Author Archives: Susan

Dr. Tony Puente and Dr. Art Graesser Keynote Speakers at LPA Convention

Dr. Antonio Puente, the 2017 President of the American Psychological Association, and Dr. Art Graesser, Professor in the Psychology Department and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the U. of Memphis and Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford, will lead off keynote addresses for 2019 Annual Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association, to be held in June 14 and 15 at the Sheraton Galleria in New Orleans–Metairie.

Dr. Puente will deliver the Janet and Lee Matthews Invited Address on the opening day, a sentimental event following the death of community leader Dr. Janet Matthews in late March.

Puente, who will speak on “Making a Difference: Psychology’s Identity & Contributions in the Coming Decades,” has been at the forefront of changes in the profession, and the first and only psychologist ever to serve on the CPT committee, a key working group that helps define how healthcare services are structured through the codes and definitions. He lectures around the country about the issues affecting psychologists now and in the future.

Dr. Graesser is an expert in cognitive science, discourse processing, artificial intelligence and learning, who will deliver the Century Members Invited Address on Saturday, “Collaborative Problem Solving, Communication, and Comprehension in the 21st Century.”

Graesser is the lead author for “Advancing the Science of Collaborative Problem Solving,” the recent issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Dr. Puente has presented his insider knowledge and thoughtful views about the sweeping changes in healthcare, tracking the payment changes such as those impacting issues of chronic diseases, care transition groups, team and interdisciplinary care, and population management. He has pointed to a “tsunai of change” before it started and follows the shifts to comprehensive care, uniformity, and integrative care, and the focus on performance.

Puente has said that the current and future paradigms include boutique services, prevention, integrative & multidisciplinary, and performance based reimbursement and a shift from federal to state.

For 15 years, Puente was the APA representative to the CPT system and was the person responsible for the adding the words, “Qualified Healthcare Professional,” to healthcare terms. For reasons that were very complicated and that he doesn’t fully understand, he ended up on the select, 17person team, CPT Editorial Panel. He was the only psychologist in that group, the only psychologist that’s ever been on the panel, and only the third non-physician that has ever been on the panel.

Dr. Graesser, who will deliver the Saturday keynote, says that collaborative problem-solving is a 21st century skill that is critical to efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation in the modern world.

Collaborative problem-solving is needed, not for routine work, or even team work, but for that event when a group must solve a novel problem where little or no plan for success exists and where team members are interdependent, each with different resources and knowledge, he has explained.

“CPS is an essential skill in the home, the workforce, and the community,” he writes, “because many of the problems faced in the modern world require teams to integrate group achievements with team members’ idiosyncratic knowledge. CPS requires both cognitive and social skills.” He and others note that we are in a new age, an age where rapid growth in information and technology is creating complexity in social, political, and economic systems. Everything is affected–– education, healthcare, big industry, small business and even family and home life. Problems are larger and more complex, they span disciplines, people and geography. What was once simple is no longer simple or routine.

Psychological scientists have made a distinction between shallow knowledge––the kind of cognitive information useful for solving simple, routine problems––and deep knowledge.

“Deep knowledge,” writes Dr. Art Graesser, expert in both collaborative problemsolving and artificial intelligence, “is achieved to the extent that learners comprehend difficult technical material, construct mental models of systems, solve problems, justify claims with evidence and
logical arguments, identify inaccurate information, resolve contradictions, quantify ideas precisely, and build artifacts.”

Deep knowledge can be trained into each individual, says Graesser. But another, and sometimes more efficient approach is to train individuals “… to better participate in collaborative problem solving so that groups can collectively master and implement deep knowledge.”

Dr. Tucker Looks at “Nudges” to Aid in Suicide Prevention

Dr. Raymond Tucker is again at the forefront of new research for suicide prevention. Last month he and collaborators authored “A Nudge in a New Direction: Integrating Behavioral Economic Strategies Into Suicide Prevention Work,” published in Clinical Psychological Science.

Dr. Tucker is Assistant Professor of Psychology, Louisiana State University (LSU), and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center /Our Lady of the Lake.

In the “Nudge” research, Tucker and co-authors looked at how behavioral economic strategies––using psychological phenomena to improve decision-making–– could improve efforts in suicide prevention. The strategies included nudges where social norms are tweaked, slight changes in question framing are applied, and adjusting item counts, are used to gently shape individual’s decision toward positive outcomes.

“Our research demonstrated that simply, how we advertise online suicide prevention materials can increase public awareness about suicide,” Dr. Tucker said. “College students asked to interact with an online suicide prevention program to help their loved ones cope with suicidal thoughts were 167% more likely to use the resource compared to those asked to click on the resource to help themselves navigate thoughts of suicide they may have in the future.”

“Although this change in wording may seem small, the theory of messaging resources this way is backed by work in behavioral economics and nudge messaging,” Tucker explained. “Specifically, most adults show an ‘optimism bias’ or a belief that negative things are less likely to happen to themselves in the future compared to others. Thus, a ‘nudge’ or change in wording to market mental health materials as helping others, not oneself, can help offset the optimism bias.”

Dr. Tucker’s research broadly focuses on the enhancement of theoretical models of suicide and suicide risk assessment tools, and he has published over 50 peer reviewed academic publications regarding suicide risk and resilience. He is a former member of the board of directors of the American Association of Suicidology and is a consulting editor for the academic journals Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior and Archives of Suicide Research.

“As suicide prevention continues to extend outside of the therapy office to include public health approaches,” he said, “such as reducing access to lethal means such as firearms, the way suicide prevention resources are communicated to the public will benefit from lessons learned from decades of behavioral economics research.”

Tucker also serves as a consultant for Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) Care and provides trainings in the evidencebased suicide prevention framework to behavioral health providers across the country. He was named the Outstanding Psychology Trainee throughout the VA healthcare system by Division 18 of the American Psychological Association.

What does he think are the most important issues in suicide prevention that psychologists should know about? Two stand out for him.

“There is an evidence base for providing suicide specific care,” he said, compared to treatment as usual where a practitioner treats mental health concerns while managing suicide risk. He explained that just recently a large review and metaanalysis, the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Suicide Prevention,
compared treatment as usual to specific care.

