Articles, Leading Stories

March 1st, 2014

Vermont mayors cite mental health reform as priority

By Janine Weisman

The mayors of eight Vermont communities have named mental health reform their top legislative priority for 2014 to draw attention to the plight of emergency rooms and law enforcement agencies across the state coping with rising demand for services. “There is a fairly acute problem in this area right now. We see that in the strain of law enforcement. We see it in the strain on our hospitals,” says Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger. “We have seen some unfortunate events, very high profile events, that have affected Vermonters over the last year and there is an active policy discussion going on [More]

March 1st, 2014

New England states address mandate to end vet homelessness

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In 2009, the Obama Administration, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs put forth a bold challenge, announcing a mandate to end homelessness among military veterans. The goal, to get all veterans off the streets by the end of 2015 is a lofty one, but one that the federal government, with bi-partisan support from the U.S. Congress, has put some serious financial resources behind, including vouchers for short term housing help and family support. With only 20 months to go before the deadline, the various programs have helped to drive a 24 percent decline in veteran homelessness according to [More]

March 1st, 2014

Survey: Maine children struggle more with bullying, thoughts of suicide

By Pamela Berard

Maine schoolchildren are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes less, but are struggling more with bullying and thoughts of suicide, according to the recently released Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. The survey was based on anonymous responses from about 63,000 public school students in grades 5-12, and has been conducted every other year since 2009 by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The number of high school students who reported having at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime dropped from 59.4 percent (in 2011) to 54.3 percent in 2013 and fell from 19 [More]

March 1st, 2014

Psychologist’s work emphasizes community building

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a world so fixated on constant communication, be it texting, social media or 24-hour news channels, it can be shocking to find the one thing often missing in building a better community is, in fact, communication. When Tom Wolff, Ph.D., president of Tom Wolff and Associates in Amherst, Mass., a private consulting firm, first got involved in working in coalition building and community development, he soon found that that most important piece of the puzzle was missing. Over the years, he has developed an expertise in the area of getting disparate groups, agencies and individuals together to solve issues. [More]

February 1st, 2014

A look at the profession: then and now

By Phyllis Hanlon

Psychology has been around since the time of ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and Indian civilizations. In the ensuing years, the profession has evolved into a field with numerous notable figures, significant discoveries, various subspecialties and an array of treatment interventions. In the last 50 years, the discipline has continued to progress and grow thanks to curriculum changes, more opportunities for hands-on practice and publication and the prevalence of technology. When Ethan Pollack, Ph.D., faculty member at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and partner and founder of private, group practice Needham Psychotherapy Associates, received his doctorate in 1968, he deviated [More]

February 1st, 2014

Mental health funding makes progress

By Pamela Berard

State funding allocated for mental health services is on an upswing, according to a report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Thirty-six states – including every New England state but Maine – will see an increase in mental health funding for Fiscal Year 2014, according to the report. Reasons for the increase vary – from an improving economy, response to the shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., and other factors. Mary Kate Mason, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services says, “We’ve always had a very robust system and good resources (in Connecticut) [More]

February 1st, 2014

Framingham ZBA blocks Walden’s new center proposal

By Phyllis Hanlon

In May 2013, Walden Behavioral Care, LLC signed a purchase and sales agreement to buy a 28-acre property at 518 Pleasant St. in Framingham, which is owned by the Marist Fathers. Although initial indications pointed toward approval for a special permit, the zoning board chair denied the request, which requires a unanimous vote. Subsequently, Walden and the Marist Fathers filed a joint suit in Massachusetts Land Court to overturn the board’s decision. According to Stuart Koman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Walden Center and Walden Behavioral Care, the proposal calls for the development of an additional 35,000 square feet [More]

February 1st, 2014

Primary care practice opens at Butler

By Janine Weisman

A new primary care practice on the campus of Rhode Island’s only private, nonprofit psychiatric and substance abuse hospital reimagines the design and purpose of the traditional waiting room. For starters, it’s not called a waiting room. “It’s a reception area,” says Butler Hospital research psychologist Lisa Uebelacker, Ph.D., who has led the development of integrating behavioral health services into Affinity Primary Care East Side. The new practice opened last November in a renovated building attached to Kane Gym on Butler’s Providence campus. Patients who visit the office find a television screen displaying a staff-created slideshow of beautiful scenery from [More]

February 1st, 2014

Will more screenings correspond with more treatment?

By Janine Weisman

It took a federal judge’s order to make Massachusetts implement routine behavioral health screenings during well-child visits and get the state’s Medicaid agency to reimburse pediatricians for them. But it’s unclear what will make sure children identified as having mental health concerns get the treatment they need, even as Massachusetts leads the nation in screening the youngest and most vulnerable children. “The bottom line is that there are far too few providers willing to see children, whether they’re psychologists or social workers, who take insurance, because the reimbursement is still way too low,” says Michael Yogman, M.D., a pediatrician who [More]

February 1st, 2014

Team hopes to de-escalate situations

By Rivkela Brodsky

New Hampshire’s community based model of treatment for those with mental illness has meant fewer hospital beds and more interaction with law enforcement. Police officers are often the first line in dealing with crisis situations, says Lt. Ron Mello, who heads up the Manchester Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), which began in 2011. “When you think about it, when I started 27 years ago, at least in Manchester, the number of beds at psychiatric facilities was a lot more than it is now,” he says. “With the reduction in the number of beds available, you are getting a lot [More]

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