Author Archives: Susan

Stress Solutions

Salmon and Sardines for Stress Reduction

Benefits attributed to eating oily fish are mounting. Eating fish is now credited  with combating depression, reducing the symptoms of arthritis, reducing the risk of heart disease, protecting vision, and most recently with reducing stress and  improving working memory. Of course, this is due to oily fish, like salmon and  mackerel, being very rich in omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids and protein.  White fish have fatty acids too but not as much.

A study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative,  and Comparative Physiology shows that fatty fish oils can “counteract the  detrimental effects of mental stress (read that: the fight or flight reaction) on your  heart.” The study, led by Jason Carter of Michigan Technological University,  revealed that people who took 9 grams of fish oil supplements a day for over a  month experienced less mental stress in measurements of cardiovascular health,  including heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) compared to  those who took 9 grams a day of olive oil instead.

Oily fish are species of fish that contain significant amounts of oil throughout their body tissues and in their belly cavity. In contrast, whitefish only contain oil in their liver – and much less of it than oily fish. Other examples of oily fish include trout,  sardines, kipper, eel, and herring.

The American Heart Association recommends that people eat at least two servings of fish every week. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom also advises people to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish.

It has been known since the famous Avon, England study of all the pregnant  women in that city during one year in the 90’s that women who do not eat fish  during pregnancy are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety at that time.  The University of Bristol longitudinal study suggested that eating fish during pregnancy could help reduce stress levels, which – in turn – has the effect of  reducing behavioral and attention problems in the offspring of oily fish eating mums.

My favorite study involved London cabbies, a stressed group who can always use  some working memory improvement. The BBC reported on a small group of 10  cabbies who agreed to eat 4 portions of oily fish a week for 12 weeks. They were  tested before and after the 12 weeks to see what affect the increased intake of  oily fish had on their stress levels and memory.

At the end of the 12 weeks it was found that cabbies were better able to deal with  stressful situations and their visualization-based memory had also improved significantly, something Omega 3 is believed to help with. As a group, their stress  hormone as a whole was down by 22% and their anti-stress hormone up by 12%.

Since the study included only ten participants and had no control group, the  results are only suggestive. However, the cabbies could be heard to exclaim: “So long and thanks for all the fish…”

OCD Louisiana New Orleans “Million Steps Walk” on October 8 to Raise Awareness

In a recent press release, OCD Louisiana President, Dr. Kristin Fitch, announced that the New Orleans One Million Steps for OCD Walk will take place on Sunday, October 8 at Washington Square.

Co-hosted by the International OCD Foundation, the One Million Steps for OCD Walk is the nation’s largest grassroots awareness-building and fundraising campaign to highlight obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, including body dysmorphic disorder and hoarding disorder.

Officials noted that the OCD Walk aims to reduce the stigma associated with OCD and mental illness in general and funds raised support the important work of the IOCDF and its partnering Affiliates, including OCD Louisiana. These programs aim to drive change through advocacy, education, research, and resources that improve the lives of those living with OCD and related disorders, said officials.

“It’s estimated that 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 children live with OCD. Despite its prevalence, OCD is often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media as a personality quirk or helpful trait that keeps people organized. In reality, OCD is debilitating and severely impacts those living with the disorder, as well as their friends and family. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses of any kind in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.”

The IOCDF is the world’s largest non-profit organization focused solely on improving the lives of those impacted by OCD and related disorders. OCD Louisiana is an official affiliate of the IOCDF with the goal of furthering the IOCDF’s mission in Louisiana.

OCD Louisiana said they invite all members of the community to join the New Orleans OCD Walk this Sunday, October 8 at Washington Square to raise awareness, funds, and hope. Washington Square is a dog friendly, shaded, historic park with a playground in the Marigny. The Walk Route is between 1 – 2 miles and we will also have a “Why I Walk” photo station, Awards ceremony and Raffle. To learn more, visit

Louisiana Department of Health Seeks to Destigmatize 988 Use

In a September 13 press release, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) said it is launching a new marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness, destigmatizing the need for mental health treatment and services, and increasing Louisiana 988 usage statewide.

A key goal of the campaign is reaching vulnerable populations about the services available through 988, including individuals who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ people and veterans.

A series of historic storms, the COVID-19 pandemic and other traumatic events have taken a major toll on the mental health and emotional well-being of Louisianans of all ages in recent years, said the officials. Because of these challenges, the message from LDH has been clear: It’s OK to not be OK, and Louisiana 988 has counselors ready to assist anyone seeking help.

“LDH recognizes that stigma and even fear may deter individuals from seeking support from 988. This campaign is designed to address those barriers and encourage Louisiana residents to reach out whether they are in a mental health crisis or just having a bad day,” said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

“Our hope for this new marketing initiative is to reach a wider audience, including vulnerable communities, so that all Louisianans know how to utilize 988 and what to expect. All of us need help sometimes, and LDH is committed to eliminating the stigma around mental health and substance use. The 988 helpline ensures everyone has easy and confidential access to high-quality emotional support, regardless of why the support is needed.”

According to the announcement, one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition. Death by suicide is the 14th leading cause of death in the state, and it is the third leading cause of death for Louisianans ages 10-34. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 689 Louisianans died by suicide in 2021.

LDH noted that their campaign is informed by field research that identified three primary barriers to individuals contacting 988: Not knowing what to expect when calling 988; Fear of being let down when someone is feeling most vulnerable; and Fear of overstepping personal boundaries or making things worse for someone else when calling for help.

Key components of the campaign include an aggressive paid media strategy starting with social media advertising, a new website — — for people to learn more, and a platform for community partners, advocates and local influencers to generate their own 988 promotional materials. To help kick off the new marketing campaign, and in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the Governor’s Mansion lit up in purple on the evening of Wednesday, September 13.

In July 2023, Louisiana, along with other U.S. states transitioned to using the 988 dialing code to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sees 988 as a first step toward a transformed crisis care system in America, said the officials.

