Leading Stories, Articles

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]

August 18th, 2020

National survey measures pandemic’s emotional impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

After several months of quarantine, psychologists are eager to assess the emotional repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three psychologists teamed up to create a scale that evaluated mental health during this crisis and found both expected and some surprising results. Sarah Gray, Psy.D, director of outpatient rehabilitation psychology at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston, said, “As a health psychologist, the psychological effects of the pandemic in society and how that affects our patients is of particular interest to me.” Gray is also the founder/director, Integrative Psychology, PC in Arlington, Massachusetts. Gray explained that this national survey was developed “completely in reaction [More]

July 17th, 2020

A world turned upside down is also a time for new opportunities

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Online counseling services have gotten a big boost in the past few months, as the coronavirus pandemic closed down much of the face-to-face world. In fact, the only way for most to do psychotherapy during this time was either via some sort of teleconferencing or online therapy service, or going old-school and using just the phone. (You shouldn’t be using email to do therapy, because it is insecure). Unbeknownst to many, online counseling is now in its third decade. It got its start in the mid-1990s as a way of offering therapy services to people who would otherwise not get [More]

July 15th, 2020

Research on implicit bias is core of John Dovidio’s work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Most Americans would reject being labelled racist. Yet, study after study, and incident after incident, show how deeply racism is ingrained in our society, from far higher rates of COVID-19 deaths and fatal police shootings to lower overall college graduation rates for Blacks as compared to whites in this country. At the Yale University Intergroup Relations Lab, a team of researchers led by director John Dovidio, Ph.D, the Hovland professor of psychology and public health at Yale, has been looking at the idea of implicit bias over the past several decades. Starting from the premise that everyone does have some [More]

July 14th, 2020

States look at mental health beyond the pandemic

By Phyllis Hanlon

To date, the COVID-19 virus has exacted a tremendous toll on the nation’s economy, uncovered serious flaws in the health care systems, brought long-standing systemic racism to the forefront, and disrupted everyday life. Of paramount importance are the potential long-term effects on psychological well-being. The New England states are taking measures to help ameliorate any adverse effects once the pandemic begins to wane. According to Jessica Pollard, Ph.D, director of Maine’s Office of Behavioral Health, her state has operated a number of crisis phone lines for several years. In response to COVID-19 , Maine set up a “Warmline,” a resource [More]

July 14th, 2020

COVID-19 means different approach to Stress in America survey

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) has been gauging the nation’s attitudes and perception of stress with its annual Stress in America survey. “Every year, we take a look at what is causing stress among U.S. adults, how they are managing or failing to manage their stress and how that stress impacts their lives, relationships, work and health,” said Sophie Bethune, APA’s director of Strategic Communications Initiatives. She added that the results of the survey highlight the serious physical and emotional implications of stress. “By drawing attention to stress, we are able to start a conversation about emotional and behavioral [More]

July 14th, 2020

Research examines link between COVID-19 & racial disparity

By Eileen Weber

A number of studies have shown a disturbing trend in this pandemic: more people of color have contracted and died from coronavirus than other demographics. In May, a study conducted by Yale School of Medicine parsed the available data on race and ethnicity to show a disparity among people who contract coronavirus. Based on their findings, Blacks were 3.57 times more likely to die from the disease and Hispanics were nearly 1.9 times more likely than whites. Cary Gross, MD, professor of medicine at Yale and co-author of the study, said it’s impossible to determine whether access to health care, [More]

July 14th, 2020

COVID-19 changes in training lead to access improvement

By New England Psychologist Staff

In late March, the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) decided to revise what counts toward clinical psychology graduate student training hours, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The APPIC change now allows students to include telehealth services, which includes therapy and assessment via video or phone, in their log of hours. Given that it is recommended that students complete approximately 800 hours of clinical activities before applying for internship, this is an important and positive change for psychology graduate students and the population as whole. Here’s why. First, clear guidelines are now provided for which specific modalities [More]

June 26th, 2020

Domestic violence helpline callers are just trying to manage

By Janine Weisman

Numbers don’t tell the whole story when it comes to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rates of domestic and family violence. Calls to SafeLink — Massachusetts’ statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-877-785-2020 — initially decreased about a third and then ramped back up in April and May to about 90 percent of what they were pre-pandemic, according to Casa Myrna, Boston’s largest provider of domestic violence shelter and supportive services. Maine’s domestic violence resource centers also saw an initial decline in helpline calls and reach-outs when COVID-19 hit. Then, requests for emergency shelter were significantly down through the [More]

June 4th, 2020

Why Suicide Prevention Advocates Right Now Don’t Despair

By Janine Weisman

Mental health infrastructure has come a long way since 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. Social isolation, a key strategy to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 , is considered a significant risk factor for suicidality. So school closures, mandated face masks, and bans on large gatherings along with the most rapid change in the employment sector ever recorded in the U.S. have led to growing dread that suicide rates might rise. But is an increase in the suicide rate inevitable? Not according to Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW, a nationally recognized leader in the field of suicide prevention. “I think it’s really important [More]