Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Faced With Daunting Medical Expenses, Some Turn To Crowdfunding

Montana Delciello and her mother Melissa Jones are raising money for a psychiatric dog for Montana on Gofundme.com
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Medical care is costly, and for many people that cost is prohibitive. More and more often, people like Melissa Jones find themselves turning to crowdfunding to pay for those extras health insurance won't cover.

Walking down Fifth Avenue in Oakland, Jones' 10-year-old daughter Montana Delciello describes it as a full-on sensory experience. The sidewalks swell with people as bikes, cars, buses and ambulances weave in and out of lanes on the massive street.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Navigating Health Care Can Often Leave Refugees Lost in Translation

Therapist Julanne Bibro-Ruch works with Adu Sit, a Burmese refugee, at the Squirrel Hill Health Center. On the speaker phone is an interpreter.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

By the time the federally funded Squirrel Hill Health Center’s Mobile Unit opens its doors in the South Hills community of Prospect Park, people are already lined up, looking for help.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:35 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

A New Approach to Preventing Teen Smoking

Dr. Brian Primack is the lead author of a study that shows media literate teens are less likely to become smokers.
Credit UPMC / University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

A study published in the Journal of School Health finds media literacy is more effective in preventing teenagers from smoking than traditional anti-smoking efforts.

Dr. Brian Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, and director of the Program for Research on Media and Health at University of Pittsburgh was lead author in the study.

Primack describes a hypothetical comparison from his study's findings.

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Behavioral Health
5:20 am
Tue January 14, 2014

UPMC Study to Determine Best Course of Action for Mental Health Treatments

Over the next three years, researchers across Pennsylvania will be examining two different methods of mental health treatment, to determine which has the better outcomes. One of those is the Person-Centered approach.

“That’s focusing on the person who has a behavioral health condition getting support and information from a peer, someone who also has the experience, to prepare for the meetings with their doctors,” said

Kim MacDonald-Wilson is with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care.

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Behavioral Health
4:48 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Is Internet Addiction as Damaging as Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling?

Credit ebayink / flickr

Internet addiction is said to be more pervasive than alcoholism in the United States, and while treatment is available, how do you know when you need it?

Dr. Kimberly Young is founder of the Center for Internet Addiction at Bradford Regional Medical Center in central Pennsylvania, the first inpatient treatment program for Internet addiction in the nation.

Dr. Young says she first encountered internet addiction in 1994 when she learned that a friend’s husband was spending more than 50 hours a week in AOL chat rooms, at a time when internet usage was billed by the hour.

“It made me wonder, ‘could people get addicted to the internet in the same way we talk about drugs, alcohol, food, and gambling?’,” says Young.

From there she met people who have experienced job-loss, weight-loss and ruined relationships, because they couldn’t control their use of the internet.

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Behavioral Health
4:05 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Too Many Psych Patients, Not Enough Beds

Emergency Departments across Pennsylvania are seeing increasing numbers of psychiatric patients and many want to establish a real-time statewide bed-tracking system to find available psychiatric beds.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society, along with the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society is asking to work with the Department of Health and Hospital Association of Pennsylvania to establish the database.

Michael Turturro, Chief of Emergency Services at UPMC Mercy in Uptown says there is a great need for this.

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Behavioral Health
7:34 am
Wed October 16, 2013

For Victims of Sexual Violence, the Judicial System Can Often Add to Trauma

For years, Britney Dukes was sexually abused by her stepfather. While she's recently found some resolution in her case, like many others, the trauma of her situation was compounded by the legal system.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

With sexual violence can come a host of mental health issues — depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to name a few. But dealing with the judicial system can also bring a slew of problems for victims.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Prisoners Have High Incidents of Trauma, Researchers Find

A new policy brief out of Rutgers University in New Jersey looked at male Pennsylvania state prison inmates and found that almost all of them had experienced traumatic events in their lives. 

Nearly 600 men participated in the screening that looked at the prevalence of trauma in male inmates. Researcher Nancy Wolff, who runs the Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers, found that the men had experienced a wide range of trauma in their lives.