“This meta-analysis demonstrated that these suicide-specific interventions, ones that few are trained on, enhance protection against suicidal thoughts and behaviors above standard psychotherapy for mental health concerns. Thus, suicide-specific care may help prevent suicide in patient populations.”

“The second point that stands out is that we are not likely to make meaningful changes in the countries suicide rate by providing better mental healthcare,” he said. “Suicide has increased by 30% since 1999 and over this time, research has clearly indicated that suicide is not just a manifestation of an untreated mental health disorder. Access to firearms, social and economic inequality, and even a state’s minimum wage systematically relates to suicide death at the state level. Scholars in suicide prevention argue that adequate mental healthcare is part of, but not the only piece of, reducing the alarming increase in suicide in the U.S.”

At LSU Dr. Tucker leads the Mitigation of Suicidal Behavior (MOSB) laboratory, where he and his students conduct research to guide suicide prevention efforts. “The MOSB lab is a community-based research program that uses research to enhance theoretical models of why people die by suicide as well as interventions and assessment methods based on these models. The MOSB lab is part of suicide prevention efforts on LSU’s campus as well as the department of psychiatry at Our Lady of the Lake.

“We also are involved in the National Suicidology Training Center (NSTC) housed at Baton Rouge the Crisis Intervention Center to improve healthcare provider training in suicide prevention. Across these partnerships, the lab has tested militaryspecific risk factors for suicide in Army soldiers and Veterans, how people’s stories about surviving a suicide attempt may increase help-seeking for mental health concerns, and how the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality can be used in medical settings to enhance suicide risk assessment and treatment.

PTSD to Be Covered for Firemen, Police

After being amended on both the House and Senate Floors, Senator Gatti’s SB 107, which adds PTSD to injuries covered by workers’ compensation for certain public employees, passed. The House vote was 99 to 0 and Senate was 34 to 0.

Amendments included: Specify that the posttraumatic stress injury shall be caused by an event occurring in the course and scope of employment and which the preponderance of evidence indicates that the event was a substantial contributing factor; Remove the determination and factors of whether the evidence presented to determine if an employee has a posttraumatic stress injury has successfully rebutted the presumptions provided for posttraumatic stress injury; and Add that a posttraumatic stress injury that arises solely from a legitimate personnel action such as a transfer, promotion, demotion, or termination, is not a compensable injury under present law.

The newest digest indicates that while present law requires the state fire marshal to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer members who participate in the normal functions of the fire company, the new law will also now require upon the purchase of a new policy or renewal of an existing policy, that any workers’ compensation policy which provides coverage for a volunteer member of a fire company, pursuant to present law, will include coverage for posttraumatic stress injury.

The new law provides that any volunteer member of a fire company who is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with posttraumatic stress injury, either during his period of voluntary service or thereafter, shall be presumed, prima facie, to have a disease or infirmity connected with his volunteer service.

Once diagnosed with posttraumatic stress injury the volunteer member affected or his survivors shall be entitled to all rights and benefits as granted by present law to one suffering from an occupational disease.

The new law also provides that, except as provided in proposed law, any local emergency medical services personnel, any employee of a local police department, or any local fire employee who is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with posttraumatic stress injury, either during employment or thereafter, shall be presumed, prima facie, to have a disease or infirmity connected with his employment.

An employee of the division of state police who is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with posttraumatic stress injury, either during employment or thereafter,
shall be presumed, prima facie, to have a disease or infirmity connected with his employment for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.

Once diagnosed with posttraumatic stress injury the employee of the division of state police affected or his survivors shall be entitled to all rights and benefits as granted by state workers’ compensation law, as service connected in the line of duty, regardless of whether the employee is employed at the time of diagnosis.

The new law provides that a posttraumatic stress injury that arises solely from a legitimate personnel action such as a transfer, promotion, demotion, or termination, is not a compensable injury pursuant to present law. The law is set to become effective August 1, 2019.

Avengers: End Game

by Alvin G. Burstein

Avengers: End Game is the capstone of a decade of Marvel Comics super-hero sagas. It is a three-hour blockbuster loaded with features that will entertain viewers and deeply gratify followers of Captain America and his superhero team and their battles against forces of evil. The Avengers series has antecedents in a complex of earlier superhero Marvel productions whose central characters reappear in the Avenger episodes over the last seven years.

The film is a commercial and critical success, with a lot going for it. It brings Avenger fans up to date after the dire events in its immediate predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. It is studded with techno-glitz and special effects. There are mega-battle scenes with suspenseful action in the struggle for control of the Infinity Stones that the arch-villain, Thanos, used to decimate the planet in Infinity War.

But there are layers, complexities, that add to the film’s richness. One is its focus on an aspect of super-hero status that goes beyond special powers, those beyond ordinary human capability. That aspect is one that is admirable, but very human—self-sacrifice, caring for others.

C. S. Lewis, the Christian apologist, described four kinds of human love. Need love, for those who meet one’s needs; companionate love, for those who share a goal or interest; erotic love, sharing intimate knowledge of each other; and Agape, altruistic love, love that is not earned. The Avenger team members not only help one another, they care deeply for one another and risk sacrificing themselves, not just for one another, but also for humankind. While Lewis thinks of altruism as a virtue for ordinary humans, he takes it to be one that is the closest approach an ordinary human can make to God’s caring.

So, beyond a spectacle of titanic struggle, The End Game is a love story, a celebration of human, not super-human, love.

And then there is another layer. The film has an elegiac quality, it is suffused with sadness and a recognition of loss. I want to avoid spoilers, but there are painful losses at the film’s ending, and, though there are torches passed, there is a loss of innocence, a recognition that things can never be the same.

So it’s quite a film.

But critical honesty requires acknowledging some downsides. I had the sense that some of the depiction of black and female warriors, while politically correct in the best sense, had a formulaic edge. “Hero” has a masculine implication and “heroine” is not quite in the lexicon of the series. Generally speaking, too, the characters of color and women characters are less fully developed than those of their white male counterparts. And some questions about time travel and the film’s solution to the impact of changing the past—parallel universes—raises questions that don’t get addressed.