LDH believes 988 to be an important resource for residents to get immediate support when they need it. According to national studies, the helpline works — individuals who contact 988 are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking to a counselor. Almost 98% of people who call, chat or text the 988 helpline get the support they need and do not require emergency services in that moment, according to SAMHSA.

COVID Vaccines Linked to Increased Overall Mortality

Evidence continues to mount

A research study published Sept. 17 by Correlation
Research in the Public Interest, “COVID-19 vaccine associated mortality in the Southern Hemisphere,” examined the vaccine-dose fatality rate for all ages.

Researchers assessed all-cause mortality in 17 countries and found COVID-19 vaccines did not have any beneficial effect on reducing overall mortality.

The researchers did find however that unexpected peaks in high all-cause mortality in each country—especially among the elderly population when COVID-19 vaccines were deployed—coincided with the rollout of third and fourth booster doses.

“This would correspond to a mass iatrogenic event that killed (0.213 ± 0.006) % of the world population (1 death per 470 living persons, in less than 3 years), and did not measurably prevent any deaths,” the authors said.

The researchers conducted an analysis of all-cause mortality using data from the World Mortality Dataset for 17 equatorial and Southern Hemisphere countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, and Uruguay. Equatorial countries have no summer and winter seasons, so there are no seasonal variations in their all-cause mortality patterns.

Key findings from the 180-page report include:

• In all countries included in the analysis, all-cause mortality increased when COVID-19 vaccines were deployed.

• Nine of 17 countries had no detectable excess deaths following the World Health Organization’s March 11, 2020, declaration of the pandemic until the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

• Unprecedented peaks in all-cause mortality were observed in January and February 2022, during the summer season of Southern Hemisphere countries coinciding with or following the rollout of boosters in 15 of 17 countries studied.

• Excess all-cause mortality during the vaccination period beginning January 2021 was 1.74 million deaths, or one death per 800 injections, in the 17 countries studied.

By examining mortality and vaccination data from Chile and Peru by age and dose number, researchers observed clear peaks in all-cause mortality in July through August 2021, January through February 2022, and July through August 2022 among elderly age groups. The increase in all-cause mortality observed in January and February 2022 in both countries coincided with the rapid rollout of Chile’s fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose and Peru’s third dose.

It is unlikely that the rise in all-cause mortality coinciding with the rollout and sustained administration of COVID-19 vaccines in all 17 countries could be due to any cause other than the vaccines, researchers said.

“There is no evidence in the hard data of all-cause mortality of a beneficial effect from the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. No lives were saved,” Denis Rancourt, co-director of Correlation Research in the Public Interest with a doctorate in physics, told Epoch Times. “On the contrary, the evidence can be understood in terms of being subjected to a toxic substance. The risk of death per injection increases exponentially with age. The policy of prioritizing the elderly for injection must be ended immediately.”

All Correlations reports and this study can be found at

Dr. Nemeth Collaborating to Help in War-Torn Ukraine

American and Ukrainian psychologists are collaborating to develop  emotional rehabilitation workshops for Ukrainian veterans and their  families, A recent event was held on the eve of the Ukrainian  Independence Day Celebration. Participants gathered at the Veteran  Hub on August 23, in Kyiv, according to the press release.

These events are sponsored by Chiraj’s founder, Rajeev Fernando,  M.D., a Harvard-trained disaster medicine physician, who supplies  medical support to those on the front line. Other sponsors include:  International Association of Applied Psychology and the World  Council for Psychotherapy. The Ukrainian psychologists at the Kyiv Center, Oleksandr Zharokv, Dmutro Tutyla and Irina Scheveleva, will  demonstrate their art therapy techniques, Mandala paintings.

Trauma experts, Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., and Joseph Geraci, Ph.D., from Columbia University, Teachers College along with their staff, Julia  Maney, Caroline Burke, June Chang, and Carl Tauberman, are  assisting with group interventions to promote wellness, resilience,  and recovery. As was the case in their post-Katrina recovery  workshops, Dr. Kuriansky, has paired with the Neuropsychology  Center of Louisiana’s (NCLA) founder, Darlyne G. Nemeth, Ph.D., M.P.,  M.P.A.P., CGP, and her assistant, Cody Capps, to collaborate in this  train-the-trainer style of intervention.

“We are emphasizing group intervention techniques,” said Dr.  Nemeth. “The three psychologists in the Ukraine are doing the work  onsite, and the rest of us are participating via Zoom. Our work is then  translated into the Ukrainian language and delivered by our onsite  colleagues.”



Can Stress Cause Dementia?

The relationship between stress and dementia is actually a fairly new  research topic and one that is important the longer people live and  the more complex, demanding, and chaotic our lives are becoming.  Most of us find it difficult to avoid the chaos and conflicting demands  on our time and resources. Given the circumstances, it is only natural to ask if stress can cause dementia. The short answer is: Yes! Early studies are at least linking stress with an increased risk of dementia.  Here are some of the recent findings.

1. A longitudinal study of 2 ½ years, involving 62 participants, with an  average age of 78 years, who were diagnosed as either mild cognitive  impairment or cognitively normal, were followed for cortisol levels, ratings of the amount of stress of lifetime events, and changes in  independent psychiatric diagnoses. The authors concluded that  prolonged highly stressful experiences can accelerate cognitive  decline in people with aging, already susceptible brains. However,  cortisol measures were not associated with decline or change in diagnosis. (Peavy, Jacobson, et al. 2012.)

2. In another study with mice, it was found that high levels of stress  hormones are linked to higher levels of tau and amyloid precursor  protein, which is linked to Alzheimer’s.

3. The importance of highly stressful experiences and prolonged  highly stressful experiences seem to be a repeating finding. One thing is well known: highly stressful experiences can age the brain more  quickly than is typical in the passage of the same amount of time.  Defining a “highly stressful experience” are things such as being fired after age 50 when it is much harder to find another job. Another  experience that rates as highly stressful would be a financial crisis.  One study of over a thousand participants found that each stressful  experience aged the brain by 4 years. One implication from this  finding is that there is most likely a cumulative effect of stress and each stressful event could increase the risk of dementia. The study’s  authors argued that this cumulative hypothesis may help explain why  African-Americans, who tend to face higher rates of stress, have  higher rates of dementia.

