Leading Stories, Articles

May 1st, 2010

Program gives chance at healthy life

By Jennifer E Chase

Acadia Hospital in Maine is improving the odds for people who may develop psychosis through a program wholly dedicated to early detection. The Aware program’s mission is to research, educate and provide community outreach about the symptoms indicating that a person is at “ultra-high” risk, or prodrome, to develop a psychotic illness. Common diagnoses the program helps identify are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. According to the program’s director and lead investigator Jessica Pollard, Ph.D., a specialized assessment called the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) is used to detect the warning signs, which include deficits with executive function, [More]

May 1st, 2010

VSH denied recertification – again

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2003, Vermont State Hospital (VSH) has lost, regained and once again lost its certification. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied VSH’s bid for recertification yet again because of patient care issues and safety concerns about the aging facility’s physical environment. State Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Washington-2) says, “First, an interesting aspect is that CMS has become more clear in the past year that they are not considering recertification; they are treating [the hospital] as though it is a new entity seeking certification. This is important because it creates a different standard than simply remedying the [More]

May 1st, 2010

New scale created to measure anxiety

By Elinor Nelson

There is no shortage of self-report questionnaires to measure anxiety, but Mark Zimmerman, M.D. and his colleagues at Rhode Island Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University have developed a new one – the Clinically Useful Anxiety Outcome Scale (CUXOS). What distinguishes CUXOS, Zimmerman states, is its “goal to be user-friendly, reliable, and valid.” His study of CUXOS, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found it to take on average less than two minutes to fill out and just 15 seconds to score. The study also showed CUXOS to be reliable, valid and sensitive to change [More]

May 1st, 2010

Psych hospital limitations under Medicare to be eliminated

By Phyllis Hanlon

The passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 has paved the way for other types of reform related to behavioral health care. Four New England senators are continuing the fight against discrimination as it relates to seniors who suffer mental health issues. On February 24, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) filed the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act (S.3028), a bill that would eliminate the 190-day limit for Medicare recipients who obtain care in a psychiatric healthcare facility. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) co-sponsored the [More]

May 1st, 2010

Manual changes provoke debate

By Ami Albernaz

For the past few years, proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have been scrutinized and their merits debated by mental health professionals. Changes in the new manual, due out in May 2013 and meant to reflect new information in neurology, genetics and the behavioral sciences, will likely include new diagnoses such as binge eating disorder and hypersexual disorder and a new category for “behavioral addictions.” Among the most discussed changes to date include folding Asperger’s syndrome into a category called autism spectrum disorder and adding a diagnosis of temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria, in [More]

May 1st, 2010

Networking sites raise ethical questions

By Pamela Berard

Social networking Web sites like Facebook are ubiquitous especially among younger generations who’ve grown up with technology. But with these sites, medical professionals face many potential ethical questions about doctor-patient relationships. David H. Brendel, M.D., Ph.D, chair of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s Institutional Review Board in Massachusetts, recently addressed these issues in a Journal of Medical Ethics article. Does “friending” violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Should physicians, psychologists and other professionals include information from these sites in a patient’s medical record? Might accepting or rejecting an online friendship with a patient compromise treatment? And can a professional disclose too much personal information online? [More]

May 1st, 2010

Non-profit group shares terrorism research

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When a former student pitched the idea of a non-profit organization to promote the interdisciplinary and international sharing of terrorism research, Tali K. Walters, Ph.D., had one of those moments. The forensic psychologist, working in private practice and with the Lindemann Mental Health Center in Boston and as an assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, had been looking for a way to “give back,” a way to do meaningful volunteer work. Although she had not considered terrorism research, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Now, four years after its launch, the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) [More]

April 1st, 2010

Resiliency at heart of emotional recovery

By Pamela Berard

In the wake of Haiti’s earthquake, psychologists reach out to survivors A natural disaster – like the January earthquake in Haiti – may happen in minutes, but the long-term effects linger long after the story disappears from the headlines. “We focus so much on the event and what it’s like and people sort of think that it’s over,” says Pedro M. Barbosa, Ph.D., associate director of adult patient psychiatry and staff psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, which has had a Haitian mental health team for more than 20 years. “But (the trauma) comes in waves, and frankly [More]

April 1st, 2010

Massachusetts identifies top legislative priorities

By Phyllis Hanlon

Massachusetts, like many states across the country, is struggling to survive a fiscal crisis, while attempting to maintain services for those with mental illnesses. For FY2010, the Commonwealth’s Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (MHSA Committee) has been deliberating a number of bills. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is closely following four of those bills likely to move through the coming legislative session, according to Anna Chinappi, DMH spokesperson. An Act Relative to the Coordination of Children’s Mental Health Care (HB 3586/SB 757), if passed, would reimburse mental health clinicians for collateral contact, which is defined as the [More]

April 1st, 2010

VA could get psychiatric facility

By Elinor Nelson

There’s no dispute that Vermont needs to replace Vermont State Hospital. At 120 years of age, it’s antiquated and has been denied recertification. The governor knows it and the legislature knows it and Vermont Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman is hoping that the political forces will approve a plan, now evolving, to care for Vermont’s mentally ill in a combination of community and hospital settings. Since 2004, Vermont has been looking at new ways to deliver mental health care. “There is a responsibility not just to replace 54 beds with 54 more, but to create a variety of new programming,” [More]