Leading Stories, Articles

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]

July 5th, 2019

ME legislation seeks community-based mental health task force

By Eileen Weber

Mentally ill patients often end up in emergency rooms, homeless shelters, or even jails instead of getting much needed psychiatric care. Senator Cathy Breen (D- ) Recently proposed legislation to address that problem. Breen’s bill calls for a community-based task force that would assess mental health needs before a patient ends up in a place without adequate psychiatric care. Local law enforcement is backing the legislation, hoping it will have an impact on the state’s incarceration rates. In a Senate press release, Breen, who serves as chair of the egislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, explained that the reason for [More]

July 5th, 2019

Psychologist focuses on reproductive, infertility issues

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The images are everywhere. The perfect little family, in a magazine article, on a sitcom, or peering out from every celebrity Twitter post. But for up to 15 percent of couples, those images are a reminder of just how difficult it can be to start a family of their own. From infertility to failed in vitro fertilization attempts to the loss of a pregnancy, many couples find themselves struggling with reproductive issues in a world where everyone seems to have a child or three by their side. For these people, said Carla Contarino, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist with a practice [More]

July 5th, 2019

Mass. Nurses Association wants say in dealing with problems at Worcester Recovery Center

By Janine Weisman

The Massachusetts Nurses Association is demanding information on staffing and policies at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (WRCH) after a lack of progress by the state Department of Mental Health in addressing dangerous conditions for both patients and staff that have been going on for years there. “”No longer are we going to accept as a union allowing them to hire some consultant to give recommendations of what needs to be done,” David Schildmeier, director of public communications for the Massachusetts Nurses Association told New England Psychologist. “We are demanding that they sit down with us and work with [More]

July 5th, 2019

Research: Patients gain benefits from exercise program

By Susan Gonsalves

Inpatients with a range of mental health disorders reported improvements in mood and self-image following participation in an exercise and nutrition program at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Lead author David Tomasi, Ph.D., Ed.D-Ph.D, said that implementation of the research program was a natural progression of the “integrative modalities,” UVMC has used before in its clinical psychology practice. Tai chi, free body movement, and psycho education topics like self-esteem were incorporated into patient care. “We are pretty unique in that the University of Vermont has always been one of the first pioneers of natural-based, integrative approaches,” Tomasi said. In [More]