The risk of chronic stress increasing one’s risk of dementia becomes a greater concern for people for whom dementia runs in their family. It  is important for all of us to help pass the message that stress is  something you can have significant control over. If people will wake  up to the importance of reducing stress on a regular basis and become more aware of their states of mind, they should be able to  reduce the risk of dementia by regularly reducing their stress.

Dealing With The Devil: A Review of Black Mass

by Alvin G. Burstein

The biopic’s title prepares us for a consideration of moral perversion. Johnnie Depp’s chilling portrayal of James (Whitey) Bulger, the Boston mob boss, his bloody career, and his relationship with the FBI provide that opportunity, raising questions, some of which go unanswered.

The film describes Bulger’s transition from a member of the Winter Hill mob of “Southies,” Boston toughs at war with the Italian mafia centered in north Boston, to a crime kingpin in that city, one whose odious tentacles extended abroad. His success, perverse indeed, was grounded in his murky collaboration with the FBI as much as in his elaborate murderous sadism.

From a dramatic point of view, Depp’s depiction of Bulger is extraordinarily effective. I find myself feeling an unreasoning reluctance to suggest an Oscar because of the evil of his creation. And the film director’s blood-splattered horror scenes of torture and murder will doubtless gratify any inhibited or displaced aggressive drives in eager audiences.

From a psychodiagnostic point of view, the movie poses a question about whether the portrayed Bulger is a psychopath, a person without the capacity for empathy and lacking a moral sense or whether he is a sociopath, someone whose morality is deviant, a person whose social surround and consequent morality deviates from that of the larger society.

Many of Bulger’s associates would appear to merit the second diagnosis: sociopath. They are loyal to their fellow crooks, see law enforcement as the enemy, and the larger society as naïve in its inhibitions. Bulger himself, despite the film’s nod in the direction of his having a love for his mother and his son, violates a basic law of his deviant tribe by becoming what the FBI called “a top echelon informant.” In that capacity, he was later claimed to have contributed to the conviction of many members of the mafia. But he also escaped prosecution (until many years later) for serious crimes of his own.

A central question raised by these anomalies is the degree to which the FBI itself displays a kind of sociopathic readiness to collaborate in some criminal activities, perhaps even murder, in order to pursue other illegal practices. In the film, the FBI’s collusion with Bulger is regarded as the work of a few bad apples, but some commentators have suggested that a code of silence operates at the FBI level as well. Some have suggested that the Bulger’s success in avoiding capture for a decade and a half was due to the desire by the FBI to avoid questions about a practice instituted by J. Edgar Hoover in 1961, to develop “live sources within the upper echelon of the organized hoodlum element.”

The film does not go deeply into two fascinating loyalty issues. One is the tie between John Connolly and Whitey Bulger. Connolly was a fellow Southie who joined the FBI and who recruited Bulger as an informant. Connolly was one of the few of Bulger’s associates who did not agree to testify against his old buddy in return for a reduction of sentence. Like Bulger, Connolly is still in jail. And then there is Bulger’s younger brother, Billy. A long-time member of the state senate, Billy went on to become president of the University of Massachusetts. When it became clear that he had been lying to investigators about being in touch with his fugitive brother, he was forced to step down. What he has said about Whitey is, “…I cared about him deeply and I still do.” There is no indication that he ever suggested to his brother that he turn himself in.

One is left wondering about how Whitey, the sadistic murderer, feels about them.

Heat Deaths Now at 25 LDH Issues Warnings

On August 22, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported  that they updated the total number of heat-related deaths to 25 for  the months of June, July and August after an extensive examination of data from Louisiana Vital Records. The previous total reported on August 4 was 16.

Twenty-two of the deaths were male; three were female. Data shows  men are often overrepresented in heat deaths because they are more likely to work outdoors. The age breakdown among individuals is as  follows: 30-49: 7, 50-64: 6, and 65+: 12.

Governor Edwards issued a state of emergency due to excessive heat  on August 14. There have been 4,766 heat-related emergency department visits in Louisiana since April 1. From 2010 to 2020, there  were an average of 2,700 emergency department visits annually,  according to an Office of Public Health (OPH) report released in April.

“Every life lost to a heat-related cause is tragic, and it is a reminder  that excessive heat can carry dangerous health consequences,” said  LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

“It is critical that everyone in Louisiana take precautions during extreme heat events, especially workers in physically demanding occupations who are frequently outdoors. Heat-related illness and death are preventable, and I encourage Louisiana residents to know  the signs of heat-related illness, stay indoors with air conditioning if  possible, and remember to hydrate, rest and stay in the shade if they  must be outdoors. They should also check on their neighbors, and  loved ones, especially those who are elderly.”

LDH officials warn, “Heat stress can be fatal. In Louisiana, heat was  the most common cause of death during hurricanes Delta, Zeta,  Laura and Ida. Of the 65 deaths attributed to the four storms  collectively, 23 were due to extreme heat. “Know what to do about heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion symptoms can include muscle pain  or spasms; cold, pale, clammy skin; tiredness or weakness and  dizziness; and headache and fainting. Move to a cool place and loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on your body or take a cool bath.  Sip on water, and seek medical attention if you’re throwing up and/or  if your symptoms last longer than an hour.

“Know what to do about heat stroke. Heat stroke symptoms can  include a high body temperature (103F or higher); hot, red, dry or  damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache and dizziness; nausea and  confusion; and loss of consciousness (passing out). Call 911 right away: Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Move to a cool place and  loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on  your body or take a cool  bath. Do not drink anything. Be aware of your risk.

“Groups at higher risk of heatrelated illness include: Outdoor workers; Individuals with heart, lung and/or kidney disease, high  blood pressure, diabetes and obesity; Pregnant women; Older adults;  Athletes; Young children.

