Articles, Leading Stories

August 21st, 2010

Coalition helps service members and families get help

By Pamela Berard

When soldiers are deployed, it’s like dropping a pebble into a pool. “There is a major ripple effect,” says Vermont National Guard LTC. Marc Goudreau. “Everybody is impacted.” Returning soldiers suffer from higher unemployment rates, domestic issues and divorce, posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. “If these service members are going to have these issues, if we’re not as a community bonding together to try to support these individuals, we’re all going to feel the pain down the road,” Goudreau adds. Goudreau is part of a Vermont coalition helping service members and their families access assistance. One of the [More]

August 21st, 2010

Bridges

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When our hospital closed in April, we lost our internship and, with it, a long list of practices, rituals and ceremonies that had come to mark the seasons of a year dedicated to learning the skills of our craft as clinical psychologists. Every year as the New England winter gave way to spring, we talked about “termination” – that most peculiar of all words meant to give scientific respectability or at least provide safe emotional distance from the simply human act of saying goodbye. That discussion prepared our interns to leave their patients, stopping or interrupting their treatment, while processing [More]

August 21st, 2010

The risks of restraint and seclusion

By Edward Stern J.D.

Last month, New England Psychologist looked at the use of restraint and seclusion. In this installment, the column examines some of the risks of these methods to both patients and mental health care workers. Restraint and seclusion have their own risks because restraint can involve physical struggling, pressure on the chest or other interruptions in breathing. JCAHO reviewed 20 restraint-related deaths and found that in 40 percent, the cause of death was asphyxiation, while strangulation, cardiac arrest or fire caused the remainder. Reported deaths (Hartford Courant) in cases where restraint or seclusion was a factor were caused by asphyxia, cardiac [More]

August 21st, 2010

In her wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide

By Paul Efthim PhD

Compelling work chronicles author’s loss “In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide” By Nancy Rappaport Basic Books New York, N.Y., 2009 Reviewed By Paul Efthim, Ph.D. This book is a gift to anyone who has lost a family member, friend or patient to suicide. In 1963, when Nancy Rappaport was four, her mother killed herself in the midst of a bitter public custody dispute, leaving behind six children and countless questions. Four decades later, Rappaport, now a psychiatrist in Cambridge, felt driven to investigate this tragic loss and its impact on herself and her [More]

August 21st, 2010

E-mail screening for depression studied

By Ami Albernaz

In an age in which most college students spend vast amounts of time online, screening for depression via e-mail might make sense as a simpler, more cost-effective alternative to in-person screenings, recent research from a Massachusetts General Hospital team suggests. Prompting depressed students to get professional help, however, is still a challenge. An MGH team led by Irene Shyu, B.A., a former research coordinator at the hospital’s Depression Clinical and Research Program, invited undergraduate and graduate students at four unidentified U.S. colleges to complete a depression screening survey online. A total of 631 consented. Shyu says the study was an [More]

August 21st, 2010

Project gives hope, direction

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Many times, the people on the front lines of mental health care, those in recovery or currently being treated, can feel lost in the maze. From finding appropriate care to making their way in the world, getting back to an ordinary life can be confusing and overwhelming. Thanks to a project called “A Day In The Life: Breaking a Deafening Silence,” those voices are being heard and it’s a sound that can make a room full of people eerily silent or erupt in spontaneous applause. With a new project created by Connecticut’s North Central Regional Mental Health Board, the experiences [More]

August 21st, 2010

Smoking bans: the right step or an unnecessary burden for patients?

By Pamela Berard

In May, Vermont State Hospital joined a growing number of psychiatric facilities to ban smoking from its grounds. The trend is divisive in the field. Those in favor of the ban cite how smoking disproportionally shortens the lifespan of those with mental illness and also can interfere with the metabolism of medications. Others believe it may be too much for someone in the throes of a crisis to tackle smoking cessation, too. A 2006 National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors survey of 222 facilities indicated that 41 percent had already banned smoking on the premises, but many more [More]

August 21st, 2010

Oil spill exacts collective mental health toll

By Nan Shnitzler

Direct mental health effects of the Gulf oil spill appear to be scarce in New England, but that doesn’t mean there is no psychological impact. On an individual basis, such an unnatural event can elicit a host of fears and concerns and dramatize how much in the world is out of our control, says psychiatrist Keith Ablow, M.D., an assistant professor at Tufts Medical School. “This breach in the earth’s surface can speak to people who lost loved ones to uncontrollable cancer, it can reawaken a sense of helplessness as the economy makes their lives messy and anyone who is [More]

August 21st, 2010

Setting up a practice

By Phyllis Hanlon

With degree in hand and passion in their hearts, many newly graduated psychologists seek to launch their own businesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 Edition reports that 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, either as private practitioners or independent consultants. For those just starting out, the idea of setting up a practice may be daunting, but with a bit of investigation, legwork and diligence, this goal is certainly attainable. Anne Perschel, Psy.D., leadership and business psychologist and president, Germane Consulting in Worcester, Mass., emphasizes that psychologists opening a practice should consider themselves entrepreneurs and, as such, [More]

August 21st, 2010

Sleep changes proposed in DSM

By Ami Albernaz

As work continues on the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), still three years away, one of the sections that might see the greatest overhaul relates to sleep disorders. Around 10 disorder names are expected to be added to the category, while just as many might be removed or subsumed under other categories. Most of the traditional sleep disorders will be classified in the primary groups’ insomnia, hypersomnia, and arousal disorder, with “specifiers” that give more detail but don’t suggest a possible cause, as the current manual does. The sleep disorders work group believes [More]

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