Articles, Leading Stories

December 1st, 2013

EIP rules still an issue in Vermont

By Rivkela Brodsky

Ever since Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011 and the Vermont State Hospital was destroyed, the state has been in the process of revising its mental health rules. The legislature passed a bill last year creating a decentralized system and various stakeholders have been working with the state’s Department of Mental Health on the new regulations and are in agreement on most rules, but are still trying to navigate an issue with Emergency Involuntary Procedure or EIP rules. Hospital officials and advocates for patients with mental illness are debating whether the Vermont regulations should continue to require a psychiatrist to [More]

December 1st, 2013

Expert on gun violence describes new APA policy draft

By Catherine Robertson Souter

We may be focusing on the wrong areas when it comes to the public discourse on gun violence. But coming to a consensus on what are the key points can be difficult in a political climate where any discussion becomes heated and polarizing. Adding to the dilemma, says Robert Kinscherff, Ph.D., J.D., senior associate at the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, is the difficulty in finding funding for new research to identify ways to combat the problem. Kinscherff, who is the associate vice president for Community Engagement at the Massachusetts School for Professional Psychology, was selected to [More]

November 1st, 2013

BMI report cards drawing mixed reviews

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are considered overweight or obese, a condition that can lead to asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and other physical illnesses. The CDC reports further that 70 percent of obese children had, at minimum, one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39 percent had two or more. In some states, school systems have been introducing body mass index (BMI) report cards as a means of evaluating and monitoring a child’s weight. Although well intentioned, these reports are drawing a mixture [More]

November 1st, 2013

Psychologists brace for insurance changes

By Pamela Berard

Open enrollment for state health insurance exchanges mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicked off October 1 and psychologists are preparing for its impact. Deborah C. Baker, J.D., director of legal and regulatory policy for the American Psychological Association (APA) Practice Directorate, says the direct impact won’t be as clear until after coverage takes effect Jan. 1. Baker says, “We’re going to be experiencing a whole new area and I think we’re going to find a lot of good things and also areas for improvement.” The exchanges are state-level marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage. States [More]

November 1st, 2013

Virtual reality technology used with soldiers as therapy

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The numbers are staggering. By some estimates, a full one-third of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade have come home as the “walking wounded.” With the invisible scars of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury, these men and women are not easily identified nor, because of the stigma of mental health care within the military, do they always seek treatment. The good news is that, while previous war veterans may have similar concerns, there is far more attention being paid to the problem today. One of the more innovative and promising treatments [More]

November 1st, 2013

Electronic treatment raises complicated issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

Technology has invaded many aspects of daily life and some psychologists may be ready to make the leap into digital therapy. But before engaging in tele-treatment, psychologists should consider a number of factors, including patient privacy and jurisdictional regulations. Nancy T. Silberg, Ph.D., who works in the Bariatric Program in the Department of General Surgery at the Health Centre at Williston, Vermont and also has a private practice, Associates in Psychology, in Burlington, says that medical disciplines have been using technology, particularly teleconferencing, for some time. But psychologists who want to offer therapy electronically face some challenges. Privacy ranks as [More]

November 1st, 2013

Involuntary medication law sparks legal battle

By Rivkela Brodsky

A legal battle that has been brewing in Vermont over the state’s involuntary medication law is picking up steam – with one side saying the law delays necessary treatment of mental health patients and the other saying the law protects the civil rights of patients under state care. A court order is required before a mental health facility can medicate a patient who is refusing medications.  A separate hearing to commit a patient to state care must take place before the medication hearing can happen. The patient also has 30 days to appeal the decision. The process takes an average [More]

November 1st, 2013

Former DMH chief reflects on issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

On October 8, Ken Duckworth, M.D., medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, discussed his thoughts on a variety of mental health issues in an informal event sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists. He touched upon some current issues that have an impact on the mental well-being of individuals in Massachusetts and across the country. As former commissioner at the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Duckworth is intimately familiar with the Commonwealth and its efforts to help those who have a mental illness. He applauds the state for being a pioneer in this field, although he [More]

November 1st, 2013

Maine set to lose federal funding for state hospital

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a situation that was still unfolding at press time, the state of Maine has been informed that Medicare/Medicaid funding for services at the state hospital have been terminated. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was informed that the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had decided to remove Riverview Psychiatric Center from its Medicare Provider Agreement, effectively cutting off $19-20 million, nearly two-thirds of its annual $33 million operating budget. The hospital, which has seen a sharp rise in the number of forensic patients since 2012 without a matching increase in funding, has had a number [More]

November 1st, 2013

Study uncovers disparity during stages of treatment

By Susan Gonsalves

A recent study published in Health Services Research tracking mental health care episodes found that blacks and Latinos are much less likely to initiate treatment. And whites are much more likely to have care that consists solely of filling psychotropic drugs without checking in with a provider. Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D., MPH, study author, is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and senior scientist at the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance. Cook says this research is unusual because it looked at the beginning, middle and end of episodes of [More]

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