“Air conditioning is the strongest protection against heat-related  illness. Exposure to air conditioning even for a few hours a day will  reduce the risk of health-related illness. If your air conditioning is not working, go to a public place with electricity, like a library or mall, or  local heat-relief shelters. Follow the news and social media, including  LDH and local health departments, for locations. Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and  sugary drinks. Stay in the shade. Limit outdoor activity to morning  and evening hours. Check on people who live alone, especially the elderly.” 



CDC – Suicide Rates Continue to Rise; Life Expectancy Falls Again

In August, the CDC released its report on suicide in the United States.  The provisional estimates released indicate that suicide deaths increased in 2022, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to an estimated  49,449 deaths in 2022, an increase of approximately 2.6%. At the  same time, life expectancy has hit the lowest point in nearly two  decades.

According to the CDC numbers, adults 65 and older saw the largest  increase in suicide deaths of any age group from 2021 to 2022, with an 8.1% rise. More men died by suicide than women, following a  trend from 2021, but both men and women saw their suicide death numbers increase by 2.3% and 3.8% respectively.

Also according to the CDC, Americans who identify as White saw the  largest number of deaths by suicide with 37,459, an increase of 2.1%  from 2021. Most racial and ethnic groups saw an increase in suicide deaths, with Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders seeing the largest jump at 15.9%. However, The CDC found that those who  identify as American Indian or Alaska Native saw the largest  percentage decrease in suicide deaths.

Specific data was as follows: Ages 10-24 years saw 7,126 suicide  deaths in 2021 and 6,529 in 2022, a decrease of – 8.4%. In the age  group 25-44 years the number was reported as 16,724 in 2021 and  16,843 in 2022, an increase of 0.7%.

The age group of 45-64 years increased 6.6% from 14,668 to 15,632.  And the age group of ≥ 65 years increased 8.1% from 9,652 to 10,433.

Male suicide deaths were 38,358 in 2021 and 39,255 in 2022, an  increase of 2.3%. Female suicide deaths were 9,825 and 10,194, an  increase of 3.8%.

“Today’s report underscores the depths of the devastating mental  health crisis in America. Mental health has become the defining public  health and societal challenge of our time. Far too many people and their families are suffering and feeling alone,” said U.S. Surgeon  General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.

“These numbers are a sobering reminder of how urgent it is that we further expand access to mental health care, address the root causes  of mental health struggles, and recognize the importance of checking  on and supporting one another. If you or a loved one are in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please know that your life matters and that  you are not alone. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7  for anyone who needs help.”

Suicide being one contributing factor, life expectancy for Americans  has dropped for the second year in a row. PBS news reported the life expectancy dropped around the world in 2020 but that other countries rebounded while the United States continues on its downward course in life expectancy, hitting the lowest point in nearly  two decades.

Dr. Stephen Woolf told PBS that life expectancy for the U.S. has  actually been declining for decades. Back in the 1990s the pace of  increase in life expectancy began to fall off and in 2010 it began to  stop increasing all together, Woolf said.

“It’s being driven by an Increase in death rates in the young and middle-aged adults, 25 to 64,” Woolf said. “And most of those relate  to the problems of drug overdose, suicides, alcohol related causes –  these are sometimes called deaths of despair. Also metabolic problems related to obesity.”

In a report by the WSJ, authors noted that, “For decades, advances in  healthcare and safety steadily drove down death rates among  American children.

“In an alarming reversal, rates have now risen to the highest level in  nearly 15 years, particularly driven by homicides, drug overdoses, car  accidents and suicides,” authors noted.

“The uptick among younger Americans accelerated in 2020. Though  COVID-19 itself wasn’t a major cause of death for young people.”

According to WSJ, researchers say social disruption caused by the  pandemic exacerbated public health problems, including worsening  anxiety and depression. More lethal narcotics also helped push up death rates.

“Between 2019 and 2020, the overall mortality rate for ages 1 to 19  rose by 10.7% and increased by an additional 8.3% the following  year…That’s the highest increase for two consecutive years in the half  century that the government has publicly tracked such figures,” reported WSJ.

“Covid, which surged to America’s number three cause of death  during the pandemic, accounted for just 1/10 of the rise in mortality among young people in 2020, and 1/5 during 2021.”

Stephen Woolf told PBS, “There was something disturbing in the new  data for 2021, that it showed this massive decrease in life expectancy. But it also showed an increase in death rates in children and teenagers. And an increase of that size has not been seen in my  entire career,” he said.

“This upward trend is the result of four causes– suicides, homicides,  drug overdoses and car accidents– mainly in young people 10 to 19 years old.”


Tulane’s Dr. Baker Named for Psychology in The Public Interest

Tulane’s Dr. Courtney Baker, leader for Project DIRECT, a community-engaged program for children who live in poverty, has been honored with the Award for Psychology in the Public Interest, announced this summer by the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA).

Dr. Amanda Raines, spokesperson for LPA said the award is given “to an individual who has made significant scholarly or practical contributions to the health and well-being of the general public through their work in psychology.

“This year we are recognizing Courtney Baker, Ph.D. Dr. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tulane University. Her program of  work is designed to bridge the gap between science and practice, with a  particular focus on disseminating and implementing evidence-based programs  into school and community settings that serve children, youth, and families at risk for poor outcomes. Dr. Baker has published numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts and received support for her work through various intramural and  extramural agencies. She routinely disseminates her work and gives back to the  profession through her volunteer work with her academic institution, the field,  and the community.”

Dr. Baker is the Project DIRECT Team Leader and Principal Investigator, and an  Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tulane University. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in child clinical psychology  and she directs the APA-Accredited School Psychology doctoral program at  Tulane. She also co-directs the Tulane University Psychology Clinic for Children  and Adolescents.

Dr. Baker and her team members are partnering with 13 New Orleans  childcares, Head Starts, and pre-K/K classrooms within charter schools, which  serve low-income children, in a program named Project DIRECT, a community- engaged approach, aimed to reduce disparities in mental health and academic achievement.

