Articles, Leading Stories

August 22nd, 2014

Predictive neglect: programs may modify outcomes

By Phyllis Hanlon

In spite of awareness and education campaigns, mental illness still carries a stigma that can affect individuals in the community, workplace and home. For families, a mental health diagnosis can have devastating consequences when it leads to termination of parental rights under the “predictive neglect” doctrine. A legal term, predictive neglect refers to the removal of a child from the home when there is reasonable certainty the child is in danger, says Barbara Claire, agency legal director for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). “But this is more about abuse. For instance, if three kids previously had been abused, [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Reforms proposed for Bridgewater State Hospital

By Janine Weisman

One patient was held in seclusion for 13 months despite no evidence he showed a risk of imminent harm. Another was held in seclusion for five months, even though progress notes indicated he was “well behaved.” And a patient presenting symptoms of paranoia who was refusing medication was strapped in four-point restraints and forced to take medication – but no court decree had authorized involuntary medication. Several of these cases of individuals with mental illness subjected to abuse and neglect at Bridgewater State Hospital are detailed in a July 11 report by the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts. Despite its [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital opens

By Rivkela Brodsky

Almost three years after Vermont’s antiquated psychiatric hospital in Waterbury was forced to close because of flooding from Hurricane Irene, the state held a ribbon cutting for its new $28 million, almost 47,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art psychiatric facility in Berlin. The Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital opened July 1 and is expected to be at capacity at the end of August. “I think that just walking into the building…it gives so much a sense of comfort and being welcoming than the old hospital did,” says Frank Reed, Vermont’s deputy commissioner for mental health. “You can immediately see into the courtyard areas. You can [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Law: health plans must disclose coverage criteria

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a move that should increase transparency for mental health providers dealing with insurance plans, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 3704, An Act Relative to Enhancing Access to Services for Mental Health, into law on July 2. The bill, a follow up to legislation passed in 2012 that was designed to improve the quality of health care and to reduce costs by increasing transparency, efficiency and innovation, sought to move the date for transparency compliance up by one year to this August. “Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012 is a comprehensive health care reform bill that is [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Rhode Island law requires records reporting to database

By Howard Newman

Joining the ranks of 42 other states, Rhode Island passed legislation that requires the reporting of information about individuals with serious mental health issues to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Rhode Island Bill H7939, signed into law by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee on July 3, was constructed and narrowly focused in order to protect individual rights. The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015, was a direct response to the tragic shootings in Newton, Conn. It requires that Rhode Island submit to NICS the names of individuals who have been adjudicated in district court because [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Retreat, outdoor experiences help cancer patients, veterans

By Susan Gonsalves

The combination of social support and a retreat setting resulted in significant reduction in depression and anxiety for women diagnosed with stages 1 or 2 breast cancer. Similarly, the use of an outdoor recreation intervention helped to improve the moods and symptoms of stress experienced by veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Elizabeth Vella, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern Maine, the individual at the helm of both studies, sees a common thread. “They resonate nicely,” she says. “Both use components of social support and the person is able to heal through engaging in specific activities.” The [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Name change highlights linked network

By Pamela Berard

Fletcher Allen Partners will soon be named The University of Vermont Health Network and the four hospitals in Vermont and northern New York that are part of that network will soon look more like they belong together. The hospitals – two in Vermont and two in New York – currently have different names and logos although they are all part of Fletcher Allen Partners, which is in alliance with the University of Vermont forming Vermont’s academic medical center. Hospital names, logos and signage will start changing this fall as part of planned branding strategy approved in June by the boards [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Child abuse increases in Maine

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Some disheartening news recently has come out of Maine with reports that physical abuse of children has risen 58 percent in two years. In its “Child Protective Services Annual Report, 2013,” Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services shows the number of physical abuse cases found during child protective assessments rising from 563 in 2011 to 807 the next year and 891 in 2013. The report shows that it is the youngest who bear the brunt of the abuse, with a 75 percent increase in reported cases over the two years (from 241 to 424). In contrast, the numbers of [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Task force offers recommendations to improve services

By Pamela Berard

A Connecticut task force created by legislation following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings released its final report featuring 47 recommendations designed to improve behavioral health services for young adults. The Task Force to Study the Provision of Behavioral Health Services for Young Adults was created under An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety to analyze and make recommendations for behavioral health services for people ages 16-25. It was one of several initiatives created after the Sandy Hook shootings. Task force member Marcy Kane, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist, vice president of child services at Wellmore Behavioral Health and [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Public lacks awareness about mental health rights

By Phyllis Hanlon

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 27 percent of Americans have received treatment from a mental health professional. And yet, a mere four percent are aware of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which mandates insurance coverage for these conditions. Doug Walter, J.D., associate executive director of government relations, was heavily involved in the passage of the parity bill, but notes that scant media efforts during the process did not draw attention to the issue. “You get laws passed through advocacy and grassroots efforts,” he explains, “although there was quite a bit of media splash [More]

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