive Disorder, covering everything from clinician-patient rapport to the full range of antidepressants to alternative therapies. Key recommendations included more frequent use of rating scales during assessment; use of electroconvulsive therapy as well as new, technologically advanced therapies in patients with treatment-resistant depression; and regular aerobic exercise as an adjunct to treatment. A group of Association members with extensive experience in assessing and treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) reviewed more than 13,000 articles published between 1999, shortly before the last guidelines were released and 2006. Through the five-year review [More]

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