Baker is reaching children who live in poverty, racial and ethnic minority  children, and children who have experienced trauma. The efforts created by Dr.  Baker and her team are designed to deliver high-quality evidence-based  prevention and improve intervention programs for real-life applications,  especially for children who are vulnerable to poor outcomes.

Following the best practices for working with marginalized communities, Baker  and her group use a community-engaged research approach, to create high- quality, community-based mental health programs. They work to bridge the gap  between research and practice and to ensure the results deliver effective prevention and interventions.

The Times asked Dr. Baker how she felt about receiving the award.

“I am beyond thrilled to be honored by my colleagues at LPA for my work in the  area of psychology in the public interest. I have the beautiful award sitting  prominently on my bookshelf behind me ––which is a lovely addition to my still  numerous Zoom meetings!

“I have worked throughout my career to engage in meaningful, relevant research that can change systems and improve lives,” she said. “I am proud of  my work so far, but I also strive to contribute so much more over the course of  my career. The only way to do this work well, in my opinion, is to partner meaningfully with stakeholders who have more knowledge about the problems  and solutions than I do. What I bring to the relationship is expertise in research  methods and statistics (this may sound boring, but I think it’s a lot of fun!). I love  that my partners are not only patients or caregivers of those who might one day  receive the interventions I evaluate but also the educators, clinicians, trainers,  and other practitioners who are responsible for actually delivering the program.  We have all seen that interventions developed without these key perspectives  front and center often fail, and quickly.”

Dr. Baker hopes to increase understanding and facilitate effective programs into  community settings that serve children. One of the foundations of her work and  scientific plan is the community-engaged research approach––to make sure all efforts are “relevant, culturally competent, and with a partnership focus and  commitment to capacity building.”

Dr. Baker’s work is also guided by the fields of dissemination and implementation science and prevention science. Implementation science  addresses the use of strategies to integrate evidence-based interventions and  change practice patterns within specific settings.

Dissemination involves the distribution of an intervention or innovation to a  specific audience. One of Dr. Baker’s main research goals is to disseminate  findings nationally via conference presentations, invited presentations, and  publications in academic journals and books.

She turned her considerable understanding of trauma sensitive education into a useful and innovative guide for teachers who want to be responsive to trauma in their students and themselves. Dr. Baker has teamed up with Arlene Elizabeth  Casimir to author Trauma Responsive Pedagogy: Teaching for Healing and Transformation. The book is part of the Heinemann series, dedicated to  teachers and edited by Nell Duke and Colleen Cruz.

Trauma Responsive Pedagogy is based on the foundational principle that children  who are experiencing significant stress, either chronic or acute, cannot learn in a regular classroom. What is required are insightful teachers who understand  trauma and its ramifications. The authors add the complex notion that often the teachers are also experiencing their own chronic stress.

One of the pillars of thought offered by Trauma Responsive Pedagogy is that  teachers must find the center of compassion and understanding, for dealing  with chronic stressors of poverty, discrimination, health challenges, and  environmental crises.

The small but profound work is chocked-full of ideas to help educators develop  ways to acknowledge trauma and its correlates, and support students to help  them learn and reach their full potential.

What is she working on currently? “I’m working on several active and funded  projects related to crisis intervention and trauma-informed approaches, especially in schools. My colleague Dr. Bonnie Nastasi and I, along with trainer  and Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Mr. Brandon Wilks, recently held a  crisis intervention training in New Orleans. We welcomed district staff from five Parishes, as well as staff from several non-profits with school-based mental  health programs and school psychology faculty and trainees from two of the  four programs in the state of Louisiana,” she said.

“Together, we were trained in the national, evidence-informed PREPaRE model  of school crisis prevention and intervention. The training was incredible, and we  look forward to offering additional trainings in New Orleans and across the  state. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice STOP School  Violence Program, and you can learn more at

“Second,” Dr. Baker said, “I am so grateful to be part of a national Center funded  by SAMHSA called the Coalition for Compassionate Schools. We are  working to disseminate and scale up traumainformed approaches in New  Orleans schools, by training educators in the intervention and providing  consultation and technical assistance.

“Over time, we’ll also work in after-school settings and with national partners. I  have been particularly interested in measuring outcomes, evaluating processes,  and understanding the impact of traumainformed schools on students and  educators. My role on the project focuses on these areas of inquiry, and I am so  happy to spread the word nationally about the amazing work that the Coalition  has been doing here in New Orleans,” she said.

“Finally, I have been working for over five years as the external evaluator of  Trauma Smart, which is a widely used, evidenceinformed curriculum for trauma–nformed approaches in early learn and school settings. We published the  findings of our aggregate evaluation data in 2021 […] and our most recent  efforts have focused on understanding how and why some programs sustain the intervention even years into the future while others flounder.

“We developed the instrument with our partners at Trauma Smart, combining  what is known from empirical investigations with what is understood from the day-to-day work of implementing and sustaining trauma-informed approaches  in schools. We came up with an instrument, which our colleague Ryan  Pankiewicz at Trauma Smart spearheaded and named the Trauma Smart  sustaining Organizations Scale (TSSOS, pronounced T-Sauce), and our next step  is to evaluate how scores on the TSSOS relate to other metrics we already gather such as attitudes favorable to trauma-informed care. Stay tuned, as we hope to  present this work at an upcoming conference!”

We asked her about what else is on the horizon.

“The future is always so exciting! I am very pleased to welcome my newest PhD  student to my lab, Tulane, and New Orleans – Ms. Alanna Manigault, who comes  to us from Pittsburgh and is interested in school discipline and equity, especially  for marginalized youth. I can’t wait to explore that topic with her during her time  in our program!” Dr. Baker said.

“We are also working hard to get some funding from the federal government to  conduct a randomized controlled trial of Trauma Smart, which I mentioned  above. As you know, randomized experiments provide the best evidence of  efficacy, although they are exceedingly difficult, complex, and expensive when  the intervention happens at the whole school or system level.

“My other plans for funded projects include some evaluation of and improvements to one of our more popular instruments, the ARTIC, as well as a  recommitment to some of my early childhood social emotional learning and  classroom behavior management work,” she said.

