Sunday, December 6, 2009

Therapists as financial planners?

Our seemingly never-ending recession has enabled a robust discussion of money's impact on mental health. In my own practice, understanding my clients' financial status has become as essential as knowing who lives in the household with them. After all, every one of us lives with money.
The University of Georgia and Kansas State University have escalated the conversation by studying "Financial Therapy," blending psychotherapy and financial planning. Today's story from the Associated Press provides a good overview.
It has long been a standard of care in treating couples, for instance, that the therapist at least be aware of their financial situation. So when the AP author writes that, "Experts say therapists are taught to look for mental health causes for problems, not monetary ones, and haven't traditionally learned how to help their clients budget or reduce debt," she gets it only half right. Therapists aren't financial planners and, I'm guessing, many of my colleagues would bristle at the suggestion that they become such.
Putting aside any personal aversion to math and economics, practicing these dual counseling roles, even with the requisite training and certification, could dramatically alter the therapeutic conversation to make it counter-therapeutic. How much unconditional positive regard -- the cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship -- can one experience while their spending is being cut?
Financial therapy is an interesting concept, but I think we're better off to refer our money-troubled clients out to a qualified financial planner.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

October's Mental Health Awareness Activities

October is a busy month in the field of mental health. October 4-10 is Mental Illness Awareness Week which means a variety of activities nationwide, many of them sponsored by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It is also the week of National Depression Screening Day on October 8, sponsored by Screening for Mental Health.
The NAMI-sponsored events include their fundraising NAMIWALKS in cities throughout the country. Some NAMI chapters such as Orange County, CA, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Utah, Montana, and Brown County, WI got their walks off to an early start on September 26. The vast majority are held October 3-10. NAMI publishes a complete list of Walks here.
Meanwhile, on National Depression Screening Day, members of the public can attend an event, get information on disorders such as depressin, anxiety and PTSD, and take a free assessment for depression, speak with a mental health professional and obtain referrals. For a screening site near you, visit Screening for Mental Heath's site listing.Sphere: Related Content

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wisconsin county may create psychiatric emergency center

Faced with cuts in social services and mental health staff, Dane County in Wisconsin will be the latest to join the rising tide of localities creating psychiatric emergency centers.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, County Executive Kathleen Falk will include a 12-bed Crisis Care Stabilization Center in her 2010 budget. The center would cost about $595,000 per year to operate, as compared to the $4.36 million in costs between two area hospitals treating individuals with mental illness.
"It's kind of comparable to the detox model in alcohol where you stabilize people for a day or several weeks," Falk said. "But the whole idea is to move them back into the community or a different care setting."
The model for the new center will likely by the successful Jackson House in Janesville, WI.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

New York violated mental health consumers' rights, judge rules

A federal judge has ruled that the state of New York violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by placing thousands of mentally ill consumers in nursing homes rather than community housing.
According to the Associated Press on September 8, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of Brooklyn ruled that the state violated the rights of more than 4,300 mentally ill citizens. According to the judge, the ADA requires the state to house people "in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs."
The judge found that the plaintiff, the nonprofit Disability Advocates, had proven that most of the mentally ill consumers could live in supportive housing.
Observers stated that some of the most key testimony came from Dr. Kenneth Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He testified, in essence, that nursing homes were more restrictive than mental hospitals of the past.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NIMH unveils largest ever military study of suicide

Why has the suicide rate of US soldiers risen over the last few years to match that of comparable civilians? The Army has thus far pointed to the failure of marital and other significant relationships as the leading cause of service personnel suicides. That answer hasn't proven satisfactory to many observers and personnel, so the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has selected four research universities to dig deeper into the causes of the climbing numbers.
The new research will be "searching for likely, but weakly linked, risk factors that in combination might create different risk states over time," according to Robert Heinssen, PhD, acting director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH.
The project will be the largest study in history on military personnel and suicide. For more information, visit Psychiatric News or NIMH.
PHOTO: Steven Aanen
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