General, Articles

August 27th, 2019

Cancer in the LGBTQ community: RI summit addresses treatment barriers

By Phyllis Hanlon

This June, the 13th annual summit, Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, focused on “…significant disparities in awareness, prevention and treatment” for those in the LGBTQ community. While cancer may induce mental health challenges in any patient, those in the LGBTQ community experience increased psychological stress and face unique barriers to appropriate care. Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, FASCO, director of Women’s Cancers, Lifespan Cancer Institute and director of Medical Oncology, explained that one of the biggest barriers for the LGBTQ community is cancer screening. He reported that most LBGTQ people do not feel welcome in a standard medical [More]

May 28th, 2019

R.I. bill to mandate suicide prevention training for school staff faces quiet hurdles

By Janine Weisman

On the first day of spring, they came to the Rhode Island Statehouse. Many were students from Portsmouth High School who formed the suicide prevention group Every Student Initiative. They were there to support a bill before the House Committee of Health, Education and Welfare. The bill was called The Nathan Bruno and Jason Flatt Act. Bruno, 15, a Portsmouth High School sophomore, died on Feb. 7, 2018. Flatt died on July 16, 1997, at age 16 in Nashville, Tennessee. The proposed legislation that bears their names would establish mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention training for all public school [More]

August 28th, 2018

RI police group concerned about mental health training

By Eileen Weber

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association backed late-session legislation in June that attempted to overturn a 2016 law requiring mental health training for police officers. Complying with the National Council of Behavioral Health’s flagship program, Mental Health First Aid USA, it teaches the skills to recognize mental illness, helps assess the risks, and connect individuals with the necessary care. “Mental health training is targeted in how to respond and deescalate the situation,” said Beth Lamarre, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Rhode Island. With nearly two million mentally ill individuals booked into jails every year, 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]

April 6th, 2018

Proposal to tax video games dropped by legislator

By Eileen Weber

With every school shooting, the conversation linking violence and video games resurfaces. The latest incident in Parkland, Florida was no exception. In some circles, video games were once again the suspected culprit. But, are they inextricably intertwined with violent crime? Shortly after the Florida shooting, Rhode Island Representative Robert Nardolillo (R-Coventry) proposed legislation taxing violent video games that are rated “mature” or higher using the subsequent revenue to fund school mental health counseling. He cited evidence that exposure to violence in young children indicates a likelier tendency toward aggressive behavior. Congressman Tom MacArthur (R) of New Jersey agreed with Nardolillo’s [More]

March 5th, 2018

Lawmakers seek to strengthen parity in Rhode Island

By Pamela Berard

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering several proposals to strengthen mental healthcare and substance use disorder treatment. Among budget items Gov. Gina M. Raimondo included in her proposal to the state General Assembly in mid-January, are: The creation of an acute mental health crisis center to help people navigate urgent mental health and substance use disorder crises and facilitate better connections to ongoing mental healthcare resources; The development of a benchmarking study under the leadership of the state Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC), to benchmark under-investment in mental healthcare and provide recommendations about investments/policies for improving mental health provided [More]