Leading Stories, Articles

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]

January 5th, 2020

Feds investigate data breach at Maine’s Sweetser

By Janine Weisman

Hacking incidents on rise in health care in 2019 A week went by before anyone noticed some unusual activity in the email system of a Saco, Maine-based community mental health care agency last June. By the time email accounts were secured and a digital forensics investigation launched, the sensitive personal health information of 22,000 clients at Sweetser may have been accessed by hackers. The patient data breach Sweetser detected June 24, 2019, was limited to information transmitted via email and did not affect the system storing electronic health records, ac-cording to the agency’s spokeswoman, Susan Pierter. But the information may [More]

November 5th, 2019

Maine cracks down on vaping at schools

By Eileen Weber

A new law in Maine is cracking down on vaping by prohibiting tobacco, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes on school grounds. The law went into effect on September 19. One day later, the Bangor Daily News reported that the state had its first reported case of vaping-related illness. And, Centers for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah, MD, JD, made it clear that if you haven’t vaped yet, don’t start now. “People who do not vape should not start,” he said, “and people who do should seriously consider the health risks in using e-cigarette products.” According to Maine’s CDC, nearly four percent of [More]

November 4th, 2019

Maine and Conn. make top 10 list for best mental health care

By Janine Weisman

States with a high rate of access to mental health care tend to have low prevalence of mental illness, according to a new report ranking which states had the best overall mental health care in the country. QuoteWizard, a LendingTree company, analyzed data from Mental Health America to rank each state one to 50 as determined by a composite score of prevalence and access rankings. North Dakota ranked first while Maryland came in second and New Jersey was third. Each scored high for access to care and low for prevalence of mental illness. Nevada was at the very bottom behind [More]

August 26th, 2019

New Maine law requires a mental health evaluation to remove weapon

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Maine Governor Janet T. Mills recently signed a bill into law that requires a medical professional to confirm a person is a danger to themselves or others in order to temporarily take away their weapons. The bill passed in the Maine Senate 32 to 0, and 135 to 9 in the House of Representatives. This law is “unique because we were able to get both the gun rights and gun safety folks on the same page,” said Sen. Mike Carpenter (D-Houlton), who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Lisa Keim (R-Oxford). “All parties realized that people shouldn’t have guns at certain [More]

July 5th, 2019

ME legislation seeks community-based mental health task force

By Eileen Weber

Mentally ill patients often end up in emergency rooms, homeless shelters, or even jails instead of getting much needed psychiatric care. Senator Cathy Breen (D- ) Recently proposed legislation to address that problem. Breen’s bill calls for a community-based task force that would assess mental health needs before a patient ends up in a place without adequate psychiatric care. Local law enforcement is backing the legislation, hoping it will have an impact on the state’s incarceration rates. In a Senate press release, Breen, who serves as chair of the egislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, explained that the reason for [More]

November 10th, 2018

Maine to assess behavioral health services for children

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Looking to address issues of long wait times and limited access to mental health care, the state of Maine has initiated a system-wide assessment of its behavioral health services for children. With a series of surveys geared towards stakeholders including children and families, providers, law enforcement and corrections personnel, advocacy service providers, educators and behavioral health providers, the state hopes to gather a wide range of feedback about the system, its strengths and areas where corrections are needed. “The review will examine the service array, regulatory structure, and operational processes across Children’s Behavioral Health Services or CBHS,” said Emily Spencer, [More]

August 31st, 2018

Conversion therapy ban passes in New Hampshire, fails in Massachusetts and is vetoed in Maine

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In a movement that seems to be growing, a ban on mental health professionals providing conversion therapy for people under 18 has been signed into law in 15 states. There have been five bans this year alone. In June, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill banning the practice in that state. “There has been a real cultural shift,” said Shannon Bader, Ph.D, A.B.P.P., the legislative chair for the New Hampshire Psychological Association. “We were the 14th state with an outright ban.” Historically, conversion therapy has included everything from instruction on why and how to change to shaming the [More]

July 7th, 2018

ME Gov. LePage continues push for step-down unit in Bangor

By Janine Weisman

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s effort to build a privately run 21-bed stepdown unit for Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center on state land in Bangor has quietly resumed with a developer’s permit application filed with the Bangor Planning Board. Bangor Holdings LLC in Hermon submitted an application and site development plan on May 30 to build a one-story, 9,536 square foot secure forensic rehabilitation facility on State Hospital Drive on the grounds of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. Although the application sought a site review, Bangor Planning Officer David Gould said the proposed 2.32-acre site would need a conditional use permit [More]

May 14th, 2018

Mass. increases beds, facilities while other states remain stable

By Phyllis Hanlon

The psychiatric care landscape has shifted in recent years from an inpatient setting to community placement and back to in-hospital treatment. New England Psychologist surveyed the New England states to assess the current inpatient situation. Kathleen Remillard, public information officer (PIO) at New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the state has had no psychiatric unit closures in the past year. Rather, New Hampshire has gained 20 new transitional housing beds for patients recently released from New Hampshire Hospital or other designated receiving facilities. Vermont has also added 20 youth psychiatric beds; and four mobile crisis apartments [More]

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