But it remains quite a film.

Gov Edwards Comments: US News &World Report Ranks Louisiana 50th

For the second year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has placed Louisiana at the bottom in their rankings of states. In the report, Louisiana’s total rank of 50th was a result of ranking 45th in health care, 48th in education, 49th in the economy, 48th in infrastructure, 50th in opportunity, 43rd in fiscal stability, 50th in crime and corrections, and in 50th in natural environment.

Washington state ranked first followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, and then Vermont.
At the bottom of the list rankings slightly higher than Louisiana, was Alabama at 49th, Mississippi at 48th, West Virginia at 47th, and New Mexico at 46th.

In a press release on May 14 governor Edwards said, “Unfortunately, this ranking doesn’t accurately reflect the progress Louisiana has made in recent years and how much better we are doing today, given the gains that we have made in many critical areas that directly impact people’s lives.

“Louisianans know how much better we’re doing now than when we were facing down a $2 billion dollar deficit just a few years back. By working together across party lines, we’ve stabilized our budget, turned deficits into a surplus, are investing more in education at all levels and focusing on our infrastructure for the first time in years. We have improved our health care by extending coverage to thousands of working adults, we no longer have the highest prison population in the country, and higher education funding is fully stable.

“It takes time for improvement to show up in data, and some of the U.S. News and World Report’s data sources are several years old, which is frustrating. But we know we’re doing far better than we were years ago and we fully expect that will show up in future rankings.”

Governor Edwards Issues Executive Order in Battle Over Pre-Existing Health Conditions

One of the Governor’s priorities for this legislative session was protecting health insurance coverage for Louisianans with pre-existing conditions. The effort took a hit when Representative Chad Brown’s HB 237 was involuntarily deferred in Committee on Insurance. HB 237 would have prohibited health plans or health insurers from discriminating against a health insurance applicant based upon pre- existing conditions or health status.

On May 21, the Governor announced that he had issued an Executive Order establishing the Protecting Health Coverage in Louisiana Task Force, following efforts to repeal the protections offered to Louisianans with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Protecting coverage for the 850,000 Louisiana residents with preexisting conditions is a top concern of mine and should be a top concern for all lawmakers,” Gov. Edwards said. “Unfortunately, the Attorney General opted to join Louisiana into a lawsuit that threatens the coverage protections offered under the Affordable Care Act. One of the discussed solutions includes taking Louisiana back to the days of the high-risk pool, which only covered around one percent of people prior to the ACA. While we must take any step possible toward protecting our people, we can’t falsely claim we’ve completely solved this problem and risk tragedy for vulnerable people. Louisianans deserve better.”

The new Task Force includes the Governor, the head of the Louisiana Department of Health, the Insurance Commissioner, the Attorney General, members of the Louisiana Legislature, representatives of the insurance industry and health care consumer groups and experts in economic and fiscal modeling.

In the Executive Order the Governor noted, “… 849,000 non-elderly Louisianans had a declinable preexisting medical condition under medical underwriting practices in place prior to the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); … that included, but were not limited to: Alzheimer’s/ dementia, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, mental disorders, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke;…” […]

“Attorney General Jeff Landry joined a lawsuit, Texas v. Azar, seeking to invalidate the entire ACA;..” the Governor wrote, and said “invalidation of the ACA would eliminate health protections for people with preexisting conditions, eliminate financial assistance for people receiving coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, and eliminate health insurance for Louisianans receiving coverage through Medicaid Expansion;

Also he wrote, “the Attorney General’s attempted fix in the event he is successful in eliminating the protections of the ACA is contained in SB 173 of the 2019 Regular Session;…” and “this legislation does not provide for the needed protections of the ACA but does include a nebulous study to create a ‘Guaranteed Benefits Pool’ under the exclusive purview of the Commissioner of Insurance;

“… the State’s pre-ACA high risk pool only covered one (1) percent of Louisianans in the individual insurance market; …” he wrote.

Because of what the Governor views as an incomplete and insufficient approach, he is directing that, “No executive branch departments of the State of Louisiana shall abridge a person’s access to health insurance as prescribed by state and federal law.”

And he created the “The Protecting Health Coverage in Louisiana Task Force” is hereby established within the Executive Department.

The duties of the Task Force include, but are not limited to, the following: The Task Force shall develop policy proposals to maintain health care coverage for Louisianans at risk of losing health insurance or health protections due to Texas v. Azar. The Task Force shall study and develop policy proposals to mitigate the impact of the loss of preexisting condition protections including, but not limited to: 1) guaranteed issue; 2) preexisting condition exclusion prohibition; 3) prohibition of lifetime and annual limits on coverage; 4) essential health benefits, 5) nondiscrimination. The Task Force shall study and develop policy proposals to mitigate the impact of more than 465,000 Louisianans losing Medicaid coverage due to Texas v. Azar. The Task Force shall study and develop policy proposals to determine the aggregate funding needed and financing options for the health coverage and health protections afforded by the ACA. The Task Force shall study and develop policy proposals to maximize insurance coverage and minimize out-of-pocket medical costs in Louisiana.

The members shall include: The Governor, or designee; The Secretary of Health, or designee; The Commissioner of Insurance, or designee; The Attorney General, or designee; The Chairmen of the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees, or their designees; Two at-large members representing consumer health groups, appointed by
the Governor; Two at-large members representing the insurance industry appointed by the Governor; and One at-large member with expertise in economics and/or fiscal modeling, appointed by the Governor.

Ψ We Remember Dr. Janet Matthews

Dr. Janet R. Matthews, “cherished and esteemed” colleague to many in the psychology community, died March 31, 2019, in Metairie, Louisiana, after a struggle with cancer. She was 73.

Dr. Matthews was known to be a remarkably competent person in all of her many roles–– educator, mentor, leader, author, and professional psychologist. She gave generously of her time, knowledge, and experience to others, and attracted them to her with her knowledge, wit and wisdom. Her strength, kindness and common sense made her a rock of the community.

