Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2016

Minibikes used as learning tool for kids, teens

By Pamela Berard

A Boston-based nonprofit aims to help boys and girls ages 10-17 develop self esteem and a sense of belonging by using a minibike as a motivational tool and a metaphor for personal development. The National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM) began in 1969 and is supported by Honda Motor Co. Inc. and run by Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. Approximately 35 programs nationwide – including municipalities, residential and school-, faith- and community-based – participate in the recreational program, which has an integral mentoring component that guides and supports youth to make good decisions at school, home and in their [More]

October 1st, 2016

Munchausen by Internet cases increase

By Rivkela Brodsky

Munchausen by Internet – a syndrome where a person pretends to have a medical condition using the Internet as a tool in this deception – is on the rise, said Marc D. Feldman, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama who coined the term in 2000, although it is not recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5. He says since he published an article first describing this condition, he has been contacted about 120 cases, which he said “has got to be the tip of the iceberg because people are having to make some effort to reach [More]

October 1st, 2016

CDC studies health risks of LGB students

By Pamela Berard

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students experience a higher level of physical and sexual violence and bullying than other students, according to a recently released national report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 – United States and Selected Sites, 2015” is the CDC’s first nationally representative study on the health risks of U.S. LGB high school students. The report was made possible by the CDC for the first time adding questions to ascertain both sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts, to the [More]

October 1st, 2016

Eating disorders: better addressed at specialized centers

By Phyllis Hanlon

Residential schools are designed to provide therapy and education for students with a range of behavioral and emotional issues as well as learning, psychological and psychiatric disorders. In the past, many of these schools also addressed eating disorders, but treatment for this condition appears to be moving away from the residential school setting. David J. Alperovitz, Psy.D., staff psychologist at the Klarman Eating Disorder Center at McLean Hospital, noted that several new centers focused on eating disorders have opened in recent years. “Ten to 15 years ago, there were not as many,” he said, adding that because adolescents today deal [More]

October 1st, 2016

WHO proposes removing transgender from diagnosis list

By Phyllis Hanlon

In recent years, society has witnessed a number of changes related to the transgender population that are leading, for the most part, to some semblance of acceptance. In July, the World Health Organization added its voice to the discussion when it proposed the declassification of transgender identity as a mental disorder in its next version of the International Classification of Diseases-11. A study out of Columbia University lends support to the move. Geoffrey M. Reed, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University, conducted a study at a transgender health services clinic in Mexico City. He interviewed 250 [More]

October 1st, 2016

Yale study looks at sub threshold PTSD co morbidity risks

By Susan Gonsalves

According to research, veterans who do not have full blown PTSD but who experience some symptoms are at a heightened risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. They could benefit from screening and treatment in clinical settings but are overlooked. That was the takeaway of a Yale-university led study, published in the World Psychiatry Journal’s June issue. The research looked at 1,484 veterans nation-wide ranging in age from 20 to 94 with a median age of 64 and found that 22.1 percent experienced “sub threshold” PTSD while eight percent met the DSM-5 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. In addition, these [More]

October 1st, 2016

School CEO talks of challenges, pleasures of work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

They say the difference between stress and passion is in the commitment to the outcome; one is putting in hours and the other is a labor of love. Dan Murray, Psy.D., whose work as chief executive officer of the Wellspring Foundation and the Arch Bridge School falls into the passion category. As he explained in a conversation with New England Psychologist’s Catherine Robertson Souter, the challenges that face anyone choosing to work in a residential/treatment school must be balanced with the desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. Q:  While it is the school we are [More]

August 19th, 2016

Brain, mental health link studied

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) five years ago re-defined addiction as a chronic brain disorder, not just a behavioral issue. “The theory seems to have a lot of validity. Addiction changes areas in the brain related to motivation and primacy of reinforcement for salience,” said Michael M. Miller, M.D., past president of ASAM, medical director of the Herrington Recovery Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin and chair of the committee that issued the new definition. Other research is now exploring a connection between the brain and mental health diagnoses. Genetics is one of the risk factors that [More]

August 19th, 2016

Canada may expand new PAD law; U.S. next?

By Janine Weisman

Canada passed new legislation in June legalizing physician-assisted death (PAD) for citizens 18 and older deemed mentally competent and who have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.” The law defines such a condition as “a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that is “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.” The condition causes a person “enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them” and cannot be relieved. The person’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable.” Safeguards to prevent errors and abuse include a 15-day waiting period and having two independent witnesses present when the patient [More]

August 19th, 2016

Mass. DMH releases fresh air regulations

By Janine Weisman

All psychiatric patients in Massachusetts hospitals and residential programs are entitled to “reasonable daily access to the outdoors,” according to new regulations the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health issued July 1. The regulations clarify the so-called “Fresh Air” law enacted in January 2015. The law added a sixth “Fundamental Right” to five adopted in 1998 outlining a patient’s right to make phone calls, send and receive mail, receive visitors, enjoy privacy and humane living quarters and have contact with attorneys, clergy, physicians, psychologists or social workers if desired. Daily fresh air access depends on weather conditions and each patient’s clinical [More]

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