May 1st, 2017

UVM study links childhood emotional abuse to adult opioid use

By Phyllis Hanlon

Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) have found a correlation between emotional abuse endured during childhood with future opioid use as an adult. Matthew Price, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychological science at UVM and lead author, explained that the study involved 84 Vermont adults who presented with substance use problems. The researchers used the PTSD Checklist (PCL5) as an assessment tool and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale to measure impulsivity. They also administered the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), which evaluates different types of maltreatment, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse and emotional neglect. The goal was to [More]

July 1st, 2012

VA adding 1,900 mental health staff

By Janine Weisman

Increasing demand for mental health services has the Department of Veterans Affairs looking to add 1,900 new positions to its mental health workforce as part of an ongoing review of its operations. “We anticipate the bulk of the hiring to be done within six months,” says VA Director of Mental Health Operations Mary Schohn, Ph.D. “For some harder to fill positions we expect it will take longer than that, but we have a very aggressive hiring campaign going on.” Plans call for hiring approximately 1,600 nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists and nearly 300 support staff positions, which will mean [More]

April 1st, 2010

VA could get psychiatric facility

By Elinor Nelson

There’s no dispute that Vermont needs to replace Vermont State Hospital. At 120 years of age, it’s antiquated and has been denied recertification. The governor knows it and the legislature knows it and Vermont Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman is hoping that the political forces will approve a plan, now evolving, to care for Vermont’s mentally ill in a combination of community and hospital settings. Since 2004, Vermont has been looking at new ways to deliver mental health care. “There is a responsibility not just to replace 54 beds with 54 more, but to create a variety of new programming,” [More]

November 1st, 2012

VA expands support for veterans’ research, education

By Phyllis Hanlon

The wars, both recent and past, have been the cause of significant visible and invisible injuries to military personnel serving in these conflicts. As the number of returning veterans with psychological issues increases, the Veterans Administration (VA) is devoting more attention to resources, programs and services to address the problems they, and their families, face. The National Center for PTSD reports that between 11 and 20 veterans out of every 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return with this diagnosis; 10 percent of Gulf War veterans and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans also carry a PTSD diagnosis. According to [More]

June 1st, 2017

Vacant building in Westborough to become behavioral hospital

By Phyllis Hanlon

Later this year, Westborough will become the site of a new behavioral health care hospital. In April, selectmen in the town gave approval for the construction of a facility that will better serve the mental health care needs in Central Massachusetts. Francisco Torres, Westborough’s economic development coordinator, reported that Signature Healthcare, which is based in Corona, California, approached the town approximately a year ago with a proposal to renovate a long-vacant building at 300 Friberg Parkway. The property, which formerly housed Verizon and Bay State Gas prior to that, was originally intended to serve as a campus for the College [More]

November 1st, 2011

Validity of gene-by-environment studies questioned

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In the eternal discussion between nature or nurture, as to which has greater input on health and well-being, the answer may well be… both. Scientists generally believe that there is a physical interaction between genetics and the environment that may be identified down to the specific gene. Over the past decade, numerous studies have been done and published in leading journals to pinpoint the exact effect of these interactions. But when Harvard School of Public Health post-doctoral fellow Laramie Duncan, Ph.D., began to look closely at the literature in preparation for initiating a gene-by-environment interaction study, she started to have [More]

October 1st, 2015

Value of peer specialists recognized

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 1985, Larry K. Brendtro and Harry H. Vorrath developed the “Positive Peer Culture” treatment model, grounded on the principles of building group responsibility and incorporating group meetings, service learning and teamwork into the model. Today, those principles are being implemented at some residential facilities and outpatient settings for individuals with serious mental illness and substance abuse diagnoses. Wellspring & the Arch Bridge School in Bethlehem, Conn. is one such facility that has several peer support structures for its adolescent residential students, according to CEO Daniel Murray, Psy.D. He said that Wellspring has created a strong peer culture that is [More]

June 13th, 2018

Vaping: More than just blowing smoke

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a National Youth Tobacco Survey and found that 2.39 million teens are “vaping” (i.e., using an electronic smoking device). As this trend continues to grow, parents, schools and health professionals struggle with ways to effectively address the problem. William T. Mautz, Ph.D, of Children’s Neuropsychological Services in Andover, Arlington and Newton, Massachusetts and Exeter, New Hampshire, indicated that his practice treats a large teen population from both public and independent schools and the problem of vaping cuts across all settings. He explained that teens don’t recognize the dangers involved [More]

November 1st, 2014

Vermont and Conn. launch Web sites as resources

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Recognizing that the Internet has become a first point of contact for many people looking to access mental health care information, the states of Vermont and Connecticut each recently announced the launch of Web sites aimed at creating greater access to information, discussion forums, basic advice and contact or hotline numbers. In Vermont, the Center for Health and Learning has partnered with the Vermont Department of Mental Health in developing a site geared toward suicide prevention. The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VSPC), was recently created as a state-wide resource designed to support prevention efforts and assist communities in implementing suicide [More]

July 1st, 2014

Vermont bill would change involuntary treatment laws

By Rivkela Brodsky

A bill sitting on Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s desk will change the state’s involuntary treatment and medication laws for psychiatric care. The state currently requires two separate court hearings on involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital and later, on involuntary medication, a process that state officials and hospital administrators say was taking too long. A new bill that saw bipartisan support among lawmakers in the latest legislative session would allow the hearings to take place at the same time and sets something of a timeline to treatment in a hospital. Other changes include that an “interested party” can request an [More]