Author Archives: Susan

Lt. Governor Nungesser and Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld Look at Psychology’s Role

Lt. Governor William (Billy) Nungesser and nationally recognized clinical psychologist, Scott O. Lilienfeld, delivered the welcome and keynote to attendees for the 70th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association, held last month in Metairie.

Nungesser highlighted the need for those in Louisiana to think “outside the box” when it comes to Louisiana’s critical needs, helping launch the 2018 theme, “Psychology: Essential Partner for Solving Critical Problems.”

In his remarks, the Lt. Governor pointed to the natural beauty and strengths of the state’s diverse population and environment, and his belief that the state’s culture, history and people are the key to making the state great and working out the problems, he said. Nungesser also spoke on how he and others have addressed natural disasters and built resources through the programs in the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism.

Lt. Governor Nungesser has been called one of the state’s top CEOs, for his ground-up business development and his can-do approach to crises like Katrina and Deepwater Horizon. He also spoke about his business background and how problem-solving and innovation was essential.

Nungesser closed with the new branding video and slogan, “Feed Your Soul,” unveiled at Mardi Gras 2018. He explained the method for the branding effort was data-driven, pointing to the evidence-based methods and thinking outside-the-box for the outcomes.

Followed with hearty applause by attendees, the video included an appealing, baritone narrator who said, “Louisiana isn’t for spectators. It’s for participants, for those who want to feed their soul, to not only live in the moment, but to become the moment.”

The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnGRfDaMU4

Nationally recognized speaker and Emory Professor Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld, continued the theme with “Being the Essential Partner: Understanding and Overcoming Skepticism about Scientific Psychology.”

Dr. Lilienfeld, recipient of the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science from the Association for Psychological Science, reviewed the evidence for the public’s skepticism of psychology as a science and why the public has doubts about information from psychological science.

Among his findings he cited that only 30% agree that “psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research” and 41% see psychological research as less rigorous than medical research. Along with many findings he noted that an APA Presidential Task Force found that, “Despite psychology’s foundation in science and its standing as the science of human behavior, it is not fully accepted as a science by the general public.”

After Dr. Lilienfeld reviewed the common criticisms of psychology’s scientific status he discussed rebuttals of the criticisms, and gave main reasons for negative public views of psychology.

He noted that the public face of psychology is not represented by psychological scientists. “Psychologists are rarely called on by the media to comment on psychological findings; when they are, they are rarely scientific psychologists,” he said.

He pointed to “The Illusion of Understanding––We’re all ‘psychologists’ in everyday life, so psychology seems easy.”

Among the problems he included the “Confusion Between Psychologists and Psychotherapists,” as an important factor.

He also said that that scientific psychology is challenged by the “scientific impotence excuse,” and that “When psychological findings conflict with our deeply held intuitions, we may resolve that cognitive dissonance by dismissing a scientific approach to the questions at hand…”

Among the remedies, Dr. Lilienfeld said that, “Academic and practicing psychologists have not spent enough of their time disseminating science to the public, combating bad science, and correcting misconceptions of the field.”

“We must play a more active role in educating laypersons about psychology’s scientific side and confronting its nonscientific side,” he said.

Lilienfeld’s work has been cited over 21,295 times. He delivered the Award Address, “Psychology’s Public Image Problem: Why Many Laypersons and Politicians Don’t View Our Field as Scientific,” at APS. He is also a researcher and test author in areas of psychopathy, and also presented, “The Multifaceted Nature of Psychopathy.”

Also highlighted this year was neuropsychologist David Schwartz, PhD, from the Concussion Institute in Atlanta; April Foreman, PhD, licensed psychologist and Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System; and Canadian psychologist, and expert in nutritional mental health, Bonnie Kaplan, PhD.

Denise Newman, PhD, chaired a panel with Drs. Alvin Burstein, Dana Labat, and Sandra Loucks, on the “Heart of Change in Psychotherapy.”

“Ethical Issues and Health Disparity,” was presented by co-chairs ValaRay Irvin, PhD and Chris Leonhard, PhD, APPB. Alan Coulter, PhD, and Courtland Chaney, PhD, presented a cross specialty presentation on “Opportunities for Organization Development Interventions in Schools: The Interface of Two Specialties.”

Members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and staff presented, “Laws, Rules & Ethics Update.”

Tiffany Jennings, PsyD, presented, “Highlights on Rural Health:Utilizing Telehealth to Increase Access to Care, Support, and Peer Consultation.”

Jill Hayes, PhD, lead a round table discussion on “Ethical and Legal Issues for Misdiagnosis,” with Drs. Denise Newman, John Fanning, and Marc Zimmermann.

A Scientific Poster Session was chaired by Drs. Ashley Jefferson and Melissa Dufrene, and the Science Café was chaired by Drs. Scott Smith and Bridget Sonnier-Hillis.

The Convention included an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Mini-Conference, with presentations by Richard Flicker, PhD, Courtland Chaney, PhD, Jim Stodd, MS, Barry Vose, BS, William Costelloe, PhD, Tyree Mitchell, PhD, John-Luke McCord and Brian Doyle, and Jared LeDoux, PhD.

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Governor Signing Bills Into Laws

The Office of the Governor has been announcing a steady stream of measures being signed into law by Gov. Edwards.

Included in the recent list is the Zero Suicide bill, which authorizes the Louisiana Department of Health to create a program that helps healthcare professionals to prevent suicide. He also signed Act 43, which expands the substance abuse probation program to include treatment for mental health and Act 251 which creates a pretrial diversion program for veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Act 352 provides for oral and telephonic orders of protections under exceptional circumstances and Act 480 prohibits state agencies from contracting with lobbyists.

Following are some of the measures the Governor signed into law in May:

ACT 38 – SB 275 Authorizes individuals to indicate that part of their refund go to the La. Coalition Against Domestic Violence for education of women who are victims of domestic violence.

ACT 103 – HB 711 Moves the Louisiana Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, to the office of the governor, and changes the name to the La. Council on the Success of Black Men and Boys, which is to be the leading entity that provides and promotes an environment that is conducive to prosperity, success, and excellence for all black men and boys in the state.

