Leading Stories, Articles

January 4th, 2020

Mass. Attorney General brings Sandy Hook Promise to schools

By Eileen Weber

On December 14, 2012, 20 first grade children and six teachers lost their lives in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Mark Barden lost his son Daniel, age seven, that day. Since then, Barden, along with several of his fellow grieving parents, put together a foundation and service program to teach about the connection between mental health and gun violence in this country. They call it the Sandy Hook Promise, or SHP. SHP focuses on educating and mobilizing parents, schools, and communities on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene, and help at-risk individuals [More]

January 4th, 2020

NH’s legislation addresses mental health needs

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

In 2008, New Hampshire developed a plan to address mental health needs in the state. However, because of the recession, “not a single thing happened,” said Rep. James MacKay (Merrimack, District 14), a retired social worker and chair of the New Hampshire House Subcommittee on Mental Health, Addiction, and Recovery.  Last January, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with input from focus groups, workgroups, and public sessions, released a new, more comprehensive plan. Unlike the previous plan, this 10-year plan considers the needs of both adults and children. A major objective is to increase the number of “designated receiving [More]

November 5th, 2019

New bill proposes 988 as the national crisis number

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

If someone is breaking into your home, you’ve witnessed a car crash, or a friend is having a heart attack, you know to dial 911. But if you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis, what number do you call? Most people have to look it up. In August, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), along with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which would make 9-8-8 the national crisis hotline. As Moulton said via email, “When you wake up in the middle of the night, and your house is on fire, you don’t [More]

November 5th, 2019

Maine cracks down on vaping at schools

By Eileen Weber

A new law in Maine is cracking down on vaping by prohibiting tobacco, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes on school grounds. The law went into effect on September 19. One day later, the Bangor Daily News reported that the state had its first reported case of vaping-related illness. And, Centers for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah, MD, JD, made it clear that if you haven’t vaped yet, don’t start now. “People who do not vape should not start,” he said, “and people who do should seriously consider the health risks in using e-cigarette products.” According to Maine’s CDC, nearly four percent of [More]

November 5th, 2019

NEP in 2020

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

With another year ending, it’s time to share news of New England Psychologist’s (NEP) print future with you. As I’ve mentioned here previously, traditional publishing has become increasingly challenging with the rise of printing and mailing costs year after year. How often we publish in print form impacts our ability to keep publishing. With that in mind, we’ve decided to change our print publishing schedule to go to publishing once each quarter in 2020. We will also be discontinuing the psychiatric treatment facilities special directory, but keeping the residential schools directory (which will be published in the fourth quarter issue [More]

November 4th, 2019

The magic of found objects

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There are few things better able to stimulate the imagination than finding an interesting, unknown object. The first time I had this experience I was a boy playing in the vacant lot at the corner of our block. The block was really a triangle, with the town hall and World War II honor roll near the apex, three two-story houses in the middle, and the first-aid building and vacant lot occupying the two corners. Against all odds, grass grew in the lot, which was bisected by a dirt path worn diagonally into the earth by ironclad men taking a shortcut [More]

November 4th, 2019

Commonwealth Fund Scorecard: New England states ranked in top 12

By Phyllis Hanlon

The New England states have earned a reputation for providing health care services that outrank much of the rest of the country. The Commonwealth Fund recently released the 2019 Scorecard on State Health System Performance. Massachusetts ranked No. 2; Connecticut and Vermont, No. 5; Rhode Island, No. 7; New Hampshire, No. 10; and Maine, No. 12. The scorecard examines access and affordability; prevention and treatment; avoidable use and cost; healthy lives; and health care disparities. In addition to reporting top-ranked and most improved indicators, the scorecard assesses the impact improvements will have on the state. David Radley, Ph.D, MPH, senior [More]

November 4th, 2019

Study: Young Puerto Ricans experience higher rates of depression on U.S. mainland than at home

By Eileen Weber

Puerto Ricans experience higher rates of depression and anxiety on the U.S. mainland than when at home. After nearly 20 years of research and about 2,000 people interviewed, the Boricua Youth Study discovered that fact. The study compared kids ages five to 13 as they transitioned to early adulthood from 15 to 29 under similar conditions of income and exposure to violence in both Puerto Rico and the South Bronx, a region with one of the highest Puerto Rican populations on the U.S. mainland. Research focused on four categories that influence mental health: environmental/social factors, cultural and minority stress, parent/peer [More]

November 4th, 2019

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Often unrecognized and difficult to treat

By Phyllis Hanlon

Sleek physiques, flawless skin, and perfectly symmetrical facial features. For some individuals, achieving physical perfection becomes an obsession. This atypical behavior may be an indication of body dysmorphic disorder. Rachel Simmons, Ph.D, defines BDD as an intense focus on one or more aspects of appearance with the belief that they are abnormal, although in most cases, these perceived flaws are minor or non-existent. Simmons is a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. She noted that some patients spend between one and eight hours a day focused on thoughts [More]

November 4th, 2019

Study identifies resiliency strategies for family members of violent patients

By Susan Gonsalves

Family members of people with severe mental illness and violent tendencies often feel confused and isolated. Mental health professionals can help them by increasing their knowledge of mental illness and introducing them to strategies to ease the burden. That conclusion came from research led by Karyn Sporer, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maine. She and her team used in-depth, ethnographic interviews with 42 parents and siblings of violent children with severe mental illness to generate data and identify coping methods. Her results, published in the Journal of Family Issues, highlighted ways that families said they are [More]