April 1st, 2013

Substance Use Disorder change gets mixed response

By Pamela Berard

One DSM-5 change that has divided mental health experts is the new category of Substance Use Disorder, which combines the DSM-IV Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence categories into a single disorder measured on a continuum of severity. Some say this change may improve early diagnoses/interventions, while others fear it could mislabel or stigmatize normal, transient behavior – for example, by lumping college binge drinkers in with those who have a hard-core dependence. According to one study, the new criteria could increase by more than 60 percent the number of people classified with alcohol problems. According to the DSM-5 Task Force, [More]

June 1st, 2010

Suicide prevention plan updated

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When it comes to suicide, statistics alone don’t tell the whole story. On one hand, New England and the entire Northeast have the lowest overall rates of suicide. In a 2005 study, the Northeast had an average suicide rate of 8.1 compared to a high of 12.1 in the west. Montana had the highest and the District of Columbia the lowest. But, even though Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island came in 44th, 47th and 48th, the more rural New England states had higher rates of suicide. Maine was 18th, Vermont was 22nd and New Hampshire, with its overall ranking of [More]

June 1st, 2016

Summer camp provides emotional support

By Pamela Berard

A residential summer camp in Vermont supports children with a range of social, behavioral and emotional needs. Camp Daybreak, offered to boys and girls 8-11 for one week in August at a Vermont campsite, was founded in 1961. The camp is now a direct service program of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery and operates as a strengths-based experience focused on meeting the needs of the young people who attend. Dan Osman, Camp Daybreak director, said the young campers have a range of needs. “In mental health, there’s no cookie-cutter answer; no one fits a specific mold,” [More]

August 18th, 2017

Support increasing for children who witness violence

By Janine Weisman

Rhode Island is now the second state in New England after Connecticut to cover expenses for psychiatric care and mental health counseling for children who witness homicides or domestic violence, regardless of whether or not they are a family member of the victim. On June 27, the General Assembly passed legislation introduced by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) that would expand Rhode Island’s Crime Victim Compensation Program to include support for minors who witness homicides or domestic violence. Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the measure into law [More]

February 1st, 2017

Surgeon General report: a call to action on addiction

By Rivkela Brodsky

In November 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General for the first time issued a report on alcohol, drugs, and health – calling addiction, “one of America’s most pressing public health issues.” The report, likened to a Surgeon General report on the dangers of smoking issued 50 years ago, was meant as a call to action. The “report aims to shift the way our society thinks about substance misuse and substance use disorders,” reads the report’s executive summary from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, titled “Facing Addiction in America.” The report also reviews information [More]

February 1st, 2010

Surgeries for OCD risky, but offer hope

By Ami Albernaz

For Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients who have exhausted all other treatment options, surgery offers great potential and poses great risk. For doctors shepherding along the precarious surgical procedures, successfully balancing the possible risks and rewards for patients will likely determine the future course of the work. Surgery has allowed some OCD sufferers to live a more normal life – to attend college, to travel, to rebuild relationships with family and friends. Yet for others, the side effects can be severe: memory deficits, edema, even seizure disorder. (In many cases, the side effects disappear in time). “We go out of our way [More]

December 1st, 2014

Survey provides data on child behavior

By Howard Newman

Preliminary results from The Learning Habit Survey (LHS), an online national research project that polled 21,145 parents are providing data about children’s behavior. The survey was designed to study the interaction of three global variables – family time, exposure to electronic media and parenting style – with children’s social interaction, academic performance, homework, attentiveness, sleep patterns and emotional regulation. Findings from the study, undertaken by the Brown University School of Medicine, the Children’s National Medical Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology, were published in the Sept. 2 edition of “The American Journal of Family Therapy.” While the [More]

March 11th, 2019

Survey: Access to mental health, substance use disorder care is a challenge for Massachusetts adults

By Susan Gonsalves

Data from the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey showed that 56.8 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 who sought help for mental health or substance abuse disorders experienced difficulties obtaining care. The problems included finding a provider who would see them at all or getting an appointment in a timely manner when it was needed. As a result, more than one-third of those adults went without help and 12.7 percent visited an emergency department to address those issues. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and Urban Institute collected the information using data from a random telephone survey involving 2,201 [More]

March 1st, 2014

Survey: Maine children struggle more with bullying, thoughts of suicide

By Pamela Berard

Maine schoolchildren are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes less, but are struggling more with bullying and thoughts of suicide, according to the recently released Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. The survey was based on anonymous responses from about 63,000 public school students in grades 5-12, and has been conducted every other year since 2009 by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The number of high school students who reported having at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime dropped from 59.4 percent (in 2011) to 54.3 percent in 2013 and fell from 19 [More]

January 5th, 2020

Survey: Mass shootings, healthcare among top stressors

By Susan Gonsalves

Healthcare, mass shootings and the 2020 election are among the top stressors for Americans according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Between August 1 and Sept. 2, 2019, the poll asked 3,617 adults to rate their level of stress as well as identify a variety of potential sources. Concerns about healthcare significantly affect about seven in 10 adults. More than half (64 percent) acknowledge that healthcare is stressing them out as least “sometimes.” Individuals with private insurance (71 percent) are more likely than those with public insurance (53 percent) to cite it as a stressor. Additionally, 55 percent [More]