ACT 152 – SB 284 Amends the present law regarding Disaster and Emergency Medical Services Committee of the Louisiana State Medical Society, by removing some references to the Medical Society and the Society’s approval of Rules.

ACT 193 – HB 145 Provides limitations on diagnosing of the disorder commonly known as “Munchausen syndrome by proxy”, and on initiation of child welfare proceedings.

ACT 227 – SB 24 Provides relative to social work practice. New law provides that a faculty member who has obtained a master’s degree or license in a field other than social work and who teaches a course in a social work program other than a clinical course, a clinical practicum, or any other course involving the scope of practice of social work at an accredited Louisiana institution of higher education shall not be construed as practicing social work or subject to the licensing of a social worker.

ACT 236 – SB 199 Creates the Advisory Council on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

ACT 251 – SB 548 Creates a pretrial diversion program for veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition to any existing pretrial diversion program, the district attorney for each judicial district, alone or in conjunction with the district attorney of an adjacent judicial district, may create and administer a special pretrial diversion program for defendants who meet requirements.

ACT 263 – HB 79 Creates the crime of abuse of persons with infirmities through electronic means and provides for criminal penalties and exceptions. The crime is where a person transfers an image that was obtained by any camera, videotape, or other device, of any person with an infirmity. “Person with an infirmity” means a person who suffers from a mental or physical disability, including those associated with advanced age, which renders the person incapable of adequately providing for his personal care.

ACT 270 – HB 524 Requires policies prohibiting sexual harassment and annual training on preventing sexual harassment for public officers and employees.

ACT 271 – HB 735 Establishes a workforce training pilot initiative to serve public assistance recipients in certain regions. Proposed law requires the executive director
of the La. Workforce Commission, the secretary of the Dept. of Children and Family Services, the secretary of the La. Dept. of Health, the state superintendent of education, and the president of
the La. Community and Technical College System, referred to collectively in proposed law as the “state partners”, to collaborate to design and implement a workforce training and education pilot initiative for public assistance recipients.

ACT 273 – HB 394 Establishes the Post-Conviction Veterans Mentor Program and the
procedures by which a veteran is determined to be eligible for the program and the procedures for the veteran’s participation in the program.

ACT 281 – HB 775 Provides relative to the reimbursement of healthcare providers. Provides for payment to a new provider in a contracted network of healthcare providers and authorizes recovery of certain amounts upon denial of an application for credentialing.

ACT 290 – HB 875 Provides relative to health insurance network provider directories. Requires the posting and regular updating of a directory of a health insurance issuer’s network of providers. Requires the directory to be both electronically searchable by
name, specialty, and location and publicly accessible without necessity of providing a password, a user name, or personally identifiable information.

ACT 320 – HB 466 Provides relative to court-appointed special advocates. Grants authority to court appointed special advocate program (CASA) volunteers to access a child’s home and to attend all administrative review hearings and family team meetings related to the case, and provides for the screening of CASA staff members or members of the board of directors.

ACT 324 – HB 539 Provides for an expedited licensing process and associated fees for facilities and providers licensed by the La. Department of Health, including Adult day health care facility; home health agency; hospice; hospital; intermediate care facility for people with developmental disabilities; psychiatric residential treatment facility; therapeutic group home; crisis receiving center; home- and community based service provider; adult residential care provider.

ACT 352 – SB 72 Provides relative to the execution of an order for protective custody and examination. New law provides that a coroner or his staff may apply to the court for an order of protective custody that allows law enforcement to use forced entry to gain access into premises when executing an order of protective custody. New law provides for accompanying documents for an order for protective custody and provides for both oral and telephonic orders of protections under exceptional circumstances.

ACT 353 – SB 99 Extends legislative authority for the Louisiana Behavior Analyst Board. New law changes the year of termination from 2018 to 2028.

ACT 354 – SB 101 Creates the Louisiana Sexual Assault Oversight Commission. New law replaces the current task force with the La. Sexual Assault Oversight Commission (the commission) within the office of the attorney general to develop recommendations for a standardized sexual assault collection kit and protocols for forensic medical examinations to be used statewide.

ACT 359 – SB 147 Provides relative to a defamation claim brought by an alleged
perpetrator of sexual misconduct against the alleged victim. New law provides that a court shall stay proceedings in cases of defamation of character, libel, slander, or damage to reputation brought by an alleged perpetrator of sexual misconduct against the alleged victim. Further provides that the stay shall remain until the completion of all investigations, hearings, or proceedings relating to the allegations of sexual misconduct.

ACT 361 – SB 166 Requires the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline information to be posted in additional locations.

ACT 375 – SB 306 Provides relative to Assistive Outpatient Treatment. New laws outlines matters for involuntary outpatient treatment, including: The court shall not order involuntary outpatient treatment unless an examining physician, psychiatric mental health nurse
practitioner, or psychologist develops and provides to the court a proposed written treatment plan, which specifies a provider that has agreed to provide services.

ACT 392 – SB 558 Provides relative to incarcerated women. Requires wardens or sheriffs of a correctional facility to make certain healthcare products available, in housing units and in the medical area, to all women incarcerated in a correctional facility at no cost and in a quantity that is appropriate to the needs of the woman without a medical permit.

ACT 402 – SB 66 Provides relative to admission to treatment facility for mental
illness pursuant to emergency certificate. New law retains prior law but requires physicians executing an emergency certificate to be licensed or permitted by the La. State Board of Medical Examiners.

ACT 409 – SB 207 Extends and provides for the Louisiana Obesity Prevention and
Management Commission.

ACT 412 – SB 291 Provides relative to family violence and domestic abuse as factors to consider in determining visitation and custody. New law retains prior law and provides relative to restriction on visitations for a parent who has subjected a child, stepchild or other household member to a history of family violence or has willingly permitted abuse to his or her children or stepchildren despite the ability to prevent it.

ACT 424 – HB 198 Provides relative to distribution of funding from the Traumatic Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund. Requires that the Traumatic Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund is used as a fund of last resort following the exhaustion of Medicare and Medicaid funding.

ACT 431 – HB 440 Expands DPS&C’s substance abuse probation program to include treatment for mental health issues. The program shall provide substance abuse counseling and treatment for defendants, and develop contracts with local governmental entities or the office of behavioral health, training facilities, and service providers.

