Leading Stories, Articles

April 19th, 2020

Bill aims to improve access and boost workforce

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a unanimous vote, the Massachusetts Senate recently passed a mental health-focused bill designed to bring sweeping changes to the way care is delivered across the state. Known as the Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care, the bill outlines new approaches to mental health parity, access to care and to improving, supporting and increasing the mental health workforce. The bill is being touted as a breakthrough in creating a system designed to better meet the mental health care needs of the state’s 6.9 million residents. “For far too long, mental health has been a forgotten component of our [More]

January 4th, 2020

VT legislators seek to close gap in criminal justice, mental health systems

By Phyllis Hanlon

Earlier this year, three high-profile criminal cases were dropped when Vermont’s attorney general deemed the defendants insane at the time the crimes were committed. The ruling drew questions about the way the state handles criminal cases involving people with mental illness. To address this issue, lawmakers proposed legislation to bridge the gap. State Senator Richard Sears (D-Bennington County and Wilmington) reported that the bill is still in the draft stage and is the result of collaboration with several other senators and the office of states attorneys. “I expect once introduced in January both Senate Judiciary and Senate Health and Welfare [More]

January 4th, 2020

Can you gig it?

By Janine Weisman

It depends on the state where a psychologist lives Make your own hours. Choose your own patients. Keep records the way you want to. The advantage of being an independent contractor is maintaining control over the work you do. That’s why the California Psychological Association declared victory when psychologists in that state were exempted from a new law making it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors instead of traditional employees who receive Internal Revenue Service W2 statements from their employers. Physicians, podiatrists, and dentists are also exempt from the law set to take effect January 1, [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 4th, 2019

CT bill holds insurance companies accountable

By Eileen Weber

Connecticut’s House of Representatives recently approved a bill requiring insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at the same level as physical health. Taking a step further, House Bill 7125, known as An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits, also requires insurance companies to submit annual documentation to prove their compliance with the legislation. Representative Sean Scanlon, (D-Guilford/Branford), chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, led the House in May to a unanimous vote. The legislation is awaiting action in the Senate. This bill is the second iteration of an earlier version that didn’t [More]

March 25th, 2019

Draft of 10-year mental health plan release

By Catherine Robertson Souter

New Hampshire may soon see a major overhaul geared toward bringing the state’s mental health care system back to its former glory. For a system that has gone from being second in the country in 1990 as rated by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), to earning a D in a revised rating system in 2006, the announcement of a 10-year mental health plan was received with bated breath by stakeholders across the state. With input from residents, professionals, and focus groups, workgroups, and public sessions, the draft plan introduced in November begins by outlining the challenges faced [More]

March 11th, 2019

Legislation provides mental health support for first responders

By New England Psychologist Staff

First responders to emergencies have a heavy burden to bear and often do not ask for emotional support. Massachusetts recently passed a law specifically to help this population. Senator Michael Moore (D-Second Worcester District) was instrumental in passing legislation for mental health services for first responders. It highlights the mental trauma related to specific events on the job. The bill went into effect on January 16 and applies to firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers. “When you respond to a fire or a baby dies and you’re trying to save them,” he explained. “I don’t know how you wouldn’t take [More]

August 28th, 2018

Gender identity added to NH anti-discrimination law

By Pamela Berard

Discrimination in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity is now prohibited in New Hampshire. House Bill 1319 was signed into law in June and added gender identity to the state’s existing anti-discrimination legislation, along with age, sex, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, and sexual origin. The legislation defines gender identity as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be [More]

March 5th, 2018

Lawmakers seek to strengthen parity in Rhode Island

By Pamela Berard

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering several proposals to strengthen mental healthcare and substance use disorder treatment. Among budget items Gov. Gina M. Raimondo included in her proposal to the state General Assembly in mid-January, are: The creation of an acute mental health crisis center to help people navigate urgent mental health and substance use disorder crises and facilitate better connections to ongoing mental healthcare resources; The development of a benchmarking study under the leadership of the state Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC), to benchmark under-investment in mental healthcare and provide recommendations about investments/policies for improving mental health provided [More]