Articles, Leading Stories

July 1st, 2010

Military Support Program running out of funds

By Pamela Berard

A Connecticut program that provides behavioral health services to soldiers and their families is seeking federal funding to continue. The Military Support Program (MSP) has helped hundreds of military personnel and family members with free confidential outpatient counseling, referrals, advocacy and case management services since its inception in 2007. The state created the program – said to be the first of its kind in the nation to serve both military personnel and family members – with funds from the sale of Fairfield Hills Hospital and it falls under the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funds are [More]

July 1st, 2010

Vermont Senate nixes proposal to track free drug samples

By Nan Shnitzler

Last November, the Vermont Department of Mental Health faced budget cuts in excess of $20 million for the 2011 fiscal year. When the legislature adjourned its session in the wee hours May 13, the cut had been trimmed to about $3 million. Credit a slightly improved economy, a few more federal dollars and a state budget approach called Challenges for Change. Challenges for Change is legislation designed to fund desirable outcomes by focusing on efficiencies rather than eliminating services and hiking taxes. On paper, it saved nearly $38 million of a $150 million budget deficit in a total state budget [More]

July 1st, 2010

Q&A: Theory: Psychological development has two dimensions

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A school of thought, first introduced in the 1970s, holds that depression and perhaps most mental illness, stems from disruptions in psychological development. Introduced by Sidney J. Blatt, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, the theory contends that psychological development has two basic dimensions: a sense of self and a relationship with others. Any disruptions or an exaggerated emphasis on either dimension will lead to mental disorders. According to Blatt, this theory is a break from current treatment modalities that would see illness as a cluster of symptoms. In two books on the subject, “Experiences of Depression: [More]

June 1st, 2010

Bullying – 21st century style presents challenges for targets, caregivers

By Phyllis Hanlon

Go back to your middle school years and you’ll probably remember at least one student who picked on the boy with a lisp or the girl who wore glasses. He might have shoved other students in the cafeteria, disrupted the kick ball game on the playground or shouted obscenities from the bus windows. Fast-forward and you’ll find similar behavior today, but with a twist – advanced technological tools and shifts in societal thinking have made bullying a 24/7, equal opportunity problem. Elaine Ducharme, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in Glastonbury and member of the Connecticut Children and Youth [More]

June 1st, 2010

Study on homelessness offers many insights

By Ami Albernaz

As complex and overwhelming an issue as homelessness is, there’s plenty psychologists can do to tackle its separate components and help alleviate the problem. Such were the findings of a report released in February by an APA presidential task force on psychology’s contribution in ending homelessness. The report, commissioned by James Bray, Ph.D., during his tenure as APA president last year, concludes that psychologists can help on both a one-on-one level – helping to treat substance abuse and other mental health disorders – and by serving as liaisons to community services, whether related to housing, employment or other areas. In [More]

June 1st, 2010

Recognizing and treating adult ADHD

By Nan Shnitzler

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., recalls how one adult patient described a case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: erectile dysfunction of the mind. “That captures the sense of helplessness and puzzlement folks have about this disorder,” says Brown, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. “Normal people can make themselves focus. For ADHD sufferers, it’s really tough. Everyone gets down on them, parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, even themselves.” The estimated prevalence of adult ADHD is 4.4 percent, according to the National Comorbidity Survey. Only about 11 percent of eligible patients receive treatment. The disorder typically starts in [More]

June 1st, 2010

Mass. joins lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson

By Elinor Nelson

Massachusetts is joining a U.S. Attorney-filed federal lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. It alleges that the drug company paid kickbacks to boost the number of elderly nursing home patients taking anti-psychotic drugs like Risperdal. According to the complaint, the company’s actions during 1999 to 2004 violated the federal anti-kickback statute and False Claims Act. It alleges Johnson & Johnson paid its customer Omnicare, Inc., the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy, tens of millions of dollars to have Omnicare pharmacists recommend Risperdal for nursing home patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms. The payments, it alleges, were structured to subvert federal law [More]

June 1st, 2010

Suicide prevention plan updated

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When it comes to suicide, statistics alone don’t tell the whole story. On one hand, New England and the entire Northeast have the lowest overall rates of suicide. In a 2005 study, the Northeast had an average suicide rate of 8.1 compared to a high of 12.1 in the west. Montana had the highest and the District of Columbia the lowest. But, even though Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island came in 44th, 47th and 48th, the more rural New England states had higher rates of suicide. Maine was 18th, Vermont was 22nd and New Hampshire, with its overall ranking of [More]

June 1st, 2010

Number of homeless youth on the rise

By Ami Albernaz

The APA task force report on homelessness offered a sobering picture of homeless youth, noting that around 7.6 percent of young people ages 12-20 spend at least one night per year in a shelter. That statistic, though, is from 1998; in recent years – particularly given the downturn in the economy – the numbers of teens and young adults without homes appears to be growing. For the 2008-2009 school year, the number of homeless youth enrolled in schools nationwide increased 17 percent. In Massachusetts, there are now around 12,000 homeless teenagers, of whom 5,000 are unaccompanied (meaning not in the [More]

June 1st, 2010

Maine passes assisted outpatient treatment law

By Phyllis Hanlon

In April, Maine enhanced its existing Progressive Treatment Plan, which authorized two public hospitals – Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor and Riverview Psychiatry Center in Augusta – to ask the courts for a commitment order of community-based treatment for six months with services provided by the Assertive Community Treatment program. Some of the provisions in the new law include expanding the criteria for involuntary commitment, extending the treatment timeframe from six to 12 months and allowing licensed physicians, registered physician’s assistants, certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners and licensed clinical psychologists to sign involuntary commitment papers. Maine’s assisted [More]

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