ACT 450 – HB 148 Provides for implementation of the zero suicide initiative and a state suicide prevention plan. The initiative requires the office of behavioral health to ensure that administrators of all healthcare facilities licensed by LDH and that all healthcare professionals licensed by any Louisiana board or commission have ready access to informational resources and technical assistance necessary for implementation of the zero suicide initiative.

ACT 454 – HB 189 Provides for processes, including public comment, to identify agency rules that may be contrary to law, outdated, unnecessary, overly complex, or burdensome.
Prior law allows any interested person to petition an agency regarding a rule. New law requires the agency to conduct a public hearing for the purpose of comments and to consider fully all submissions.

ACT 458 – HB 488 The mandatory reporting of crimes of sexual abuse of a minor will include female genital mutilation.

ACT 475 – SB 528 Provides relative to physician assistants. New law increases
number of physicians’ assistants that a supervising MD may supervise from four to eight. Physician assistants may apply for prescriptive authority if he/she has 500 hours of clinical training and meets other requirements.

ACT 480 – SB 25 Provides relative to prohibited conduct by state employees and agencies. New law prohibits state government employees from contracting with lobbyists or for lobbying services by use of a contract, memorandum of understanding, cooperative endeavor agreement, or other similar agreement.

ACT 489 – SB 507 In Medicaid managed care organizations, among other requirements, each MCO is to be responsible for ensuring that any provider it contracts with has attained and satisfies all Medicaid provider accreditation requirements and all other applicable state or federal requirements in order to receive reimbursement for providing services to
Medicaid recipients.

ACT 495 – HB 474 Requires additional training for peace officers in domestic violence awareness, including Dynamics of domestic violence, Predominant aggressor determination, communication with hearing impaired, and other topics.

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No Deal: Special Session Ends

“Usually the day after session is a day of relaxation after a long few months of hard work and a little late night celebration,” said Keli Williams, with Ourso Consulting.

“Last night was a late night, but there was no celebration. With the last 30 minutes of the special session, which had to end at midnight, the House began taking up the budget bill, HB 1, and the revenue bills, HB 12 and HB 27.”

This special session was the second session and the sixth financial session in the last two years, attempting to deal with the state’s budget crisis when more than $1 billion in taxes are scheduled to expire on June 30. The earlier special session floundered after the house repeatedly rejected increased taxes. At the same time, dramatic cuts in health care services and what the Governor called “could face a catastrophic cut” to higher education had been threatening.

This week the House approved HB 1 but it makes dramatic cuts to TOPS, universities and state agencies, and is similar to the budget that the Governor previously vetoed, explained Williams to the Times.

But the deal collapsed when lawmakers failed to take up the two revenue bills that would have filled the gaps, something the Governor put forth in his hoped for compromise plan.

“HB 12 and HB 27 were both sales tax measures that would have increased the sales tax by 1/2 to 1/3 penny, respectfully, and cleaned some exemptions from the remaining pennies,” said Williams.

“Neither bill was able to gain enough support to pass before midnight,” she said. “With two minutes left, HB 12 was brought up for reconsideration. Rep. Seabaugh went to the microphone to oppose the bill for the purposes of running out the clock, per his own statement at the microphone. A second vote on HB 12 was not taken as time expired.”

As of publication there is no news yet about another special session.

This past weekend the Senate Finance Committee put forth a measure that would begin in July and would cover over $500 million of the state’s $600 million problem.

This is more than the house wanted to cover but not the entire amount that was asked for by Gov. Edwards.

In a May 25 statement Gov. Edward said, “We have a very short window left to fix the fiscal cliff and fund our critical priorities. Right now, the Senate is waiting on bills to come from the House and, with the clock ticking, any day not spent solving this crisis is simply unacceptable to the people of Louisiana. I am here and ready to work, and I’d hoped that the House would do the same. While I’m disappointed that we haven’t made more progress to close the budget gap, the fact that a majority of both the Republican and Democratic caucus members supported renewing a portion of the expiring revenue gives me hope that we can come to an agreement very soon.”

The Republican delegation responded On May 29, “Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Republican Spending Reduction Plan that makes sure our critical services like nursing homes and hospitals are funded by renewing one-third of the one-cent sales tax and requires government to reduce it’s spending by 1.3%.”

“The basis for our compromise is that government reduce its spending. Asking state government to cut its spending by 1.3% is not unreasonable. We simply cannot continue to grow the size of government while Louisiana’s GDP is shrinking, businesses are leaving and our population is falling. Again, asking government to reduce its spending by 1.3% is not unreasonable, it’s the most responsible thing we can do.”

In Gov. Edwards’ 2018 Second Special Session opening remarks he said, “The House of Representatives and the Senate passed wildly differing budgets. One completely decimated health care in Louisiana, the other funded health care but decimated higher education and other critical state services like education and public safety, while ignoring that a nearly 25 percent cut to our state agencies would leave thousands of our fellow Louisianans out of work and our agencies unable to do their work.” He asked them to do better.

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A Quiet Place

by Alvin G. Burstein

A Quiet Place is not just another horror flick retreading the well-worn War of the Worlds trope. It involves us in an exploration of the meaning of family, introducing themes of tenderness, loss and love. It takes us from horror to terror, involving us with a family that demonstrates courage and resilience in the face of near unmanageable threat. There is a hint of stereotyping in the emphasis on women as givers of life, and fathers as providing security. But the former is consonant with the unearthing of prehistoric female idols; the latter, with the patriarchal mode of both Christianity and Freudian Oedipal theory.

The Abbot family are survivors of an invasion of the world by blind monsters with hyper-acute hearing. They attack anything that makes noise. The movie opens with the family scavenging for supplies in an abandoned, near ruined store. They move in scrupulous silence, a silence that endures for most of the film. The three children and their parents, adept at ASL because the oldest child, Regan, a pre-teen, was born deaf, silently communicate by sign language. Her two younger brothers are Beau, four, and Marcus, a few years younger than Regan. In the store, Beau is fascinated by a battery operated toy rocket ship. His father, Lee, takes it away from him because of its noise making potential. To be safe, Lee removes its batteries but Regan covertly returns the toy to Beau, who, when no one is looking, impulsively grabs the batteries.

