General, Articles

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]

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

NH’s legislation addresses mental health needs

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

In 2008, New Hampshire developed a plan to address mental health needs in the state. However, because of the recession, “not a single thing happened,” said Rep. James MacKay (Merrimack, District 14), a retired social worker and chair of the New Hampshire House Subcommittee on Mental Health, Addiction, and Recovery.  Last January, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with input from focus groups, workgroups, and public sessions, released a new, more comprehensive plan. Unlike the previous plan, this 10-year plan considers the needs of both adults and children. A major objective is to increase the number of “designated receiving [More]

March 25th, 2019

Gen Z’s worries highlighted in annual stress survey

By Susan Gonsalves

Generation Z, individuals ages 15 to 21, feel stressed out about ripped-from-the- headlines topics like school and mass shootings, sexual assault, and immigration according to the annual Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association. The Harris Poll was conducted last summer online among 3,458 adults and 300 15 to 17-year-olds in all 50 states. Although 75 percent of Gen Z members found mass shootings `significantly’ stressful and 72 percent felt that way about school shootings, those kids of voting age were least likely to vote at 54 percent. The overall average had seven in 10 adults expecting to [More]

March 11th, 2019

Survey: Access to mental health, substance use disorder care is a challenge for Massachusetts adults

By Susan Gonsalves

Data from the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey showed that 56.8 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 who sought help for mental health or substance abuse disorders experienced difficulties obtaining care. The problems included finding a provider who would see them at all or getting an appointment in a timely manner when it was needed. As a result, more than one-third of those adults went without help and 12.7 percent visited an emergency department to address those issues. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and Urban Institute collected the information using data from a random telephone survey involving 2,201 [More]

March 11th, 2019

Physician burnout not as prevalent for psychologists?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In January, several healthcare organizations in Massachusetts took the unusual step of declaring a public health crisis over the rising rates of “burnout” among physicians. In a paper published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the group outlines both the concerns and proposed directives for addressing the problem. According to the paper, nearly half of physicians in one survey experienced symptoms of burnout including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced feelings of professional accomplishment. The paper also pointed to research that burnout may [More]

January 5th, 2019

Where is the leadership in Mass. compensation debate?

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Psychologists in Massachusetts are letting down their fellow citizens, as more and more clinical psychologists refuse to accept traditional health insurance for payment. In an in-depth article in the Oct. 21, 2018 issue of the Boston Globe, Liz Kowalczyk details the challenges citizens in Massachusetts face in getting psychological care through their insurance provider or through the government’s Medicaid program. The typical finger-pointing ensues in the article, with insurance companies and Medicaid claiming they are paying market rates ($72 for a 45-minute session) while trying to cut back on burdensome paperwork costs. Psychologists and other therapists claim it’s still not [More]