Leading Stories, Articles

October 6th, 2020

Child abuse reports down; concern is up

By Eileen Weber

Authorities and medical professionals in Maine are seeing a 30 percent decrease in child abuse reports. The sharp decline began when schools closed in mid-March because of COVID-19. These days, the safety nets that are typically built around children—teachers, friends, neighbors, other family members, doctors and social workers—weren’t there.

Calls to the abuse hotline at the Maine Child and Family Services have also been down. Only seven percent of the calls were from school personnel when that number would ordinarily be more than 20 percent.

According to the National Children’s Alliance, a nation-wide network of children’s advocacy centers, approximately 700,000 children are abused in the U.S.…

October 6th, 2020

Study details effects of pandemic on people with eating disorders

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For those with an eating disorder, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and stress can be major contributing factors. And of course, what are the major factors we all face during a pandemic and related shutdown? Isolation, loneliness, anxiety and stress.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that, across the board, those dealing with eating disorders have reported increased symptoms and concerns about the effects of the current situation on their mental health.

“People with eating disorders,” said Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D, co-author of the study and the founding director of the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, “are experiencing the same general mental health effects as the rest of the world, such as increased anxiety and depression, but on top of that, they are experiencing effects that are specific to their illness.”…

October 6th, 2020

Program for educators teaches social and emotional learning

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The state of Connecticut is looking to take the lead on creating an emotionally strong educational system. The Department of Education has joined forces with stakeholders across the state to pilot a unique program aimed at giving educators the tools they need to cope and to teach coping skills during the pandemic.

The program, “Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Stress: Research-Based Strategies,” is a 10-hour online program for educators that will give instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL).

“The course is 10 hours of training in the psychology and neurobiology of trauma and stress resilience,” said Marc Bracket, Ph.D,…

October 6th, 2020

Podcasts can be an option for therapists

By Catherine Robertson Souter

More and more, Americans are turning to online sources for information. From sites that gather top news stories to videos on how to clean dryer vents, the internet has become the go-to for learning just about anything. Serial podcasts, usually found as audio shows, have become one of the most popular ways to get that information.

According to PodcastHosting.org, there are more than one million podcasts world-wide and 51 percent of Americans have listened to at least one episode.

These podcasts cover topics as varied as stock market tips, book reviews or discussions about historical events.…

October 6th, 2020

Crotched Mountain’s November closure is stopped

By Eileen Weber

After almost 70 years, Crotched Mountain Foundation, a rehabilitation center for young children to adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities in Greenfield, NH, was set to close its doors on November 1.

After months of scrambling to find suitable options for students and group home residents, it was announced that New York-based Gersh Autism will take over on the previously determined closing date.

President and CEO Ned Olney noted in a statement that the school struggled financially for years, especially during the economic downturn in 2009. With the onset of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown, the school suspended services with Ready Set Connect, a non-profit organization for autistic children that works in conjunction with Crotched Mountain.…

September 9th, 2020

Uncertainty of pandemic leads to further mental health problems

By Eileen Weber

It should be no surprise that after months of shelter-in-place mandates, wearing masks in public, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and a resurgence in COVID outbreaks in some states, our collective psyche is at the breaking point. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise in this country, but those issues have become even more apparent during this pandemic.

For many people, it has been a mental and emotional roller coaster.

Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale’s Child Study Center, says the loss of normal routines and social connectedness can adversely affect people in many ways.…

September 9th, 2020

Confiding in others identified as the strongest protection against depression

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study has found that strong social connections are the strongest protective factor for depression.

“Depression is the leading cause of disability world-wide,” said Karmel Choi, Ph.D, an investigator in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper.

“About one in five people will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime. If we could prevent depression, we could not only reduce years of suffering, but also improve health and life outcomes.”

That led researchers to ask the question: Which modifiable factors in people’s lives—whether their diet, physical activity, media use, sleep habits, social interaction, or environmental exposures—could be the most important for preventing depression?…

August 19th, 2020

How can therapists become more culturally competent?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As our nation struggles toward building a better society for all races, therapists may find themselves doing some self-reflection on how they handle diversity in their own practices. Cultural competence has become a key phrase within the field.

But how does one become culturally “competent?”

In its “Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations,” the American Psychological Association explains that providers should have a “sociocultural framework” that will help them use a systematic approach to working with a “diversity of values, interactional styles, and cultural expectations.”…

August 19th, 2020

Rhode Island behavioral health centers receive $8 million grant

By Eileen Weber

Funds help create community connections, add services

Newport Mental Health and Thrive Behavioral Health, Inc. in Warwick were awarded an $8 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services this past spring.

The two organizations will receive $4 million each to enhance programs over the course of two years. The grant is meant to introduce both new services and bolster existing services, much of which involves enhancing the staff.

At 24 percent, Rhode Island has one of the highest levels of adult mental illness in the country.…

August 18th, 2020

National survey measures pandemic’s emotional impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

After several months of quarantine, psychologists are eager to assess the emotional repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three psychologists teamed up to create a scale that evaluated mental health during this crisis and found both expected and some surprising results.

Sarah Gray, Psy.D, director of outpatient rehabilitation psychology at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston, said, “As a health psychologist, the psychological effects of the pandemic in society and how that affects our patients is of particular interest to me.”

Gray is also the founder/director, Integrative Psychology, PC in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Gray explained that this national survey was developed “completely in reaction to the pandemic.”…