April 1st, 2016

Tufts reaches settlement with AG office

By Phyllis Hanlon

The passage of mental health parity was intended to mandate equality in the care of behavioral issues with that given to physical conditions. In spite of the requirements, some insurers have been found to limit access to certain mental health services. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office recently resolved allegations that Tufts Associated Health Plans restricted member access to Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, a standard treatment for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The AG’s office alleged that Tufts set a policy that required parents to be present during every ABA session in order for the service to be covered. Additionally, [More]

June 1st, 2016

U.S. ranks 13th in World Happiness Report

By Rivkela Brodsky

In the latest World Happiness Report – an update released to coincide with International Day of Happiness on March 20, just 11 months after the 2015 report came out – the United States ranks 13 among 157 countries listed in the report. Coming in at the top at number one was Denmark, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Israel, Austria, and then the United States, which came in just above Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Ireland, and Luxembourg to round out the top twenty. Burundi ranked last at 157 after Syria, Togo, [More]

August 18th, 2017

UMaine athletes to get mental health resources

By Pamela Berard

The University of Maine (UMaine) is adding a mental health program to its athletic department. UMaine is receiving $640,000 in a one-time distribution from the NCAA, which this spring distributed funds to nearly 350 Division I schools for the purpose of providing better support to student-athletes. The money had to be used for new programs or to enhance existing programs (not to buy more equipment, increase salaries, or hire more coaches, for example). Each school was required to submit a spending plan. UMaine, which has more than 450 student-athletes, chose to use the funding to prioritize mental health care for [More]

November 9th, 2018

UNICEF report: Peer-to-peer violence in schools is pervasive around the world

By Janine Weisman

School is a safe place — but only for half of the world’s students. A new UNICEF analysis finds that half of students aged 13 to 15 globally report experiencing peer-to-peer violence in and around school. That’s about 150 million teens, according to the report “An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools,” which outlines a variety of ways students face violence in and around the classroom. The report measures peer-to-peer violence as the number of children who report having been bullied in the previous month or having been involved in a physical fight. And, the report’s data shows the prevalence of [More]

December 1st, 2013

Union open to psychologists, other clinicians

By Pamela Berard

The newly formed CliniciansUNITED, an associate membership of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509 in Massachusetts, is seeking to influence public policy and practice to protect and improve access to and availability of services from behavioral health clinicians who provide psychotherapy and other mental health services. SEIU Local 509 represents more than 17,000 human service workers. CliniciansUNITED is currently accepting members and is open to psychologists and other clinicians who work in private practice or in larger groups or publicly funded agencies. Melody Hugo, clinician organizing campaign director, SEIU Local 509, says one of the first goals is to [More]

November 1st, 2017

Union wants metal detectors at Department of Mental Health sites

By Susan Gonsalves

Representatives of workers at inpatient mental health facilities around Massachusetts fear that it’s inevitable people will be seriously injured or killed if action is not taken to ensure their safety. They’ve taken their concerns to the governor’s office. Earlier this year, officials from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) hand-delivered a petition signed by 1,100 workers seeking the installation of metal detectors at seven locations. James Durkin, director of legislation for AFSCME Council 93 said that although metal detectors would not solve the security issues completely, the “simple first step,” would “drastically reduce the possibility,” of [More]

December 1st, 2010

Unit uses softness to connect with kids

By Jennifer E Chase

A Massachusetts-based child inpatient psychiatric unit is breaking from the traditional use of restrictions and seclusion for managing troubled patients with a much softer approach: colorful rooms, soft places to sit, listening ears and lots of hugs. To be exact, the “Hugs not Holds” initiative is just one of several programs used to calm, quell and treat kids admitted to the Child Assessment Unit (CAU), an award-winning unit under the auspices of Cambridge Health Alliance that thinks outside the box when it comes to treating difficult patients. The CAU opened in 1989 but underwent a major change in 2001 when [More]

May 11th, 2019

United Behavioral Health case shines light on parity violations

By Catherine Robertson Souter

While an attempt by the Senate Finance Committee to unmask secretive drug industry pricing has been in the news lately, another case that could have far-reaching results for insurance company procedure was recently decided in a federal court in California. In March, a federal judge issued a ruling in a class-action case brought by several patients against United Behavioral Health (UBH), a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. Judge Spero of the U.S. District Court of Northern California sided with the plaintiffs in their allegations that they were denied mental health care benefits improperly. The plaintiffs said that the insurance company did [More]

May 1st, 2013

UnitedHealth Group’s practices challenged in lawsuit

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The New York State Psychiatric Association (NYSPA), along with several patients and their families, has challenged UnitedHealth Group’s (also known as United Healthcare) practices in a class action lawsuit filed in March in the New York courts. The suit, which could take years to be brought to any decision or settlement according to Rachel Fernbach, Esq., associate director of NYSPA, claims that UnitedHealth Group has “systematically implemented unlawful and deceptive practices designed to create the illusion of…fairness…while simultaneously undermining access to treatment for the most vulnerable segment of our society.” The claimants allege violations of both federal and state parity [More]

December 1st, 2017

URI offers Mental Health First Aid training

By Pamela Berard

When it comes to accidents or physical illness, First Aid training can help minimize the damage and speed up healing time. The University of Rhode Island is taking a similar approach to mental health, adopting Mental Health First Aid training, an eight-hour program that teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. Lindsey Anderson, Ph.D., director of the Psychological Consultation Center at URI, said the program was rolled out over the summer, and by the end of the current semester in December, they expect more than 400 people will have received [More]