Leading Stories, Articles

May 12th, 2019

Study finds lack of data a barrier to systems-level research on patient safety

By Janine Weisman

Complaints that were substantiated or substantiated-in-part and reported to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) from state-operated and licensed inpatient psychiatric facilitiesMorgan Shields admits she was naive in the summer of 2017 when she first submitted an online public records request for all substantiated complaints against inpatient psychiatric facilities in Massachusetts.

The paralegal from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) who called her told her it would cost more than $100,000 to provide the records.

“I thought what he was saying was it would cost the state that much money to redact all of the information, just go through all the files,” recalled Shields, a Ph.D. candidate and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Health at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.…

May 11th, 2019

United Behavioral Health case shines light on parity violations

By Catherine Robertson Souter

united behavioral healthWhile an attempt by the Senate Finance Committee to unmask secretive drug industry pricing has been in the news lately, another case that could have far-reaching results for insurance company procedure was recently decided in a federal court in California.

In March, a federal judge issued a ruling in a class-action case brought by several patients against United Behavioral Health (UBH), a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.

Judge Spero of the U.S. District Court of Northern California sided with the plaintiffs in their allegations that they were denied mental health care benefits improperly.…

May 11th, 2019

Study attempts to identify at-risk babies for autism treatment

By Susan Gonsalves

Autism in infantsBabies who are at risk of developing autism have better outcomes if they are identified early and given intensive treatment. That’s the premise of the Infant Sibling Project, spearheaded by Rebecca MacDonald, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of that initiative at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, Mass.

MacDonald explained that her work attempts to replicate and expand research by Graupner and Sallows of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project in 2017. That project identified 60 siblings of children who already had an autism diagnosis. Researchers studied the babies, who were up to six months old, and conducted bi-weekly developmental screenings, discovering that 14 babies were symptomatic.…

March 25th, 2019

Gen Z’s worries highlighted in annual stress survey

By Susan Gonsalves

gen z stressGeneration Z, individuals ages 15 to 21, feel stressed out about ripped-from-the- headlines topics like school and mass shootings, sexual assault, and immigration according to the annual Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association.

The Harris Poll was conducted last summer online among 3,458 adults and 300 15 to 17-year-olds in all 50 states.

Although 75 percent of Gen Z members found mass shootings `significantly’ stressful and 72 percent felt that way about school shootings, those kids of voting age were least likely to vote at 54 percent.

The overall average had seven in 10 adults expecting to vote.…

March 25th, 2019

Setting boundaries: an essential practice for psychologists

By Catherine Robertson Souter

therapist client boundariesWe live in a time where boundaries, between people, between cultures, between sexes, are crashing down all around us. Boundaries are the walls that keep us from fulfilling our destiny or getting close to another human or limit freedom of speech and exchange of ideas and information.

In the world of therapy, however, setting boundaries plays a different role. From protecting clients from being preyed upon to protecting the therapist from allegations of misconduct, strong boundaries can be crucial both ethically and legally.

While it may be obvious that setting boundaries with and for patients benefits both client and therapist, what exactly those boundaries are and where the lines should be drawn is not as easy to identify.…

March 25th, 2019

Draft of 10-year mental health plan release

By Catherine Robertson Souter

NAMI-NHNew Hampshire may soon see a major overhaul geared toward bringing the state’s mental health care system back to its former glory.

For a system that has gone from being second in the country in 1990 as rated by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), to earning a D in a revised rating system in 2006, the announcement of a 10-year mental health plan was received with bated breath by stakeholders across the state.

With input from residents, professionals, and focus groups, workgroups, and public sessions, the draft plan introduced in November begins by outlining the challenges faced by New Hampshire residents with mental health needs.…

March 11th, 2019

Survey: Access to mental health, substance use disorder care is a challenge for Massachusetts adults

By Susan Gonsalves

mental health careData from the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey showed that 56.8 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 who sought help for mental health or substance abuse disorders experienced difficulties obtaining care.

The problems included finding a provider who would see them at all or getting an appointment in a timely manner when it was needed.

As a result, more than one-third of those adults went without help and 12.7 percent visited an emergency department to address those issues.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and Urban Institute collected the information using data from a random telephone survey involving 2,201 respondents representing a range of race/ethnicity, income levels, and geographic distribution.…

March 11th, 2019

Physician burnout not as prevalent for psychologists?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

psychologist burn outIn January, several healthcare organizations in Massachusetts took the unusual step of declaring a public health crisis over the rising rates of “burnout” among physicians.

In a paper published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the group outlines both the concerns and proposed directives for addressing the problem.

According to the paper, nearly half of physicians in one survey experienced symptoms of burnout including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced feelings of professional accomplishment.…

March 11th, 2019

Legislation provides mental health support for first responders

By New England Psychologist Staff

first responder mental healthFirst responders to emergencies have a heavy burden to bear and often do not ask for emotional support. Massachusetts recently passed a law specifically to help this population.

Senator Michael Moore (D-Second Worcester District) was instrumental in passing legislation for mental health services for first responders. It highlights the mental trauma related to specific events on the job. The bill went into effect on January 16 and applies to firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers.

“When you respond to a fire or a baby dies and you’re trying to save them,” he explained.…

March 8th, 2019

Closing a practice requires thoughtful planning

By Catherine Robertson Souter

psychologist closing down practiceShuttering a psychological practice is not a step to be taken lightly. It’s not like one can simply hang a “Closed” sign on the door and turn off the lights. In reality, there are many issues to be taken into consideration, including the ethical, legal, financial, and practical aspects of ending relationships with patients, colleagues, insurance companies, and even with landlords and other vendors.

Then there is the question of what comes next, both personally and for your business. Should it be closed or sold? How do you help patients finish their therapy or move on to another therapist?…