Articles, Leading Stories

January 1st, 2014

Program addresses co-occurring eating disorders and diabetes

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Diabetes Association reports that research suggests eating disorders may be more common among women who also have diabetes than in those who do not. Until recently, no programs existed in New England to address this complex problem; however, in September, Walden Behavioral Care, LLC and the Joslin Diabetes Center teamed up to create the Type I Diabetes Eating Disorder Program. Stuart Koman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Walden, explains that although Walden has a strong program for eating disorders, the facility needed to add a medical component to better serve patients with co-occurring eating disorders and insulin-dependent diabetes. [More]

January 1st, 2014

Departing MPA executive director reflects on tenure

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the past two decades, the same face, the same name has been so linked with the Massachusetts Psychological Association, that it will be very strange when she is no longer executive director. Elena Eisman, Ed.D., recently announced that she will step down from her post as of Dec. 31, a move that comes after 22 years with the organization. During that time, Eisman has represented more than just a membership-based professional organization. She has had to be the face of insurance change as the nation looked to Massachusetts to see how the Affordable Care Act might play itself out [More]

December 1st, 2013

Beyond the black box

By Susan Gonsalves

Benefits of early intervention highlighted It’s time for everyone embedded in the behavioral health world to “move out of the treatment black box,” develop a broad range of early interventions and take a more public health approach to mental illness. Those views among many others were presented by Arthur Evans, Ph.D., commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, during the Kennedy Forum’s inaugural conference in October held in Boston. Evans, formerly a deputy commissioner and director of managed care at Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, was among panelists at a session about prevention and intervention [More]

December 1st, 2013

Outpatient treatment legislation revisited

By Phyllis Hanlon

On October 22, the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Massachusetts held a public hearing on House Bill 1792/Senate Bill 906, which calls for assisted outpatient treatment (AOC). Coincidentally, the non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) released a 13-page report that examined available treatment options for those with mental illness in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth earned a failing grade, based on the quality of its treatment laws. In 1998, at the request of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kay Khan, Democratic representative for the Eleventh Middlesex District, filed H.B.1792 and during the ensuing years, the legislation has [More]

December 1st, 2013

The Kennedy forum

By Phyllis Hanlon

Uniting the community of mental health To mark the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, signed by President John F. Kennedy, former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy created The Kennedy Forum. The event, which took place on Oct. 17 and featured panelists and speakers from several different health care sectors, addressed mental health care issues including policies, research and treatment. Patrick Kennedy launched the Forum by saying, “Civil rights are the struggle of our era.” The on-going fight for parity since Kennedy’s legislation was passed has continued to be a top priority for advocates, he noted. Steven [More]

December 1st, 2013

Union open to psychologists, other clinicians

By Pamela Berard

The newly formed CliniciansUNITED, an associate membership of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509 in Massachusetts, is seeking to influence public policy and practice to protect and improve access to and availability of services from behavioral health clinicians who provide psychotherapy and other mental health services. SEIU Local 509 represents more than 17,000 human service workers. CliniciansUNITED is currently accepting members and is open to psychologists and other clinicians who work in private practice or in larger groups or publicly funded agencies. Melody Hugo, clinician organizing campaign director, SEIU Local 509, says one of the first goals is to [More]

December 1st, 2013

VT mental health agencies to be audited

By Catherine Robertson Souter

While they are not suspected of any wrongdoing or failures, the mental health agencies of the state of Vermont will be under the microscope in the coming months. In September, the Vermont state auditor’s office announced it will run an audit of the state’s designated agencies (DAs), the community mental health and developmental disability organizations contracted by the Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH). State Auditor Doug Hoffer announced the plan to inspect the agencies as one of four new audits being initiated. The office will also look at the Sex Offender Registry to ensure it is being kept current [More]

December 1st, 2013

Agencies investigated

By Pamela Berard

The state of Maine stopped MaineCare payments to two behavioral health service agencies pending investigation of fraud allegations and is helping approximately 500 affected clients find alternative providers while the investigation is on-going. In late September, the state stopped MaineCare payments to Umbrella Mental Health Services and AngleZ Behavioral Health Services, both located in the central part of the state, after receiving a credible allegation of fraud for the agencies, says John A. Martins, director, Public and Employee Communications, Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Martins could not specifically detail the allegations or how they were received, but [More]

December 1st, 2013

Senate bill reintroduced

By Rivkela Brodsky

Prompted by the Sept. 16 shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that left 12 dead, as well as the shooter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) urged for the passage of stand-alone mental health legislation that she says will “strengthen the nation’s mental health system.” “Given the clear connection between recent mass shootings and mental illness, the Senate should not delay bipartisan legislation that would help address this issue,” says Ayotte and co-author Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) in a Sept. 18 news release. Ayotte and Begich introduced the Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 153) in January. Portions of that bill were [More]

December 1st, 2013

Bill seeks EHR funding for mental health providers

By Howard Newman

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, provided nearly $20 billion in incentive funding for health information technology. Known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, this federal program enables physicians and other healthcare providers to receive incentive payments for implementing electronic health records (EHRs). While doctors, hospitals and community healthcare centers were able to take advantage of this program and upgrade their recordkeeping, an important group of service providers were not included. Psychologists, mental health providers, substance abuse professionals and facilities offering these services were not eligible for [More]

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