Leading Stories, Articles

November 1st, 2011

Change means MassHealth covers in-home and community services

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Over the past four years, the face of mental health care for lower income children has changed in Massachusetts. In 2002, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of eight children claiming that the Commonwealth did not meet federal Medicaid requirements for preventive and rehabilitative care. The federal law requires Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment behavioral health screening for children ages 0 to 21 and coordinated community-based services to maintain children with serious emotional disturbance at home rather than in residential settings. The Rosie D. lawsuit, as it became known, was a landmark case [More]

November 1st, 2011

Storm forces evacuation

By Phyllis Hanlon

On August 28, Tropical Storm Irene barreled through the state of Vermont, leaving behind impassable roads, toppled buildings, broken bridges and – most significantly – a flooded state hospital. Established in 1891, Vermont State Hospital (VSH) has been at the center of heated discussions regarding its future. Mother Nature may have the last word in determining the fate of this antiquated facility. Prior to the late summer storm, Vermont’s Department of Mental Health had debated options for best serving the needs of those with mental health issues, according to Mental Health Commissioner Christine Oliver. “We are still on that path, [More]

November 1st, 2011

Disaster mental health plays key role in emergencies

By Nan Shnitzler

Psychologist Ann Raynolds, Psy.D., is a trauma specialist, but she was not prepared for Hurricane Irene’s floodwaters that devastated her corner of Vermont, washing out roads and bridges and inundating her office in Quechee. She lost books, files, equipment and personal items accumulated over a 30-year practice. “I had to recognize this was quite a displacement, my beautiful office condo, which I owned,” Raynolds says. “It’s kind of a shock to lose things like that. I just had to take a deep breath and ask, `what do we do next?’” Disasters, whether natural or man-made, might each be different, but [More]

November 1st, 2011

Program trains veterans to treat their counterparts

By Pamela Berard

A new program in Massachusetts aims to train military veterans who are interested in mental health careers and pair them up with veterans in need of services. “Train Vets to Treat Vets,” a partnership between the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP), started this summer and will place and supervise veterans who are MSPP graduate interns in veterans’ outreach services centers. The partnership strives to provide culturally sensitive services and also offer veterans interested in mental health care the credentials to make it a career. “Our expectation is that a person who has had [More]

November 1st, 2011

Careers in military behavioral health: opportunities for growth

By Phyllis Hanlon

Psychologists seeking to serve their country, use their clinical skills to help a most deserving demographic, enhance their professional expertise and achieve personal fulfillment may find what they are looking for by earning a commission in the Army. To enhance recruiting efforts, the U.S. Army offers a number of opportunities with significant incentives and benefits for psychologists who join the service. Ingrid Lim, Psy.D., command psychologist, U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky., says, “The increased need for psychologists, both uniformed and civilian, is related to changes in how forces are structured, such as increases in authorization/requirements and because [More]

November 1st, 2011

Validity of gene-by-environment studies questioned

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In the eternal discussion between nature or nurture, as to which has greater input on health and well-being, the answer may well be… both. Scientists generally believe that there is a physical interaction between genetics and the environment that may be identified down to the specific gene. Over the past decade, numerous studies have been done and published in leading journals to pinpoint the exact effect of these interactions. But when Harvard School of Public Health post-doctoral fellow Laramie Duncan, Ph.D., began to look closely at the literature in preparation for initiating a gene-by-environment interaction study, she started to have [More]

October 1st, 2011

Sexual reactive behavior: myth or fact?

By Phyllis Hanlon

Children are one of life’s greatest mysteries – just ask any parent. Since the inception of psychological reflection, children have been one of the demographics that have come under a microscope. While some advances and understanding has been achieved, many areas remain unclear, in particular, the subject of sexuality in children. According to Robert A. Dell, Psy.D, private practitioner in West Hartford, Conn., it often comes as a big surprise to some people that children are sexual creatures. “There is a good amount of positive/prosocial types of sexual behavior that goes under the radar of the parents,” he says. “The [More]

October 1st, 2011

Senate approves legislation to transform CHINS program

By Pamela Berard

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved legislation aimed at transforming the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program, which critics say unnecessarily puts troubled children into the court system. The proposed overhaul would instead offer a state-wide community-based intervention network of family resource centers and community-based services and try to divert children and their families from the legal process to the appropriate behavioral, medical and mental health treatment or preventative services. The bill’s lead sponsor, Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), has been working to pass this legislation for six years. The children in the system are often habitually truant or runways. Spilka says [More]

October 1st, 2011

Game-Based Programs Help Youth Build Self-Worth

By Pamela Berard

A program in Maine is utilizing adventure and game-based programs to help youth develop self-worth and become competent, connected adults. The Game Loft is an affiliate program of Spurwink Services, which provides behavioral health, educational and residential services throughout the state. Almost 400 youths in the Belfast community participate and a number of other adolescents and alumni volunteer. In a move that seems retro nowadays – an activities center on non-electric gaming. Games and activities include trading card and collectible groups like a Pokemon Club and Yu-Gi-Oh League, special events like a World War II tabletop miniatures game and a [More]

October 1st, 2011

Program provides rest stop for students after hospitalization

By Jennifer E Chase

For teens who aren’t ready for their regular classrooms following a short- or long-term medical absence, a Massachusetts public-school program provides a safe place for them to ease back into the setting where they may learn while they heal. The Brookline Resilient Youth Team (BRYT) is run by the Brookline Community Mental Health Center, which for 50 years has provided a safety net woven of treatment and advocacy services to children, adults and their families suffering serious mental health disorders. BRYT started in 2003 when staff – comprised of medical doctors, licensed psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers – noticed a [More]