Articles, Leading Stories

May 1st, 2014

Fears of children left behind under DSM-5 not materializing

By Janine Weisman

Many had concerns when the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) combined four separate disorders under one umbrella: autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The loss of official recognition previously given autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and the catch-all pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified triggered fears of children going undiagnosed and without services they needed. But a year after DSM-5’s May 2013 release, those fears haven’t materialized despite conflicting research on the subject. Clinicians say they have yet to observe a decrease in the numbers of clients or referrals because [More]

May 1st, 2014

Other changes show mixed results

By Janine Weisman

In other areas, DSM-5 included a new chapter on Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders that recognized two new disorders: hoarding disorder and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder. But the changes reflected what was already happening in the research and treatment communities, says Jesse Crosby, Ph.D., of the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. “We have not seen any increase in new patients presenting with these disorders as we were already regularly treating these conditions,” Crosby says, adding that excoriation and hoarding were already considered related disorders or part of the OCD spectrum. Crosby says the treatment approach has remained the same [More]

May 1st, 2014

Movement of Taunton State patients still causing furor

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2012, when Gov. Deval Patrick announced plans to close Taunton State Hospital, proponents and opponents of the move have continued to clash over the decision. While the original plans have been amended – 45 of the hospital’s 169 beds remain open – the governor maintains his plan to transfer the remaining patients to the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (WRCH) and use the property for other purposes. “Consistent with the department’s statewide vision for public mental health services, the department plans to transition the remaining 45 continuing care beds at Taunton State Hospital to the Worcester Recovery Center and [More]

May 1st, 2014

State’s plans for Taunton announced

By Phyllis Hanlon

Anna Chinappi, director, Office of Communications and Community Engagement at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, provided a fact sheet that outlines the state’s plans for Taunton State Hospital. According to the fact sheet, the Department of Youth Services currently occupies space in three different buildings on the Taunton campus and serves 80 residents. The facility also contains a 16-bed vendor-run program, the Intensive Residential Treatment Program and High Point Treatment Center has opened a 40-bed unit. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance are discussing the possibility of creating [More]

May 1st, 2014

Reports: suicidal thoughts pre-date enlistment

By Rivkela Brodsky

Among other findings, new research suggests that soldiers experience the onset of suicidal thoughts and attempts before enlisting in the military and that many cases are linked with a prior mental disorder. Three reports published online in the March 5 issue of JAMA Psychiatry discuss the results of the first set of data to come from a five-year study funded by the Department of the Army and the National Institutes of Health to look at suicide and the military. This study was done in response to a jump in the military suicide rate, which has been climbing since the beginning [More]

May 1st, 2014

Inpatient beds: Demand but short supply

By Phyllis Hanlon

The process of deinstitutionalization, along with the subsequent closure of facilities and reduction in beds, began some 35 years ago. While community services were hailed as the best treatment option, they often did not prove to be an effective and appropriate approach for some individuals. The practice of closing beds continues today with some of the same repercussions experienced decades ago. Barbara Stone Amidon, Ph.D., has been on the Psychiatric Assessment Team at Cape Cod Hospital for the last 10 years. During that time she has witnessed children who present to the emergency room with a psychiatric diagnosis and then [More]

May 1st, 2014

Psychiatric hospital still slated to open this summer

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When the new state mental health hospital, Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital, comes on line in Berlin, Vermont, in July, it will have all the bells and whistles. With private rooms and bathrooms, separate wings that will house their own dining and meeting areas, advanced acoustical design to reduce noise, a greenhouse, garden and natural lighting throughout, the hospital has been designed using all of the most current theories for patient treatment in an environment aimed at reducing stress and supporting recovery. “This hospital is very modern in terms of the design that went into it,” says Jeff Rothenberg, LCMHC, who [More]

May 1st, 2014

Bullied children at risk for worse mental, physical health

By Rivkela Brodsky

Long after bruises have healed, kids may be dealing with the effects of painful bullying experiences on their mental and physical health. A new Boston Children’s Hospital study suggests children who are bullied are at risk for worse mental and physical health, greater depression symptoms and lower self-worth in the long term. “It’s the first study to comprehensively look at bullying over time in this fashion, to really look at the compounding effects and the lingering effects,” says Laura Bogart, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “What we found is that continued bullying [More]

May 1st, 2014

Tragedy underscores need of intervention

By Howard Newman

When tragedy struck Ken and Danielle Lambert six years ago, they grieved for a short while and then took action. They never wanted anyone to experience the type of heartbreak and suffering they had faced. Their two children, Kaleigh, 5, and Shane, 4, and Danielle’s sister, Marci Thibault, died as the result of a horrifying psychotic incident. With the children in her car, Thibault pulled over to the side of Route 495 in Lowell, Mass., and then intentionally walked everyone into oncoming traffic. In April of 2008, Ken and Danielle formed a non-profit organization called Kaleigh, Shane and Marci for [More]

May 1st, 2014

Program adapts to changing system and challenges

By Pamela Berard

The Victims of Violence (VOV) Program of the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts may have won an award for innovation – but it has done so without wavering from its mission of three decades. VOV, a multi-site adult outpatient trauma clinic that provides a range of services, is marking its thirtieth year and was honored in April with an Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance. Founded by psychologist Mary Harvey, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Judith Herman, M.D., VOV offers comprehensive mental health services for crime victims, their families and crime victimized communities. VOV emphasizes clinical care that can [More]

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