Leading Stories, Articles

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]

July 5th, 2019

NH aims to reduce emergency boarding

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As part of a much broader plan to institute changes to a mental health care system that has seen serious degradation over the past three decades, the New Hampshire legislature recently passed a bill aimed at addressing the issue of emergency room boarding for men and women facing mental health crises. The bill was signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu in late May. New Hampshire’s mental health care system was once listed as the second best in the country according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) but had sunk to 32nd by 2011 (and risen slightly [More]

July 5th, 2019

Specialists address the complexities of treating women’s emotional health

By Phyllis Hanlon

Statistics show that women are twice as likely as men to experience depression and several types of anxiety; females are also approximately nine times more likely to have eating disorders than males. But women may present with complexities that require therapy from psychologists who specialize in treating this population. Wendy F. Habelow, Ph.D, owner of Beacon Behavioral Services, LLC in West Hartford, Connecticut, certified mediator and collaborative divorce coach, said that only a woman can truly understand what other women are experiencing. Embracing a feminist perspective on life and in therapy, she believes there is “personal and professional value in [More]

May 29th, 2019

Massachusetts bans conversion therapy for minors

By Eileen Weber

Massachusetts became the 16th state to ban conversion therapy, a method attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity by treating it as if it’s a mental illness. Sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy,” tactics range from shaming the person to using painful physical stimulation like electric shocks. In early April, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill banning licensed health care professionals from providing this practice to anyone under 18. Fifteen other states and Washington D.C. have already banned conversion therapy, with California being the first in 2012. Massachusetts joins Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and [More]

May 28th, 2019

Vermont’s medication assisted treatment program shows encouraging results

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For the first time since 1918 during WWI when a flu pandemic swept the nation, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for each of the last three years. Suicide and drug overdose are edging the country downward. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 72,000 drug overdoses in 2017, up from 63,000 in 2016. New England has seen its fair share of the crisis, with New Hampshire among the worst in the county with a rate of 34 deaths per 100,000 in 2017, more than double the national average of 14.6. Vermont saw a rate of 20 [More]

May 28th, 2019

R.I. bill to mandate suicide prevention training for school staff faces quiet hurdles

By Janine Weisman

On the first day of spring, they came to the Rhode Island Statehouse. Many were students from Portsmouth High School who formed the suicide prevention group Every Student Initiative. They were there to support a bill before the House Committee of Health, Education and Welfare. The bill was called The Nathan Bruno and Jason Flatt Act. Bruno, 15, a Portsmouth High School sophomore, died on Feb. 7, 2018. Flatt died on July 16, 1997, at age 16 in Nashville, Tennessee. The proposed legislation that bears their names would establish mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention training for all public school [More]