Columnists, Articles

July 11th, 2021

The end of the pandemic

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

At least here in New England, the end of the pandemic is in sight. Masks are no longer needed, and there’s a certain sense of relief that perhaps the worst is behind us.

Like many Americans, I feel like we’ve come to the end of our generation’s shared hardship experience. While not as traumatic or needing of self-sacrifice as other hardships in our country’s modern past, it nonetheless feels like we went through something difficult together.

The past year has been especially difficult on school-aged children and young adults. Attending my nephew’s high school graduation, the graduates seemed none the worse for wear.…

July 9th, 2021

U.S. workers not so keen on heading back to the office

By Eileen Weber

Slowly, a glimmer of what life was like before the pandemic is starting to emerge. Mask mandates are being lifted, there is more relaxed social distancing, and people are returning to the office. But not everyone is eager to resume their lengthy commute only to stare at the inside of a cubical again.

In a March 2021 report, the American Psychological Association noted the health concerns that many people have surrounding this return to “normal.”

While the survey showed things like nearly two thirds of Americans gained significant weight, had sleeping problems, added stress and mental health issues, and canceled health care services, it also addressed post-pandemic sentiment.…

June 26th, 2021

Advocates, legislators address children’s mental health crisis

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The true toll of this pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents may take decades to fully understand. Young people can be resilient but the academic and social milestones missed may have repercussions across their lifespans that are not yet visible.

With more acute issues of mental health, the effects are being felt in the here and now. Across the United States, mental health-related visits to emergency rooms rose 24 percent for children ages 5-11 and 31 percent for adolescents 12-17 in 2020, as compared with 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.…

April 13th, 2021

Do psychologists have unique role in helping country heal?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

With the near-universal hardships and losses of the pandemic that have affected us all in some way, Americans are feeling stress and anxiety across the board. Yet, rather than reach out and support each other, some are losing their ability to come together because of political and social differences. These issues have destroyed friendships and decimated family bonds.

A lot of conversations online and in the media center on how to mend relationships. It’s an area where psychologists may have special ability to use their skills and create new pathways for dealing with opposing viewpoints, said Jennie M.…

April 13th, 2021

COVID-19 is impacting pediatric mental health

By Phyllis Hanlon

Research clearly demonstrates that the pandemic is having a significant negative effect on the younger generation.

A November 2020 article, “Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations,” found both short-term and long-term “psychosocial and mental health implications” in this population. The article was published in Psychiatry Research.

The authors noted that severity of the impact is subject to certain vulnerability factors including developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health conditions, low economic status, and quarantine because of or fear of infection.…

April 13th, 2021

Drug overdoses rise but NH’s death rate dips slightly

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused more than half a million deaths in the United States. Sadly, those direct results of the virus may not tell the whole story.

Across the United States, drug overdose deaths increased nearly 20 percent in the 12-month period ending last June, with a noticeable spike occurring during the early months of the Covid-19 shutdown.

These figures, provided by the Centers for Disease Control, represented the highest number of fatal overdoses ever recorded in the U.S. in a single year.

Throughout New England, the rates of death have seen an increase in the past year in every state except for one.…

April 13th, 2021

College students feel the mental health toll of pandemic

By Eileen Weber

In the past year, the pandemic has taken a significant mental and emotional toll. Mask wearing, social distancing, isolation, and quarantining are practically second nature. And, none of this is lost on college students who have had a very different school experience since last March.

Jacqueline Alvarez, Ph.D, associate dean and director of the counseling center at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., acknowledged increased depression and anxiety in college students has been a top concern for the past several years and it’s no different this year. But as she put it, “it’s complicated.”…

April 12th, 2021

Survey: Households with children reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

By Eileen Weber

Since last March, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation are simply commonplace. What initially was presumed to be a shutdown for a few weeks has been prolonged into a year. People of all ages are experiencing the effects of the lack of normalcy. But children, adolescents, and young adults in particular are showing the strain.

In an American Medical Association podcast in mid-February, Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A., discussed the mental health issues resulting from the pandemic. In her estimation, it’s necessary to have serious conversations—and serious action—about what she called “COVID fatigue” or “hitting the wall.”…

April 12th, 2021

Psychologists ponder the future of their profession

By Phyllis Hanlon

When the COVID-19 virus invaded the United States last year, life as we knew it changed dramatically. For many psychologists, this shift prompted changes to the way they practiced.

According to John F. Todaro, Ph.D., clinical associate professor in Brown University’s department of psychiatry and human behavior, many psychologists shifted to telehealth-based therapy within a couple of weeks following the pandemic-induced lockdown.

Todaro, also clinical psychologist and director at Providence Behavioral Health Associates, feels for the most part that psychological therapy via a virtual platform has proven to be effective for a range of patients.…

April 12th, 2021

Data shows pandemic as ‘collective traumatic experience’

By New England Psychologist Staff

A year’s worth of data on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic has found that 40 to 50 percent of the general population is showing clinical levels of depression. “Which is what we’d expect,” said clinical psychologist Luana Marques, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

Marques is also the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Massachusetts General Hospital Research Scholar 2020-2025.

“Think about COVID-19 as a collective traumatic experience with a real threat,” she says. “And that threat is intensified by the economic turndown and other factors, such as systemic racism that were uncovered by the pandemic.”…