On the long, silent trek back to their farm, Beau, trailing the others, sets off the toy and an extra-terrestrial flashes across the screen, killing him. The rest escape to the silent safety of their farm dwelling.

A year passes as the family grieves but Regan is burdened with guilt. In his underground workshop Lee tries to reach other survivors by short wave radio, and works on a cochlear aid that will help Regan hear. Regan, guilt and resentment smoldering, refuses to try his device. When Lee takes Marcus on a field trip to teach him survival skills, Regan feels rejected and leaves the home to visit Beau’s grave.

The mother, Evelyn, has become pregnant. While the others are away, she leaves the basement to visit Beau’s bedroom one last time. Her amniotic bag bursts, and in her hurry to return to the sound proofed basement, she impales her heel on an exposed nail in the stairs. She clumsily breaks a picture frame, bringing a monster to the basement. Struggling to remain silent in her labor, she triggers a signal light to alert the family to the emergency, and immerses herself in the bathtub to give birth. When Lee sees the lights, he sends Marcus to set off fireworks to distract the monsters and returns home to find Evelyn and the newborn son. Evelyn insists that Lee go to find Regan and Marcus.

As the plot unfolds, gender related issues take surprising, perhaps unsettling, twists, the details of which I will leave for the audience. I will point out the synchronicity between Regan’s deafness and the monsters’ auditory hyper-acuity and raise the question of the symbolic meaning of Evelyn’s wound. And I will risk the spoiler of saying that the movie ends with Regan and her mother facing extra-terrestrials on their own.

Otto Rank, one of the early psychoanalysts, argued that the unspoken trauma of birth leaves a deep, equally unspeakable, mental residue. Ernest Becker built on Rank’s views, insisting that the uniquely human, terrifying knowledge of one’s mortality is only partially counterbalanced by symbolic rituals warding off that awful recognition. Horror/terror films are such rituals—a kind of controlled terror seeking mastery of that experience.

But the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins warns us:

”O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there.”

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What’s New About Stress? part 2

by Susan Andrews, PhD

Last column I started to describe a list of “20 Scientifically Backed Ways to De-Stress Right Now” from the HuffPost. We only got through 10 of the suggestions. The list is creative and offers some easy and very fast ways to take a quick relaxation break. I have tried the Naam Yoga Hand Trick and found that it totally works in moments. Apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers); it creates a sense of instant calm. Author Sharon Melnick of Success Under Stress, said that “it activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you are nervous will end up going away.”

The article suggests that if you do not have music or headphones handy, try humming or making your own music. Another suggestion was to use the internet to find guided meditations and/or uTube music for relaxation. A good laugh is always a winner to break into the mood. For example, a viral video. The Mayo Clinic explains that “laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” Or, remember one of those times you were so tickled that you laughed until you cried.

Another of the 20 tips was to Eat a Banana (Or a Potato!). By way of explanation of the science behind this suggestion, the article said that potassium help regulate blood pressure. Eating a banana or potato also provides energy. They quoted the American Psychological Association as recommending eating a banana or potato to “stave off the physical detriments of stress.”

Try the Eagle Pose if you are a yoga practitioner. This is supposed to open the shoulders and relieve neck tension. The Eagle Pose, also known as Garudasana, improves your balance and stretches your upper back, shoulders and outer thighs. Regularly practicing this pose can strengthen your leg, knees and ankles. Your spine should be erect and hips and shoulder face forward.

Mindfulness and meditation teacher, Dr. Herbert Benson, has suggested that knitting fulfills two criteria of mindfulness practice: “the repetition of a sound, word, phrase prayer, or movement, and the passive setting aside of intruding thoughts and returning to the repetition.”

Finally, the list offers “Chew a Piece of Gum!” Honestly, the explanation is that chewing can relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress. They quote a 2008 study on the benefits of chewing gum.

To sum up the unusual list of 20 Scientifically Backed Ways to De-Stress Right Now:
1. Go for a 10-minute Walk
2. Breathe Deeply
3. Visualize
4. Eat a Snack (Mindfully!)
5. Buy Yourself a Plant
6. Step Away from the Screen
7. Pucker Up
8. Naam Yoga Hand Trick
9. Hang up, Then Turn Off Your Phone
10. Put on Some Music
11. Eat ONE Candy
12. Find web-based stress mgt program
13. Chew a Piece of Gum
14. Watch a Viral Video
15. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
16. Seriously, Turn off your phone
17. See your BFF
18. Eat a Banana or Potato
19. Try the Eagle Pose
20. Knit or cross-stitch

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ASPPB Presents Their Reasoning for EPPP2 At Psychology Board

Steven DeMers, EdD, Chief Executive officer of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), spoke as a guest at the regular meeting of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, held Friday, April 20, 2018 at the public library in Baton Rouge.

Along with board members, Drs. Kim VanGeffen, Marc Zimmerman, Alan Coulter and Greg Gormanous also attended the public meeting and ASPPB presentation. Concerns about price, validity and need for the test, were reported by several of those attending.

Dr. DeMers presented information on the expansion of the licensing exam, the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) a topic that has garnered criticism from various directions.

ASPPB had announced in late 2017 that its previous plan for an optional, “Step 2” section to the national exam for psychologists was no longer going to be optional. The additional test would now be mandatory and the price will go from the current $600 to $1200.

Kim VanGeffen, Past-President of Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) and currently Director and Chair of the Professional Affairs Committee for LPA, attended the presentation. She said that Dr. DeMers and others are travelling around the country with their slide show and that, if there were concerns expressed or if problems arise with the beta testing, they might postpone the implementation of this new test.

“Dr. DeMers acknowledged that, currently,” VanGeffen told the Times, “there is not really any research on the validity of the EPPP2, “The EPPP2 committee believes that this exam has face validity and content validity,” she said. “They are satisfied that these types of validity are acceptable for the EPPP2. There do not seem to be any plans to obtain predictive validity nor does the EPPP2 committee believe that establishing this type of validity is necessary,” VanGeffen said.

“I was most impressed with how everyone in attendance who asked questions or offered comments is opposed to this exam due to its cost, concerns about its necessity, and concerns about its validity.”

