Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2017

Behavioral disorders: accurate diagnosis proves challenging

By Phyllis Hanlon

Children placed in residential care present with a variety of behavioral disorders, sometimes with more than one. Determining a specific diagnosis can be daunting for the clinician. Ashley Warhol, Psy.D is director of clinical services and internship training at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health – MA & RI. She said that the two most common diagnoses she has seen at Devereux are attention deficit hyperactive disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, although others do exist. “We are starting to see an increase in disruptive mood dysregulation disorder – or DMDD,” said Warhol. “Some DMDD is seen as the youth version of bipolar [More]

October 1st, 2017

Debate heats up over Trump’s mental health

By Janine Weisman

If he had to do it all over again, John Gartner, Ph.D., would have asked mental health professionals to state their degree when he launched an online petition drive last February collecting their signatures to request that President Donald Trump be removed from office. So, there’s really no way to tell how many of the more than 62,000 signatures his change.org petition had received by September were from psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health experts. “We didn’t even ask people to state their degree for the first 10,000 signatures,” said Gartner, a Baltimore psychologist and founder of Duty to Warn, [More]

October 1st, 2017

Program integrates physical, mental health

By Pamela Berard

Patients with serious mental illness who participated in a Behavioral Health Home (BHH) program saw reductions in emergency department (ED) visits and psychiatric hospitalizations, along with more preventive screenings for diabetes, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cambridge Health Alliance and published by Psychiatric Services. The Cambridge Health Alliance – an academic community health system in Massachusetts – implemented its BHH in 2015 in a safety-net hospital for use by adults with schizophrenia spectrum disorder or bipolar disorder. The one-year study period compared similar patients – some enrolled in the BHH, some not. In that time, total ED [More]

October 1st, 2017

Report seeks to increase information sharing

By Janine Weisman

i-FamilyNet, the case management system that Massachusetts Department of Children and Families partner providers use, has information in narrative form. But the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) uses a system that relies more on data elements and fields for users to search and collect data. Different systems in the same state pose a challenge for sharing information about safety and risk factors at residential schools. That’s according to an 82-page report released last spring by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate. The report by the Interagency Working Group on Residential Schools calls for better coordination of [More]

October 1st, 2017

Adolescent suicide rates on the rise

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Suicide rates among adolescents have shown a steady increase over the past decade, according to a report put out by the Centers for Disease Control. The rates among girls ages 15-19 rose more substantially than those of boys, more than doubling between 2007 and 2015. Rates for teen boys increased during the same period by 30 percent. The CDC released an updated breakdown of suicide rates in early August showing the trend for suicide among all teens over the past 40 years. The male rate tends to be far higher than for females. In 1975, for instance, the CDC reported [More]

October 1st, 2017

Study: Smartphone use linked to mental health distress

By Susan Gonsalves

College students with high smartphone use report higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness, poorer sleep quality and difficulties fulfilling their obligations as a student, according to a study at Assumption College, a small liberal arts school located in Worcester, Mass. Lead authors Adam Volungis, Ph.D. and Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., emphasized that while the research shows a correlation between phone use and indicators of general symptoms of distress, no causal link was concluded. One hundred and fifty college students, 83 percent of whom were female, filled out a series of questionnaires using a range of assessment tools such as the [More]

October 1st, 2017

Educational Treatment Center uses animals to reach teens

By Eileen Weber

Six years ago, Wes and Sue Horton, LMFT were looking for a change. They found it at Ironwood, a residential treatment center and private, co-educational school for teens in Morrill, Maine. With professional backgrounds in therapy and healthcare, the Hortons took over the facility adding more professional staff and revamping the program for families in crisis. Ironwood concentrates on the behavioral, therapeutic and educational needs of up to 45 students aged 13 to 18 for a nine- to 12-month period. Teens are admitted for issues ranging from addiction, depression and anxiety to self-harm, oppositional defiance and ADHD. “Self-esteem develops by [More]

October 1st, 2017

Brattleboro Retreat approves strategic plan

By Pamela Berard

Responding to challenges facing mental health and addiction treatment providers nationwide, Brattleboro Retreat of Vermont has approved a three-year strategic plan. President and CEO Louis Josephson, Ph.D., said Brattleboro Retreat is facing increasing demand for services in an era of falling or flat reimbursement rates. The new strategic plan takes on these and other challenges with a four-pronged approach: Focus on clinical excellence; Achieve financial stability; Increase accountability; and Re-envision the campus. When crafting the plan, the Retreat cast a broad net in talking to various stakeholders. “That feedback did sync up with what we are trying to do,” Josephson [More]

October 1st, 2017

Crotched Mountain after-school program designed to engage students

By Phyllis Hanlon

This past July, Crotched Mountain School launch-ed a carefully thought out after-school program for its students, designed to engage them physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. The program offers structure and predictability for both residential and day students, while preparing them for life beyond the classroom. David Johnson, director of marketing communications, explained that Crotched Mountain has 70 residential students and 25 day students who hail from across the country. Children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum comprise about half of the student body, while the remaining students have emotional behavior disorders, some with medication needs. “Most of our students [More]

October 1st, 2017

School emphasizes closeness, mentoring

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A fresh start can do wonders. For children with a history of behavioral or mental health issues, accumulated diagnoses can seem like a heavy weight to carry. The opportunity to start anew in a residential program like the Wediko School in Windsor, New Hampshire, may feel like a lifeline. Set on an idyllic 450-acre, lakeside property, Wediko prides itself on a strong culture of community and a dedicated staff whose goal, said Kim Guest, Psy.D, director of the school, is to help middle and high school-aged boys discover who they are beneath the labels with which they have come to [More]

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