Articles, Leading Stories

April 1st, 2014

Extreme weight loss: media’s misplaced message

By Phyllis Hanlon

Thin is in. Or so various media sources would have the general public believe. Magazines, newspapers and now reality shows are promoting the message that excessive dieting and exercise regimens can help achieve unrealistic body images. While some individuals may experience weight loss, what is the ultimate price? Stuart Koman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Walden Center and Walden Behavioral Care, indicates that television networks have tapped into the major American preoccupation with food and weight. “When you think about what’s going on in our society, it’s a national obsession. You can’t go anywhere without being bombarded with the [More]

April 1st, 2014

Privileges quest fizzles

By Catherine Robertson Souter

At a time when mental health care and health insurance have taken center stage in the American dialogue, it can be shocking to find that patients may find basic access to mental health care increasingly difficult. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the number of psychiatrists who accept insurance payments has dropped, which could leave greater numbers of less-affluent clients without services. In the five years from 2005 to 2010, private insurance acceptance dropped 17 percent, to 55 percent of total psychiatrists. The acceptance of Medicare is now at 55 [More]

April 1st, 2014

Consumer protection bill filed to restrict use of ‘psychotherapist’

By Pamela Berard

Proposed Massachusetts legislation would restrict use of the terms “psychotherapist” or “psychotherapy” to only those professionals licensed with “psychotherapy” included in their statutory scope of practice. “An Act to Protect Psychotherapy Patients” (Bill H. 3466), submitted by Rep. Ruth B. Balser (D-Newton), states that the division of professional licensure may, after a consent agreement between the parties or after an opportunity for an adjudicatory hearing, assess and collect a civil administrative penalty for people who represent themselves to the public as “psychotherapists” or represent their services as “psychotherapy” unless they are currently licensed by the board of registration in medicine, [More]

April 1st, 2014

Bill to expand veterans’ court is revised

By Rivkela Brodsky

A $1.16 million proposal to expand Maine’s veterans’ court statewide has been revised to a $40,000 plan to cover a grant expiring at the end of June, says Rep. Lori Fowle (D-Vassalboro), who introduced the bill. “The Judiciary was asked to put a physical note on an amount,” she says. “They never consulted with me, so they priced it as if it was going to go statewide…which was not my intent of expansion.” Fowle says she was hoping for a smaller expansion – one or two more veterans’ courts than the one in Kennebec County. “I felt there was a [More]

April 1st, 2014

Study reports adolescent psychotropic drug use

By Rivkela Brodsky

About six percent of teens use psychotropic drugs, mostly antidepressants and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medications, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, released in December by the CDC, shows 6.3 percent of adolescents aged 12-19 saying they have taken any psychotropic medication within the last month, according to data collected using National Health and Nutrition  Examination Survey data from 2005-2010. The study shows 4.5 percent reporting taking one psychotropic medication, while 1.8 percent reporting taking two or more drugs. Of that, the use of antidepressants and ADHD medication was highest, each [More]

April 1st, 2014

Stress in America 2013 focuses on teens

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Psychological Association recently released the results of Stress in America™ 2013, which for the first time focused on teens. The survey “portrays a picture of high stress and ineffective coping mechanisms that appear to be ingrained in our culture, perpetuating lifestyles and behaviors for future generations.” Specifically, the survey indicates that teens report stress levels during the school year that exceed what they believe to be healthy. Teens are more likely than adults to report a slight impact on their physical or mental health or none at all. However, teens described emotional and physical symptoms of stress that [More]

April 1st, 2014

Study: Online tool effective

By Susan Gonsalves

Researchers at Yale University have developed a program to teach coping skills to alcohol and substance abuse patients. Lead author Kathleen Carroll, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, hopes that eventually the computer-based cognitive behavioral therapy tool can be made available to practitioners throughout the northeast. “It was a creative endeavor,” she says of CBT4CBT (Computer Based Training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), an interactive online program that is driven by video and audio and provides skills training in an entertaining way. A study in 2014 replicated results from a 2000-2002 pilot project with its findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. [More]

April 1st, 2014

R.I. has access to complementary program

By Pamela Berard

As part of a partnership between Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) and ValueOptions, Rhode Island mental health clinicians have access to ValueOptions’ On Track program, a client-centered outcomes informed care program. On Track does not make recommendations or decisions about appropriate clinical care. It is intended as an information aid to network clinicians. Abbe Garcia, Ph.D., treasurer of the Rhode Island Psychological Association and a member of the multidisciplinary Coalition of Mental Health Professionals of Rhode Island (COMHPRI), has participated in meetings between COMHPRI and representatives of BCBSRI and ValueOptions, to discuss questions and concerns. Some [More]

April 1st, 2014

N.H. bill for gun purchase background checks defeated

By Howard Newman

In the wake of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, gun-control activists in some states have called for more expansive background checks on those who purchase weapons. It stands to reason that selling firearms to people with criminal records is an invitation for trouble. Many gun-control opponents, however, feel that the process of making universal background checks for all purchases unnecessarily penalizes the honest majority. Federal law requires all licensed dealers to perform a background check, through the national database, for any firearms sale. This statute, known as the Brady Law, has been in effect since [More]

April 1st, 2014

Efforts hindered to eliminate restraint and seclusion in schools

By Janine Weisman

To understand the challenges facing reformers who want to eliminate the practice of physical restraint and seclusion of schoolchildren, look no further than numbers reported in Connecticut and Massachusetts. A Connecticut Department of Education report released in February documents 33,743 incidents of restraint or seclusion involving children with disabilities because of behavior during the 2012-2013 school year. But in that same time period, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reported only 165 such incidents. Massachusetts requires school officials to report the use of any physical restraint that results in any injury to a student or staff member or [More]

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