Asked what if anything concerned her, VanGeffen said, “I am concerned that the EPPP2 will be forced on states. As it stands now, states will be required to use both parts or will not be able to use any of the EPPP. Concern was also expressed that ASPPB has an agenda to eliminate the post doctoral supervision year and oral exams which are required for licensure in some states,” she said.

“ASPPB is planning to do a study to compare how people score on the second part of the EPPP when it is taken prior to the post doctoral supervision year with those people who take the exam after the post doctoral supervision year,” Dr. VanGeffen said. “ASPPB believes that if there is no difference in scores on the EPPP2 whether you take it before or after your post doctoral supervision year, it will bolster their case that the additional year of supervision is not needed.”

““There is, however, another way to view such a potential finding,” she said. “That is, if there is no difference in scores from the two groups, the EPPP2 may not really be assessing competence. It would also seem that ASPPB might better convince states that the EPPP2 is truly assessing competence by doing research comparing test performance of beginning psychologists with psychologists five years out and ten years out in practice.”

Dr. Alan Coulter also attended the public meeting. He said that the LSBEP members appeared skeptical about Louisiana’s need to adopt these changes in order to ensure quality of psychologists serving the public.

“LSBEP members,” he noted, “expressed a need for substantial evidence from ASPPB that any additions to the current examination would add significant value to the state board’s current methodology for determining the fitness of candidates for licensure.”

Dr. VanGeffen echoed this, “Another concern is that the current EPPP may not be of much validity. There is data that the further out someone gets from their graduate school coursework the less likely they are to pass the current EPPP,” she said.

Dr. Marc Zimmermann, past LSBEP board member and Chair of the LPA Medical Psychology Committee, said, “I think the idea of measuring a professional’s skills before turning him/her lose on the public is a good idea. I do not think this attempt hits the mark,” he said. “When the Board does oral examinations we come closer to this by allowing the person to provide reasoning for their projected behaviors.”

“He [Dr. DeMers] stated that there is no predictive validity,” said Zimmermann. “He also threw in that none of the national tests had predictive validity. He reported that content validity was the accepted standard because a test with predictive validity could not be constructed.”

“It seemed to me that it was a c.y.a. and sales effort. He [Dr. DeMers] addressed the questions of why they changed from an optional second part of the EPPP to a mandatory component,” Dr. Zimmermann said.

“He did not say it, but reading between the lines, I think there was resistance to the second part and this is how they plan to implement their will. He said several times that they were just a vendor, but they have put themselves in the position of being the only vendor.”

Through 2016 and 2017 objections to the EPPP Step 2 mounted, mostly from student and early career psychologist organizations.

Last year in Louisiana, Dr. Amy Henke, then a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association and Co-Chair of the LPA Early Career Psychologists Committee, put forth a Resolution to oppose the Step 2 for Louisiana, which passed unanimously. Dr. Henke is now serving on the state psychology board.

Objections, from Henke and others, involve technical and scientific issues, but also the criticism that there is no problem that needs to be solved. “There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Amy Henke for an earlier interview.

Asked why ASPPB came to Louisiana Dr. Zimmermann said, “I think they are on a sales tour and hitting the states that are the squeakiest wheels.”

What impressed him most about the presentation? “That DeMers had the temerity to try to sell us something that does not meet the standard that psychological tests being published are expected to have,” said Dr. Zimmermann.

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Appeals Court Reverses Judge Caldwell’s “Reeks” Decision in Cerwonka–LSBEP Dispute

On April 11 the State of Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, reversed Judge Michael Caldwell’s decision that the state psychology board violated Dr. Eric Cerwonka’s rights when the board used attorneys from the same law firm, and when the board’s prosecuting attorney had been previously involved with Cerwonka in a child custody case and fee dispute.

The Appeals Court reversed Caldwell, and sent the matter back to the district court for further proceedings. Costs of the appeal are to be paid by Cerwonka.

Following a January 2017 hearing the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists revoked Dr. Cerwonka’s license. He then sought a review in the 19th Judicial District Court. Presiding Judge Mike Caldwell stopped the review and vacated the board’s decision saying that the process “reeked” with due process violations.

Judge Caldwell said that allowing Lloyd Lunceford, a member of the same law firm as the Board’s general counsel, to serve as presiding officer for the administrative proceeding; and allowing James ‘Jim’ Raines, who represented Dr. Cerwonka in a prior child custody matter, which also resulted in a fee dispute, to serve as the Board’s prosecuting attorney, violated Cerwonka’s rights to a fair hearing.

The Appeals Court disagreed. They reviewed the record of the January 2017 hearing and said that despite Ms. Amy Lowe and Mr. Lunceford being from the same law firm, this alone does not constitute a violation.

They cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Withrow v. Larkin, 1975) noting the constitutional framework for analyzing issues involving the combination of investigative and adjudicative functions in state and federal administrative proceedings.

In a case involving a physician’s disciplinary hearing in Wisconsin, the Appeal judges wrote, “Supreme Court recognized that a fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process and that this requirement applies to administrative agencies which adjudicate, as well as to courts.”

“The Supreme Court went on to state that “[n]ot only is a biased decisionmaker constitutionally unacceptable but ‘our system of law has always endeavored to prevent even the probability of unfairness.”‘

However, the Supreme Court implicitly rejected that structural argument and held that the “combination of investigative and adjudicative functions does not, without more, constitute a due process violation.”

The Appeal judges wrote that the prevailing view is that a party basing a procedural due process claim on an impermissible combination of functions argument must demonstrate that the risk of actual bias is intolerably high, not merely that a combination of functions exists.

After reviewing the record of the hearing, the Appeals court found no evidence that Ms. Lowe had interjected herself unfairly in the proceedings. She did not prosecute or defend, or crossexamine any witnesses. The presiding officer Mr. Lunceford did not decide the merits of the allegations, and while he did rule on the admissibility of evidence, the Court did not see in its review of the record any evidence of unfairness to raise issues of due process.

Regarding Mr. Raines, Judge Caldwell agreed with Dr. Cerwonka’s view that Mr. Raines’ not recusing himself constitutes a due process violation. The Appeals Court disagreed.

