Articles, Leading Stories

March 1st, 2017

Integrated practices: Moving toward comprehensive health care

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources and Services Administration report that some primary care offices are becoming a “gateway” for individuals who have a combination of behavioral and physical health needs. The growing prevalence of co-existing physical and behavioral challenges is prompting a closer look at integrated practices. Corey D. Smith, director of behavioral health training at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency Program, which trains medical doctors and nurses in collaboration with the University of New England (UNE) College of Medicine and UNE’s College of Pharmacy, pointed out that few medical conditions present without a [More]

March 1st, 2017

What will ACA replacement mean for mental health?

By Janine Weisman

Uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s often repeated campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act has changed the way Republicans talk about it: Instead of “repeal,” the emphasis is now on “repair.” Even so, mental health advocates are worried that any fix to the 2010 federal health care law might mean the loss of historic protections requiring health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services. Before ACA made these services “essential benefits,” individual and small group market policies rarely covered them. “The Affordable Care Act, put in extreme terms, is a life-or-death issue for people [More]

March 1st, 2017

Wait times still long in EDs

By Pamela Berard

Patients having mental health emergencies who require hospital admission wait nearly four times longer for an inpatient bed than their medical counterparts, according to a study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Additionally, mental health patients waited more than five times as long for transfer to another facility, according to the study, “Analysis of Emergency Department Length of Stay for Mental Health Patients at Ten Massachusetts Emergency Departments.” “Boarding, the practice of prolonged waiting in the emergency department for an inpatient hospital bed or transfer to another facility, is a pervasive public health problem that disproportionately affects mental health patients,” [More]

March 1st, 2017

Safe rooms at EDs provide temporary respite

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The signing of the Community Mental Health Act in 1963 introduced a major shift in mental health care. Signed by President John F. Kennedy, the act initiated a shifting of federal resources away from large institutions with the goal of increasing community-based mental health treatment programs. Flash forward more than 50 years later to find that all did not turn out as planned. While there are fewer people committed to inpatient care, community services have not matched expected growth. The result? Fewer beds and less local services have led to higher levels of incarceration among the mentally ill and people [More]

March 1st, 2017

Reimbursement for telehealth still an issue

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In Massachusetts, Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it would add coverage for telehealth services early last year. While the coverage was expanded, however, BCBS limited its reimbursement rates, falling short of parity with face-to-face services. That announcement triggered questions for many psychologists in the Commonwealth. What other insurance companies provide coverage and at what rates? When videoconferencing technology first became widely available in the late 1990s, professionals in the mental health field started to ask how they could use this new technology. If you can see someone, gauge their reactions, read body language and provide nearly the same [More]

March 1st, 2017

DSM-5 open to suggested updates

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The world of information has changed since 1952. That was the year that the American Psychiatric Association released the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. A listing of diagnostic criteria and codes used by mental health professionals, across the country and around the world, the current DSM-5 was released in 2013. But, while that version took more than a decade to craft and publish, ongoing updates are now released immediately via a dedicated Web site (www.dsm5.org). Since the release of DSM-5, the manual has already seen changes to several codes. In the online [More]

March 1st, 2017

APA: 21st Century Cures Act promises to reform system

By Phyllis Hanlon

In December 2016, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a law that, according to the American Psychological Association, promises to reform the mental health system nationally. The law emphasizes research, education, changes to the criminal justice system, coordination between state and federal government on mental health matters and a focus on children. Three years in the making, the 21st Century Cures Act is a “strongly bipartisan law,” said Laurel Stine, JD, MA, director of Congressional Affairs with the APA Practice Organization. “The law is very comprehensive in scope and represents the intersection of mental health conditions in adults [More]

March 1st, 2017

Study: Mindfulness programs prevalent

By Pamela Berard

More than 60 percent of all U.S. medical schools have a mindfulness program to support students, residents or providers, according to a study by researchers at Cambridge Health Alliance and the University of Southern California, published in the journal, Mindfulness. Mindfulness was most commonly integrated into medical schools as an option for health care providers looking for ways to care for themselves and enhance resiliency, such as through mindfulness-based therapies or wellness groups. “This is the first attempt to capture the national scope of mindfulness activity within academic medicine and it suggests that mindfulness is no longer a fringe concept [More]

March 1st, 2017

‘Deconstructing Stigma’ project unveiled at airport

By Phyllis Hanlon

When Nathaniel Van Kirk, Ph.D., administrative director of research at McLean Hospital’s OCD Institute, learned of the “Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life” project, he was quick to volunteer. Diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, he hopes his story will help break down stereotypes, misinformation and stigma through this public education campaign. Early in 2016, McLean partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the International OCD Foundation, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the National Alliance on Mental Health and Project 375 to produce this unique project, which was unveiled on Dec. 9, 2016 at Logan [More]

March 1st, 2017

Study: Lying with the truth is risky

By Janine Weisman

During the Sept. 26, 2016, presidential debate, Donald Trump responded to a question about a 1973 federal lawsuit charging his family’s company with housing discrimination this way: “We settled the suit with zero – no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do. But they sued many people.” The U.S. Justice Department had charged Trump, his father and their company, Trump Management Inc., with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent to African-Americans. A New York Times story on the case reported there was no evidence that Trump personally set rental policies, but consent decrees customarily don’t [More]

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