Articles, Leading Stories

February 1st, 2016

Conversion therapy effects shown

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 1974, the American Psychological Association voiced strong opposition to discrimination, prejudice and violence based on sexual orientation. Until that time, those with homosexual tendencies were often treated with “aversion” therapy that included electric shock, systemic desensitization and other techniques. In 2007, the APA established a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which was charged with conducting research on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. In response, some states have passed legislation that bans conversion/reparative therapy. Rachel Gaillard Smook, Psy.D., owner of Birchtree Psychology in Northborough, Massachusetts, reported that 18 states have legislation pending to ban the practice of [More]

February 1st, 2016

Conn., N.H. sustain mental health spending increases

By Janine Weisman

Connecticut and New Hampshire are among 11 states that increased funding for mental health services every year since the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., according to a National Alliance on Mental Health report. Massachusetts and Maine joined Connecticut and New Hampshire in increasing their mental health budgets from fiscal 2014 to 2015, according to NAMI’s report, “State Mental Health Legislation: Trends, Themes and Effective Practices.” Rhode Island and Vermont were among 14 states that maintained their mental health spending from the previous year. But less than half of states increased their mental health budgets from [More]

February 1st, 2016

Bill seeks six-month recoupment limit

By Janine Weisman

When a managed care insurance company recoups payments previously made to health providers for services rendered, it’s called a clawback. S outh Shore Mental Health President and CEO Harry Shulman, LICSW, calls it an “administrative disaster.” That’s what the head of the Quincy, Massachusetts-based agency that delivers education, behavioral health treatment and recovery services to about 16,000 clients annually from Boston to Cape Cod says it’s like to go back and reconcile billing accounts after reimbursements are electronically taken back. In the last months of 2015, South Shore Mental Health had about $75,000 in payments for providing outpatient individual therapy [More]

February 1st, 2016

CHART: partnerships and integration enhance patient care

By Phyllis Hanlon

In October 2013, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC), launched Phase 1 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization & Transformation (CHART) Investment Program. HPC dispersed $10 million to 28 community hospitals “to enhance the delivery of efficient, effective health care.” HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, Mass. was a recipient of grants for both Phase 1 and Phase 2, which was announced in October 2014. According to Paul McKinnon, COO, NP, HealthAlliance received $410,000 in seed money in Phase 1 to reduce the number of patients who return frequently to the hospital and to connect them to services in the community. “We [More]

February 1st, 2016

Yale program treats young cancer patients

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Recognizing that young adults diagnosed with cancer show poorer outcomes post-treatment, Yale-New Haven Hospital has initiated a program dedicated to psychosocial treatment for this vulnerable population. The Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Psychosocial Program at the hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center will offer services to all patients age 15-39 beginning with the initial diagnosis as a way to improve outcomes. According to a University of Michigan study published in Psycho-Oncology, 39 percent of all adolescents and young adults with cancer reported moderate to severe levels of psychological distress six months after diagnosis. Unlike with adult cancer patients, whose distress levels off [More]

February 1st, 2016

Behavioral health ED visits on the rise

By Pamela Berard

Even though overall emergency department use in Massachusetts declined in 2014 – visits associated with behavioral health conditions rose sharply, according to preliminary findings on Emergency Department Utilization Trends from the Health Policy Commission (HPC) 2015 Cost Trends Report. The data shows that emergency department (ED) use associated with behavioral health conditions (mental health and substance use disorders) increased 24 percent state-wide between 2010-2014. Matthew Kitsos, a HPC spokesman said via email that the rise has coincided with growth in the opioid epidemic. Lack of timely treatment also drives use of the ED for behavioral health conditions and HPC is [More]

February 1st, 2016

Detox unit opens at Butler Hospital

By Pamela Berard

In response to a growing heroin and opioid addiction crisis, Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I., opened an outpatient detoxification unit. The ambulatory program at Butler (which is part of the Care New England health system) since September has been providing medically managed safe withdrawal from heroin, opioids, or other prescription medications and also alcohol, to adults 18 years or older. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Rhode Island, according to the state Department of Health. The Office of the R.I. State Medical Examiner reported 141 accidental drug overdose deaths through October in 2015, and 241 deaths [More]

February 1st, 2016

Study will look at models of integration

By Rivkela Brodsky

A  University of Vermont-led team of researchers has received an $18.5 million grant to examine models for integrating behavioral care into the primary care setting. “There is a broad push from multiple sectors to integrate behavioral care into primary medical care,” said co-principle investigator Rodger Kessler, Ph.D., associate professor of family medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. “There is very little research to guide the elements of models that are most effective when one moves in that direction.” This five-year project will evaluate and compare two models: the most common model – co-locating a behavioral health clinician [More]

February 1st, 2016

APA report provides workforce data

By Rivkela Brodsky

The field of psychology remains a steady one, with Baby Boomer and Echo Boomer generations making up most of the industry, while the gender gap continues to widen and more ethnic and racial minorities enter the field. That’s according to a recent American Psychological Association workforce report on the industry based on U.S. Census American Community Survey data from 2005-2013. “Overall, we found that there are more women in the workforce, which is a trend that we’ve been seeing for quite some time,” said Karen Stamm, Ph.D., senior research officer at the APA’s Center for Workforce Studies and co-author of [More]

February 1st, 2016

Study: Altruism is good for mental health

By Susan Gonsalves

Helping someone else can be good for your mental health. A study, recently published in Clinical Psychological Science, concluded that doing small acts for others such as holding open a door or giving directions to strangers or acquaintances helps to decrease stress. Study author Emily Ansell, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, explained that the research involved people using their smartphone to record their daily feelings and experiences. Ansell said that the benefits of social support for stress are well documented. Less clear, she said, is whether everyday acts of social interaction can improve mood [More]

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