Articles, Leading Stories

April 1st, 2015

Winter 2015: mental health impacted

By Phyllis Hanlon

The first two months in 2015 registered as momentous for New Englanders in several ways. In addition to near record snowfalls, bone-chilling temperatures, treacherous road conditions and significant transportation glitches, some residents experienced an increase in stress, anxiety and depression. For those already carrying a mental health diagnosis, these additional factors added to overall emotional tension. Winter disregulates a certain portion of New Englanders, but those who have anxiety or depression can be especially hit hard, according to Mary Anderson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Commonwealth Psychology Associates in Boston, Mass., who specializes in behavioral medicine and health psychology. She explained [More]

April 1st, 2015

MaineCare cuts impact community health centers

By Janine Weisman

A projected $500,000 deficit this fiscal year forced the Portland Community Health Center to eliminate the job of the chief program officer who oversaw its behavioral health program as well as a program director effective Jan. 1. Two more positions – practice manager and a clinical social worker – remain unfilled, said CEO Leslie Clark. “We were already bare-boned at the administration level,” Clark said. “Where we took all the hits has been in management so we’re down to our senior team of really three people – myself, a chief financial officer and a chief medical officer.” The Portland Community [More]

April 1st, 2015

Vermont seeks to bridge gap between mental, physical health

By Susan Gonsalves

Vermont’s focus on integrating mental and physical health along with an eye toward Adverse Childhood Experiences informed practices has led to pilot projects across the state and more in the works. Since last fall, a number of volunteer groups have been looking at childhood trauma and discussing ways to better bring its impact on overall health to the forefront. A follow up video conference is scheduled in April to see what progress has been made. “It bridges a gap that we weren’t bridging,” said Kathleen Hentcy, M.S., mental health and health care integration director at Vermont’s Department of Mental Health, [More]

April 1st, 2015

Cuts loom in wake of deficit

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As Connecticut begins the process of sorting out its fiscal budget for the coming year, which starts on July 1, a fight is looming over where to make cuts to cover an expected $101 million deficit for this year. In the proposed budget introduced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a large portion of the cuts would come from the social service sector, falling hardest on independent, non-profit community service providers. Meanwhile, the governor’s plan proposes a 6.3 percent sales tax reduction over two years and an additional $2.8 billion investment over the next decade on a 30-year transportation plan. The [More]

April 1st, 2015

Bill seeks to eliminate MassHealth plan barriers

By Janine Weisman

Call it the backup plan. A bill filed at the Massachusetts State House would require MassHealth to cover all services psychologists provide – regardless of which MassHealth plan an individual has – and ensure that MassHealth recipients have the same access to psychological services as Medicare covered individuals. Lead sponsors Rep. Ruth B. Balser (D-Newton) and Sen. Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem) jointly filed the proposal in their respective chambers in January with full support from the Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA). “Since the legislative cycle is a two-year process and the deadline for filing bills was in January we thought filing [More]

April 1st, 2015

Center a resource for marathon bombing victims

By Pamela Berard

Although it’s been two years since the Boston Marathon bombings, many victims are just now beginning to experience its lingering effects. The Massachusetts Resiliency Center was formed to assist them in getting the help they need – whether it is for physical or mental health concerns or things such as financial assistance or social supports. The Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) received a federal grant for more than $8 million to fund services for bombing victims and selected Boston Medical Center to manage operations of the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, for which approximately $1.9 million of the funding is allocated. [More]

April 1st, 2015

Insurance coverage of methadone for treatment to expand

By Rivkela Brodsky

The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans or MAHP announced in February that its 17 member health plans – which cover 2.6 million residents in the state – will cover the medication assisted treatment in “an effort to enhance access to services to treat opioid addiction that are evidence based and promote clinically appropriate care,” according to a news release. “Given the data and evidence about the effectiveness of methadone treatment, plans have looked at that research and changed their plans accordingly,” said Eric Linzer, a spokesman for the MAHP. The change, which will happen by July 1, comes following discussions [More]

April 1st, 2015

Study to evaluate VOICES intervention

By Rivkela Brodsky

Adolescent girls often have a different path into the juvenile justice system than boys. Often, they are arrested and remanded to custody for less serious offenses like truancy, running away and shoplifting, said Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I.. “Girls’ pathways into the system are also often relational in nature, such as interpersonal violence and prostitution,” said Tolou-Shams, also associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University and director of the Rhode Island Family Court Mental Health Clinic. This situation is [More]

April 1st, 2015

Stress in America: financial issues top list

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2007, the American Psychological Association has conducted its Stress in America™ survey, which measures attitudes and perceptions of stress among the general public, as part of its Mind/Body Health campaign. Recently released findings from the 2014 survey indicated that money issues have prevailed again as the leading stressor. The survey noted that 72 percent of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time. Specifically, parents (34 percent), Millennials (36 percent), Gen-Xers (30 percent) and women (30 percent) report the highest finance-related stress rates. Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., associate executive director, Practice Research and Policy at the [More]

April 1st, 2015

Psychologists weigh in about memory

By Pamela Berard

After news anchor Brian Williams recanted a story he told about his time in a military helicopter in Iraq, much discussion ensued about whether Williams was lying, distorting or misremembering the incident. While area psychologists can’t speak specifically to Williams’ case, they weighed in on the subject of memory. James Claiborn Ph.D. ABPP, ACT, a licensed psychologist in Maine, said people can forget all sorts of things – and sometimes do. “There’s this sort of myth out there that memory records things like a recording and that you can play it back. That’s absolutely wrong,” Claiborn said. “When we remember [More]

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