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]

October 1st, 2015

Use of antipsychotic drugs for ADHD is ‘worrisome’

By Rivkela Brodsky

In recent years, there has been an increase in the prescription of antipsychotic medications to children aged 13-24 in the U.S. – especially adolescent boys, and often for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – according to a recent study in JAMA Psychiatry. The study, published in July, looked at prescription information for antipsychotic medications in patients aged 1-24 in 2006, 2008 and 2010 from the IMS LifeLink LRx Longitudinal Prescription database. The database includes information from about 60 percent of retail pharmacies in the nation. “What we found is that throughout childhood and adolescence, boys are more likely [More]

August 19th, 2016

Use of applied behavior analysis on the rise

By Pamela Berard

The use of applied behavior analysis is increasing and more educational programs are rising to meet the demand. Chrissy Barosky, MA, BCBA, started her ABA master’s program at Columbia University in 2006. “When I was picking a program, there weren’t nearly as many options as there are now,” Barosky said. “I’ve seen a huge growth in it, and I would say with master’s programs specifically.” Barosky is vice president of clinical development, clinical director, at Bierman Autism Center in Boston, which works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, providing early intervention and personalized ABA programs. Barosky said some people may [More]

February 1st, 2013

Use of ECT on the rise?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Practice trends at odds with study results For a treatment that’s existed for nearly a century, the function of electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is still somewhat of a mystery. Researchers are at a loss to explain why sending an electronic current through the brain, causing a convulsion similar to a grand mal epileptic seizure, relieves acute feelings of depression. Once known as “shock therapy” or “electric shock treatment,” ECT began in the 1930s when psychiatrists in Italy noticed that schizophrenic patients improved temporarily after a spontaneous seizure. Early attempts at replicating the effect with patients were partially successful and the [More]

July 24th, 2010

Use of restraint, seclusion is controversial, Part 1

By Edward Stern J.D.

The first of a two-part column. When the justice and mental health systems believe that someone is a risk to himself/herself or a threat to others, the courts may intervene and involuntarily commit that person. To the public, an involuntary commitment might be the end of the inquiry regarding the treatment and care of those in mental health treatment. This month’s column focuses on the use of seclusion and restraint for patients being treated within the mental health system. These issues are important, especially settings where the program is understaffed. First, it’s important to discuss the variety of people who [More]

July 1st, 2016

Use of third party vendors reviewed in wake of stabbing spree

By Pamela Berard

The state is conducting a review in the aftermath of a stabbing spree that ended at Silver City Galleria mall in Taunton, Mass., that left three people dead and several others injured. Family members of the man accused of the stabbings – who was shot and killed during the May 10 incident after reportedly stabbing several individuals, two of whom died – reported that he had been taken by ambulance to Morton Hospital the night before for psychiatric issues and was released early the following morning, the day of the attacks. In a statement following the incident, Morton Hospital, part [More]

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]