General, Articles

January 5th, 2020

Hearing raises issue of parity, insurance rates

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As required by state law, the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) hosts a public hearing each year to talk about health care costs and trends. The 2019 hearing, held in October, focused on the number of residents covered by insurance and the state’s progress on mental health parity. Eireann Sibley NHID communications director noted that the hearings are for the public and regular attendees include insurance company representatives, providers, academics, health care advocates, and legislators. According to published reports culled from data submitted by health insurance companies, the uninsured rate in New Hampshire did not change drastically in 2018 from [More]

January 5th, 2020

Second coerced suicide case adds urgency to Conrad’s Law passage

By Phyllis Hanlon

Two recent cases of “coerced” suicide in Massachusetts prompted legislators to file a bill that would criminalize intimidating behavior and strong-arm tactics that cause another to commit suicide. In 2014, Michelle Carter encouraged her boyfriend Conrad Roy to take his own life. More recently, Inyoung You allegedly pressured Boston College student Alexander Urtula to kill himself. In July 2019, state representative Natalie M. Higgins, (D-Worcester’s 4th district) and Senator Barry R. Finegold (D-Second Essex and Middlesex) filed the bill, known as Conrad’s Law, as the judicial committee was wrapping up its session. “We want to make clear to the community [More]

January 5th, 2020

Spotting the lie: Study finds a more accurate measure of honesty

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

One of the first patients August Price, M.A., saw at his practicum at the Boston VA was deemed a malingerer by an outside neuropsychologist because he’d failed validity testing. However, after Price conducted an extensive assessment, it turned out that the man actually had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. “This made me realize that the field could be doing better in screening for effort in geriatric populations,” said Price, a fifth-year clinical psychology student at William James College in Newton, Mass. This experience inspired Price to focus his doctoral research on a more accurate way to measure malingering—by monitoring electrical activity in [More]

January 5th, 2020

Giving back to the community

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Few psychologists get into the profession for the enormous paycheck. Over the years, my colleagues have shared a range of reasons why they decided to become a psychologist. Not once has someone mentioned money. Many of us already give back to the community in some way. Whether it’s through volunteer work for a favorite charity, stepping up to help out with a local sports team, or helping out at school or the library, there are a multitude of volunteer opportunities from which to choose. Psychologists can give back more in one way—that is, by doing work for people who might [More]

January 5th, 2020

Survey: Mass shootings, healthcare among top stressors

By Susan Gonsalves

Healthcare, mass shootings and the 2020 election are among the top stressors for Americans according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Between August 1 and Sept. 2, 2019, the poll asked 3,617 adults to rate their level of stress as well as identify a variety of potential sources. Concerns about healthcare significantly affect about seven in 10 adults. More than half (64 percent) acknowledge that healthcare is stressing them out as least “sometimes.” Individuals with private insurance (71 percent) are more likely than those with public insurance (53 percent) to cite it as a stressor. Additionally, 55 percent [More]

January 5th, 2020

Feds investigate data breach at Maine’s Sweetser

By Janine Weisman

Hacking incidents on rise in health care in 2019 A week went by before anyone noticed some unusual activity in the email system of a Saco, Maine-based community mental health care agency last June. By the time email accounts were secured and a digital forensics investigation launched, the sensitive personal health information of 22,000 clients at Sweetser may have been accessed by hackers. The patient data breach Sweetser detected June 24, 2019, was limited to information transmitted via email and did not affect the system storing electronic health records, ac-cording to the agency’s spokeswoman, Susan Pierter. But the information may [More]

January 4th, 2020

VT legislators seek to close gap in criminal justice, mental health systems

By Phyllis Hanlon

Earlier this year, three high-profile criminal cases were dropped when Vermont’s attorney general deemed the defendants insane at the time the crimes were committed. The ruling drew questions about the way the state handles criminal cases involving people with mental illness. To address this issue, lawmakers proposed legislation to bridge the gap. State Senator Richard Sears (D-Bennington County and Wilmington) reported that the bill is still in the draft stage and is the result of collaboration with several other senators and the office of states attorneys. “I expect once introduced in January both Senate Judiciary and Senate Health and Welfare [More]

January 4th, 2020

Getting inside the consumer’s mind: Specialty examines range of human behavior

By Phyllis Hanlon

Consumer psychology can be defined as the examination of why people buy things, which involves cognitive processes, and response to the influence of marketing, according to study.com. The discipline looks at a wide range of human behavior and refers not only to shopping for tangible goods, but also pertains to the consumption of entertainment and experiences as well as attitudes and motivation underlying purchasing decisions. Several industries employ consumer psychologists, from universities and financial institutions to high-tech companies and manufacturing operations, each with its own unique area of concentration. According to Erin Percival Carter, Ph.D, assistant professor of marketing at [More]

January 4th, 2020

Navigating layers of change

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

One day last fall, my colleague Martin asked if I had seen what had become of the hospital where we used to work. Martin is the hospital’s memory, and his passion for history and the natural world makes him someone I take very seriously. So, when he told me that they had turned the place into luxury condos, I had to go and see for myself. Later that same afternoon, I turned off the main street onto the hospital road and into a landscape that bore little resemblance to the grounds I had walked with my patients for nearly two [More]

January 4th, 2020

Brown University research aims to tackle opioid crisis

By Eileen Weber

Brown University’s School of Public Health has an idea that might impact Rhode Island’s opioid crisis. The school’s researchers have received a five-year $6.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a two-pronged project. The first part will focus on determining at-risk neighborhoods while the second part will be administering test strips to determine if drugs have been tainted by fentanyl. Ultimately, the hope is that this action can reduce the number of drug-related deaths in the state. “Both projects are trying to bring innovative technologies to help solve the overdose crisis,” said Brandon Marshall, an associate professor [More]