“Janet was a powerful force in my professional life from my time at Loyola until the present day. I will always carry her with me,” wrote Dr. Laurel Franklin Harlin, colleague of Janet’s.

Dr. John Robinson, now Professor Emeritus at Howard University in Washington, DC, said, “Janet was my supporter…. my colleague…….my mentor…….and my dear friend.”

“Janet was as an absolute giant in psychology,” wrote Dr. Christoph Leonhard, “not just in Louisiana but nationwide. I personally was lucky to benefit from her wise and warmhearted council on many occasions and will forever be indebted to her …”.

The outstanding service and accomplishments of Dr. Janet Matthew’s life have left an “indelible mark on her colleagues, her students, her profession, and her community,” said a message from the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Dr. Matthews was a clinical and neuropsychologist, and held the diplomat in clinical from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She served as Full Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans until retirement.

Her contributions included extensive professional service, including the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association (APA) and president of multiple APA divisions and organizations. She was honored as a Distinguished Practitioner by the National Academy of Practice and earned both the Mentoring award from Section IV (the Clinical Psychology of Women) of the APA Division of Clinical Psychology and later the Lifetime contribution to clinical psychology award.

She was named the 2011 Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association for life achievements.

A Full Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, she served the university in numerous areas, including the Faculty Senate, the Arts & Sciences Awards Committee, the Psychology  Department Curriculum Assessment Committee and the Advisory Board for University Honors Program. She was the faculty advisor for the Psychology Club and received her university’s award for Excellence in Advising.

Janet published five books including Introduction to Clinical Psychology published by Oxford University Press and Your Practicum in Psychology: A Guide for Maximizing Knowledge and Competence published by APA. She was a contributing author for 13 book chapters including
“Clinical psychology: Ethics of Therapists,” in The Handbook of 21st Century Psychology, published by Sage.

She has published over 80 journal articles, including her many contributions to Journal of Personality Assessment, Journal of Medical Education, Teaching of Psychology, Professional Psychology, and American Psychologist. And she presented over 100 professional presentations.

Dr. Matthews reviewed for PsyCRITIQUES and for Teaching of Psychology. She was a textbook reviewer for APA Publications, Harper Collins, Macmillian, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley, Harcourt Brace and others. She served as Consulting Editor for Teaching of Psychology.

Janet also served as an item writer for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and she worked on the Advisory Panel for the G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series at APA.

She served on the Advisory Board of the American Board of Assessment Psychology and was Associate Editor of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

Dr. Janet Matthews “loved professional service,” she said in 2009, explaining her long-standing involvement and depth of service in the American Psychological Association, punctuated by a position on the APA Board of Directors.

Janet also served as Chair of APA’s Board of Educational Affairs. She was President of Division 31, President of Division 2, and Division 12 sections IV & IX, and Secretary-Treasurer of Division 2 and Secretary of Division 12. She was a Fellow in APA Divisions 1, 2, 12, 29, 31, 35, 40, 42, and 52.

She was Chair of APA’s Committee Undergraduate Education, Board of Professional Affairs, Policy & Planning Board and Membership Committee, on the Council of Representatives for both Division 2 and Division 12, Ethics Committee for Division 2, Committee on Adulthood & Aging Division 42, and Fellows Committee Division 12, among many other contributions.

Janet was a member of Southwestern Psychological Association where she has served as President, President-elect, and as Secretary-Treasurer. She was a longtime member of the Louisiana Psychological Association, the Southeastern Psychological Association, the Association of Women in Psychology, the National Academy of Neuropsychology, and the International Neuropsychological Society. She was a member of the International Council of Psychologists, and the National Academies of Practice – Psychology, and member of the former New Orleans Neuropsychological Society, and served as president & secretary.

She served a full five-year term on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, including chair.

At Loyola, Dr. Janet Matthews was able to do what she truly loved. “I love teaching,” she said in 2009. “Teaching is the focus of my university. I love mentoring and keeping in touch with my students. I can tell you where dozens of my former students are now as practicing psychologists, because we keep in contact– constantly.” Her love of teaching and mentoring was reflected in the number of her former students who remained in regular contact with her.

She held a strong belief in the value of learning psychology. In 2015 she said that psychology enriched students’ lives and that was why it was so popular. “The material can be applied to a myriad of life experiences,” she said. “Thus, they have immediate relevance rather than something which needs multiple layers and future application.” It was important for today’s young adults, she said, “Because it can be used to better understand their world.”

She is survived by her beloved husband of 53 years, Dr. Lee H. Matthews of Kenner, also a very accomplished psychologist.

“I got into psychology in a somewhat atypical way,” Janet once explained. “I married a psychology major.” As an undergraduate at the University of Tampa, set to study law, she became engaged to her husband and soul mate, Lee, a psychology major, and “that was it.”

Their lives together took them to Trinity University and then to Kent State, and three during the Kent State shootings. Janet did not know for hours if Lee was safe. After that, Janet packed them up immediately and the couple headed back to San Antonio and Fort Sam Houston. The next years took them to North Carolina and Pembroke State University, then to Old Miss for doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, internships at U. of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, to a
teaching position at Creighton University, -and finally to New Orleans and Loyola.

Janet once explained how the couple always worked flexibly with the demands of dual careers, “That’s who we are. Its so much of what we do.” Janet and Lee wrote together on the subject: “A professional pair at the job market,” in American Psychologist, and “Husband/Wife psychologists describe life in post-hurricane Louisiana” in The National Psychologist. They authored their book Dual Career Couples, “Going shopping: The professional couple in the job market;” and a book chapter in Your Career in Psychology.

The Louisiana Psychological Association recently passed a resolution to honor Janet, writing, “…to acknowledge with gratitude the outstanding service and accomplishments of her life and the indelible mark she has left on her colleagues, her students, her profession, and her community.”

“… the members of the Council, and on behalf of the membership of the Louisiana Psychological Association, do hereby express sincere sorrow at the death of Dr. Janet Matthews whose loss leaves a void in our community and in our hearts, and extend posthumous tribute to her distinguished career of excellence and her commendable service to the community and her colleagues.”

