Leading Stories, Articles

October 8th, 2020

Could walk and talk therapy become the norm?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Before we all were forced to slow down, most of us tended to think of spending time in nature as a benefit, something we squeeze in between all our running around. But, as studies have shown, getting outside should be considered more than a luxury. We should think of it as a requirement for both physical health and optimal cognitive function. In fact, one 2019 United Kingdom study shows that a minimum of 120 minutes of outdoor time per week is associated with higher levels of self-reported health and well-being. As the 2020 pandemic churns onward, therapists are looking for [More]

October 8th, 2020

FDA ban on shock device affects one school

By Eileen Weber

This past spring, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) because they present an “unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury” to patients with aggressive or self-injurious behavior. The ban is nation-wide but directly impacts one school—the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Mass. The device has been used for decades at the residential school for people with autism and other psychiatric, developmental, or mental disabilities. It is the only facility in the U.S. that uses the technique on its residents. “Since ESDs were first marketed more than 20 years ago, we [More]

October 7th, 2020

COVID-19 funds provide financial relief to several residential schools

By Phyllis Hanlon

Some special education residential schools in Massachusetts received a much-needed fiscal shot in the arm when Governor Charlie Baker announced that $16.1 million would be awarded to certain facilities. Thirty-two special education residential schools were given the funds to help alleviate pandemic-related expenses. Awards ranged from $18,220 to nearly $2 million. Several residential schools received more than $1 million, including the Hillcrest Educational Center ($1,275,323); the Evergreen Center ($1,087,973); the May Institute, Inc. ($1,006,071); the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc. ($1,763,017); New England Center for Children (NECC) ($1,902,742); and Saint Ann’s Home, Inc. ($1,081,950). Vincent Strully, CEO and founder of [More]

October 7th, 2020

Residential schools adopt safety measures related to pandemic

By Phyllis Hanlon

In March, states across the region ordered the closure of school systems. While public and many private academic institutions shuttered their doors, residential schools were considered “essential services” and were allowed to remain open. Elizabeth Della Russo Becker, executive director of maaps (Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools), reported that residential schools serve a diverse population that is more vulnerable to infectious diseases than students in the general population. Becker applauded Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders for the “wise and unique” decisions that helped protect these students. “She understands that these schools have needy and often voiceless populations. [More]

October 6th, 2020

Child abuse reports down; concern is up

By Eileen Weber

Authorities and medical professionals in Maine are seeing a 30 percent decrease in child abuse reports. The sharp decline began when schools closed in mid-March because of COVID-19. These days, the safety nets that are typically built around children—teachers, friends, neighbors, other family members, doctors and social workers—weren’t there. Calls to the abuse hotline at the Maine Child and Family Services have also been down. Only seven percent of the calls were from school personnel when that number would ordinarily be more than 20 percent. According to the National Children’s Alliance, a nation-wide network of children’s advocacy centers, approximately 700,000 [More]

October 6th, 2020

Study details effects of pandemic on people with eating disorders

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For those with an eating disorder, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and stress can be major contributing factors. And of course, what are the major factors we all face during a pandemic and related shutdown? Isolation, loneliness, anxiety and stress. A recent study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that, across the board, those dealing with eating disorders have reported increased symptoms and concerns about the effects of the current situation on their mental health. “People with eating disorders,” said Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D, co-author of the study and the founding director of the University of North Carolina Center of [More]

October 6th, 2020

Program for educators teaches social and emotional learning

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The state of Connecticut is looking to take the lead on creating an emotionally strong educational system. The Department of Education has joined forces with stakeholders across the state to pilot a unique program aimed at giving educators the tools they need to cope and to teach coping skills during the pandemic. The program, “Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Stress: Research-Based Strategies,” is a 10-hour online program for educators that will give instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL). “The course is 10 hours of training in the psychology and neurobiology of trauma and stress resilience,” [More]

October 6th, 2020

Podcasts can be an option for therapists

By Catherine Robertson Souter

More and more, Americans are turning to online sources for information. From sites that gather top news stories to videos on how to clean dryer vents, the internet has become the go-to for learning just about anything. Serial podcasts, usually found as audio shows, have become one of the most popular ways to get that information. According to PodcastHosting.org, there are more than one million podcasts world-wide and 51 percent of Americans have listened to at least one episode. These podcasts cover topics as varied as stock market tips, book reviews or discussions about historical events. They may be in [More]

October 6th, 2020

Crotched Mountain’s November closure is stopped

By Eileen Weber

After almost 70 years, Crotched Mountain Foundation, a rehabilitation center for young children to adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities in Greenfield, NH, was set to close its doors on November 1. After months of scrambling to find suitable options for students and group home residents, it was announced that New York-based Gersh Autism will take over on the previously determined closing date. President and CEO Ned Olney noted in a statement that the school struggled financially for years, especially during the economic downturn in 2009. With the onset of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown, the school suspended services with [More]

September 9th, 2020

Uncertainty of pandemic leads to further mental health problems

By Eileen Weber

It should be no surprise that after months of shelter-in-place mandates, wearing masks in public, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and a resurgence in COVID outbreaks in some states, our collective psyche is at the breaking point. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise in this country, but those issues have become even more apparent during this pandemic. For many people, it has been a mental and emotional roller coaster. Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale’s Child Study Center, says the loss of normal [More]

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