Leading Stories, Articles

October 9th, 2019

Link between video games, violence again examined

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Following recent mass shooting tragedies that killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump condemned the “glorification of violence in our society,” specifically “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” This claim of a link between the tragedies and the use of video games was repeated by other lawmakers, who claimed that the rise of video game use is directly linked to the rise in gun violence. But is it true? Does playing violent video games cause violent behavior? Or, maybe more importantly, would removing these types of games from our culture curb [More]

October 9th, 2019

Adventure programs: Learning to confront and overcome fears

By Phyllis Hanlon

The benefits of engaging in outdoor activities have been well documented. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that play in an outdoor environment enables children “…to explore both their world and their own minds.” AAP adds that outdoor activity can enhance “…creativity, curiosity and associated developmental advances.” Some residential schools are embracing this message and offer a variety of adventure and wilderness programs for children with behavioral issues. The residential program at Mountain Valley Treatment Center in Plainfield, New Hampshire, accepts children with a variety of diagnoses, from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression to autism, eating disorders, and [More]

August 28th, 2019

Even providers need help overcoming addiction stigma

By Janine Weisman

The instructor is explaining what addiction is to a group of health care providers at the Veterans Administration Connecticut Healthcare System campus in West Haven. But while the instructor talks, all of the physicians, nurses, administrators, psychologists, chaplains, social workers, and others assembled in the conference room are holding their breath. Fifty seconds into the discussion, the participants in this mini-residency on substance use disorders are not really focused on the topic anymore. But once they resume normal breathing, it’s an opening to talk about what addiction can feel like, said Brent A. Moore, Ph.D., research psychologist at VA Connecticut [More]

August 28th, 2019

Dismissal of three legal insanity cases causes stir in VT

By Eileen Weber

Three cases—two murder and one attempted murder—were dismissed in Vermont’s Chittenden County by State’s Attorney Sarah George as a result of legal insanity defenses. Some called her decision to dismiss into question, specifically Governor Phil Scott who asked Attorney General T.J. Donovan to review these cases. George, however, felt the governor’s reaction was insulting and set a bad precedent. In a tweet in early June responding to Scott’s request for review, George made it clear that she feels his move is politically motivated. “It is awful that our mental health agencies are failing us, but real leadership requires digging in [More]

August 28th, 2019

Research: Number of suicides continues to rise

By Susan Gonsalves

Surge seen especially in young males New research found that suicide rates reached their highest recorded levels in adolescents and young adults, particularly males aged 15 to 19. Appearing in the medical journal JAMA, the research analyzed data on U.S. deaths between 2000 and 2017 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Underlying Cause of Death database. Oren Miron, MA, research associate at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, led the study. His interest in the topic sparked from personal experience. Miron’s high school friend committed suicide. “My friend was bullied. I realized it’s an age where [More]

August 27th, 2019

Involuntary shock therapy court-ordered for Connecticut man

By Eileen Weber

This past spring, a probate court ordered a 26-year-old man in Connecticut to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and involuntary medication at Yale New Haven Hospital. The man, identified only as John Doe, secured the Connecticut Legal Rights Project (CLRP) for his defense in the appeal. The hospital’s attorneys argued for a dismissal, citing the patient has a conservator who must agree. The defense rebutted that state law allows conserved individuals to challenge such cases on their own even if their conservator disagrees. Gina Teixeira, JD, Doe’s attorney at CLRP, contended state law requires less intrusive treatment before implementing the procedure. [More]

August 27th, 2019

Shifting cultural patterns challenge therapists who specialize in addiction

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Addiction Center reports that nearly 21 million Americans have at least one addiction; and drug overdose deaths have tripled since 1990. Furthermore, alcohol and drug addiction cost the economy more than $600 billion annually. As addiction continues to take a physical, social and financial toll, mental health professionals strive to help those who struggle. To determine a diagnosis and appropriate course of action, Sean J. McGlew, Psy.D, LP, traumatic stress and addiction psychologist at the Cambridge HealthAlliance outpatient center, created the Comprehensive Use Assessment, a tool that looks at a patient’s current and past relationship with substances, frequency of [More]

August 26th, 2019

APA calls on CMS to revise auditing practices after notices alarm psychologists

By Janine Weisman

The letters psychologists starting receiving last fall from a Medicare contractor stated they were for “educational purposes.” No reply was necessary. But they alarmed many who provide mental health care for those aged 65 and over and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare, the federally-funded health insurance program overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Recipients were sent a comparative billing statement (CBR) comparing their Medicare billing and service patterns with the averages for psychologists regionally and nationally. CMS calls a CBR an educational tool allowing a health care provider or supplier to compare their billing practices [More]

August 26th, 2019

Mt. Ascutney Hospital adopts program to benefit families

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Like the rest of the U.S., Vermont has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. Windsor County has seen a steady increase in heroin- and fentanyl-related deaths, according to Jill Lord, RN, MS, director of community health at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor. “Our families are grappling with the impact of both the opioid crisis and the significant trauma [this is causing],” Lord said. Programs to address these challenges are underway. Windsor County is one of several locations of a new project-based on the Developmental Understanding & Legal Collaboration for Everyone (DULCE) model, which serves all families [More]

August 26th, 2019

New Maine law requires a mental health evaluation to remove weapon

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Maine Governor Janet T. Mills recently signed a bill into law that requires a medical professional to confirm a person is a danger to themselves or others in order to temporarily take away their weapons. The bill passed in the Maine Senate 32 to 0, and 135 to 9 in the House of Representatives. This law is “unique because we were able to get both the gun rights and gun safety folks on the same page,” said Sen. Mike Carpenter (D-Houlton), who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Lisa Keim (R-Oxford). “All parties realized that people shouldn’t have guns at certain [More]