Dr. Bill McCown, said, “Janet was indeed one of our few true legends. Her immense intelligence and wisdom were only equaled by her commitment to our profession–and by her heart. She always seemed to represent the best of what Psychology could be, even in our worst times. Perhaps her legacy needs to be for us to somehow come together more fully and rededicate our efforts towards the memory of this remarkable professional and human.”

“Janet was a friend and most respected colleague,” wrote Dr. Michael Chafetz. “She was a shining star in her leadership in the Psychology community as a teacher, researcher, mentor, noted author, organizer, leader, and just all-around Mensch!”

Janet was born September 2, 1944 in New York City, the daughter of the late Eugene Travis and Louise Baker Rogers. She is survived by her beloved husband of 53 years, Dr. Lee H. Matthews of Kenner, LA and their cat Judy as well as two cousins, Dr. Philip Rogers and wife Dr. Rima Salys of Boulder, CO, and Ms. Denise Rogers of Jackson, NJ.

The family invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online at www.lakelawnmetairie.com

Bill to Create Services for Trafficking Victims Passes Senate and Goes to House Health & Welfare Committee

SB 145 by Sen. Ronnie Johns was heard in committee, amended and passed to the Senate Floor where it was supported by favorable vote of 38 yeas and no nays. In the House it was referred to the Committee on Health & Welfare. It passed the Senate on April 29.

If it were to become law, the measure provides that, subject to appropriation by the legislature, the Dept. of Children and Family Services, working in collaboration with the Dept. of Health, and the Family in Need of Services Assistance Program, with the assistance of the La. Alliance of Children’s Advocacy Centers, to create a coalition to develop a human trafficking victim services
delivery model.

The proposed law further provides that the model is to be developed with consideration of the recommendations of and collaborating with the La. Human Trafficking Prevention Commission and Advisory Board, and provide a multidisciplinary and agency approach that coordinates resources and improves the statewide response and delivery of services to victims.

The new would designate that the human trafficking victim services delivery model is to provide a plan to address and promote the following goals including but not limited to:

(1) Safe and sufficient placements. (2) Available and adequate funding sources. (3) Stakeholder partnerships. (4) Coordinated response. (5) Appropriate and responsive services.

The Dept. of Children and Family Services is to promulgate any rules necessary to implement the provisions of proposed law, and that the Dept. of Children and Family Services is to provide a report on the development of the coalition’s services delivery model to the Senate and House
Committees on Health and Welfare by June 30, 2020, and annually thereafter until completion of the model.

Measure to Prohibit Cherry Picking by Insurance Venders Involuntarily Deferred

HB 237, a measure put forth by Rep. Chad Brown and supported by the Governor, to prohibit
discrimination by health insurance issuers in the individual market and small and large group
market based on health status, and from imposing any preexisting condition exclusion with respect to the plan or coverage, was involuntarily deferred in Committee on Insurance. The measure also took on six amendments.

The proposed law, if it would have passed, requires a health insurance issuer to include mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, and preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.

“Proposed law requires a health insurance issuer offering health insurance coverage in the
individual or group market to renew or continue in force the coverage at the option of the plan sponsor or the individual, as applicable, except that the issuer may nonrenew or discontinue health insurance coverage based only on a failure to pay premiums or contributions, an act or practice that constitutes fraud or an intentional misrepresentation of material fact under the terms of the coverage, or the issuer is ceasing to offer coverage in the market.”

The new law prohibits a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage from establishing rules for eligibility, including continued
eligibility, of any individual to enroll under the terms of the plan based on any of the following
health status-related factors in relation to the individual or a dependent of the individual:
(1) Health status.
(2) Medical condition, including both physical and mental illnesses.
(3) Claims experience.
(4) Receipt of health care.
(5) Medical history.
(6) Genetic information.
(7) Evidence of insurability, including conditions arising out of acts of domestic violence.
(8) Disability.
(9) Any other health status-related factor determined appropriate by the commissioner of insurance.

The proposed law prohibits a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage in La. from establishing lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for any participant or beneficiary.

Penguins: A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

Penguins is literally spectacular. It immerses the viewer in the dramatic panorama of the Antarctica, not a frozen solitude, but the setting of an incredible avian migration and its complex context. If that were not enough to make it worth the price of admission, the
opening credits remind us of contributions by the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund—about eleven million dollars in the last twenty-five years.

The film centers on the yearly return of thousands of Adéli penguins to Antarctica to breed and to nurture their young, spending months there until the fledglings are mature enough to  survive at sea. It is probably unsurprising that the inventive genius that gave us Mickey and Minnie Mouse, rodents transmogrified into quasi-humans to entrance their young audience,
would personify a penguin couple, Steve and Adeline and their tribulations as quasi-human parents. The narrative device, which wins the hearts as well as minds of the audience, is magnified by providing Steve with a self-awareness—questionable for the species—that his human voicing shares with the audience. With artful effect, Steve reveals himself as a Chaplinesque comedian bumbling his way through a series of trials and engaging our affections as he, like Charlie, manages improbably to win the heart of his inamorata.

In striking contrast with its elements of humor and romance, the film reminds us that nature has a harsh, unforgiving side, what Tennyson had in mind when he alluded to “nature, red in tooth and claw.” There is heart-stopping suspense as Steve, Adeline and their brood struggle to survive, not only violent and unpredictable weather, but murderous predators: petrels, leopard seals, and killer whales.

Some questions, maybe quibbles, arise about the film. It is presented as a bildungsroman, a coming of age story, centered on Steve’s transition from adolescence to adulthood. The focus on Steve, and, in particular, his gadabout nature, might seem an unintended endorsement of
male privilege. His self-awareness might seem to diminish the important role of instinctive unfolding in animal behavior illustrated by Lorenz and the ducklings that imprinted on him as their “mother.” The curious Adéli rite of collecting pebbles for the nest stands as an example of elaborate behavior that might challenge simplistic forms  of evolutionary psychology. Finally, one wonders if the exclusive focus on tenderness in Steve’s and Adeline’s relationship signals a prudish avoidance of documenting their copulation.

