Articles, Leading Stories

March 1st, 2016

Program helps siblings, parents of inpatient kids

By Susan Gonsalves

Siblings of children and adolescents undergoing inpatient psychiatric treatment are the “hidden casualties” of mental health issues. They are also at risk for developing maladaptive behaviors. With those concepts in mind, Emily Rubin, M.A.,  director of sibling support at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, created a program entitled, “The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative.” Launched in 2011, to date, 900 siblings and parents have participated at partnering Boston-area hospitals and that number is growing. “Family members are often left on their own to manage situations. The program is designed to build resiliency and decrease trauma,” [More]

March 1st, 2016

MSPP name change honors pioneer in psychology

By Phyllis Hanlon

When the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology was founded in 1974, the institution offered a single degree program on a small campus with fewer than 200 students. Today, the school has grown and its new name – William James College – reflects a much more complex and sophisticated organization. Nicholas A. Covino, Psy.D., president of William James College, reported that when MSPP decided to change its name, the school sought to identify with a “good icon and brand leader.” Covino said, “We thought William James, who basically wrote prodigiously about psychologists meeting needs in the community, best represented what we [More]

March 1st, 2016

Cynthia A. Belar, Ph.D., ABPP takes the helm at APA temporarily

By Catherine Robertson Souter

After a troubling year, and with their former chief executive officer, Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., retiring on December 31, the American Psychological Association was in a bit of a bind. With no one set to take the position, the board of directors called upon Cynthia D. Belar, Ph.D., ABPP, to step in as interim CEO, holding down the fort until a more permanent replacement could be identified. Coming out of retirement was difficult, Belar has said, but worth it for the organization that held a special place in her heart. Belar, formerly involved in teaching, clinical practice and research, had [More]

February 1st, 2016

Conversion therapy effects shown

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 1974, the American Psychological Association voiced strong opposition to discrimination, prejudice and violence based on sexual orientation. Until that time, those with homosexual tendencies were often treated with “aversion” therapy that included electric shock, systemic desensitization and other techniques. In 2007, the APA established a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which was charged with conducting research on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. In response, some states have passed legislation that bans conversion/reparative therapy. Rachel Gaillard Smook, Psy.D., owner of Birchtree Psychology in Northborough, Massachusetts, reported that 18 states have legislation pending to ban the practice of [More]

February 1st, 2016

Conn., N.H. sustain mental health spending increases

By Janine Weisman

Connecticut and New Hampshire are among 11 states that increased funding for mental health services every year since the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., according to a National Alliance on Mental Health report. Massachusetts and Maine joined Connecticut and New Hampshire in increasing their mental health budgets from fiscal 2014 to 2015, according to NAMI’s report, “State Mental Health Legislation: Trends, Themes and Effective Practices.” Rhode Island and Vermont were among 14 states that maintained their mental health spending from the previous year. But less than half of states increased their mental health budgets from [More]

February 1st, 2016

Bill seeks six-month recoupment limit

By Janine Weisman

When a managed care insurance company recoups payments previously made to health providers for services rendered, it’s called a clawback. S outh Shore Mental Health President and CEO Harry Shulman, LICSW, calls it an “administrative disaster.” That’s what the head of the Quincy, Massachusetts-based agency that delivers education, behavioral health treatment and recovery services to about 16,000 clients annually from Boston to Cape Cod says it’s like to go back and reconcile billing accounts after reimbursements are electronically taken back. In the last months of 2015, South Shore Mental Health had about $75,000 in payments for providing outpatient individual therapy [More]

February 1st, 2016

CHART: partnerships and integration enhance patient care

By Phyllis Hanlon

In October 2013, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC), launched Phase 1 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization & Transformation (CHART) Investment Program. HPC dispersed $10 million to 28 community hospitals “to enhance the delivery of efficient, effective health care.” HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, Mass. was a recipient of grants for both Phase 1 and Phase 2, which was announced in October 2014. According to Paul McKinnon, COO, NP, HealthAlliance received $410,000 in seed money in Phase 1 to reduce the number of patients who return frequently to the hospital and to connect them to services in the community. “We [More]

February 1st, 2016

Yale program treats young cancer patients

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Recognizing that young adults diagnosed with cancer show poorer outcomes post-treatment, Yale-New Haven Hospital has initiated a program dedicated to psychosocial treatment for this vulnerable population. The Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Psychosocial Program at the hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center will offer services to all patients age 15-39 beginning with the initial diagnosis as a way to improve outcomes. According to a University of Michigan study published in Psycho-Oncology, 39 percent of all adolescents and young adults with cancer reported moderate to severe levels of psychological distress six months after diagnosis. Unlike with adult cancer patients, whose distress levels off [More]

February 1st, 2016

Behavioral health ED visits on the rise

By Pamela Berard

Even though overall emergency department use in Massachusetts declined in 2014 – visits associated with behavioral health conditions rose sharply, according to preliminary findings on Emergency Department Utilization Trends from the Health Policy Commission (HPC) 2015 Cost Trends Report. The data shows that emergency department (ED) use associated with behavioral health conditions (mental health and substance use disorders) increased 24 percent state-wide between 2010-2014. Matthew Kitsos, a HPC spokesman said via email that the rise has coincided with growth in the opioid epidemic. Lack of timely treatment also drives use of the ED for behavioral health conditions and HPC is [More]

February 1st, 2016

Detox unit opens at Butler Hospital

By Pamela Berard

In response to a growing heroin and opioid addiction crisis, Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I., opened an outpatient detoxification unit. The ambulatory program at Butler (which is part of the Care New England health system) since September has been providing medically managed safe withdrawal from heroin, opioids, or other prescription medications and also alcohol, to adults 18 years or older. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Rhode Island, according to the state Department of Health. The Office of the R.I. State Medical Examiner reported 141 accidental drug overdose deaths through October in 2015, and 241 deaths [More]

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