The Board’s pleadings note that the issue was first raised during the course of the administrative proceeding, when Dr. Cerwonka argued that Mr. Raines should be recused because he was not impartial as required by LSAC.Cr.P. art. 680. The Appeals Court wrote that the article 680 “provides that a district attorney must be recused when he has a personal interest in the case, is related to the party accused or the party injured, or has been employed or consulted in the case as an attorney for the defendant before his election as district attorney.”

“However, we note that LSAC.Cr.P. art. 680 applies to district attorneys in criminal cases. By contrast, the Administrative Procedure Act applies to the underlying administrative proceeding. It requires only that the adjudicator be impartial and neutral.”

The Appeals Court wrote that Mr. Raines is not required to be a neutral party but an advocate, who has developed the “will to win.”

They wrote, “Dr. Cerwonka contended that Mr. Raines should have been recused because he represented Dr. Cerwonka in a prior custody case in 2006 in which a subsequent fee dispute arose between Raines’ firm and Dr. Cerwonka. Mr. Raines admitted that as a second year associate, he worked under the partner of his law firm and was one of two attorneys who represented Dr. Cerwonka over ten years prior to the initiation of the underlying administrative proceeding. That representation pertained to a custody judgment rendered against Dr. Cerwonka, which was wholly unrelated to the licensing dispute before the Board.”

“Rule 1.9 of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits an attorney from representing a person or entity that is adverse to a former client in the same or substantially related matter.”

However, the Court said, “Here, there is no possibility that the issues involved in a child custody matter or a collections matter could be considered substantially related to the licensing issue before the Board.

However, Dr. Cerwonka asserts that Mr. Raines used information he possessed from his prior representation against Dr. Cerwonka in the underlying proceeding and that documents from the domestic litigation were used at the examiner’s hearing. Dr. Cerwonka has cited nothing in the record to support these assertions.”

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Lt. Governor, Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld to Speak at 70th La Psych Assn Convention

Lt. Governor William (Billy) Nungesser will deliver the welcome for the 70th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association, and highlight Louisiana’s critical needs, launching this year’s theme for “Psychology: Essential Partner for Solving Critical Problems.” Nationally recognized speaker, Emory Professor Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld, will continue the theme with “Being the Essential Partner: Understanding and Overcoming Skepticism about Scientific Psychology.”

The two-day conference will be held May 18 and 19 at the Sheraton, 4 Galleria Boulevard, in Metairie, and host an array of national and local presenters, scientific poster and laboratory presentations, and experiential groups, building on the theme of psychology’s unique perspectives and contributions.

Lt. Governor Nungesser has been called one of the state’s top CEOs, for his ground-up business development, and his can do approach to crises like Katrina and Deepwater Horizon.

Dr. Lilienfeld is recipient of the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science, Association for Psychological Science (APS). His work has been cited over 21,295 times. He delivered the Award Address, “Psychology’s Public Image Problem: Why Many Laypersons and Politicians Don’t View Our Field as Scientific,” at APS.

Lilienfeld is also a researcher and test author in areas of psychopathy, and will also present, “The Multifaceted Nature of Psychopathy,” during the breakout sessions.

Also highlighted this year is neuropsychologist David Schwartz, PhD, from the Concussion Institute in Atlanta, who will present, “Advances in the Assessment and Management of General and Sports–Related Concussion Injuries.” Dr. Schwartz is an engaging speaker who is known for his entertaining delivery and broad information, noted the conference organizers.

Dr. Schwartz will also present the plenary session for Saturday, the cross-cutting topic, “New Technologies for Assessment and Behavior Change.”
April Foreman, PhD, licensed psychologist and Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System will present “Suicide Risk Assessment.” Foreman is Suicide Prevention Lead for Veterans Integrated Service Network 16, and on the Executive Committee for the Board of the American Association of Suicidology.
Dr. Foreman is known for her work at the intersection of technology, social media, and mental health.

In a special Zoom presentation, Canadian psychologist, and expert in nutritional mental health, Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, will present “Nutritional Mental Health.”

Kaplan is Professor Emerita in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and an expert in the field of nutritional mental health, including topics such as inflammation and mental health, the microbiome and mental health, oxidative stress and mental health, mitochondria and mental health and nutrienttreatment research.

Denise Newman, PhD, will chair a panel with Drs. Alvin Burstein, Dana Labat, and Sandra Loucks, on the “Heart of Change in Psychotherapy,” and panelists will address, “Technical and Ethical Aspirations in Psychotherapy within a Developmental Framework: Navigating Challenging Dynamics in the Therapeutic Relationship,” and address both the theoretical aspects and the technical navigation of the therapeutic relationship as the focus of psychotherapeutic treatment. Dr. Newman is chair of the LPA Psychotherapy Interest Area Committee.

“Ethical Issues and Health Disparity,” will be presented by co-chairs ValaRay Irvin, PhD and Chris Leonhard, PhD, APPB. Along with panelists they will address the intersection between social determinants of health research, and access to quality mental healthcare and health disparities. Irvin and Leonhard will frame issues in the context of the role of ethical principles, codes of conduct, and related policies and laws in the amelioration of disparities.

Alan Coulter, PhD, and Courtland Chaney, PhD, will present a cross specialty presentation on “Opportunities for Organization Development
Interventions in Schools: The Interface of Two Specialties.” Presenters will review the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), organizational development theory, and blend into a discussion for intervening at the individual, group and organizational level in school systems.

Members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and staff will present an interactive session on “Laws, Rules & Ethics Update.” They will cover demographic characteristics of licensees, where to locate information regarding current laws, rules and opinions pertaining to psychologists, characteristics of the current Rule-making, and common complaints received by the LSBEP and related ethical violations.

Tiffany Jennings, PsyD, will present “Highlights on Rural Health: Utilizing Telehealth to Increase Access to Care, Support, and Peer Consultation.” Dr. Jennings will cover applications for telehealth and also contraindications, how to set up telehealth, forms and codes, ethics and safety measures.
Jill Hayes, PhD, will lead a round table discussion on “Ethical and Legal Issues for Misdiagnosis,” addressing challenges in correct diagnosis in today’s restrictive insurance environment and complex cases.

A Scientific Poster Session will be held on Friday, chaired by Drs. Ashley Jefferson and Melissa Dufrene. Attendees will enjoy breakfast while they review research findings through poster presentations from psychological science across the state, and speak directly with researchers about their theory, methods, and results.

