Columnists, Articles

July 11th, 2021

The end of the pandemic

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

At least here in New England, the end of the pandemic is in sight. Masks are no longer needed, and there’s a certain sense of relief that perhaps the worst is behind us.

Like many Americans, I feel like we’ve come to the end of our generation’s shared hardship experience. While not as traumatic or needing of self-sacrifice as other hardships in our country’s modern past, it nonetheless feels like we went through something difficult together.

The past year has been especially difficult on school-aged children and young adults. Attending my nephew’s high school graduation, the graduates seemed none the worse for wear.…

July 11th, 2021

Reading our life in common

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There is nothing like the take-and-leave bookshelves at the local recycling center to remind us of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. I have been visiting the take-and-leave shelves for decades, unloading books I’ve read or that I’ve finally admitted I never will and picking up what looks like it might be interesting.

A book can be interesting because it’s one you’ve always wanted to read, or maybe it’s something by a favorite author, the winner of a prestigious literary prize, a source of information about one of life’s challenges, a timely guide for vacation planning, a copy of a lost book that carries fond memories, or an old volume that looks valuable.…

July 10th, 2021

Teens’ investment in selfies linked to symptoms of depression

By New England Psychologist Staff

While many parents worry their teens post too many selfies on social media, a new study says the frequency of sharing these photos is less important than how invested the teens are in how the selfies look and whether the selfies got positive feedback from followers.

“I feel like the narrative around posting selfies is very negative,” says Jacqueline Nesi, Ph.D, of Brown University, the lead author of the study, which was published in “Psychology of Popular Media.”

“The idea of posting too many selfies often gets pathologized. However, from my work with teens, it was clear to me that posting a high number of selfies can be normative and isn’t necessarily the sign of a problem,” she said.…

July 10th, 2021

When your patient gets angry

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

If you’ve grown up on Marvel Comics, you know the Incredible Hulk’s line: “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Some of our patients are like that. Underneath their seemingly calm presentation, they are angry. They are angry at the world. They are angry at life. They are angry at everyone they think wronged them. They even get angry at us! When such patients are triggered, they can be as intimidating as the Hulk.

If we are to deal with significantly depressed patients or individuals who have been terribly wronged or people with borderline personality disorder or those in the throes of a schizophrenic episode, or couples who are at war, we need to be able to ride out the storms of patient anger unafraid.

July 10th, 2021

VT legislature calls for action to address ED boarding

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In 2020, the state of Vermont was ranked first in the nation for access to mental health care in Mental Health America’s annual state-by-state rankings. Yet, this spring, the state’s legislature was shocked to hear stories of children in mental health crisis languishing for hours, days, and even weeks in emergency departments while awaiting transfer to psychiatric care.

Similar to the situation that has been happening in New Hampshire, albeit at a lesser rate, Vermont has seen an increase in the number of people held in emergency departments over the past decade, hitting a peak in 2017.…

July 10th, 2021

Guiding patients in self-care is key

By Catherine Robertson Souter

There has been a lot of talk about self-care this past year. Do a search and you will find multiple articles on how therapists need to care for themselves in order to care for others. But where does teaching self-care fit in?

For David Meyer, Ph.D, clinical director and owner of Health Psych Maine, who also works with first responders on PTSD, self-care has become a major piece of his practice.

“It is a huge part of therapy,” he said, “and a primary component of what we do with first responders around PTSD.…

July 9th, 2021

Hallucinogenic agents: pros and cons of psychedelic therapy

By Phyllis Hanlon

As a young man, Rick Barnett sought to “find himself” through psychedelic drugs. His journey began as exploration but in time became problematic.

However, during this experimental stage, Barnett, Psy.D, LADC, MS clinical psychopharmacology in Stowe, Vermont, discovered that hallucinogenic substances “had the potential to change people’s minds and perceptions.”

Some 25 years later, Barnett became reinvigorated and reinterested in benefits attributed to hallucinogenic drugs through Michael Pollan’s book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”

Barnett’s past personal experience and newfound interest in this area led him to enroll in the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).…

July 9th, 2021

Community Impact Survey reveals high levels of poor mental health

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2019, the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey found that 11 percent of respondents reported poor mental health. More recently, the Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey (CCIS); the findings of this survey revealed poor mental health rates three times higher than the 2019 survey.

The survey was conducted between September and November 2020 and had more than 35,000 responses. Any Massachusetts resident 14 years old and older was eligible to respond.

Initial results were released February 17, 2021; updated findings were reported May 12, 2021.…

July 9th, 2021

Massachusetts legislators address law enforcement mental health issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

Almost every occupation carries some degree of risk to physical and mental health. But for those in law enforcement, the chances of suffering from both are significantly higher.

A 2020 survey of 1,355 active-duty law enforcement officers revealed that between seven and 35 percent suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is nine to 10 times greater than seen in the general population.

Additionally, 29 percent of the sample reported moderate to severe anxiety, which is two times greater than in the general population; and 37 percent of the sample had moderate to severe depression, five times more than in the general population.…

July 9th, 2021

Kids Count Factbook highlights how families had it tough during pandemic

By Eileen Weber

Rhode Island’s children and their families have had a rough year, according to the annual Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook released in May. Kids Count is a non-profit child advocacy group that examined 70 indicators in five areas that affect the lives of children. They are broken down into family and community; economic well-being; health; safety; and education.

The collected data showed three main takeaways: the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on Rhode Island’s communities; the concentration of child poverty in four core cities: Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, and Woonsocket; and the continued racial and ethnic disparities within the state.…