Leading Stories, Articles

November 4th, 2019

ACLU-NH lawsuit seeks due process for ER patients waiting for beds

By Catherine Robertson Souter

According to state law in New Hampshire, individuals held against their will because of a mental health crisis must be provided a hearing before a judge to determine if they present a risk to others or themselves. That hearing must happen within three days of the signing of an Involuntary Emergency Admission. However, because of a shortage of beds in the state’s psychiatric care facilities, people are often held in emergency rooms until a space opens up. And the mandated hearings are only offered at psychiatric facilities. The result is that some patients are being held, against their will, in [More]

August 26th, 2019

New Hampshire expands MAT program

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2015, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (NHDOC) has had a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program in place in its facilities to help those with substance and alcohol use problems maintain abstinence. The success of that program, as well as others in New England, prompted the department to expand its existing coverage. Laura Montenegro, NHDOC’s public information officer, explained that the expansion of the MAT program kicked off in June at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility (NNHCF) in Berlin and will expand to two other facilities in the near future. A licensed drug and alcohol counselor and a medical [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]

May 28th, 2019

New Hampshire organization uses peer approach to provide kinship, hope

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

One of the worst parts about struggling with mental illness is the loneliness. You feel like you’re the only person on the planet to suffer with these symptoms or stressors. You feel like you’re abnormal, inherently wrong, or “other.” So, when someone truly listens to you, cares, and says “me, too,” it can be transformative. People who have felt alone their entire lives can find connection and purpose, said Peter Starkey, executive director of the Monadnock Area Peer Support Agency (MPS) in Keene, New Hampshire. MPS is one of 10 agencies of this type across the state. Staff was involved [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]

January 7th, 2019

Outreach program assists children exposed to trauma

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Realizing that more must be done to reach out to children who have witnessed traumatic events, representatives from several agencies joined in Manchester NH to craft a unique outreach program. Launched two years ago, ACERT, or the Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team, has experienced some amazing results. Several times each week, a member of the Manchester Police Department, a crisis service advocate from the Manchester YWCA and a community health worker from the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) head out to knock on doors of homes where children were exposed to trauma. The plan, said program founding partner Lara Quiroga, [More]

October 1st, 2018

Collaboration results in enrichment program for kids

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Shortridge Academy, a private co-ed therapeutic boarding school in Milton, New Hampshire, recently announced a unique enrichment program being offered to its students. As part of a community outreach effort, the school has partnered with Granite State Adaptive Sports, a non-profit organization that provides a variety of physical activities for people with disabilities. In the program, a select group of students from the school are given an opportunity to work with Granite State’s clients, coaching and guiding them in various sports. Granite State works with people from age three and up who have physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities as well [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]

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]

May 10th, 2018

Transitional housing bridges gap for people with mental illness

By Eileen Weber

For a number of years, New Hampshire Hospital, the only psychiatric hospital in the state, has been massively overcrowded with too many patients and not enough beds. Patients had little choice but to leave the hospital only to find themselves living on the streets or seeking treatment in already crowded emergency rooms. “There needs to be an array of treatment that used to exist,” said Ken Norton, M.D., executive director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Right now, when patients are discharged, there’s very little step-down.” That’s starting to change. Legislation was recently passed [More]