Breakfast is served again on Saturday at the Science Café on Saturday, chaired by Drs. Scott Smith and Bridget Sonnier-Hillis. Attendees can review findings in psychological science from laboratories around the state, and chat with researchers about how science is rapidly changing in key areas.

The Convention includes an IndustrialOrganizational Psychology MiniConference, organized by the LPA I-O and Consulting Psychology Committee. Attendees will hear topics in four modules. Under Ethical Challenges and Citizen Psychology, RichardFlicker, PhD, will present “Ethical Challenges in I-O Psychology: What would you do?” and Courtland Chaney, PhD, will conduct a session on “An I-O Role for a Citizen Psychologist: The Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.”

Under the I-O Psychology Practitioner segment, Jim Stodd, MS, will present, “Why I-O Psychology is Superb Training for Those Who Shape and Manage Compensation Programs.” Barry Vose and William Costelloe, PhD, will present, “Seven Steps to Developing an I-O Career.”

Lunch & Learn will address Ethical Dilemmas. The Scholarly Pursuits and I-O Psychology in Healthcare section will begin with Tyree Mitchell, PhD, “Too Much of a Good Thing? The Diminishing Returns of Leadership on Leadership Emergence.”

“The Influence of Untraditional Interview Questions on Applicant Affective Reactions and Perceptions of Organizational Personality,” will be presented by John-Luke McCord and Brian Doyle.

Jared LeDoux, PhD, will present “Applying I-O Psychology in a Hospital Setting.”

For the closing activities of main conference, professional issues are addressed in a communitywide, experiential learning event, known as Lunch & Learn. Specialty interest area groups will address the problems in “Current Ethical & Moral Challenges in Professional Psychology” on Friday, and “Current Professional Challenges in Specialty Areas of Psychology Practice” on Saturday. This working lunch allows attendees to join with colleagues to discover and analyze key issues for today’s professional psychologists.

Facilitators blend the information into the Saturday wrap-up session, and engage attendees in institution-level, strategic analysis in “70 Years of Psychology Contributions––Are We There Yet? An experiential, strategic– planning exercise. Julie Nelson, PhD, and William Costelloe, PhD, will co-chair.

Early registration is open until May 14.

For more information go to the LPA website at: louisianapsychologicalassociation.org.
Science

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Ready Player One

by Alvin G. Burstein

The movie takes us to a dystopia set a few decades in the future. We visit The Stacks, a collection of futuristic, highrise, crowded, big city slums. The unsavory dwellings are populated by the survivors in an America ravaged by the consequences of global warming, a stagnant economy, over-population and unemployment. They are, like the Oakies of the 1930’s, oppressed by factors outside of their control. But they have no California to which to flee.
Their pie in the sky, the opiate for these unhappy masses, is a complex multi-player, interactive computer game called OASIS. The game enables its players to enter a virtual world, actually to choose among multiple worlds, offering gratifications and distractions to avatars of themselves, virtual identities that they can shape to their liking. The popularity of OASIS was such that its creator became enormously wealthy.

The game is the brainchild of James Halliday, an introverted caricature of Steve Jobs, whom we meet in a series of flashbacks embedded in an archive in the game. Just before his death, Halliday announces that he has hidden an Easter Egg in the game, unlocked by three keys. The player who finds those keys will inherit his fortune and control of the game.

That promise stimulates players/avatars, who call themselves “Gunters” (for egg hunters), who search for the keys. It has also stimulated a search for the keys by a rival corporation, Innovative Online Industries (IOI). In contrast to the amateur Gunters, IOI avatar searchers, called “Sixers” (after their six digit serial numbers) are highly professional and centrally controlled by Nolan Sorrento, the real life and avatar villain of the story.

The protagonist in the story is 18 year-old Wade Watts, whose Gunter avatar is named Parzival. Watts is a geekish kid fascinated by the 80’s trivia, that of Halliday’s era. Parzival—the avatar’s name an echo of the Arthurian knight Percival, who first sought the Holy Grail—teams up with two other Gunters, Aech and Art3mis, after the mythological huntress.

Watts’ nerdy trivia knowledge facilitates Parzival’s discovery of the first of Halliday’s keys. The resultant OASIS celebrity brings Parzival to the attention of the Sixers and ignites a murderous competition that comes to pervade both the virtual OASIS and the real world Stacks. The movie is apt in interweaving the two realms and in exploring the deepening relationship between Parzival/Watts and Art3mis/Samantha Cook.

A stellar performance in the film is that of Mark Rylance, playing James Halliday and his avatar, Anorak. You may remember Rylance. In the film Bridge of Spies, he portrayed the Russian spy exchanged for the U 2 pilot shot down in 1962. In Ready Player One, the actor captures Halliday’s autism spectrum quirkiness with remarkable wit and feeling. Both the movie and the novel it restages portray a conflict teenaged non-conformist Gunters and the capitalist hegemony of IOI. There is an eerie synchronicity between the fictional conflict and the current confrontation between high school students “woked” by the shootings at the Florida Parkland school and the National Rifle Association with its client politicians.

On a different level, there is complex moral implied by the film: Although virtual pyrotechnics have appeal and may even be addictive, in the end, the suffering and gratifications of reality trump those of the imaginary.

On the other hand, the film describes success, defined as fame and riches, as a reward for knowledge of trivia and skill at gaming—a sharp contrast with the Horatio Alger literature of the Victorian age. Those stories celebrated an ethic of success as a reward for hard work, self-control and honesty.

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Several Bills Focus on Occupational Regulation

A number of bills are being reviewed by lawmakers that concern the occupational boards, regulations, supervision, and other matters.

Representative Julie Emerson’s bill to review and control occupational licenses was adopted on the House floor and is now HB 748. The bill was heard in committee and reported by substitute in a 14 to 0 favorable vote. It is scheduled for floor debate on April 5.

The proposed law creates the office of supervision of occupational boards “office” within the office of the governor. According to the digest, the measure causes a review of occupational licenses and reports to the legislature and attorney general so to recommend the legislature enact legislation that may do any of the following: (a) Repeal occupational regulations; (b) Convert the occupational regulations to less restrictive regulations as defined in R.S. 37:42; (c) Instruct the relevant licensing board or agency to promulgate revised regulations reflecting the legislature’s decision to use a less restrictive regulation. One aim is to increase economic opportunities, promote competition, and encourage innovation.

