mental health

Some North Country Health officials told Gov. Hassan Thursday that increasing funding for psychiatric services and expanding Medicaid are vital for improving healthcare in the region.

Hassan met with workers at Ammonoosuc Community Health Services in Littleton.

Its executive director, Edward Shanshala, told Hassan it is good that she restored funding for primary preventive care.

And he is hopeful that Medicaid will be expanded to help low-income families in the North Country who can’t afford health insurance.

Whether it’s the debate over expanding Medicaid or the struggle to improve mental health services, his department has seen its share of challenges lately, but did receive a bit of a boost in the last budget.  We’ll talk with the commissioner about all this, and  controversy over the state’s Medicaid managed care plan.

Guest:

- Nick Toumpas - Commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

ADHD On The Rise

Jul 24, 2013

Almost one-in-ten New Hampshire children is diagnosed with some type of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, putting us around the middle of the pack nationally.  But those numbers may rise  as New England and New Hampshire show a particular predilection toward labeling our kids with ADHD.    These expected increases have once again raised a long, ongoing conversation here about what this disorder is, and what it isn’t, about whether too many children are diagnosed or if some kids in some demographic groups are under-diagnosed. And what about the role of drugs?

A Laconia man was arraigned today in District Court on 2nd degree murder charges stemming from an incident over the weekend. 19-year old Kasey Riley is accused of strangling Zachary March inside apartments run by Genesis Behavioral Health. Genesis provides support to residents, but not 24-hour monitoring at the facility.

Governor Hassan today announced the reopening of 12 psychiatric beds at New Hampshire Hospital. They'll be used to treat adults over the age of 55 in need of both psychiatric help and medical attention, and are meant to shore up a mental health system that the Governor calls deeply strained.

Virginia Guard Public Affairs Flickr Creative Commons

We spoke with Mac McClelland about the spread of the invisible disorder that somewhere between 100 and 300-thousand veterans brought back from war …trauma. “Secondary traumatic stress” does not have its own entry in the DSM, and is often called compassion fatigue, a more euphemistic title. Sufferers experience PTSD symptoms, but are often faced with even more hurtles than veterans when seeking help. The important difference people see between the victims of PTSD and secondary traumatic stress is that the latter’s trauma was not originally their own. Mac McClelland wrote an article for Mother Jones’ about the phenomenon of secondary traumatic stress and its affect on the families of returned soldiers. She’s also working on a book about PTSD.

Diagnosing Depression

Mar 20, 2013

A recent article in the Concord Monitor outlines the often-hidden but serious problem of this mental illness. An estimated one-in-ten Americans have this disease and have to deal with not only the symptoms, but managing the health care system and the stigma around depression. We’ll look at this issue and how it’s addressed in New Hampshire. 

Guests

Mental Health Math Doesn't Add Up For Hospitals

Feb 21, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

In the 1950s, the state psychiatric hospital in Concord was home to about 2,500 adults. The manicured campus had it all, including a golf course, barber shop, skating rink.

“For some folks, they talk about those days like some of us talk about going to college," says Ken Norton, Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Hampshire (NAMI-NH).

“There was bowling and movie theaters and different events at night. They had their friends there and they were very used to the way that the hospital functioned.”

Later this week 110 members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard will mobilize in support of combat operations in Afghanistan. The 237th Military Police Company will train in Texas for several months before departing to Khost Province.

77 of the soldiers are deploying for the first time. But others are on their second and third; one is one his fifth deployment.

It’s those repeated deployments that have been a signature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and a researcher at UNH, they could take a toll on servicemembers’ families.

Mental Health Advocates Push For $37M In Funding

Jan 15, 2013

Advocates for the state’s mental health centers say the state hasn’t lived up to its own plan to improve services in the state. And this week, they’re calling for more than $37 million in increased funding to support a stretched system.

The state’s 10-year plan, called ‘A Strategy For Restoration,’ came out in 2008. It called for major investments in the state’s mental health system, and was hailed as a great step forward. But 5 years into the initiative, advocates say the state has actually slid backwards.

The recent and somewhat controversial changes to the manual to diagnose mental illness, also known as the DSM-5, will become official later this spring. Edits to the manual are based around an evolving understanding of mental disorders, which historically, haven’t always been accurate. A shocking diagnosis took hold at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, when thousands of young black men were arrested at protests and sent to the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Michigan, where they were systematically diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Though it’s unclear what motivated the shootings, many say mental health care can be a line of defense in preventing tragedies. But in the Granite State, these services have been cut and a new report says the system is in “crisis”. As part of a three day series on possible lessons from Newtown, we look at the conversation around mental health.

Guests

Advocates for mental health services say the state’s plan to re-open 12 beds at New Hampshire Hospital doesn’t go far enough to improve care. Representatives from more than a dozen organizations gathered today in Concord, and described a system stretched beyond its limits.

And they want New Hampshire lawmakers to know that no other medical condition gets treated this way.

tifotter via Flickr Creative Commons

Andrew Beaujon is senior online reporter for the Poynter institute. He talked to a number of health reporters about how they think mental health coverage is being handled post-Newtown, and he joins us with his findings.

Thomas Fearon

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to temporarily reopen 12 beds at the state’s psychiatric hospital.

The state now needs to find more than $2 million to cover the cost.

Mental health advocates say the plan to add beds at New Hampshire Hospital is an encouraging first step in addressing long waiting lists for treatment.

But Ken Norton with the state chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill says there is still much work to be done.

Deval Patrick's Photostream via Flickr

Treatment of the mentally ill has come a long way from the dark, locked wards of asylums now shuttered and crumbling in several New England towns. We now know much more about the brain, psychopharmacology and the importance of community for people suffering with profound mental conditions.

As schools continue to mainstream children with disabilities, students with emotional and behavioral disabilities  may be the toughest to include.  They’re less likely to graduate and more likely to get arrested.  And there are questions about how to approach these kids – whether it’s a matter of more discipline or alternative methods.  We look at this issue and discuss a new documentary that takes a look at the topic through the life of a high school student coping with these disabilities.  

Guests:

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

New Hampshire is denying claims made by the U-S Department of Justice that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a formal response to the findings Tuesday.

The U-S Department of Justice concluded in April that the state was violating federal law in the way it treats the mentally ill.

It criticized the state for failing to provide adequate community-based services, leading to prolonged stays at the state hospital.

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