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]

October 1st, 2013

Victims of sibling aggression suffer consequences

By Susan Gonsalves

Even one incident of sibling aggression causes mental distress among children and adolescents according to recently-published research in Pediatrics. Study authors from the University of New Hampshire analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence using a random sample of 3,599 children ages one month to 17 representing all geographic regions. They conducted telephone interviews with youth ages 10 to 17 and spoke with caregivers concerning younger victims. Lead author Corinna Jenkins Tucker, Ph.D., UNH associate professor of family studies, notes that the mental health effects of various forms of aggression were considered such as physical abuse [More]

April 6th, 2018

Violence and Video Games: Are They Linked?

By Eileen Weber

Contentious debate continues over whether video games and other forms of media promote violent behavior, particularly in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Games like “Resident Evil,” “Manhunt,” and “Mortal Kombat” top the list. But, is there a one-size-fits-all answer to the question? “I don’t think you are going to find any media effects researchers willing to suggest that violent video games lead to school shootings,” said Kirstie Farrar, Ph.D, associate professor of communications at the University of Connecticut. “However, most media effects researchers agree there is a small but significant relationship between violent media exposure and outcome [More]

December 1st, 2015

Violence toward staff of concern at Worcester Recovery Center

By Rivkela Brodsky

When the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital opened in 2012 it was touted as a state-of-the art facility that emphasized the “natural structure of home, neighborhood and community.” The $305 million, 430,000-square foot structure, with 320 beds – 60 for adolescents and 260 for adults – was built to have a “non-institutional look” where the “intent is to provide a private, quieter space.” However, there has not been much quiet at the hospital as of late. The hospital has seen a dramatic rise in incidents of violence against staff by patients – far and above anything the Massachusetts Nurses Association [More]

January 1st, 2010

Violence: balancing treatment efficacy with provider safety

By Phyllis Hanlon

Last October, shock waves rippled through the mental health community when a patient at the bipolar clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) stabbed his psychiatrist. While such events – although rare – grab media attention, they serve as reminders to providers of the importance of awareness and preparation. According to Steve Nisenbaum, Ph.D., J.D., past president of Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), Division 18’s public policy liaison to the American Psychological Association, and 30-year staff member at MGH, these violent episodes create a conflict between the efficacy of treatment and the safety of the provider. “This is a key [More]

November 1st, 2013

Virtual reality technology used with soldiers as therapy

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The numbers are staggering. By some estimates, a full one-third of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade have come home as the “walking wounded.” With the invisible scars of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury, these men and women are not easily identified nor, because of the stigma of mental health care within the military, do they always seek treatment. The good news is that, while previous war veterans may have similar concerns, there is far more attention being paid to the problem today. One of the more innovative and promising treatments [More]