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Drug Abuse
4:32 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Mt. Lebanon Announces Program to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Josephine Posti, Mt. Lebanon School Director and spokesperson for Pennsylvania American Water, drops prescription drugs in the new drop box at the Mt. Lebanon Public Safety Center
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The municipality of Mt. Lebanon announced a new initiative to fight prescription drug abuse on Wednesday.

The program is called Stop Addiction for Everyone, or SAFE, and includes a poster campaign, a PSA, and the installation of a new prescription drug drop box at the Public Safety Center on Washington Road.

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Behavioral Health
4:30 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

How to Deal with New School Anxiety

Credit Ken Colwell / Flickr

New school anxiety hits students transitioning between school levels each year. As this academic year gets underway Cathy Petchel, a clinical psychologist at Washington & Jefferson College, is ready to help.

Petchel says the major issues which contribute to new school anxiety stem from a fear of the unknown. That includes new social situations and how to build relationships in this new setting. Heightened academic expectations can also be a source of anxiety.

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Essential Pittburgh
5:09 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

PTSD Treatment for Flight 93 Responders

Plane debris at the flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, PA. There's new support for first responders who worked among the wreckage.
Credit Flight 93 Memorial/National Park Service / Department of Justice

It's been twelve years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The events of that day still haunt many of the responders who worked at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA.

In July of 2011 the World Trade Center Health Program, run by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under the CDC, began offering counseling for responders who are suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On May 1 of this year Flight 93 and Pentagon responders were offered this counseling.

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Behavioral Health
2:18 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Using Brain Scans, Researchers Say They Can Diagnose Disorders More Precisely

A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry used brain scans to measure blood flow to parts of the brain associated with emotion regulation to gauge if the subjects had unipolar depression or bipolar disorder.

The study hoped to identify brain function markers that identified the two types of depression.

The study used 44 Pittsburgh-area women and was conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Kings College London, the University of South Florida and the University of Texas Southwestern.

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Behavioral Health
7:27 am
Wed September 4, 2013

With Community Violence, Post-Traumatic Stress Can Be A Hidden Wound

Rachel Zwipf boxes up things in her kitchen while keeping an eye on her son Jackson. Two summers ago, Zwipf’s fiancé was murdered in Lawrenceville. She and her son recently moved to North Carolina, leaving behind painful memories of Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Rachel Zwipf is packing. Boxes scattered around her home are being filled with pots, children’s toys and framed photos.

She’s moving to North Carolina, leaving behind a good job, her family and painful memories of Pittsburgh.  

"His name was Sean Thompson, but we all called him Lydell," she said.

Two summers ago, Zwipf’s fiancé was murdered in Lawrenceville, just a few blocks from their home. They were already planning to move. Thompson had spent years in jail for a slew of offenses and wanted a new start.

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Health
5:37 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Educating ER Personnel About Treating Autistic Patients

Dr. Arvind Venkat says that hospital emergency rooms are basically an autistic person’s worst nightmare.

“I think if you were to purposefully design an environment that was going to be difficult for an autistic patient, you could not do worse than what we do day to day in emergency medicine,” he said.

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Behavioral Health
3:21 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Research Shows Herpes Could Affect the Brain More than Originally Thought

A new study partially conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that those with the herpes simplex virus 1, which typically causes cold sores, displayed reduced cognitive function.

The researchers studied people in India with and without herpes and with and without schizophrenia. They looked at their cognitive functions using a computerized battery and assessed different aspects of top processes.

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Behavioral Health
3:40 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Mental Health and Substance Abuse are Public Health Issues, HHS Official Says

A top administrator from the federal Department of Health and Human Services came to Pittsburgh on Friday to speak to leaders in the mental health community about the push to recognize mental health and substance abuse issues as a public health issue.

“I think a lot of people, especially in the public, have viewed mental health and substance abuse as sort of a social problem,” said Pamela Hyde, administrator of SAMSHA, the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Wed June 12, 2013

When Violence Strikes, What About Mental Health?

Social workers, school officials and others recently attended training at the Center for Victims, where they were taught the ins and outs of responding to a mass-casualty event.
Erika Beras 90.5 WESA

The last couple years have seen high profile mass shootings and terrorist attacks — Aurora, Newtown, Boston.

Here in Pittsburgh we’ve seen the same. Last year a gunman opened fire at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, killing one person and injuring seven. And in 2009, a man walked into an aerobics class at an L.A. Fitness and started shooting, killing three women and injuring nine.

