May 13th, 2018

Vermont searches for solutions to increase bed capacity

By Janine Weisman

The Vermont House of Representatives Committee on Health Care has already come out against funding a temporary 12-bed forensic unit at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Gov. Phil Scott’s proposed fiscal 2019 state budget. But during the appropriation process in early April, Senate members appeared more receptive toward the facility proposed to alleviate the demand on emergency rooms and psychiatric facilities around the state. “That’s a showdown between the Senate and the House that we get caught in the middle of,” said Department of Mental Health (DMH) Commissioner Melissa Bailey. “They’ve got to figure out where they’re going to [More]

April 1st, 2015

Vermont seeks to bridge gap between mental, physical health

By Susan Gonsalves

Vermont’s focus on integrating mental and physical health along with an eye toward Adverse Childhood Experiences informed practices has led to pilot projects across the state and more in the works. Since last fall, a number of volunteer groups have been looking at childhood trauma and discussing ways to better bring its impact on overall health to the forefront. A follow up video conference is scheduled in April to see what progress has been made. “It bridges a gap that we weren’t bridging,” said Kathleen Hentcy, M.S., mental health and health care integration director at Vermont’s Department of Mental Health, [More]

July 1st, 2010

Vermont Senate nixes proposal to track free drug samples

By Nan Shnitzler

Last November, the Vermont Department of Mental Health faced budget cuts in excess of $20 million for the 2011 fiscal year. When the legislature adjourned its session in the wee hours May 13, the cut had been trimmed to about $3 million. Credit a slightly improved economy, a few more federal dollars and a state budget approach called Challenges for Change. Challenges for Change is legislation designed to fund desirable outcomes by focusing on efficiencies rather than eliminating services and hiking taxes. On paper, it saved nearly $38 million of a $150 million budget deficit in a total state budget [More]

August 18th, 2017

Vermont to compensate for first responders’ mental health issues

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Although one of the smallest states, especially by population, Vermont has taken the lead in mental health public policy. With a multi-partisan bill that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott, (R), the state became the first in the nation to provide coverage under workers’ compensation for mental health issues and illnesses. First introduced by Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Orange) and representatives from the Republican, Independent and Progressive parties in February, the bill became law as of July 1. Opponents raised concerns over the ultimate cost of the bill. According to the state’s Joint Fiscal Office, the law should cost [More]

May 28th, 2019

Vermont’s medication assisted treatment program shows encouraging results

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the first time since 1918 during WWI when a flu pandemic swept the nation, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for each of the last three years. Suicide and drug overdose are edging the country downward. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 72,000 drug overdoses in 2017, up from 63,000 in 2016. New England has seen its fair share of the crisis, with New Hampshire among the worst in the county with a rate of 34 deaths per 100,000 in 2017, more than double the national average of 14.6. Vermont saw a rate of 20 [More]

March 9th, 2019

Vermont’s new mental health commissioner Sarah Squirrell ready to face challenges

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Like many states, Vermont is in dire need of mental health reform. Sarah Squirrell, Vermont’s newest mental health commissioner, said there are no easy answers to the complex challenges. However, Squirrell welcomes the opportunity to address these issues, which, she said, require collaboration, innovation, and commitment. “Our communities and service delivery systems must commit to work together to advance solutions to improve the care of individuals with mental health needs, and to always keep the needs of those we serve and their families at the center of our work,” Squirrell said. “Sometimes we think our best way to serve the [More]

July 1st, 2010

Vermont’s Challenges for Change seeks reductions via efficiencies

By Nan Shnitzler

Last November, the Vermont Department of Mental Health faced budget cuts in excess of $20 million for the 2011 fiscal year. When the legislature adjourned its session in the wee hours May 13, the cut had been trimmed to about $3 million. Credit a slightly improved economy, a few more federal dollars and a state budget approach called Challenges for Change. Challenges for Change is legislation designed to fund desirable outcomes by focusing on efficiencies rather than eliminating services and hiking taxes. On paper, it saved nearly $38 million of a $150 million budget deficit in a total state budget [More]

May 10th, 2018

Vertical development: How to grow personally, professionally

By New England Psychologist Staff

With the required continuing education for practitioners, a great deal of the available offerings focus on ethics, skills, modalities, or new information gleaned from research. One’s professional development can resemble graduate course work, and this type of learning can be predominantly informative or horizontal in nature. In addition, with the number of therapies in the hundreds and growing, and the demands for evidence-based practice, what seems lost is that three decades of empirical research finds that, other than pre-existing client characteristics, individual therapist differences and the therapeutic relationship are the most robust indicators of outcome. Therefore, it makes sense to [More]

April 1st, 2012

Veterans treating veterans; a growing niche

By Phyllis Hanlon

Now that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, this country can expect a tremendous influx of returning veterans. With this surge comes a greater need to treat the invisible wounds of war, namely posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and a host of other psychological issues. A mental health crisis is likely in the next five to 10 years if appropriate attention is not given to war veterans and their families, according to Nicholas Covino, Ph.D., president of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. “The general idea that those with military trauma will be served by the VA [More]

March 1st, 2015

Veterans’ suicide prevention bill supported

By Rivkela Brodsky

Losing one veteran to suicide is one veteran too many, says Connecticut Veterans Affairs Commissioner Joseph Perkins. “If a veteran takes his one life one time, to me that is a big issue,” he said. “To say that 22 people a day, which means that across this country, 8,000 veterans are taking their lives a year, that’s out of control. That’s not acceptable.” Perkins is referencing a figure which has been used by lawmakers – including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – urging support of federal legislation that addresses this issue, called the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans [More]