Leading Stories, Articles

October 1st, 2017

Educational Treatment Center uses animals to reach teens

By Eileen Weber

Six years ago, Wes and Sue Horton, LMFT were looking for a change. They found it at Ironwood, a residential treatment center and private, co-educational school for teens in Morrill, Maine. With professional backgrounds in therapy and healthcare, the Hortons took over the facility adding more professional staff and revamping the program for families in crisis. Ironwood concentrates on the behavioral, therapeutic and educational needs of up to 45 students aged 13 to 18 for a nine- to 12-month period. Teens are admitted for issues ranging from addiction, depression and anxiety to self-harm, oppositional defiance and ADHD. “Self-esteem develops by [More]

October 1st, 2017

Brattleboro Retreat approves strategic plan

By Pamela Berard

Responding to challenges facing mental health and addiction treatment providers nationwide, Brattleboro Retreat of Vermont has approved a three-year strategic plan. President and CEO Louis Josephson, Ph.D., said Brattleboro Retreat is facing increasing demand for services in an era of falling or flat reimbursement rates. The new strategic plan takes on these and other challenges with a four-pronged approach: Focus on clinical excellence; Achieve financial stability; Increase accountability; and Re-envision the campus. When crafting the plan, the Retreat cast a broad net in talking to various stakeholders. “That feedback did sync up with what we are trying to do,” Josephson [More]

October 1st, 2017

Crotched Mountain after-school program designed to engage students

By Phyllis Hanlon

This past July, Crotched Mountain School launch-ed a carefully thought out after-school program for its students, designed to engage them physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. The program offers structure and predictability for both residential and day students, while preparing them for life beyond the classroom. David Johnson, director of marketing communications, explained that Crotched Mountain has 70 residential students and 25 day students who hail from across the country. Children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum comprise about half of the student body, while the remaining students have emotional behavior disorders, some with medication needs. “Most of our students [More]

October 1st, 2017

School emphasizes closeness, mentoring

By Catherine Robertson Souter

A fresh start can do wonders. For children with a history of behavioral or mental health issues, accumulated diagnoses can seem like a heavy weight to carry. The opportunity to start anew in a residential program like the Wediko School in Windsor, New Hampshire, may feel like a lifeline. Set on an idyllic 450-acre, lakeside property, Wediko prides itself on a strong culture of community and a dedicated staff whose goal, said Kim Guest, Psy.D, director of the school, is to help middle and high school-aged boys discover who they are beneath the labels with which they have come to [More]

August 18th, 2017

Demand exists for multicultural care

By Phyllis Hanlon

After Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program, three million refugees came to this country. Additionally, 43.3 million immigrants were settled in the U.S. in 2015, according to American Community Survey data. This influx of individuals from other countries is creating awareness within the psychological community for a broader understanding of diverse needs and how to deliver appropriate and effective mental health care. Martin R. Pierre, Ph.D., member of the Massachusetts Psychological Association board of directors, co-chair of its Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, and staff psychologist at the Brandeis University Counseling Center, [More]

August 18th, 2017

Disability benefits rate exceeds national average

By Janine Weisman

One New England state is not like the others when it comes to the percentage of their populations receiving benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program for mental disorders in 2015. Maine led the nation with 3.4 percent of its 18- to 65-year-olds receiving SSDI benefits because of a mental disorder diagnosis, such as for developmental and mood disorders or schizophrenia. New Hampshire ranked second with 3.2 percent, Rhode Island was third at 3.0 percent and Vermont fourth at 2.9 percent. Massachusetts ranked eighth with 2.64 percent. Connecticut ranked 26th with 1.83 percent. That’s still slightly above the [More]

August 18th, 2017

ACO program aims to integrate healthcare

By Pamela Berard

Massachusetts is readying for a major restructuring of the current fee-for-service payment system for MassHealth, the state’s combined Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. MassHealth’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program begins in January 2018 and 18 healthcare organizations across the state were recently selected to participate. The 18 ACOs – networks of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers – will work together to provide integrated healthcare for patients with the goals of improving their health and containing costs. The ACOs will integrate efforts with community-based health and social services organizations. The ACO program is a component of the state’s five-year 1115 [More]

August 18th, 2017

Support increasing for children who witness violence

By Janine Weisman

Rhode Island is now the second state in New England after Connecticut to cover expenses for psychiatric care and mental health counseling for children who witness homicides or domestic violence, regardless of whether or not they are a family member of the victim. On June 27, the General Assembly passed legislation introduced by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) that would expand Rhode Island’s Crime Victim Compensation Program to include support for minors who witness homicides or domestic violence. Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the measure into law [More]

August 18th, 2017

Law would shift ‘medically necessary’ determinations to clinicians

By Phyllis Hanlon

Efforts to increase coverage for behavioral health services have been an on-going struggle for patients, families and advocates in recent years. Some politicians have stepped into the fray and have filed legislation that benefits patients with mental health issues. On January 19, 2017, Massachusetts State Rep. Kay Khan (D-11th Middlesex) and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Worcester and Middlesex) jointly filed a bill (H.1070) that would expand determination of medical necessity for mental health services to a treating clinician; currently insurers make that determination. Originally, Sen. Tom P. Kennedy (D-Brockton) had been a proponent of this bill and had been working on [More]

August 18th, 2017

Ban proposed on conversion therapy

By Phyllis Hanlon

In June, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing to consider legislation (S.62/H.1190) that would ban conversion therapy, i.e., therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Rep. Kay Khan (D-11th Middlesex) filed the original bill in 2015; she and Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-2nd Bristol and Plymouth) jointly filed the most recent bill earlier this year. “The bill will ban deceptive conversion practices that can lead to depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal and suicidality,” according to a fact sheet provided by Rep. Khan’s office. While the bill aims “…to [More]