Leading Stories, Articles

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 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

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

ACLU-NH lawsuit seeks due process for ER patients waiting for beds

By Catherine Robertson Souter

According to state law in New Hampshire, individuals held against their will because of a mental health crisis must be provided a hearing before a judge to determine if they present a risk to others or themselves. That hearing must happen within three days of the signing of an Involuntary Emergency Admission. However, because of a shortage of beds in the state’s psychiatric care facilities, people are often held in emergency rooms until a space opens up. And the mandated hearings are only offered at psychiatric facilities. The result is that some patients are being held, against their will, in [More]

November 4th, 2019

Maine and Conn. make top 10 list for best mental health care

By Janine Weisman

States with a high rate of access to mental health care tend to have low prevalence of mental illness, according to a new report ranking which states had the best overall mental health care in the country. QuoteWizard, a LendingTree company, analyzed data from Mental Health America to rank each state one to 50 as determined by a composite score of prevalence and access rankings. North Dakota ranked first while Maryland came in second and New Jersey was third. Each scored high for access to care and low for prevalence of mental illness. Nevada was at the very bottom behind [More]

October 9th, 2019

Link between video games, violence again examined

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Following recent mass shooting tragedies that killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump condemned the “glorification of violence in our society,” specifically “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” This claim of a link between the tragedies and the use of video games was repeated by other lawmakers, who claimed that the rise of video game use is directly linked to the rise in gun violence. But is it true? Does playing violent video games cause violent behavior? Or, maybe more importantly, would removing these types of games from our culture curb [More]

October 9th, 2019

Adventure programs: Learning to confront and overcome fears

By Phyllis Hanlon

The benefits of engaging in outdoor activities have been well documented. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that play in an outdoor environment enables children “…to explore both their world and their own minds.” AAP adds that outdoor activity can enhance “…creativity, curiosity and associated developmental advances.” Some residential schools are embracing this message and offer a variety of adventure and wilderness programs for children with behavioral issues. The residential program at Mountain Valley Treatment Center in Plainfield, New Hampshire, accepts children with a variety of diagnoses, from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression to autism, eating disorders, and [More]

August 28th, 2019

Even providers need help overcoming addiction stigma

By Janine Weisman

The instructor is explaining what addiction is to a group of health care providers at the Veterans Administration Connecticut Healthcare System campus in West Haven. But while the instructor talks, all of the physicians, nurses, administrators, psychologists, chaplains, social workers, and others assembled in the conference room are holding their breath. Fifty seconds into the discussion, the participants in this mini-residency on substance use disorders are not really focused on the topic anymore. But once they resume normal breathing, it’s an opening to talk about what addiction can feel like, said Brent A. Moore, Ph.D., research psychologist at VA Connecticut [More]

August 28th, 2019

Dismissal of three legal insanity cases causes stir in VT

By Eileen Weber

Three cases—two murder and one attempted murder—were dismissed in Vermont’s Chittenden County by State’s Attorney Sarah George as a result of legal insanity defenses. Some called her decision to dismiss into question, specifically Governor Phil Scott who asked Attorney General T.J. Donovan to review these cases. George, however, felt the governor’s reaction was insulting and set a bad precedent. In a tweet in early June responding to Scott’s request for review, George made it clear that she feels his move is politically motivated. “It is awful that our mental health agencies are failing us, but real leadership requires digging in [More]