Columnists, Articles

July 11th, 2021

The end of the pandemic

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

At least here in New England, the end of the pandemic is in sight. Masks are no longer needed, and there’s a certain sense of relief that perhaps the worst is behind us.

Like many Americans, I feel like we’ve come to the end of our generation’s shared hardship experience. While not as traumatic or needing of self-sacrifice as other hardships in our country’s modern past, it nonetheless feels like we went through something difficult together.

The past year has been especially difficult on school-aged children and young adults. Attending my nephew’s high school graduation, the graduates seemed none the worse for wear.…

July 10th, 2021

VT legislature calls for action to address ED boarding

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In 2020, the state of Vermont was ranked first in the nation for access to mental health care in Mental Health America’s annual state-by-state rankings. Yet, this spring, the state’s legislature was shocked to hear stories of children in mental health crisis languishing for hours, days, and even weeks in emergency departments while awaiting transfer to psychiatric care.

Similar to the situation that has been happening in New Hampshire, albeit at a lesser rate, Vermont has seen an increase in the number of people held in emergency departments over the past decade, hitting a peak in 2017.…

June 26th, 2021

Advocates, legislators address children’s mental health crisis

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The true toll of this pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents may take decades to fully understand. Young people can be resilient but the academic and social milestones missed may have repercussions across their lifespans that are not yet visible.

With more acute issues of mental health, the effects are being felt in the here and now. Across the United States, mental health-related visits to emergency rooms rose 24 percent for children ages 5-11 and 31 percent for adolescents 12-17 in 2020, as compared with 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.…

April 13th, 2021

COVID-19 is impacting pediatric mental health

By Phyllis Hanlon

Research clearly demonstrates that the pandemic is having a significant negative effect on the younger generation.

A November 2020 article, “Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations,” found both short-term and long-term “psychosocial and mental health implications” in this population. The article was published in Psychiatry Research.

The authors noted that severity of the impact is subject to certain vulnerability factors including developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health conditions, low economic status, and quarantine because of or fear of infection.…

April 12th, 2021

Survey: Households with children reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

By Eileen Weber

Since last March, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation are simply commonplace. What initially was presumed to be a shutdown for a few weeks has been prolonged into a year. People of all ages are experiencing the effects of the lack of normalcy. But children, adolescents, and young adults in particular are showing the strain.

In an American Medical Association podcast in mid-February, Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A., discussed the mental health issues resulting from the pandemic. In her estimation, it’s necessary to have serious conversations—and serious action—about what she called “COVID fatigue” or “hitting the wall.”…

October 7th, 2020

Walker Schools’ President Gene Takahashi living his career goal

By Catherine Robertson Souter

During this past spring, when schools were shuttered for months only recently to re-open, residential schools working with the neediest of children did not have that luxury. For programs like the Massachusetts-based Walker schools in Watertown and Needham, providing a safe, supportive academic environment was not something they could put on hold.

Working with children with complex emotional, behavioral and learning challenges, the administration at Walker (and other residential schools) was faced with both providing services and keeping students and staff safe.

New England Psychologist’s Catherine Robertson Souter spoke with Walker president and CEO Gene Takahashi, Ph.D, …

October 7th, 2020

Woodside’s fate remains up in the air

By New England Psychologist Staff

The fate of Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, Vermont’s only juvenile detention facility, is up in the air.

While state officials work to figure out what’s next for the embattled facility, there are no children housed at the 30-bed secure facility.

“There are no youth being served by the Woodside facility currently,” said Luciana DiRuocco, executive staff assistant, public information officer, for the state’s Department for Children and Families (DCF).

“We are currently using in- and out-of-state programs to serve the youth traditionally served by Woodside for the time being while we see if we can stand up a new program with approximately five beds for those youth that require this level of secure care,” she continued.…

May 6th, 2020

Pandemic affects everyone, especially autistic kids

By Eileen Weber

Coronavirus, or COVID-19 , has ground most of daily life to a halt for weeks. Small businesses are shut down. Children aren’t going to school. People are confined to their homes clinging tightly to toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Globally, there are more than two million cases of the virus with tens of thousands of deaths. The United States has hundreds of thousands of cases with hotspots in areas of New York and Massachusetts and growing pockets in the South and Midwest. But when it comes to issues surrounding the coronavirus, there is one thing that’s been largely overlooked: kids with autism.

April 19th, 2020

Vermont mental health services for children doubles in last two decades

By Eileen Weber

In the past two decades, the number of young people 18 and under accessing mental health services has doubled. A recent report showed that one in three children in the state experience at least one “adverse childhood experience” before age nine.

The report from Building Bright Futures, a non-profit organization in Vermont that monitors early care, health, and education systems for potential legislative policy improvements, explained that adverse childhood experiences, or ACES, typically involve living in a home that struggles to cover basic needs.

It can be anything from divorce to living with someone who has a substance abuse disorder or mental health challenge.…

October 10th, 2019

How to choose what age group with which to work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

For a psychologist just starting out or an established clinician looking to expand her practice or switch focus, the prospect of working with a different age group can be daunting. But, of course, there are plenty of others who have taken the path ahead of you and advice to follow.

The first step is to really think about what age group(s) you have a passion for working with on a day-to-day basis. From young children to adolescents, adults and seniors, there are benefits to working with each group and no one can say which is objectively “better.”…