SB 494 is pending and would establish the Occupational Licensing Review Act. The measure is proposed by Senator Thompson and similar to HB 748. The proposal creates the office of supervision of occupational boards with the office of the governor and provides for repeal of occupational regulations and less restrictive regulations, similar to HB 748. Proposed law provides for interpretation of statutes and rules Proposed law provides for interpretation of statutes and rules so that occupational regulations shall be construed and applied to increase economic opportunities, promote competition, and encourage innovation; that any ambiguities in occupational regulations shall be construed in favor of working licensees, aspiring licensees, and persons aspiring to work in regulated occupations, and that the scope of practice in occupational regulations is to be construed narrowly so as to avoid its application to
individuals who would be burdened by regulatory requirements that are only partially related to the goods and services they provide.

Senator Fred Mills’ bill to restructure health care boards remains pending in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

He has paired down last year’s effort to restructure the health care boards, and is proposing SB40 which contains several of the components of last year’s SB75, including adding a consumer member to each board and removing the professional associations from
the board’s nomination process.

SB40 would transfer the extensive list of boards, commissions and agencies to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). Included will be the boards for psychology, counselors, social workers, and the other 22 healthcare boards. These are the boards for dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, medicine, physical therapy, speech-language, addictive disorders, vocational rehab, behavior analyst and others.

The proposed law adds at least one consumer member to any board that did not previously have one and provides standardized eligibility criteria of consumers to serve on any board.

Present law provides for professional trade associations and other entities to select and submit nominees to the governor for board appointment.

The proposed law opens board nomination eligibility to any member licensed by the board who is interested and eligible. Proposed law requires the board to send notice to its licensees to fill board positions and submit the names of those interested and eligible to serve to the governor for board appointment.

Representative Connick has put forth HB 372 aimed to also address aspects of the anti-trust matters surfaced by a 2015 Supreme Court decision.

The measure would create the Occupational Board Compliance Act. Policies provided in proposed law, are intended to ensure that occupational licensing boards and board members will avoid liability under federal antitrust laws. If passed the law would create the Occupational Licensing Review Commission to be composed of the governor, the secretary of state, and the attorney general or his respective designee. Establishes the governor as the chairman of the commission and the secretary of state as the secretary.

HB 372 would establish the commission’s responsibility for active supervision of state executive branch occupational licensing boards controlled by active market participants to ensure compliance with state policy in the adoption of occupational regulations promulgated by an occupational licensing board, according to the digest.

The present law provides for licensing of behavioral health services providers by the Louisiana Department of Health. The proposed law adds definitions for certified mental health professionals, community psychiatric supportive treatment (CPST), mental health rehabilitation, and psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) to the definition provisions of present law.

If passed the law would be named the “Behavioral Health Services Provider Licensing Reform Law.” At this point is would focus on qualifications for providers for CPST and PSR for Medicaid reimbursement.

“Proposed law provides that only a certified mental health professional or an individual who is not certified, but who met present law criteria for providing PSR services and did so on a full time basis for a year prior to August 1, 2017, may provide PSR services and be reimbursed by the department for providing the services.

“Proposed law provides that CPST shall be provided by a certified mental health professional with a master’s or doctorate in counseling, social work, or psychology from an accredited university or college.

“Proposed law provides that in order to receive Medicaid reimbursement for CPST or PSR services, the provider agency, certified mental health professional, or other individuals allowed by law, shall have a national provider identification number, be fully accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization, be licensed by the department, and be credentialed by the Medicaid managed care organization in which the provider intends to submit claims for services.”

CPST is a face-to-face intervention with the individual present. A minimum of fifty-one percent of CPST contacts must occur in community locations where the person lives, works, attends school, or socializes. “Mental health rehabilitation” means outpatient behavioral health services which are medically necessary to reduce the disability. These services are home- and communitybased and are provided on an as-needed basis. PSR is designed to assist the individual with compensating for or eliminating functional deficits and interpersonal or environmental barriers associated with mental illness.

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Suicide Prevention Act Passes House Vote

HB 148 by Representative Reid Falconer, the “Louisiana Suicide Prevention Act,” was reported favorably in a 9 to 0 vote out of committee on March 22 and passed the House this week in an 85 to 0 vote.

The initiative requires the office of behavioral health to ensure that administrators of all healthcare facilities licensed by LDH and that all healthcare professionals licensed by any Louisiana board or commission have ready access to informational resources and technical assistance necessary for implementation of the zero suicide initiative.

The office of behavioral health is to examine and coordinate the use of existing data to identify priority groups of patients, improve the quality of care for persons who are suicidal, and provide a basis for measuring progress in the ongoing operation of the zero suicide initiative.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, the proposed law will increase SGF expenditures for the LA Dept. of Health, Office of Behavioral Health by an indeterminable amount. Cost estimates provided by OBH indicate that expenditures are anticipated to total approximately $748,950 in FY 19 with a phaseup of to approximately $792,900 in FY 20 before leveling off at approximately $790,000 in FY 22 and in subsequent years.

OBH reports a need for 2 positions for expanded personnel associated with the initiative. The 2 positions contemplated are a program manager ($123,617 salary and related benefits annually) and a program monitor ($108,015 salary and related benefits annually) for annual total costs of approximately $232,000. Personnel expenditures will be prorated for 9 months in FY 19, which will total $174,000. A majority of the projected recurring expenditure increases ($438,000), will be undertaken by the Human Services Districts and Authorities that will implement the initiative at the local level statewide via interagency transfers from OBH, reported the Fiscal Office.

If passed, the proposal will require a “State Suicide Prevention Plan” to be created and office of behavioral health shall collaborate with criminal justice and health systems, including mental health and behavioral health systems, primary care providers, physical and mental health clinics in educational institutions, colleges and universities, community mental health centers, advocacy groups, emergency medical services professionals, public and private insurers, hospital chaplains, and faith-based organizations to develop and implement all of the following, which shall be included as elements within the state suicide prevention plan.

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