Articles, Leading Stories

April 1st, 2017

Mobile psychologists: House calls making a comeback

By Phyllis Hanlon

In the 1930s, approximately 40 percent of all patient encounters happened in the home, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. By 1950, that number had dropped to 10 percent and 30 years later, the practice was almost non-existent. Recently, however, house calls have been making a comeback, but with a twist. In some cases, behavioral health specialists are becoming part of an integrated care team that aims to treat the whole patient. Kirke McVay, MA, private practitioner in Bennington, Vermont, made his first mobile visit several years ago, when one of his patients had spinal surgery and was [More]

April 1st, 2017

Advocates worry about Medicaid reforms

By Janine Weisman

The state of Maine is seeking federal permission to limit the eligibility of “able bodied” adults for Medicaid benefits to five years among other coverage restrictions designed to lower costs. Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary C. Mayhew announced the state’s intention to seek demonstration waivers from the federal government in a Jan. 25 letter to then-incoming U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price posted on her state department’s Web site. The waivers would allow Maine to implement a series of proposed reforms changing the benefits and type of access Mainers have to MaineCare, as the [More]

April 1st, 2017

Task force studies custody status of voluntarily admitted children

By Pamela Berard

Under proposed Connecticut legislation, a task force will study voluntary admissions to the Department of Children and Families and determine whether general law amendments are needed to prohibit DCF from requesting or requiring that the parent or guardian of voluntarily admitted children terminate parental rights or transfer legal custody of the child to DCF. The task force is part of a substitute bill stemming from earlier proposed legislation (H.B. 6297) heard in the Joint Committee on Children and introduced by State Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, to prohibit DCF from “requesting, recommending or requiring” a parent/guardian terminate parental rights or transfer [More]

April 1st, 2017

Executive orders raise fears

By Pamela Berard

The Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA) strongly condemned President Trump’s executive orders related to refugees, immigrants and other visitors to the United States. In a statement, the MPA said President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which created extensive and in some cases indefinite, limitations on the admission of refugees and other visitors from specific countries, and the Jan. 25 executive order, which makes it easier to deport immigrants, are “very likely to increase stress and trauma among vulnerable populations, limit scientific progress and increase the likelihood of discrimination and stigma.” Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D., MPA director of professional affairs, said the MPA [More]

April 1st, 2017

Connecticut report assesses coverage rates

By Janine Weisman

Connecticut’s top insurers denied fewer claims for mental health services in 2015 than the year before even as they continued to reject claims for residential care at high rates, according to a recent state report. Eight managed care insurance companies rejected about 6.4 percent of claims for mental health services, an analysis of the 2016 Consumer Report Card released by the Connecticut Insurance Department shows. That’s compared to the roughly 8.3 percent of mental health claims submitted in the previous year. For nearly two decades, the state agency charged with regulating the insurance industry has published an annual report providing [More]

April 1st, 2017

School culture change is goal of Commission

By Pamela Berard

A Massachusetts commission of educators and mental health leaders is helping schools create safe and supportive learning environments for students. The 19-member Safe and Supportive Schools Commission was created as part of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework through An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence in 2014. The law directed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to develop a state-wide safe and supportive schools framework and self-assessment tool, based on those created and outlined by the Behavioral Health and Public Schools (BHPS) Task Force in 2011. Commission Co-Chair Susan Cole, director of the Trauma and Learning Policy [More]

April 1st, 2017

Americans’ stress levels on the rise, survey says

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the first time in a decade of surveys, the American Psychological Association has seen a significant rise in stress levels in America. In 2016, after hearing from APA members that the 2016 presidential election was a growing issue for clients, the organization decided to address the elephant/donkey in the room and add a question about politics and stress to its annual Stress in America survey. “We were shocked when we got the data,” said Vaile Wright, Ph.D., a member of APA’s Stress in America team. “We released that original data and were immediately asked by members if we were [More]

April 1st, 2017

Electronic ties increase stress levels

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Although election stress runs high, the highest amount of stress is with Americans who are too tied to their electronic devices. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey, people who constantly check email, texts and social media accounts report stress levels of 5.3 out of 10. Those who check less frequently reported a level of 4.4 on average. The results are even worse for workers who can’t seem to get away from the job. According to the study, for employed Americans who maintain constant close contact with work, stress levels run at an average of 6.0 out [More]

April 1st, 2017

Court decision prompts bill on disclosure

By Rivkela Brodsky

Legislation introduced in the Vermont Legislature this session is meant to provide clarity on what a mental health professional’s duty is to disclose information concerning a client. A Vermont Supreme Court decision in 2016 made it unclear. The Vermont Supreme Court was asked to rule on the case that stemmed from an assault in 2011 of Michael Kuligoski by a former patient of Battleboro Retreat after the patient was discharged from the mental health facility and was undergoing outpatient treatment with Northeast Kingdom Human Services. The suit (Kuligoski v. Brattleboro Retreat, 2016 VT 54A) claimed Brattleboro Retreat and Northeast Kingdom [More]

April 1st, 2017

Study: Psychopaths feel fleeting regret

By Susan Gonsalves

A Yale study concludes that psychopaths can feel regret but it doesn’t affect their future choices. The research, published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale University and Joshua Buckholtz, Ph.D., assistant professor at Harvard University. Baskin-Sommers explained that they recruited a group of 62 male community members aged between 18 and 55 who are at risk for engaging in anti-social behavior; 70 percent had been arrested and half, incarcerated at some point. She said the purpose of the research was to determine whether the subjects, who [More]

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