June 1st, 2013

Task force tackles integration of behavioral health, primary care

By Pamela Berard

After months of collecting input, a Massachusetts task force is developing recommendations for the integration of behavioral health (mental health and substance use) and primary care for adults, children and families, within the context of service delivery strategies and payment reforms. The goal is to improve access and outcomes for those who face mental illness or substance issues. The nation is undergoing significant health care reform under 2010’s Affordable Care Act, modeled after Massachusetts’ 2006 health care insurance reform law. Massachusetts entered the next chapter in health care reform with the adoption of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, [More]

July 1st, 2013

Task force tackles integration of behavioral health, primary care

By Pamela Berard

After months of collecting input, a Massachusetts task force is developing recommendations for the integration of behavioral health (mental health and substance use) and primary care for adults, children and families, within the context of service delivery strategies and payment reforms. The goal is to improve access and outcomes for those who face mental illness or substance issues. The nation is undergoing significant health care reform under 2010’s Affordable Care Act, modeled after Massachusetts’ 2006 health care insurance reform law. Massachusetts entered the next chapter in health care reform with the adoption of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, [More]

March 1st, 2013

Task force working on mental health legislation

By Pamela Berard

State and national lawmakers are mulling legislation on gun control, mental health care and benefits for first responders in the wake of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook shootings. Connecticut legislators created a Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. The task force designated three working groups to focus on gun violence prevention, school security and mental health. The groups will review current law and make recommendations to the overall committee, which will provide recommendations to Senate and House leadership. The goal is to produce a bipartisan emergency certified bill that had not been filed at press time. During a [More]

July 1st, 2014

Task forces address hoarding

By Rivkela Brodsky

Task forces to address hoarding in communities are piling up around the nation. So says hoarding expert Randy Frost, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Smith College in Mass., who estimates about 100 across the U.S. “They are springing up all over the place,” says Frost, co-author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.” “They are populated primarily by service professionals who run into the problem of hoarding.” That can include first responders, health department personnel, housing officials, child and family services, mental health and animal welfare agencies, he says. While Massachusetts has several hoarding task forces, other states [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]

March 1st, 2013

Teen suicide study highlights need for better training

By Janine Weisman

Suicidal thoughts are common among U.S. adolescents, many of whom receive mental health treatment before the onset of suicidal plans or attempts, the first large-scale study on the subject finds. A team led by Harvard University clinical psychologist Matthew K. Nock, Ph.D., found 12.1 percent of teens in a national sample reported thinking about suicide while 4.0 percent made plans and 4.1 percent made attempts. More than 80 percent had received mental health treatment and 55 percent had started treatment before the onset of suicidal behaviors. Data analyzed came from 6,483 adolescents aged 13 to 18 interviewed as part of [More]

July 1st, 2017

Teen’s viral Facebook post could be useful to therapists

By Janine Weisman

“I brushed my hair today” begins a Facebook post that appears at first glance to be the sharing of ordinary and otherwise unremarkable information. Except that the young author reveals it’s the first time in four weeks she attended to her own personal care and hygiene. The author is Katelyn Marie Lesho and her May 9 post about her struggle with depression has done something rather unordinary. Lesho’s 275-word post had generated nearly 300,000 shares, 233,000 like, love and sad emojis and 22,000 comments a month after she wrote it. The Georgia teenager described her hair as “matted and twisted [More]

June 1st, 2016

Telehealth CBT assists breast cancer survivors with memory problems

By Janine Weisman

Specialized cognitive behavioral therapy delivered via telehealth reduced memory problems and anxiety for breast cancer survivors living in Maine in a new study published online May 2. The small-scale study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, is the first randomized controlled trial to use telecommunications technology to evaluate the treatment of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction with an active control condition. And it shows promise in supporting large cancer center survivorship programs as the number of people living with a cancer diagnosis in the U.S. continues to increase. While the study had only 47 participants, about 75 [More]

June 1st, 2016

Telehealth coverage expands in Massachusetts

By Janine Weisman

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts was expected to notify its provider network on May 15 of its plans to expand telehealth coverage starting this summer. On Jan. 1, the largest private health plan in Massachusetts started covering diagnostic evaluations and psychotherapy for 30 minutes or less conducted by videoconferencing. But as of July 1, BCBSMA will expand from two Current Procedural Terminology codes to seven for covering diagnostic evaluations and 30, 45, and 60 minute sessions of psychotherapy with patients and/or family members and such psychotherapy sessions when performed with an evaluation and management service. The telehealth coverage announcement [More]

May 1st, 2013

Telemedicine program launched on Block Island

By Greg Hitchcock

A telemedicine program to help serve people with mental illness was launched on a remote island 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Stephen Hollaway, pastor of Harbor Church on Block Island and chairman of the island’s Mental Health Task Force, says he felt the need to help individuals with mental health conditions when he was called in 2010 by the Block Island Police Department regarding a suicide. According to Hollaway, the suicide victim’s family said it was difficult to get the help needed to prevent the tragedy from occurring. “No one from the mainland would send anyone here [More]