Overall, this Disneynature enterprise, Penguins, like travel in Disney World, is a confection. It is tasty, tasteful, delicious and informative, but its artfulness calls for quotation marks around “nature.”

Natural Chemical Helps Brain Adapt to Stress

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have identified a natural signaling
molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain that play a critical role in
stress-resilience. The endocannabinoid family of signaling molecules that activate CB1
and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain were investigated by Sachin Patel, M.D.,
Ph.D., the director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University
Medical Center. Patel indicated that finding ways to boost the signaling system could
represent a new treatment approach for many stress-linked disorders.

The endocannabinoids are endogenous ligands in the brain that activate CB1 and CB2.
While the endocannabinoids are a biochemistry topic too complex for this cursory look,
the effects of CB1 and CB2 have broad implications for the treatment and possible
prevention of disorders like major depression and PTSD. CB1 is found mostly in the
brain and central nervous system and to a lesser extent in other tissues. CB2 is mostly
found in peripheral organs and cells that service the immune system. CBD, which is now
generally available in several forms do not directly activated CB1 or 2; however, the
effects of CBD are foreshadowing the potential for treatment of not just mood disorders
but many other stress-related or stress-affected disorders, like diabetes, obesity,
memory, anxiety and neurodegenerative disorders.

Boosting this signaling system holds great promise. In fact, THC, the active compound
in marijuana, binds the CB1 receptor, which may explain why relief of tension and
anxiety is the most common reason cited by people who use marijuana chronically.
Patel and his colleagues previously have found CB1 receptors in the amygdala, a key
emotional hub in the brain involved in regulating anxiety and the fight-or-flight response.
They also showed in animal models that anxiety increases when the CB1 receptor is
blocked by a drug or its gene is deleted.

In the current study1 the researchers tested the effects of increasing or depleting the
supply of one endocannabinoid (2-AG) in the amygdala in two populations of mice: one
previously determined to be susceptible to the adverse consequences of acute stress,
and the other which exhibited stress-resilience. Augmenting the 2-AG supply increased
the proportion of stress-resilient mice overall and promoted resilience in mice that were
previously susceptible to stress, whereas depleting 2-AG rendered previously stressresilient mice susceptible to developing anxiety-like behaviors after exposure to acute
stress.

Taken together, these results suggest that 2-AG signaling through the CB1 receptor in
the amygdala promotes resilience to the adverse effects of acute traumatic stress
exposure and supports previous findings in animal models and humans suggesting that
2-AG deficiency could contribute to development of stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Marijuana use is highly cited by patients with PTSD as a way to control symptoms.
However, marijuana use in psychiatric disorders has obvious drawbacks including
possible addiction and cognitive side effects, among others. The Vanderbilt study
suggests that increasing production of natural cannabinoids may be an alternative
strategy to harness the therapeutic potential of this signaling system. For instance, once
levels of the endocannabinoids can be efficiently measured in humans, those identified
with low levels of the signaling system responsible for stress-related mood and anxiety
disorders could have their supply replenished without the complications of using
marijuana.

Rebecca J. Bluett, Rita Báldi, Andre Haymer, Andrew D. Gaulden, Nolan D. Hartley,
Walker P. Parrish, Jordan Baechle, David J. Marcus, Ramzi Mardam-Bey, Brian C. Shonesy,
Md. Jashim Uddin, Lawrence J. Marnett, Ken Mackie, Roger J. Colbran, Danny G. Winder,
Sachin Patel. Endocannabinoid signalling modulates susceptibility to traumatic stress
exposure. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14782

Governor Edwards Promotes Bi-Partisan Efforts and Announces Priorities

Governor Edwards announced his Legislative Agenda last month and said that he was excited to work in a bi-partisan manner, outlining key pieces of legislation that he would support. Included were a variety of health and education reforms.

Representative Chad Brown’s HB 237 would protect nearly 850,000 Louisianans with a preexisting condition by prohibiting health plans or health insurers from discriminating against a health insurance applicant based upon preexisting conditions or health status.

SCR 3 by Senator Blade Morrish and HCR 1 by Representative Nancy Landry provides for a
$1,000 pay raise for teachers or certificated personnel, a $500 pay raise for school support
or non-certificated personnel. Eliminating pay secrecy by prohibiting employers from taking actions against employees for inquiring about, discussing or disclosing their wages or another employee’s wages is another of the Governor’s objectives in SB 136 by Senator J.P. Morrell.

HB 391 by Rep. Franklin Foil establishes “The Veterans First Business Initiative”, a statewide
initiative designed to identify veteran owned businesses in Louisiana, create a veteran owned business designation that they can use, and produce a state database for Louisianans to search for various goods or services of veteran owned businesses.

To increase prescription drug transparency, the governor will support legislation sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, SB 41, to provide the regulatory framework necessary for the Louisiana Department of Insurance, Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, and Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to respond to consumer and provider complaints against PBMs. Pharmacy Benefit
Managers (PBMs) are third party administrators, “middlemen,” contracted by health plans, employers, and government entities to manage prescription drug programs on behalf of health plan beneficiaries. The three regulatory bodies will have specific licensure requirements that must be met to be in good standing and operation in Louisiana.

For HB 243, Rep. Dustin Miller and the Governor hope to address opioid-related harm through policy change to establish an enhanced data reporting of fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses where opioids were suspected or present. This legislation will create mechanisms for rapid surveillance of overdoses in the state, and lead to data-driven decisions for targeted prevention, ntervention, and treatment in areas of the state with the most prevalent challenges.

“I am proud of the momentum we are experiencing in the state of Louisiana,” said the Governor. “We have turned the $2 billion deficit I inherited at the start of my administration into a budget surplus….”

April is Cell Phone Distraction Month

April is Cell Phone Distraction Awareness Month. Scholars, researchers, psychologists, attorneys, counselors and others are asked make efforts to advise the public about the realities of cell phone distraction, explains Dr. Theodore S. (Scott) Smith from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and leads research in his lab, The Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, where he is interested in how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom. He also looks at how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Smith has authored Cell Phone Distraction, Human Factors, and Litigation, published by Judges and Lawyers Publishing and which is becoming a popular resource for legal professionals.