“I’m also continuing in my role as the director of the APA-Accredited School  Psychology program here at Tulane, and enjoying seeing our students move  through the program and gain so much valuable experience in their pathways to becoming doctoral-level school psychologists––and hopefully remaining here in  New Orleans and Louisiana once they are done!” 



Healthcare & Education Alliance Secures $400 Million for La Children

Since 2006, Healthcare & Education Alliance of Louisiana (HEAL) has helped schools secure  more than $400 million in Federal Medicaid funds to support inschool healthcare and health  equity, officials said in an August press release.

HEAL partners with schools to successfully access federal Medicaid dollars that  are currently being untapped by most Louisiana schools. These schools may not know the funds exist or might not have the information, staffing and resources  to apply for these critically need funds.

Dr. Deborah Palmer, lead psychologist with HEAL, works in the Central City area  of New Orleans where generational poverty is common and healthcare limited.  As lead psychologist, she has worked in multidisciplinary team settings, assisting those with autism, depression, anxiety, ADHD and trauma. She follows  the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model developed by the  Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Health & Education Alliance’s mission is to eliminate the health and  educational disparities for children who live in poverty in Louisiana. HEAL works directly with students, families, and schools to ensure students are healthy and  academically successful, note officials.

“HEAL continues to work in New Orleans charter schools as well as several  districts across Louisiana,” Dr. Palmer explained. “We continue to help schools  effectively screen for and provide appropriate treatment for both physical and  mental health concerns. I’m spending more of my time these days providing  professional development regarding appropriate behavior plans for students  with emotional dysregulation, professional development regarding Medicaid  implementation, and compliance checks for healthcare documentation  requirements,” she said.

“I find this type of work incredibly rewarding,” she previously explained to the  Times, “as we are addressing student challenges in the environment in which  they spend a majority of their time.” In addition, she noted that helping  educators learn more about behavioral interventions supports them not only  with a single student, but with all their students.

“The multidisciplinary nature of our project ensures that we are addressing the whole child, and not just an isolated symptom of a larger issue,” Dr. Palmer said. “The integration of mental health services into the school setting makes so  much sense in terms of access to services, but also in maximizing student  outcomes.”

Dr. Palmer provides classroom observations so she can identify a student’s  triggers and behaviors, as well as teacher related behaviors and strategies. She  also provides behavior management strategies, small group interventions for  social skills, emotional literacy, emotional regulation, grief, and anger  management, for example. She provides, “a clinical  psychology ‘lens’ in meetings addressing students’ with challenging behavior to ensure that real mental health issues aren’t missed or misrepresented,” she noted.

Results from a three-year pilot cohort study between 2014 to 2017 showed that schools that  partnered with HEAL had seen a school-wide grade point increase of 25% on average during the three-year study with growth as much as 60% among high-risk children. During the study, HEAL  reached 90,784 children in Louisiana and also saw a 25% reduction in failed vision screenings.

According to officials, HEAL is the only organization known to provide a system for schools to  address all aspects of childhood health in school. HEAL also teaches schools how to fund the  Coordinated Care for the Whole Child™ model permanently and sustainably as part of every  school year.

Why is this approach so important to Louisiana? “Students spend a good portion of their day in  school and receiving healthcare services at school can save time and travel for the family,” explained Dr. Palmer. “Also, the services in school are in addition to the services they can  receive via traditional outpatient services––they can receive both!” she said.

“Funding for these services via Medicaid means the student/family does not have to pay for the  services; and the free care ruling means that students that do not have Medicaid are also  eligible to receive services in the school setting. Medicaid funding for school based services continues to be underutilized in the state of Louisiana.”

According to the press release, this matters for three important reasons:

• One in four school-age children has a vision disorder that could go undiagnosed without  access to regular screenings, according to the American Optometric Association.

• Undiagnosed hearing loss leads to speech delays and is the primary cause of misdiagnosed  learning or behavioral disorders.

• More students are behind on regular healthcare checkups due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Louisiana schools are essentially leaving free money on the table,” said Connie Bellone, RN  SHSC CCRN-K CCHC, Chief Executive Officer for HEAL. “Our goal is to use these funds to get a nurse in every building and a therapist in every school in our state, with a priority on lower- income communities where inschool healthcare is even more critical to the wellbeing of our  students.”

HEAL also works with schools to create access to on-site nurses and critical health screenings  including mental health, vision, hearing and dental.

“Not being able to see a smartboard or hear a teacher are obvious barriers to a child’s  education,” added Bellone, “but we also need to address mental health and undiagnosed  chronic illnesses that prevent Louisiana students from reaching their full potential – especially  in low-income communities and communities of color. By addressing these health barriers, we  can give children a chance to break the cycle of poverty and receive an education.”

One of the success stories from their webpage tells the story: Three boys, aged 16 but still in  the 8th grade, had been labeled “emotionally disturbed” and were spending their school days in isolation due to disruptive behavior in the classroom. All three boys were legally deaf.

When the faculty of their school was informed, suddenly everything made sense. The boys  weren’t refusing instructions—they weren’t hearing them. They weren’t intending to disrupt the  classroom—they just weren’t aware that they were speaking or acting at inappropriate times  because they couldn’t hear what was happening. Worse yet, these boys didn’t know they couldn’t hear. They just knew they were always in trouble, but they didn’t know why.

All three boys received interventions for their deafness. Two received hearing aids, and the  other received a cochlear implant. They are now close to being on level for their age and were saved from an eventuality that is unthinkable.

“HEAL was instrumental in changing the Louisiana Medicaid State Plan to cover more students,” said Dr. Palmer. “Previously only students with an IEP would be eligible for Medicaid  reimbursement. With the change in the state plan, any student with Medicaid coverage and a  medically necessary plan of care would be eligible for reimbursement,” she said.

“HEAL continues to work with LDH to update the fee schedule to appropriately reflect the  services provided in schools. HEAL is working with the Children’s Cabinet to address the  challenges schools face in appropriately documenting healthcare services. It is HEAL’s belief that if there was a Universal Documentation system available to all schools; then students wouldn’t  miss out on their services if they had to change schools,” Dr. Palmer explained.

