General

Got Insurance? You’re Going to Have a Frustrating Wait for Rationed Mental Health Care

Yet again, insurance companies are getting away with rationing mental health care in America and treating mental disorders unequally when compared to physical conditions. And nobody seems to be listening -- or care.

We thought we had this problem licked with the historic passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, a law that banned insurance companies from discriminating against people with mental illness.

Unfortunately, insurance companies just found new ways to deny patients care for their mental health conditions -- through rationing access to service providers.

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General

Asylum Was Once a Place of Safe Haven, Part 3

This is part 3 of the series "Asylum Was Once a Place of Safe Haven." Don't miss Part 1 and Part 2 too.

The Future of Therapy and Recovery



There is not a one track solution to this problem. Various schools of thought will need to come together to thoroughly evaluate the best ways to make high quality care affordable and accessible. The World Health Organization promotes ways for institutions to integrate mental health services into primary health care, aiming to raise...
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Creativity

Asylum Was Once a Place of Safe Haven, Part 2

This is part 2 of the series "Asylum Was Once a Place of Safe Haven." Don't miss Part 1.

Hear the Rattle and Click as the Door Slams Home. Welcome to Prison.


Without true understanding of how many people were touched by mental illness and what actions needed to be taken to help care for their personal welfare upon release from healthcare facilities, a concurrent rise in homelessness and surge of patients into correctional facilities began to unfold. (11) In a 2013 report to Congress...
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General

Asylum Was Once a Place of Safe Haven, Part 1

If you go into your internet browser’s search bar and type in the word “asylum,” a host of terrifying images of dirty hallways, rusty beds, and screaming faces will pop up. Let’s face it -- asylum is mostly known as a negative word, a place where unspeakable things occur in the movies that keep us awake at night. Regardless of its roots in providing protective safe haven, the concept of asylum receives a bad reputation mostly because of historical documentation of the awful and dehumanizing conditions of psychiatric hospitals.

"It's not easy to talk about. You don't want people to think you're 'nuts' when everyone in there is not nuts," Ann explains while sipping a cup of coffee. "During certain stays I had dignity, but there was one hospital where there were bed bugs all over. They had to keep changing my sheets and the staff would come in to clean them out of the lights." Now in her fifties, Ann has experienced many years of hospital stays at different institutions while combating major depressive disorder (MDD).
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Children and Teens

ER Beds for Kids Lacking, But School Programs Can Help

Everyone who is a front line clinician in an emergency room (ER) knows the hard reality of the lack of psychiatric services available. Discharging someone from an ER into inpatient mental health treatment is virtually nonexistent for adults. For kids, the situation is usually far worse.

The good news is that if we focus more on preventative care in school -- helping kids and preschoolers long before they have a full-blown diagnosis -- we may be able to stop them from ever having to use an emergency room. All we need do is start making mental health a funding priority for both the states and the federal government.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Martha’s Story: TMS Offers an Alternative to Medication & Electroconvulsive Therapy

I haven’t read many paragraphs that articulate depression as accurately as this one, in Martha Rhodes’s riveting memoir, 3000 Pulses Later:

At that moment, my pain felt equal to -- if not even more than -- what I imagined any physical illness could pose. The constant anxiety, sadness, fear, and despair strangled me. I felt inexorably alone and as if I were dying a slow death of emotional asphyxiation. I may not have been diagnosed with incurable cancer of a vital organ, but I knew I was in the throes of battle with what felt like cancer of the soul.

It appears in her “Medication Merry-Go-Around” chapter right after she lists all the drugs that she's tried, but which failed to give her any relief.
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Brain and Behavior

Why I Prescribe Pokemon Go for My Patients

This week, the parent of one of my patients asked me about Pokémon Go. She was concerned with her child’s obsession and felt like this could lead to social or emotional problems.

Electronics, as with most things, are good in moderation -- but Pokémon Go isn’t your average video game. Unlike games that keep people glued to the couch, Pokémon Go requires people to get up, move around, and interact with others. What that means to me as a child psychiatrist is that it comes with a variety of health benefits. Exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the rest of the body. I’ve seen people walking, riding their bikes, and finding more excuses to get outside because of Pokémon Go.

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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: September 17, 2016


Before you run off to enjoy the last weekend of summer, take some time to enjoy the seriously random mix of mental health news and stories I've found for you this week!

Read on to take a look at data on how psychiatric drug advertising affects prescriptions, a study related to how writing down your dreams and goals increases your chances of achieving them, reviews on various self-help books for pet parents (you read...
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Disorders

Psychology Around the Net: August 20, 2016


A few weeks ago, my beau and I decided to tackle a huge home improvement project together.

According to Amy Kipp, a couples and family therapist in San Antonio, "Working through the ups and downs of a big project helps you hone your communication skills [...] The sense of accomplishment and teamwork that results from a challenging shared experience strengthens a couple’s bond. (Her quote is featured in 7 Relationship Milestones That Are Just as Meaningful as Marriage.)

Thus, it seems working on this project is a way to strengthen our relationship. This project is not an improvement our home needs (i.e. we're not renovating a bathroom with a leaky toilet and busted shower tiles); it's an improvement we -- as the homeowners -- want (basically, we're a large part of our backyard into a sort of outdoor oasis). As such, creative ideas are flying everywhere. We have both collective and separate visions, and we're working to combine those visions while making sure each of us is happy.

We haven't thrown any paint brushes at each other yet, so I'd say we're succeeding so far.

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Bipolar

Ode to the Duke

I saw my shrink today. I call him “The Duke.”

We had a perfectly fine half-hour meeting. He wrote me some scripts and listened to my current take on my life. Mainly, we talked about my son Tommy’s fear of entering sixth grade. The Duke warned me that the junior high years are awful and to brace myself. The Duke is a straight shooter. At the end of the appointment, I asked him how he thought I was doing.

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Disorders

Video: What’s in a Label? Pros and Cons of the DSM

A recent proposal to remove transgender identity from the ICD, the World Health Organization's manual of medical conditions, has reignited the debate over what should and shouldn't be a mental health diagnosis.
Many feel that classifying transgender identity as a disorder is unnecessarily stigmatizing. Others argue that leaving it as a recognized medical diagnosis has practical benefits. For example, as a New York Times article on the controversy points out, classifying...
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