The impact of cell phone distraction while driving is emphasized each year in April by the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC says that the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three straight years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths. This is a 14 percent increase from 2014. Overall, this escalation of roadway injuries is the most dramatic seen in 53 years, said the Council.

Every day at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the Council. Cell phones, dashboard touchscreens, voice commands and other in-vehicle technologies pose a threat to people’s safety. An NSC survey of the risky things drivers do while on the highway, found that 47 percent of people either text manually or work through voice controls, while driving.

Louisiana State University cognitive psychologist Dr. Melissa Beck also conducts research for “inattention blindness” that affects us when we are driving. Working with simulators at the Civil Engineering Department, Beck and her associates have published results of her studies in this area. She directs the Beck Visual Cognition Lab at Louisiana State University Psychology Department, where she and her researchers uncover the ways that visual attention and memory work or don’t work in various situations.

For Cell Phone Distraction Month, Dr. Smith also explained the serious issues of cell phone distraction in education. “While much emphasis has been placed on cell phone distraction and driving,” Smith said, “it is recognized that cell phone distraction affects both young and older students in the classroom.”

Technology has been advantageous to education since students can respond quickly through online formats, collaborate in real time regarding homework, and obtain references instantly, says Smith. But there are many issues now recognized.

“The assumption that students may disengage from their cell phones when entering a classroom is incorrect. Often students will utilize your cell phones in order to text,
resending receiving emails, and other tasks during classes. Multiple studies have indicated that as many as 90 to 95% of college students use their phones to send text messages during class on a constant basis,” Dr. Smith said.

“An effort to reduce or eliminate cell phone use in the classroom and at high school or college level has been difficult. Often students become physically and emotionally attached to their phones, perhaps reflective of addiction, and find themselves very socially awkward and fervently uncomfortable when they do not have their cell phones in their physical presence.”

“Another argument against technology in the classroom evolves around the discomfort that students have when other students are using their cell phones. Some student report being uncomfortable listening to a lecture when other students are texting or performing other activities not related to learning,” said Smith.

At the same time, Dr. Smith points out that there are numerous arguments in favor of technology in the class. “It’s been recommended that teachers may incorporate social media in daily teaching lessons, use clickers to quiz students during lecture, and encourage students to identify resources online during lecture, as opposed to having stagnant lectures limited to verbal talks.”

“Indeed, the argument for and against technology in the classroom will be ongoing.”

Finally, Dr. Smith reminds everyone to remember the potential harm related to cell phone distraction and driving. “This research has consistently indicated drivers pull their attention away from road conditions while driving, further prompting unsafe practices.”

He hopes that readers will consider the wide range impact of technology on their daily lives, including education and performance of daily tasks such as driving.

Legislature to Convene April 8

The 2019 regular Legislative Session will convene at noon, Monday, April 8. Bills currently being prefiled include a variety of issues. Below are some of those with interests to psychologists.

HB 53 by Representative Moss sets requirements for youth suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, in-service training for school employees and services available to
students. Proposed law requires the governing authority of each public and approved nonpublic secondary school that issues student identification cards to have printed on the cards the phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline, the Crisis Text Line, and a local suicide prevention hotline. Proposed law is applicable to charter schools. Present law requires BESE to adopt guidelines for in-service training of school employees in suicide, and the board is to identify suitable programs and requires coordination with LDH in identification of such programs.

HB 193 by Rep. Bacala revises procedures relative to students investigated for making threats of violence or terrorism. The present law provides relative to a student reported to a law enforcement agency for a threat of violence or terrorism and provides for a judicial hearing on whether the student should undergo a mental health evaluation. Present law requires the law enforcement agency to file a petition with the appropriate judicial district court for a mental health evaluation. The proposed law instead provides that if the law enforcement agency determines that the threat is credible and imminent, it shall report it to the district attorney, who may file such a petition.

HB 211 by Rep. Horton limits the number of hours per day of certain behavioral health services reimbursable by Medicaid. “CPST services” means community psychiatric support and treatment services and “PSR services” means psychosocial rehabilitation services. The proposed law limits Medicaid reimbursement for behavioral health providers who furnish CPST and PSR services by providing that the following types of providers shall be limited to a maximum combined total of 12 reimbursable hours of CPST services and PSR services per provider, per day, regardless of the number of patients seen by the provider for those services: (1) Psychologists. (2) Advanced practice registered nurses. (3) Physician assistants. (4) Licensed clinical social workers. (5) Licensed professional counselors. (6) Licensed marriage and family therapists. (7) Licensed, certified, or registered addiction counselors.

HB 237 by Rep. Chad Brown prohibits discrimination by health insurance issuers in the individual market and small and large group market based on health status, from imposing any preexisting condition exclusion with respect to the plan or coverage. And the proposed law requires a health insurance issuer to include mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, and preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.

HB 248 by Rep. Chad Brown provides for parenting coordinators in child custody proceedings. Present law (R.S. 9:358.1) authorizes the court to appoint parenting coordinators in certain child custody cases for one-year terms and apportion the cost between the parties. Proposed law authorizes the appointment of parenting coordinators prior to entering a judgment establishing custody and extends the initial term of appointment to up to two years. Present law (R.S. 9:358.2) prohibits the appointment of a parenting coordinator in family violence cases unless there is good cause shown. Proposed law instead allows the court to name a parenting coordinator when there has been domestic abuse or a history of perpetrating family violence if the parties consent after consultation with an attorney or domestic violence advocate. Present law (R.S. 9:358.3) provides the qualifications for parenting coordinators and requires three years post degree experience and 20 hours of continuing education every two years. Proposed law changes present law to five years post-licensure experience and 10 hours of continuing education and further extends the qualifications to include Louisiana attorneys.

HB 296 by Rep. Hoffmann provides for the training of peace officers and first responders with respect to interacting with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Proposed law requires the bureau of emergency medical services and the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training to create a dementia training program in cooperation with the Department of Health. Provides for the creation of an initial training program and updates to the continuing education program.