There are also regular incidents of community and street violence. Last month a gunman injured two women and killed a 15-month-old in the East Hills.

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Behavioral Health
2:05 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

DPW Initiative Aimed at Reducing Mental Health Stigma

The state Department of Public Welfare wants to reduce mental health stigma.

A new initiative, "Mental Health Matters," is being funded by a reduction in Community Hospital Integration Program Project, or CHIPP, funding to a county that was unable to move clients into the community in the time frame that was originally planned and from money set aside for litigation needs that wasn’t used, according to department spokeswoman Donna Morgan.

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Behavioral Health
6:26 am
Thu April 25, 2013

With New Licensing for Specialists, Concern About Impact in the Autism Community

Emma, 11 (left) and Lily, 7, play with their mother Leslie Walter at their home in Shaler. Lily has autism, and according to Leslie, her daughter would be in a completely different place without the dedicated assistance of a behavior specialist. Leslie worries about what could happen with an interruption of services.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Behavior specialists in Pennsylvania who work with autistic children have a soon-approaching deadline to apply for licenses to keep doing their jobs. But parents and advocates say that the requirements and the process to apply are arduous. 

When Act 62 passed, those in the autism community saw it as a victory. The 2009 legislation required private insurance companies to pay for services for those with autism — up to $36,000 a year. But it also required the Pennsylvania Department of State to license behavior specialists.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:50 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Living with Autism and Revising the DSM

Dorene Ciletti and her autistic high school aged daughter Sabrina Filipek.
Credit Alexis Eperjesi / 90.5 WESA

April is Autism Awareness Month and if you or your child has autism you've likely heard of the DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association. DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and the main purpose of the manual is to provide standard guidelines for clinicians to use when diagnosing psychological disorders and conditions. The manual outlines criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, as well as labeling and coding sometimes used by insurance companies to identify the diagnosis. The DSM is periodically revised and this spring new revisions to the manual will be published.  

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Redefining Asperger's: With a Diagnosis, Often Comes An Identity

Caitlin Freeman and Phil Garrow have Asperger's syndrome. When the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual comes out, they will be labeled as being under the umbrella of an autism spectrum disorder.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is published next month, there will be several changes to psychiatric diagnoses.

Many of these changes are controversial — especially the one made to autism spectrum disorders. 

Phil Garrow has Asperger's syndrome. It's what’s written on his medical chart. He says the social struggles that come with the diagnosis is why he hasn’t been able to hold down engineering jobs despite his proficiency in the field.

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Trauma
2:04 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

How to Talk to Kids About Traumatic Events

For children who have seen the images of death and destruction and have heard the heartbreaking stories surrounding Monday’s terrorist attacks in Boston, there may be a lot of confusion and fear. They may wonder if they are safe, if their caregivers are safe and how this will affect their daily lives.

Jeff Magill, Project Coordinator for Emergency Management at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at UPMC, said children’s responses will vary according to their age and the perspective in which they have been exposed.

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Behavioral Health
6:27 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Community Forums Examine Mental Health, Early Intervention in PA and Beyond

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the focus has turned, in part, to the mental health system throughout the country.

The conversation brought Congressman Tim Murphy to southwestern Pennsylvania for a pair of community forums on the topic. Dr. Abigail Schlesinger is the Medical Director of Developmental and Behavioral Services for Children’s Hospital and was a panel member.

Schlesinger said such forums are essential in keeping the dialogue on mental health going.

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Behavioral Health
5:24 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Depression Affects One in Seven New Mothers; Number Higher than Previously Believed

A new study from The University of Pittsburgh found that new mothers are more likely to experience depression before, during and/or after pregnancy. 

Researchers found that one in seven women have experienced depression. The study, published last week in the journal of The American Medical Association, is believed to be the largest of its kind.

Ten thousand new mothers from Southwestern Pennsylvania were screened over four years ending in 2011.

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Behavioral Health
12:47 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of PA Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness alleging prisoners were not given adequate treatment in solitary confinement.

The lawsuit alleges the Department of Corrections violates the Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder by isolating them in solitary confinement and not offering them sufficient or proper treatment.

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