General

February 11th, 2021

Maine launches initiatives to address pandemic-related issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

Approximately nine months after the COVID-19 virus was identified in the United States, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched StrengthenME, an initiative designed to provide coping mechanisms for pandemic-related stress and anxiety before it becomes a more serious mental health issue. According to Jessica Pollard, Ph.D, director of the Maine DHHS Office of Behavioral Health, the state recognized the need for mental health supports and immediately looked to expand existing services, such as the Intentional Peer Warm Line. “We also launched new services, such as the Maine Frontline Warmline to support health care staff and first responders, [More]

February 10th, 2021

Dealing with on-going trauma a consequence of 2020 issues

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Twenty-twenty (2020) was a really long year. As one Twitter user posted, “Just don’t ask, ‘What else can happen?’ 2020 takes it as a challenge.” In the past 12 months, we have had wildfires, a world-wide pandemic, racial justice protests and counter-protests, a difficult election year, and murder hornets (!). And, even though we are well into a new year, we are not even close to out of it. Last year feels like it has never ended. People are done. People want the pandemic to be over but it is not. They want the election year divisiveness to be over but [More]

February 9th, 2021

Connecticut’s emergency shelters take financial hit in pandemic as abuse rises

By Eileen Weber

Across the country, reports of domestic abuse have been on the rise during the pandemic. In December 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine cited this increase, calling it a “pandemic within a pandemic.” Although calls for help dropped as much as 50 percent in some regions, that didn’t mean the violence stopped. It just wasn’t being reported. Isolated at home, many victims were trapped inside with their abusers. The National Domestic Violence Hotline issued a snapshot in the spring. In March 2020, volume had decreased by six percent in comparison to the same time the previous year. But by [More]

February 9th, 2021

Adoption of QAnon beliefs similar to cult following

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Despite vast evidence to the contrary and more than 60 lost court cases, more than half of Republican voters believed that the presidential election in November was actually won by Donald Trump, according to multiple polls done since November. Across America, there is also strong support for the idea that the media cannot be trusted and that there are secret “deep state” bureaucrats within the government working to undermine democracy. Further, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll done in December, conspiracy theories posited by QAnon, (that Democratic leaders and Hollywood personalities are part of a secret cabal of pedophiles who molest [More]

February 9th, 2021

Dear Mister President

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Dear President Biden: First of all, let me congratulate you on your inauguration as our nation’s 46th president. Eighty-one million of your fellow citizens expressed their solidarity with you on election day. That leaves 74 million voters on the other side of what has become a great divide in American politics and culture. Your goal of unifying our country is monumental, but from what I know of your character, so are your sincerity and resolve. I am writing to express my support and to offer some insights from psychological science that may be of help. As a retired clinical psychologist, [More]

January 12th, 2021

End-of-life care offers challenges to clinicians

By Phyllis Hanlon

Until recently, talk of death and dying was a subject often avoided. However, medical professionals and some segments of the general population have come to understand the value of hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care. According to Karen M. Fasciano, Psy.D, director of the young adult program at Dana Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, in the last few decades, society has seen a cultural shift when it comes to end-of-life care. Offering this care can help relieve physical and mental suffering at end of life as well as during bereavement, by providing psychological, social, and spiritual support. Fasciano indicated that the [More]

January 12th, 2021

Study: Personality plays a role in who complies with pandemic restrictions

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study finds that personality traits affect who is most likely to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at the five big personality traits, the researchers found that people who scored low on two of them – openness to experience and neuroticism – were less likely to shelter at home in the absence of stringent government policies. However, that tendency went away when more restrictive government policies were implemented, according to Friedrich Götz, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study. “We also found that more agreeable (i.e., cooperative, compliant, sympathetic), [More]

January 12th, 2021

What we learned from 2020

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It is January again and time to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with hope for better days ahead. We do this every year, and no matter what has gone before, we hope that something better is waiting just out of sight on the second or third page of our new calendar, getting ready to give us a nice surprise. Given what 2020 brought us, we’ll be happy with any improvement. The year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020: divisive politics as never before seen in our lifetime, and racial injustice on a grand scale, brought [More]

January 12th, 2021

Spike in alcohol use is of concern

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As stay-at-home orders surged, restaurants and bars closed, and social events went virtual, Americans turned more and more to a trusty old friend, alcohol, to help ease the transition. Nightly Zoom cocktail parties became all the rage, with the apt title “Quarantini,” applied to just about anything one wants to drink during lockdown. According to a Nielsen report, alcohol sales increased by 54 percent for the week ending March 21. Online sales of alcohol increased by 262 percent and world health leaders began to warn the public about the health risks of the increased alcohol use they were seeing. A [More]

December 7th, 2020

Massachusetts clinic has virtual take on neuropsychology exams

By Eileen Weber

After several months of a pandemic, mask wearing, hand sanitizer, and maintaining a social distance is like second nature for most people. The need for those measures is not lost on Margaret Lanca, Ph.D, director of adult neuropsychology and psychological testing and training at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) outside Boston. She developed a method of careful observation while keeping both patient and clinician safe. With computers, monitors, and cameras, clinicians can guide patients through an evaluation from a separate room while maintaining a visual connection with that patient. As neuropsychology is typically a hands-on discipline, this (approach) was a way [More]

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