HB 320 by Rep. Simon provides for student access to applied behavior analysis providers in schools. Present law prohibits a public school governing authority from denying student access to behavioral health service providers at school during school hours if requested by the student’s parent or legal guardian. Proposed law adds “applied behavior analysis providers” to present law definition of “behavioral health service provider” in order to allow access to such providers for students in school upon the parent’s request. In addition, proposed law requires public school governing authorities to make their policies available to the public, that behavioral health evaluations include recommendations for applied behavior analysis services. Provides that present law and proposed law shall not supercede present law relative to the licensing of behavioral health services providers or any regulation of the La. Dept. of Health related thereto or present law relative to the practice of behavior analysts.

HB 336 by Rep. Lyons adds certain school-based psychologists and social workers to those providers exempt from behavioral health provider licensing requirements––the Behavioral Health Services Provider Licensing Law. Proposed law retains present law and also exempts from behavioral health services licensure requirements an individual who provides school-based health services through a public school governing authority and who meets both the following criteria: (1) He is a certified school psychologist or a licensed master’s social worker. (2) He is enrolled in the La. Medicaid program under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment program.

HB 541 by Rep. Cox amends the Post-Conviction Veterans Mentor Program for incarcerated veterans. With regard to the purpose of the program, those veterans who are eligible and willing to participate in the program could serve as mentors for military to civilian transition services programs or to first-time offenders housed in a parish jail, and could serve as parish jail HiSET tutors. The secretary of DPS&C is to establish the Post-Conviction Veterans Mentor Program for incarcerated veterans, and adopt regulations and guidelines as it deems necessary for administration of the program. If the offender is granted parole and released, the offender shall be required to participate in all programs and services available to veterans that are determined to be necessary for the offender by the committee on parole and comply with other requirements specified in proposed law.

SB 19 by Senator Boudreaux. Present law authorizes the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) to regulate perfusionists, medical psychologists, genetic counselors, and polysomnographic health professionals. Proposed law provides that the LSBME, in addition to any other requirements established by regulation, shall require an applicant, as a condition of licensure to submit a full set of fingerprints, in a form and manner prescribed by the board, permit the board to request and obtain state and national criminal history record information on the applicant, and pay, in addition to all other applicable fees and costs, such amount as may be incurred by the board in requesting and obtaining state and national criminal history record information on the applicant.

SB 78 by Sen. Martiny. Present law provides for student behavioral health services to be provided during school hours if requested and paid by a student’s parent or legal guardian. Proposed law retains present law and adds “behavior analyst” to the definition of “behavior health provider” and “evaluator.” Further includes “applied behavior analysis” in
the definition of “behavioral health services.”

SB 107 by Senator Gatti proposes that any benefit payable to a sheriff or deputy sheriff which provides coverage for temporary or permanent disability to all sheriffs or sheriff’s deputies who suffer an injury or disease arising out of and in the course and scope of their employment shall include coverage for post traumatic stress injury. Proposed law provides that the following definitions shall apply to benefit payable to a sheriff or deputy sheriff: (1) “Post traumatic stress injury” means those injuries which are defined as “post traumatic stress disorder” by the most recently published edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association. (2) “Psychiatrist” shall have the same meaning as it is defined pursuant to present law. (3) “Psychologist” shall have the same meaning as it is defined pursuant to present law. Proposed law provides that any sheriff or deputy sheriff who is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with post traumatic stress injury, either during employment or thereafter, shall be presumed, prima facie, to have a disease or infirmity connected with his employment.

SB 139 by Sen. Gatti provides for the “Louisiana Healthy Workplace Law” which prohibits workplace bullying or harassment. Proposed law provides for the following purposes: (1) To provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed, psychologically, physically, or economically, by deliberate exposure to abusive work environment; (2) To provide a legal incentive for employers to prevent and expeditiously respond to abusive mistreatment of employees in the workplace.

SB 160 by Sen. Boudreaux provides for definitions regarding opioid addiction, its treatment and those healthcare professionals certified to conduct such treatment. Proposed law provides for the responsibilities of the licensing boards for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to become certified to administer medically-aided treatments for those addicted to opioids. Proposed law provides for the outline of treatment offered for opioid addiction through the program sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Psychologists Travel to Advocacy & Leadership Conference at APA

Four psychologists talked with members of Congress about legislation impacting the public and involving healthcare. Representing the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) were Drs. Alan Coulter, LPA President-Elect; Lucinda DeGrange, LPA Council Representative; Amanda Raines, Early Career Psychologist Representative; and Lacey Seymour, Louisiana Federal Advocacy Coordinator. The psychologists also attended a black tie dinner honoring Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy sponsored by the Psychology Political Action Committee, held in March in Washington, DC.

While in D.C. the psychologists helped lobby for legislation, said Dr. Seymour. These efforts included these topics:

1) to ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;

2) to pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, H.R. 884. The bill removes a roadblock that hampers and delays mental health treatment for Medicare beneficiaries by ending unnecessary physician sign-off and oversight of psychologists’ services. Private sector health plans, the Veterans Health Administration, and TRICARE all allow licensed clinical psychologists to practice independently in all inpatient and outpatient settings. Medicare should, too; and

3) to pass the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, H.R. 1301. The Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act would make it easier for older adults to obtain mental health care in their own home by removing current-law restrictions on the use of telehealth services.

“Senator Cassidy has been a supporter of mental health legislation on both a federal and state level,” Dr. Seymour told psychologists in a recent letter. “Since his election, Senator Cassidy has championed legislation that addresses access to mental health care for our most vulnerable citizens by removing barriers to care.”

Senator Cassidy has promoted measure to helped access to services through integration of primary and behavioral care. Among his achievements, Senator Cassidy worked to design and pass the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016” and first advocated mental health reforms while he served in the House of Representatives.

In 2015, he introduced mental health reform legislation that became the template for the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. He helped strengthen accountability at HHS by creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and improved interdepartmental activities related to those with serious mental illness.