Columnists, Articles

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

Black voices working in a predominately white field

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Within the field of psychology, there are very few Black professionals. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2015, only four percent of all psychologists were Black/African-American. Meanwhile, the general population of this country is just over 13 percent Black. How does that play out for Black psychologists, working in a field that is predominately white? What stressors are they seeing in patients and colleagues? Are there things that should be done to increase Black representation in the field? And, in these turbulent times, is there hope that social justice will prevail? Charmain Jackman, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist in [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]

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]

April 18th, 2020

Psychologist focuses on treating adversity in children

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The first years of a person’s life form the foundation for everything to follow. Those years of early childhood development can set the stage for later mental health and well-being or, unfortunately, the opposite. For clinical psychologist Jenessa Deleault Psy.D., working with children is more than a career, it is a calling, one that spoke to her from an early age when she worked for her mother’s daycare center. Trained in empirically-supported Child Parent Psychology (CPP), she currently works with Counseling Associates of MA and NH in their Bedford, NH, office where she specializes in children from birth to age [More]

March 26th, 2020

Boston Child Study Center had head start in rapid shift to 100% telehealth

By Janine Weisman

Prep work required for clinicians to deliver remote treatment effectively, founder says The coronavirus pandemic forced the temporary closure of many mental health treatment programs for high risk youth, leaving them without the structure, social interaction, and emotional support essential to recovery. The Boston Child Study Center was in a good position to bridge this gap. In January, 40 percent of patients served by its offices on Boylston Street and in Natick, Massachusetts, saw a therapist virtually and 60 percent of patients served by its Los Angeles office did. As part of the center’s shift to 100 percent telehealth delivery, [More]

March 5th, 2020

Study shows social media isn’t all negative — or positive

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Is social media helpful or harmful to our mental health? So far, the research has been “contradictory and inconclusive,” according to Mesfin A. Bekalu, Ph.D, a research scientist in the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Bekalu noted that this was his inspiration to conduct a study examining the effects of social media. The study, published in the journal Health Education & Behavior, found a more nuanced response: how individuals used social media had a significant impact on their mental health and social well-being. “In essence, we found that [it] is not [More]

January 5th, 2020

Hearing raises issue of parity, insurance rates

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As required by state law, the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) hosts a public hearing each year to talk about health care costs and trends. The 2019 hearing, held in October, focused on the number of residents covered by insurance and the state’s progress on mental health parity. Eireann Sibley NHID communications director noted that the hearings are for the public and regular attendees include insurance company representatives, providers, academics, health care advocates, and legislators. According to published reports culled from data submitted by health insurance companies, the uninsured rate in New Hampshire did not change drastically in 2018 from [More]

January 5th, 2020

Second coerced suicide case adds urgency to Conrad’s Law passage

By Phyllis Hanlon

Two recent cases of “coerced” suicide in Massachusetts prompted legislators to file a bill that would criminalize intimidating behavior and strong-arm tactics that cause another to commit suicide. In 2014, Michelle Carter encouraged her boyfriend Conrad Roy to take his own life. More recently, Inyoung You allegedly pressured Boston College student Alexander Urtula to kill himself. In July 2019, state representative Natalie M. Higgins, (D-Worcester’s 4th district) and Senator Barry R. Finegold (D-Second Essex and Middlesex) filed the bill, known as Conrad’s Law, as the judicial committee was wrapping up its session. “We want to make clear to the community [More]

January 5th, 2020

Survey: Mass shootings, healthcare among top stressors

By Susan Gonsalves

Healthcare, mass shootings and the 2020 election are among the top stressors for Americans according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Between August 1 and Sept. 2, 2019, the poll asked 3,617 adults to rate their level of stress as well as identify a variety of potential sources. Concerns about healthcare significantly affect about seven in 10 adults. More than half (64 percent) acknowledge that healthcare is stressing them out as least “sometimes.” Individuals with private insurance (71 percent) are more likely than those with public insurance (53 percent) to cite it as a stressor. Additionally, 55 percent [More]