Articles, Leading Stories

February 1st, 2010

Study shows potential to re-write emotional memory

By Nan Shnitzler

In a new study, researchers have manipulated the brain’s own memory process to extinguish fear. In a series of experiments using only colored squares and skin shocks, a team from New York University and the University of Texas induced a fearful memory and then erased it. Participants remained free of the specific fear memory for at least a year. “It’s the first evidence that emotional memories in humans can be affected without drugs. That’s why it’s so exciting,” says Daniela Schiller, Ph.D., of New York University’s Center for Neural Science and Psychology Department, lead author of the study that appeared [More]

February 1st, 2010

Federal funds to assist health centers

By Pamela Berard

Sixteen New England community health centers will benefit from the nearly $600 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awards that President Obama recently announced will fund renovation or construction projects at 85 centers nationwide. The awards aim to provide care for more than half a million additional patients in underserved communities, in addition to creating jobs in construction and health care. Lowell Community Health Center in Massachusetts received more than $9 million. Maura Smith, director of development and external relations, says the award will help renovate an historic vacant mill downtown. “We will consolidate all of our operations, which [More]

February 1st, 2010

Consumers rate their satisfaction on N.H.’s mental health services

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a new research report, consumers of New Hampshire’s 10 community mental health centers (CMHCs) have shown that although they are overall pleased with the services that they receive, there are many areas where the system still falls short. In the second consecutive year of this survey, the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire asked adult, youth and the families of consumers of the health centers to provide feedback on the level of satisfaction that they had in working with them. Questions were asked about their satisfaction with the services themselves, access to those services, participation [More]

February 1st, 2010

Connecticut children’s program escapes budget cuts

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 1991, stringent efforts by the national advocacy group Children’s Rights resulted in the creation of the Voluntary Services Program, which is specifically for children in state custody and those in jeopardy of entering state custody. Budget cuts in December threatened the existence of this program and spawned protests from statewide advocacy groups. In 1989, Children’s Rights brought a class action suit against Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). The group cited unacceptable and inadequate child protective services; inordinately long waiting times in state custody and overworked and inadequately trained caseworkers as some of the most prevalent systemic problems. [More]

February 1st, 2010

Maine focuses on efficacy of services

By Ami Albernaz

Maine is gearing up for sweeping changes in how the efficacy of services is evaluated and how clients make progress toward mental health goals. Implementing these changes will be the state’s main priority in 2010, says Ron Welch, MBA, director of Maine’s Office of Adult Mental Health Services. Training is now underway for the use of an assessment tool that will let clients and clinicians or case managers know whether treatment is meeting targets or needs adjustment. The assessment, developed by Ohio-based company OQ Measures, is relatively short and can be completed on a personal digital assistant, such as a [More]

February 1st, 2010

Psychologist advocates for psychological testing coverage

By Catherine Robertson Souter

What happens when a child is referred for psychological testing but his insurance does not cover even half of the cost? What about when this child has needs far greater than what a school’s counseling department can diagnose? Who will help him? Over the past 30 years, these questions and others have plagued Jerold Pollak, Ph.D., ABPP, ABN. A forensic psychologist with the Portsmouth, N.H.-based Seacoast Mental Health Center for the past 12 years, Pollak has seen countless adolescents and children for diagnostic testing. Pollak has seen how difficult it is for families to get proper testing for their children, [More]

January 1st, 2010

Violence: balancing treatment efficacy with provider safety

By Phyllis Hanlon

Last October, shock waves rippled through the mental health community when a patient at the bipolar clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) stabbed his psychiatrist. While such events – although rare – grab media attention, they serve as reminders to providers of the importance of awareness and preparation. According to Steve Nisenbaum, Ph.D., J.D., past president of Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), Division 18’s public policy liaison to the American Psychological Association, and 30-year staff member at MGH, these violent episodes create a conflict between the efficacy of treatment and the safety of the provider. “This is a key [More]

January 1st, 2010

Jobless have increased mental health woes

By Pamela Berard

A national study shows Americans affected by the economic downturn displaying symptoms of severe mental illness at a much greater rate than those who haven’t been affected. Unemployed Americans are four times as likely as those with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness and twice as likely to report concern with their mental health, according to a September survey conducted for Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in collaboration with the Depression is Real Coalition. Additionally – workers who are employed full-time but faced involuntary changes in their employment status – such as [More]

January 1st, 2010

Name change for day program reflects services

By Jennifer E Chase

What’s in a name? To the Massachusetts organization formerly known as Handi Kids., everything. For one thing, this vocational and life skills program for clients ages three to-22 with wide-ranging disabilities, Handi Kids no longer serves just “kids” … especially with its popular therapeutic riding program that attracts a number of adult participants. But aside from issues of accuracy, aesthetics (there’s a bridge on the property) and location (Bridgewater, Mass.), the board of directors learned that the organization’s name was sending a subliminal message it wanted to stop. “We’d heard that some families chose not to look at our program [More]

January 1st, 2010

Health care quality progress slowed in ‘08

By Nan Shnitzler

A report released this past October by the private, non-profit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) finds that the overall quality of health care delivered through both commercial and public health plans was static in 2008. “This breaks a 12-year run of significant progress. While it could be a one-year blip, I fear it may be the beginning of a troubling trend,” writes Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA president, in the annual “State of Health Care Quality” report. NCQA estimates that if every health plan performed as well as those ranked in the top 10 percent, up to 115,000 lives and [More]

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