March 8th, 2021

MPA seeks better care, quality, and coverage in 2021-2022 legislative session

By Eileen Weber

The Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA) highlighted three specific aspects of mental health to be focused on during the 2021-2022 legislative session: access to care, quality and continuity of care, and consumer and professional protections.

These focal points are further broken down into other topics needing attention:

  • ensuring health plans are meeting current mental health parity requirements;
  • standardizing insurance cards to show whether the plan is state or privately funded; and
  • allowing coverage for providers for treatment, not just testing and assessment.

Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D, MPA’s director of professional affairs and a psychologist with her own private practice, noted that the organization has been designating a specific legislative agenda since 2017.…

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 11th, 2021

Maine launches initiatives to address pandemic-related issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

Approximately nine months after the COVID-19 virus was identified in the United States, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched StrengthenME, an initiative designed to provide coping mechanisms for pandemic-related stress and anxiety before it becomes a more serious mental health issue.

According to Jessica Pollard, Ph.D, director of the Maine DHHS Office of Behavioral Health, the state recognized the need for mental health supports and immediately looked to expand existing services, such as the Intentional Peer Warm Line.

“We also launched new services, such as the Maine Frontline Warmline to support health care staff and first responders, and the NAMI Teen Text Line for youth,” Pollard said.…

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.…

February 9th, 2021

Connecticut’s emergency shelters take financial hit in pandemic as abuse rises

By Eileen Weber

Across the country, reports of domestic abuse have been on the rise during the pandemic. In December 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine cited this increase, calling it a “pandemic within a pandemic.” Although calls for help dropped as much as 50 percent in some regions, that didn’t mean the violence stopped. It just wasn’t being reported. Isolated at home, many victims were trapped inside with their abusers.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline issued a snapshot in the spring. In March 2020, volume had decreased by six percent in comparison to the same time the previous year.…

February 9th, 2021

Adoption of QAnon beliefs similar to cult following

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Despite vast evidence to the contrary and more than 60 lost court cases, more than half of Republican voters believed that the presidential election in November was actually won by Donald Trump, according to multiple polls done since November.

Across America, there is also strong support for the idea that the media cannot be trusted and that there are secret “deep state” bureaucrats within the government working to undermine democracy. Further, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll done in December, conspiracy theories posited by QAnon, (that Democratic leaders and Hollywood personalities are part of a secret cabal of pedophiles who molest and eat children) were rated as true by a full 17 percent of respondents and 37 percent were not sure if they were true or were not.…

February 9th, 2021

Dear Mister President

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Dear President Biden:

First of all, let me congratulate you on your inauguration as our nation’s 46th president. Eighty-one million of your fellow citizens expressed their solidarity with you on election day. That leaves 74 million voters on the other side of what has become a great divide in American politics and culture. Your goal of unifying our country is monumental, but from what I know of your character, so are your sincerity and resolve. I am writing to express my support and to offer some insights from psychological science that may be of help.…

January 12th, 2021

End-of-life care offers challenges to clinicians

By Phyllis Hanlon

Until recently, talk of death and dying was a subject often avoided. However, medical professionals and some segments of the general population have come to understand the value of hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care.

According to Karen M. Fasciano, Psy.D, director of the young adult program at Dana Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, in the last few decades, society has seen a cultural shift when it comes to end-of-life care. Offering this care can help relieve physical and mental suffering at end of life as well as during bereavement, by providing psychological, social, and spiritual support.…

January 12th, 2021

Study: Personality plays a role in who complies with pandemic restrictions

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study finds that personality traits affect who is most likely to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking at the five big personality traits, the researchers found that people who scored low on two of them – openness to experience and neuroticism – were less likely to shelter at home in the absence of stringent government policies.

However, that tendency went away when more restrictive government policies were implemented, according to Friedrich Götz, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study.

“We also found that more agreeable (i.e.,…

January 12th, 2021

What we learned from 2020

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It is January again and time to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with hope for better days ahead. We do this every year, and no matter what has gone before, we hope that something better is waiting just out of sight on the second or third page of our new calendar, getting ready to give us a nice surprise. Given what 2020 brought us, we’ll be happy with any improvement.

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020: divisive politics as never before seen in our lifetime, and racial injustice on a grand scale, brought us more than 250,000 deaths in the United States from the virus alone, massive job loss, evictions, quarantines, an interruption in classroom education at every level from elementary school through college, renewed debate about policing practices, demonstrations that sometimes turned violent, and a re-definition of truth and reality.…