According to the HEAL website, “Children from low-income households face the greatest  challenges to completing school and achieving long-term success. You can teach a child only so  much when that child is hungry, hurting, not sleeping at night, or simply can’t see or hear well.  Experts agree that health and academic achievement are inextricably linked. The CDC agrees  that providing health services in schools, both mental and physical, plays a critical role in  helping children achieve academically.”

The HEAL program has three essential components. Health screenings, student support teams,  and program sustainability. The approach is The Coordinated Care for The Whole Child™ Program. By bridging the gap between education leaders and health professionals, our  program ensures comprehensive care for every child in our partner schools. 

Jared Frank at  HEAL partner Morris Jeff Community School, has seen the difference on-site healthcare can make in the lives of students. “We are grateful for the work of HEAL with our  school. With improved and increased access to on-site health care, we’ve seen a dramatic  improvement in academic and socialemotional outcomes for our students. They feel better and  have better access to health resources which allow them to thrive.”

HEAL officials point out, “It’s important for parents to understand that these are additional  health services provided by schools and do NOT count against a student’s individual Medicaid  benefit limits. HEAL partners with schools statewide to expand school healthcare services at no  additional cost to families.”

HEAL has served 87 schools, districts, and education centers in Louisiana and reached 21% of  those students. And 29 local education agencies in Louisiana have obtained Medicaid provider status thanks to HEAL. Since its founding in 2006, HEAL has served more than 147,000 children  from early education through K-12. HEAL has performed 100,437 preventative health screenings in schools in Louisiana.

The movement is gaining momentum. According to the HEAL website, on May 10, 2023, Nevada  Congresswoman Dina Titus reintroduced her Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere  Act, legislation that would help public elementary and secondary schools hire registered nurses  by creating a grant program at the U.S. Department of Education. According to the National  Association of School Nurses, only 39.3% of schools employ full-time school nurses, even  though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that more than 40% of school- aged children and adolescents have at least one chronic health condition. “This legislation  would help provide resources for schools to invest in public health and make sure our students have the support they need to thrive,” said Rep. Titus.

We Remember Dr. Alvin Burstein

Dr. Alvin G. Burstein passed away suddenly andunexpectedly near his home in Knoxville,  Tennessee on June 27 after his morning walk. He was 92 years old.

After what most would consider a full career, and one with ample, rightly deserved prestige, Dr. Alvin Burstein relocated to Louisiana to serve as the head of psychology at Southeastern. He  embraced our community, including engaging with those in the psychoanalytic discipline. He brought with him considerable wisdom and knowledge, and graced us with it freely.

He had the soul of a poet, a finely honed sense of morality,  and the enviable delight of a  person who truly enjoyed whatever he was doing.

Current Department Head at Southeastern, Dr. Paula Varnado-Sullivan, said, “Although Al was  a member of our department and our department head for a relatively short time in his career, he left an indelible mark on our department and my career. He shaped how I define my role as  a faculty member and department head. He was passionate about academia and fiercely  advocated for his students,” she said. “He truly defined the role of mentor in his relationship  with his students. His impact has lasted long after he taught his last class here at Southeastern. I know that he will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and former students.”

Dr. Matt Rossano, a past Chair at Southeastern, said, “I’ll always remember Al as a kind soul  who threw himself into his work with joy and dedication. My sincere condolences to his family  and close friends.”

In his work at Southeastern Dr. Burstein touched many lives. Current President of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA), Dr. Jesse Lambert, said, “Dr. Burstein was the  Department Chair when I was a graduate student at SELU. I received my first training on the  Rorschach under Dr. Burstein. He was a brilliant psychologist and an enthusiastic teacher.”

Dr. Erin Tarcza Reuther, past president of LPA, said, “Dr. Burstein was my thesis mentor when I  was at Southeastern as a grad student. I have very fond memories of him. He was a great  contributor to the field, and, more personally, had a positive influence on my career. […] He  was a brilliant and kind mentor who challenged his students and colleagues to think deeply  and grow from reflection.”

Dr. Burstein engaged with those in the Louisiana psychoanalytic discipline through New  Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center, where he served as a faculty member.

“The  psychoanalytic community suffers at the death of Al Burstein who brought such energy,  inspiration, and fervor for consciousness in those who were fortunate to know him,” said  friend and colleague, Dr. Del McNeely. “His stimulating discussion groups, book and movie  reviews, and incitement to seek depth from each of us personally will echo in us, our dear  mentor and friend.”

Dr. Randy Harper said, “He wore his many accomplishments gracefully as he contributed to  our Center and the psychoanalytic community in New Orleans. I have very appreciative and congenial memories of his reorganizing our psychoanalytic library; teaching with him; and  being enriched by one of his discussions of a creative artist. It would be impossible to have a  conversation with him that wouldn’t be interesting and engaging. Certainly a life well and fully lived. Thank you Al.”

Colleague from the Center, Dr. Kathy Nathan, said, “I always was impressed by his intellectual,  eternal curiosity, love of teaching, and ability to apply psychoanalysis to film and literature. What a force…. and what a loss to psychology.”

Dr. Burstein grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and attended University of Chicago, Chicago (UCC)  on a scholarship. He later earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology from UCC in 1959. After  consulting at the Chicago State Hospital, he went on to be Acting Director of Clinical Training  and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During this time, he was  also a Consultant at the VA Hospital and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology for the  University of Illinois in Chicago.

By 1963, Dr. Burstein took on the role of the Director of Psychology Training, Acting Director  Division of Psychology, at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago.

In 1970, he became Professor and Chief of Psychology, at the University of Texas Health  Science Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. John Worsham, friend and colleague, said that when Al came to San Antonio, “He  immediately began to develop an APA approved clinical psychology internship which attracted trainees from across the US and several foreign countries, and brought in outstanding young  psychologists …” he said. “As Al and his energetic young psychologists reached out into the  community they transformed psychology in San Antonio and South Texas.

