Articles, Leading Stories

May 1st, 2010

Psych hospital limitations under Medicare to be eliminated

By Phyllis Hanlon

The passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 has paved the way for other types of reform related to behavioral health care. Four New England senators are continuing the fight against discrimination as it relates to seniors who suffer mental health issues. On February 24, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) filed the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act (S.3028), a bill that would eliminate the 190-day limit for Medicare recipients who obtain care in a psychiatric healthcare facility. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) co-sponsored the [More]

May 1st, 2010

Manual changes provoke debate

By Ami Albernaz

For the past few years, proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have been scrutinized and their merits debated by mental health professionals. Changes in the new manual, due out in May 2013 and meant to reflect new information in neurology, genetics and the behavioral sciences, will likely include new diagnoses such as binge eating disorder and hypersexual disorder and a new category for “behavioral addictions.” Among the most discussed changes to date include folding Asperger’s syndrome into a category called autism spectrum disorder and adding a diagnosis of temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria, in [More]

May 1st, 2010

Networking sites raise ethical questions

By Pamela Berard

Social networking Web sites like Facebook are ubiquitous especially among younger generations who’ve grown up with technology. But with these sites, medical professionals face many potential ethical questions about doctor-patient relationships. David H. Brendel, M.D., Ph.D, chair of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s Institutional Review Board in Massachusetts, recently addressed these issues in a Journal of Medical Ethics article. Does “friending” violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Should physicians, psychologists and other professionals include information from these sites in a patient’s medical record? Might accepting or rejecting an online friendship with a patient compromise treatment? And can a professional disclose too much personal information online? [More]

May 1st, 2010

Non-profit group shares terrorism research

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When a former student pitched the idea of a non-profit organization to promote the interdisciplinary and international sharing of terrorism research, Tali K. Walters, Ph.D., had one of those moments. The forensic psychologist, working in private practice and with the Lindemann Mental Health Center in Boston and as an assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, had been looking for a way to “give back,” a way to do meaningful volunteer work. Although she had not considered terrorism research, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Now, four years after its launch, the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) [More]

April 1st, 2010

Resiliency at heart of emotional recovery

By Pamela Berard

In the wake of Haiti’s earthquake, psychologists reach out to survivors A natural disaster – like the January earthquake in Haiti – may happen in minutes, but the long-term effects linger long after the story disappears from the headlines. “We focus so much on the event and what it’s like and people sort of think that it’s over,” says Pedro M. Barbosa, Ph.D., associate director of adult patient psychiatry and staff psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, which has had a Haitian mental health team for more than 20 years. “But (the trauma) comes in waves, and frankly [More]

April 1st, 2010

Massachusetts identifies top legislative priorities

By Phyllis Hanlon

Massachusetts, like many states across the country, is struggling to survive a fiscal crisis, while attempting to maintain services for those with mental illnesses. For FY2010, the Commonwealth’s Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (MHSA Committee) has been deliberating a number of bills. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is closely following four of those bills likely to move through the coming legislative session, according to Anna Chinappi, DMH spokesperson. An Act Relative to the Coordination of Children’s Mental Health Care (HB 3586/SB 757), if passed, would reimburse mental health clinicians for collateral contact, which is defined as the [More]

April 1st, 2010

VA could get psychiatric facility

By Elinor Nelson

There’s no dispute that Vermont needs to replace Vermont State Hospital. At 120 years of age, it’s antiquated and has been denied recertification. The governor knows it and the legislature knows it and Vermont Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman is hoping that the political forces will approve a plan, now evolving, to care for Vermont’s mentally ill in a combination of community and hospital settings. Since 2004, Vermont has been looking at new ways to deliver mental health care. “There is a responsibility not just to replace 54 beds with 54 more, but to create a variety of new programming,” [More]

April 1st, 2010

Postpartum depression bill pondered

By Phyllis Hanlon

According to University of Minnesota researchers, 10 to 20 percent of new mothers suffer postpartum depression; however, fewer than half the cases are recognized. The Massachusetts legislature is attempting to reduce the incidence of postpartum depression through House Bill 3897, which would require regular screening for all new moms in the Commonwealth. A staunch supporter of the bill, Susan Kushner Resnick, author of “Sleepless Days,” suffered for months before learning she had postpartum depression. The proposed bill would help postnatal women avoid the anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, feelings of helplessness and other symptoms that sometimes occur following childbirth. “It’s important [More]

April 1st, 2010

Drug deaths top traffic fatalities in four New England states

By Nan Shnitzler

When Centers for Disease Control researchers mined mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System, they found that drugs had outstripped automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury death in 16 states, include four in New England, plus the District of Columbia. First noted in 2003 when eight states, including Massachusetts, had more injury deaths caused by drugs than cars, the trend has continued. In 2006, the states were Conn., Mass., N.H., R.I., Colo., Ill., Md., Mich., N.J., N.Y., Nev., Ohio, Ore., Penn., Utah and Wash. While cocaine was the number one killer from 1999 to 2006, deaths attributed [More]

April 1st, 2010

Education, media could be helpful in domestic violence prevention

By Jennifer E Chase

Maine’s motto calls the state “Vacationland,” but for homicide victims felled by domestic violence, Maine is hell. Although the state boasts the country’s lowest homicide rate, for the last decade, half of Maine’s homicides have been directly related to domestic violence, according to the Maine Coalition for Ending Domestic Violence (MCEDV). The state is looking to the latest report by the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel to advise how to reduce occurrences of a horror that could be diminished by educating youth, noting warning signs and steering abuse victims to the havens Maine has created to help save lives. [More]

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