Articles, Leading Stories

April 1st, 2017

Americans’ stress levels on the rise, survey says

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the first time in a decade of surveys, the American Psychological Association has seen a significant rise in stress levels in America. In 2016, after hearing from APA members that the 2016 presidential election was a growing issue for clients, the organization decided to address the elephant/donkey in the room and add a question about politics and stress to its annual Stress in America survey. “We were shocked when we got the data,” said Vaile Wright, Ph.D., a member of APA’s Stress in America team. “We released that original data and were immediately asked by members if we were [More]

April 1st, 2017

Electronic ties increase stress levels

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Although election stress runs high, the highest amount of stress is with Americans who are too tied to their electronic devices. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey, people who constantly check email, texts and social media accounts report stress levels of 5.3 out of 10. Those who check less frequently reported a level of 4.4 on average. The results are even worse for workers who can’t seem to get away from the job. According to the study, for employed Americans who maintain constant close contact with work, stress levels run at an average of 6.0 out [More]

April 1st, 2017

Court decision prompts bill on disclosure

By Rivkela Brodsky

Legislation introduced in the Vermont Legislature this session is meant to provide clarity on what a mental health professional’s duty is to disclose information concerning a client. A Vermont Supreme Court decision in 2016 made it unclear. The Vermont Supreme Court was asked to rule on the case that stemmed from an assault in 2011 of Michael Kuligoski by a former patient of Battleboro Retreat after the patient was discharged from the mental health facility and was undergoing outpatient treatment with Northeast Kingdom Human Services. The suit (Kuligoski v. Brattleboro Retreat, 2016 VT 54A) claimed Brattleboro Retreat and Northeast Kingdom [More]

April 1st, 2017

Study: Psychopaths feel fleeting regret

By Susan Gonsalves

A Yale study concludes that psychopaths can feel regret but it doesn’t affect their future choices. The research, published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale University and Joshua Buckholtz, Ph.D., assistant professor at Harvard University. Baskin-Sommers explained that they recruited a group of 62 male community members aged between 18 and 55 who are at risk for engaging in anti-social behavior; 70 percent had been arrested and half, incarcerated at some point. She said the purpose of the research was to determine whether the subjects, who [More]

April 1st, 2017

Research focuses on self-injury

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Cutting, burning, scratching or biting the skin as way to regulate negative emotions is on the rise, according to experts, especially among adolescents. Using physical pain to reduce emotional pain is not a new phenomenon and, with the inclusion of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) as a “condition for further study” rather than as only a symptom of other diagnoses in the DSM-5 in 2013, there has been an increase in research on the topic. The work of Jill M. Hooley, D.Phil., professor of psychology and head of the clinical psychology program and the experimental psychopathology program at Harvard University, has opened [More]

March 1st, 2017

Integrated practices: Moving toward comprehensive health care

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources and Services Administration report that some primary care offices are becoming a “gateway” for individuals who have a combination of behavioral and physical health needs. The growing prevalence of co-existing physical and behavioral challenges is prompting a closer look at integrated practices. Corey D. Smith, director of behavioral health training at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency Program, which trains medical doctors and nurses in collaboration with the University of New England (UNE) College of Medicine and UNE’s College of Pharmacy, pointed out that few medical conditions present without a [More]

March 1st, 2017

What will ACA replacement mean for mental health?

By Janine Weisman

Uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s often repeated campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act has changed the way Republicans talk about it: Instead of “repeal,” the emphasis is now on “repair.” Even so, mental health advocates are worried that any fix to the 2010 federal health care law might mean the loss of historic protections requiring health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services. Before ACA made these services “essential benefits,” individual and small group market policies rarely covered them. “The Affordable Care Act, put in extreme terms, is a life-or-death issue for people [More]

March 1st, 2017

Wait times still long in EDs

By Pamela Berard

Patients having mental health emergencies who require hospital admission wait nearly four times longer for an inpatient bed than their medical counterparts, according to a study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Additionally, mental health patients waited more than five times as long for transfer to another facility, according to the study, “Analysis of Emergency Department Length of Stay for Mental Health Patients at Ten Massachusetts Emergency Departments.” “Boarding, the practice of prolonged waiting in the emergency department for an inpatient hospital bed or transfer to another facility, is a pervasive public health problem that disproportionately affects mental health patients,” [More]

March 1st, 2017

Safe rooms at EDs provide temporary respite

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The signing of the Community Mental Health Act in 1963 introduced a major shift in mental health care. Signed by President John F. Kennedy, the act initiated a shifting of federal resources away from large institutions with the goal of increasing community-based mental health treatment programs. Flash forward more than 50 years later to find that all did not turn out as planned. While there are fewer people committed to inpatient care, community services have not matched expected growth. The result? Fewer beds and less local services have led to higher levels of incarceration among the mentally ill and people [More]

March 1st, 2017

Reimbursement for telehealth still an issue

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In Massachusetts, Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it would add coverage for telehealth services early last year. While the coverage was expanded, however, BCBS limited its reimbursement rates, falling short of parity with face-to-face services. That announcement triggered questions for many psychologists in the Commonwealth. What other insurance companies provide coverage and at what rates? When videoconferencing technology first became widely available in the late 1990s, professionals in the mental health field started to ask how they could use this new technology. If you can see someone, gauge their reactions, read body language and provide nearly the same [More]

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