Leading Stories, Articles

June 26th, 2021

Studies show mask wearers believe in science

By Eileen Weber

Mask on or mask off? That depends on your trust in science, according to a study first published online in February. Doctoral students Morgan Stosic and Shelby Helwig and Assistant Psychology Professor Mollie Ruben, Ph.D., from the University of Maine set out to determine three things: the greater the belief in science, the greater the mask wearing; mask wearing is equated with the belief in its effectiveness against Covid-19; and mask wearing also determines the belief in its protection against virus transmission.

Based on this theory, they asked questions in a 10-item “Belief in Science” scale to determine how participants valued scientific information.…

June 26th, 2021

Transhealth Northampton: Bringing gender-diverse care to Western Massachusetts

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2018, the Fenway Institute, Cooley Dickinson Health Care and Harvard Medical School conducted a planning study, the PATH Project (Plan and Act for Transgender Health), which evaluated the needs and experiences of the transgender and gender diverse populations in the western part of Massachusetts. It also looked at the services offered by regional health care organizations. The findings prompted the creation of Transhealth Northampton, which opened its doors in May 2021.

Dallas Ducar, MSN, APRN, and CEO of Transhealth Northampton, reported that Harry Cohen, the initial financial founder, had tired of driving two or three hours for gender-affirming care and sought resources closer to home.…

May 11th, 2021

Returning to pre-pandemic life presents many challenges

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A switch flipped last year when, quite suddenly, nearly everything stopped. For most of us, our daily lives turned upside down. We took a huge step back, didn’t leave our homes, moved online for work and school, and were forced to find other ways to entertain ourselves. Looking back, it seems shocking how quickly the brakes were pulled.

Thirteen months later, we are moving closer to a possible end to this pandemic. With no flip to switch to move back towards normal, the process will be slower and full of questions.…

May 11th, 2021

New rule prohibits ‘information blocking’ & allows patients greater access to records

By Catherine Robertson Souter

On April 5, a new rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services took effect that could impact mental health care professionals’ use of electronic health records (EHR).

The ruling prohibits “information blocking,” or any practice that might restrict a patient’s or other health care entity’s ability to immediately access health records.

The rule does not change any HIPAA patient harm and privacy protections, but it does eliminate the 30-day allowance provided in that act for responding to patients’ requests for access to their electronic records.

Enacted as part of the 2016 21st Century Cures Act, the information blocking rule was part of a follow up issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the agency that coordinates efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information.…

May 11th, 2021

Law enforcement & trauma: Psychological intervention addresses the impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), eight of every 100 individuals will experience post-traumatic stress at some time in their life; unlike civilians, police officers, on average, experience three traumatic events every six months. The frequency and intensity of these events may have a serious psychological impact on the officer at the moment and/or weeks, months or years in the future.

First responders always face the chance for direct or indirect trauma, chronic exposure to trauma, and concerns about expectations and the future, said Tanya Farber, Psy.D., outpatient psychotherapist in the LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) program at McLean Hospital.…

May 11th, 2021

Anti-Asian hate intensifies as pandemic lingers

By Eileen Weber

Three bystanders witnessed an Asian American woman being viciously attacked in front of a luxury condo in New York and did nothing to intervene.

An Asian man was brutally beaten unconscious on a New York subway while other riders watched.

Another Asian man out for his morning walk in San Francisco was slammed to the ground causing brain hemorrhaging from which he later died.

A mass shooting at three spas in Atlanta saw eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.

Anti-Asian hate crimes are up in the U.S. and these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg.…

April 13th, 2021

COVID-19 is impacting pediatric mental health

By Phyllis Hanlon

Research clearly demonstrates that the pandemic is having a significant negative effect on the younger generation.

A November 2020 article, “Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations,” found both short-term and long-term “psychosocial and mental health implications” in this population. The article was published in Psychiatry Research.

The authors noted that severity of the impact is subject to certain vulnerability factors including developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health conditions, low economic status, and quarantine because of or fear of infection.…

March 8th, 2021

Impact of pandemic on ’emerging adults’ should not be overlooked

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. From weddings to holidays to vacation travel, we have all been impacted. School children struggle with online classwork and parents with managing a house full of people. Seniors have had to face increased health risks and the effects of the isolation meant to protect them.

“There is something lost,” said Jeffrey Arnett, Ph.D, senior research scholar at Clark University. “We have all cancelled parties and family events and vacations and little things like dinners with friends. You do lose something and I think we all have to be honest about that.…

March 8th, 2021

Equity, diversity issues should be at forefront of psychologists’ work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

There may be some positive to come out of the tumult. In a year when America was forced to slow down and, for many of us, begin to question what really matters, the conversation around racism and what can be done to address issues of equality has taken center stage. We have all begun to ask, when faced with these questions, “But, what can I do about it?”

The call has gone up throughout the country for the creation of more diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) workplaces, schools and public services.…

February 10th, 2021

Dealing with on-going trauma a consequence of 2020 issues

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Twenty-twenty (2020) was a really long year. As one Twitter user posted, “Just don’t ask, ‘What else can happen?’ 2020 takes it as a challenge.”

In the past 12 months, we have had wildfires, a world-wide pandemic, racial justice protests and counter-protests, a difficult election year, and murder hornets (!). And, even though we are well into a new year, we are not even close to out of it. Last year feels like it has never ended.

People are done. People want the pandemic to be over but it is not.…