Leading Stories, Articles

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

New Hampshire expands MAT program

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2015, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (NHDOC) has had a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program in place in its facilities to help those with substance and alcohol use problems maintain abstinence. The success of that program, as well as others in New England, prompted the department to expand its existing coverage. Laura Montenegro, NHDOC’s public information officer, explained that the expansion of the MAT program kicked off in June at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility (NNHCF) in Berlin and will expand to two other facilities in the near future. A licensed drug and alcohol counselor and a medical [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]

August 26th, 2019

An introduction to dual diagnosis for the new therapist

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

When I was newly licensed and newly in private practice, a patient told me at intake he had to have therapy before he could be granted visits with his young daughter. He seemed heartsick that he couldn’t see her. He said he wanted to be a good dad. He wanted to pay for her braces. They always had good times together. Concerned about what I was getting into, I asked him why he had been referred. He reluctantly admitted that he had been addicted to crack cocaine but also claimed that he was in recovery and his daughter was more [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]

July 5th, 2019

Rhode Island Foundation awards grants to non-profit organizations focused on behavioral health

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

In May, the Rhode Island Foundation awarded $2.6 million in grants to six non-profit organizations to fund behavioral health care services in the state. According to Jenny Pereira, vice president of the grant program at the R.I. Foundation, behavioral health is a high priority. In August 2018, the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner created the Behavioral Health Fund with funding from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. The latter has committed to providing $5 million in funding. Overall, their focus is on preventing behavioral health problems before they arise, and identifying conditions or concerns in their earliest [More]