Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2014

PTSD in children disrupts development, relationships

By Phyllis Hanlon

Many people associate posttraumatic stress disorder with veterans returning from war, victims of violent crime or individuals who’ve been involved in natural disasters. However, adults are not the only ones subject to developing this disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that four percent of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 have a lifetime prevalence for PTSD. Wellspring and the Arch Bridge School in Bethlehem, Conn., treats adolescent girls and young women with PTSD at two outpatient clinics and residential treatment facilities, according to Daniel Murray, Psy.D., CEO. “Private schools offer the benefit of clinical treatment and [More]

October 1st, 2014

Inpatient care to expand

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Thanks to several health care providers, Massachusetts will soon experience remarkable growth in inpatient psychiatric care across the state. The news comes at a time when the state has shed more than 40 percent of its publicly-funded psychiatric beds over the past decade, according to a report released in April by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association for the Mentally Ill. As part of a plan to invest millions in capital expenses across its system, Steward Health Care, the second largest healthcare system in New England, will increase the number of behavioral health beds by a reported 20 percent [More]

October 1st, 2014

Military medical ethics instruction lacking

By Pamela Berard

Researchers say U.S. graduate students in psychology aren’t receiving enough instruction in military medical ethics. Researchers at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance and other Boston-area institutions surveyed 185 students from 20 clinical psychology graduate programs; 74 percent had received less than one hour of instruction about military medical ethics, 97 percent received five hours or less. Among study participants, 37 percent knew that the Geneva Conventions apply whether or not war has formally been declared. Forty-three percent didn’t know that the Geneva Conventions state that physicians should “treat the sickest first, regardless of nationality” and half didn’t know that the [More]

October 1st, 2014

Children with eating disorders getting younger

By Janine Weisman

Several factors contributed to a 12-year-old Massachusetts girl developing what Alyse Beekman, Psy.D., program director at the Center for Discovery in Southport, Conn., called “severe, severe anorexia.” But Beekman believes the problems of the girl referred to her for treatment largely stemmed from one event in the previous year: “She got a notice from her school that said that her BMI was borderline overweight,” Beekman says. “That really kind of set her off.” The term BMI has no place in a school health curriculum, says Beekman. Instead of measuring ideal body fat for a person’s weight and height, teachers should [More]

October 1st, 2014

Proposed hospital to chip away at region’s shortfall

By Susan Gonsalves

Southeastern Massachusetts is taking a step toward addressing a shortage of facilities for behavioral health needs with plans to build a 77,000 square foot, 120-bed inpatient hospital in Dartmouth. The anticipated opening date for the $30 million project is fall of 2015. Acadia Healthcare, a national provider of psychiatric and addiction care based in Tennessee, is partnering with Southcoast Health, a local non-profit provider. The hospital is expected to be located on a 21-acre site with parking for more than 200 cars and feature five core units on three stories servicing a population ranging from adolescents to the elderly. Because [More]

October 1st, 2014

New PTSD study reveals high correlation with physical ailments

By Howard Newman

There are approximately 283,000 male and 400 female Vietnam combat veterans currently living with posttraumatic stress disorder. Another 83,500 male and 150 female combat veterans have sub- threshold PTSD. And now there’s a new generation of PTSD sufferers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a significant problem for many American families. Yet our understanding of PTSD, along with its psychological and physical ramifications, remains a work in progress. Abt Associates, a research firm in Cambridge, Mass., recently completed a new analysis of PTSD, the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS). This comprehensive study assessed the course of warzone-related [More]

October 1st, 2014

Law requires Medicaid coverage of autism services

By Rivkela Brodsky

A new law in Massachusetts will expand assistance and services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders when it goes into effect in November. Signed by Gov. Deval Patrick on Aug. 5, House Bill 4047 requires Medicaid coverage of evidence-based services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders; allows individuals on the spectrum with a higher IQ to qualify for disability services; creates a teacher endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders; creates a savings and expense account so that families can save money for the future of a child on the spectrum; and makes a Massachusetts commission on autism permanent, among other items. [More]

October 1st, 2014

Heywood Healthcare to purchase property for mental health services

By Phyllis Hanlon

As early as the end of the year, Heywood Healthcare, an independent system that operates the non-profit, 134-bed acute-care Heywood Hospital in Gardner and Athol Hospital, a 25-bed, non-profit critical access facility, could close a deal to purchase a 20-acre property in Petersham. According to Win Brown, president and CEO of Heywood Healthcare, his system is seeking to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services in North Central Massachusetts. “There is a lack of inpatient, residential and outpatient services as well as rehabilitation for addiction,” he says. “Our board of trustees created a strategic plan that focused on [More]

October 1st, 2014

‘Quack’ psychology practices come under fire

By Phyllis Hanlon

In October 2012, a team of researchers from Simmons College, the University of Scranton and DePaul University conducted a Delphi poll, i.e., a structured, two-round systematic forecasting method, to identify “pseudoscientific, unvalidated, potentially harmful or ‘quack’ psychotherapies” used in the treatment of children and adolescents. This past April, the authors published their findings. Lead researcher Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., dean, College of Science and Health at DePaul University in Chicago, previously professor of psychology, health sciences dean and associate provost at Simmons College in Boston, together with Simmons’ graduate students Madeline R. McMann and Annika O. Stout, polled 139 doctoral-level [More]

October 1st, 2014

Study: xenon gas could reduce or omit painful memories

By Rivkela Brodsky

There may be a new treatment for those dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. The study, published Aug. 27 in PLOS ONE, suggests that xenon gas – used as an anesthetic and for diagnostic imaging – could reduce or erase the memories of traumatic events. Researchers studied the use of xenon gas in rats who had been conditioned to fear certain environmental stimuli by foot shocks. “We were able to block this learning and memory phenomenon called reconsolidation,” says Edward G. Meloni, Ph.D., assistant psychologist at McLean Hospital and [More]

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