General, Articles

March 10th, 2019

RI summit addresses student mental health issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

In January, government and local college and university leaders met to discuss the prevalence of stress and anxiety on college campuses. Governor Gina Raimondo called for the summit to help identify opportunities and strategies for collaboration among the counseling centers on Rhode Island’s college campuses, according to Nicole Shaffer-Thomas, director of communications and outreach, RI Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. The summit produced a number of good ideas, said Vanessa M. Britto, MD, MSc, FACP, executive director of health and wellness at Brown University. Britto, also assistant vice president for campus life and student services said Rhode Island’s size and [More]

March 10th, 2019

Numerous deficiencies reported at CT juvenile centers

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) published a report citing several areas needing significant improvement after examining conditions at juvenile centers in Bridgeport and Hartford. The centers are operated by the Court Support Services Division (CSSD). The report also included data collected from the Manson Youth Institution for Boys and York Correctional Institute for Girls, which fall under the purview of the Department of Corrections (DOC). The investigation reviewed data from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 and was released in January 2019. Mickey Kramer, MS, RN, associate child advocate, explained that the Connecticut legislature mandated the [More]

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]

March 8th, 2019

Letter to the Editor: MPA responds to editorial on compensation

By New England Psychologist Staff

To the Editor, We appreciate your raising the issue of compensation to Massachusetts psychologists and its direct impact on behavioral health and substance use services in your recent editorial (December, 2018). Restricted access to mental health treatment for Massachusetts residents has been central to the advocacy efforts of the Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA) for many years. The stagnant third-party payor reimbursement to psychologists is a key contributor to this problem and in direct opposition to the surge of unmet behavioral health treatment needs. This concern was highlighted by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and [More]

March 8th, 2019

New APA guidelines for boys and men sink in after making a splash

By Janine Weisman

It took the American Psychological Association (APA) 13 years to issue professional practice guidelines for clinical psychologists who work with a demographic badly in need of care and attention. It’s a subpopulation with higher rates of substance abuse, death by suicide, disciplinary action and school suspensions, learning disabilities and behavioral disturbances, and problems with family relationships. Drawing on 40 years of research, the new “APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men” were finally adopted at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco in August 2018. They are the latest in a series of APA guidelines for psychological practice [More]

January 4th, 2019

Debate over effectiveness of skin shocks continues

By Janine Weisman

When the Food and Drug Administration will finally issue its final ban on electrical stimulation devices for treating self-injurious and aggressive behaviors is anyone’s guess. But there is no doubt about how firmly a Massachusetts school embraces using a device to deliver either 15.25 or 44 millilamps of electric current to the arms or legs of individuals with intellectual disability and autism, many of whom also have psychiatric disorders. Skin shocks — not to be confused with the voluntary depression treatment known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — are designed to make a patient stop an undesirable behavior by causing them [More]

January 2nd, 2019

Yale report shows corrections agencies are reducing use of solitary confinement

By Janine Weisman

The total number of people spending time alone in a U.S. prison or jail cell for an average of 22 hours or more per day for 15 continuous days is decreasing. So is the number of those with serious mental illness (SMI). That’s according to the most comprehensive study of national data on the number of prisoners in restrictive housing — or what is more commonly known as solitary confinement. “Reforming Restrictive Housing,” released in October from the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School, estimated that 61,000 [More]

November 8th, 2018

Study gives insight into how people experience emotion

By Phyllis Hanlon

Emotions run the gamut, from sadness and grief to happiness and euphoria and many others in between. But little is known about how and why those emotions change at different times and during different stages of life. A team of researchers at Harvard University recently conducted a study to explore these questions. Leah Somerville, Ph.D, associate professor psychology, and director, Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab, oversaw the study, which involved 143 subjects between the age of five and 25. Clinical psychologist graduate student Erik Nook, the “resident expert” on this work – according to Somerville – has long been interested [More]

October 3rd, 2018

Latham Centers offers unique program for kids with Prader-Willi Syndrome

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Most people have heard of equine therapy, but the term asinotherapy probably would draw many blank stares. Originally developed in Germany, this lesser-known therapy is actually a successful program that uses miniature donkeys. Since 2009, it’s been an integral part of Latham Centers, a residential care, education, and treatment center for children and adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome on Cape Cod. Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a complex genetic disorder that affects one in 12,000 to 15,000 births. It is characterized by an insatiable appetite, developmental disabilities, skin picking, and emotional and behavioral problems. “PWS is a spectrum disorder,” said Patrice Carroll, [More]