“Al brought the  group together to create an active Bexar County Psychological Association, and that group  moved to further energize the Texas Psychological Association, […] Ultimately Al and one of his  faculty became presidents of TPA, while several others held key positions in the TPA  organization,” he said.

Another Texas colleague, Dr. Lawrence Schoenfeld, said, “He firmly believed in the scientist- practitioner model and guided the new faculty to be involved in research, training and clinical  practice.

The Division in the Department of Psychiatry grew rapidly under his leadership. He also helped  many medical departments recruit psychologists for their Departments and arranged for them to have joint appointments with the Division. […] He was an ethical role model and loyal friend  to those who had the privilege of calling him a friend.”

In 1982, Dr. Burstein was appointed Professor and Director of the Clinical Psychology Program,  at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). During this time, he served as Convenor of  Colloquy on Psychoanalysis and the Humanities, the Director of the Social Science Research  Institute, and Associate Department Head, Department of Psychology, all at UTK.

He retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in 2000 from UTK, and relocated to serve as  Professor and Head, Dept. of Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University.

During these years he also served as a faculty member of the New Orleans-Birmingham  Psychoanalytic Center.

Dr. Burstein was President of the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of  University Professors (AAUP) from 2006-2010, and remained actively involved.

AAUP colleague Tulane Professor Emerita, Italian, Dr. Linda Carroll said she “… had been  thinking of his phone call to me some months ago about assisting him in a possible pending editorship of a journal concerned with professional ethics. An undertaking at the heart of his  concerns. […] Al was a true intellectual, a true professional, and a warm and caring person.”

Throughout his years in academic service, Dr. Burstein provided psychotherapy, psychological  testing, and psychoanalysis in his part-time private practice.

He earned the Diplomate from the American Board of Professional Psychology in 1965.

He was an active member of the professional community and was an active contributor to the  American Psychological Association (APA), He was a fellow in APA Divisions 2, 12, 27, and 39. He  served as Chairman for Division 12, the Membership Committee; for Corresponding Committee of Division 5; as Liaison to Education & Training Board; in the Visiting Psychologist  Program; and in the Task Force to Revise Accreditation Criteria.

He served as chair of the Education and Training Board, on the APA Council of Representatives,  and on the Committee on Employment and Human Resources where he also served as Chair.

He was president of the Southwestern Psychological Association, president of the Texas  Psychological Association, and president of the Louisiana Conference, American Association of  University Professors. He earned the American Board of Professional Psychology Award for  Meritorious Service, the UTK Chancellor’s Teacher Scholar, the UTK Psi Chi Outstanding  Undergraduate Teacher Award, the UTK PanHellenic Council Outstanding Teacher Award, and  the UTK University Studies Award for Contributions to Interdisciplinary Scholarship.

Dr. Burstein served as Consulting Editor for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and as  Advisory Editor for Contemporary Psychology.

He served as Editorial Consultant for American  Psychologist, the InterAmerican Journal of Psychology, the International Journal of Psychiatry  in Medicine, and Professional Psychology. He was on the Editorial Board of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

He co-authored two books, Psychosocial Basis of Health Care (3rd  edition) and Rorschach’s Test: Scoring and Interpretation, the latter co-authored with wife and  colleague, Dr. Sandra Loucks.

Dr. Burstein authored or co-authored a range of book chapters including, “Group  psychotherapy and group dynamics enter the 1970s,” in Vol. 26, and “Group Psychotherapy,”  in Vol. 28, of Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry.

He authored, “Psychotherapy for the poor,” in Successful Psychotherapy, “Social and moral  values in the health sciences,” in, Human Values Teaching Programs for Health Professionals  and “Program evaluation: Defining and evaluating quality,” in Evaluation and Accountability in  Clinical Training.

Dr. Burstein also authored, “Core elements in doctoral education: A minimalist view,” in  Preparing Psychologists for the 21st Century: Proceedings of the National Conference on Graduate Education in Psychology and “What’s Wrong with Psychology: A Freudian Interpretation,” in Psychology: Themes and Variations.

With his colleague and wife, Dr. Sandra Loucks. he coauthored the chapter, “Psychologist as a  health care clinician,” in The Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology.

He had a voice from early in his career. In 1971, Dr. Burstein and J. C. Kobos authored,  Psychological testing as a device to foster social mobility,” for American Psychologist. He and  his co-authors also wrote, “The changing face of American psychology,” in 1986 for American  Psychologist.

And in 1987, he authored, “The virtue machine,” for American Psychologist. In this article, Dr.  Burstein discussed the origins and status of institutional review boards (described as virtue machines) and argued that they tended to dampen curiosity and trivialize bioethical concerns.

He and Dr. Loucks and co-authors produced numerous works including, “Psychological  characteristics of medical students and residents,” in Journal of Medical Education; “Sex related
psychological characteristics of medical students,” in Journal of Psychology; and “The real cost  of psychology intern services: Are they a good buy?” in Professional Psychology.

He and Dr. Loucks authored, “A comprehensive scoring manual for Rorschach’s test,” in British  Journal of Projective Psychology and Personality Study.

Dr. Burstein did not shy away from weighty subjects. For example, he took on the topic, “The  doctor as ethicist,” in Health Science Center Mission, and he authored, “Distinctions meaningful,” a position paper prepared for the 1987 National Conference on Graduate  Education in Psychology, in APA Monitor.

With his Renaissance-man mind and his love of science and literature, he began doing reviews  early in his career.

For Contemporary Psychology, he authored, “None there embrace,” A review of The Suicidal  Patient: Recognition and Management; “The road to Camelot,” A review of Community  Psychology in Transition; and “Out of the past, thundering hoofbeats,” A review of The  Anatomy of Change: A Menninger Foundation Report on Testing the Effects of Psychotherapy

In 1980, he authored, “Review of Psychology and medicine: Psychological dimensions of health  and illness,” for General Hospital Psychiatry, and also “Taking the fall,” A review of Tragic Posture and Tragic Vision: Against the Modern Failure of Nerve,” for Soundings.

He also authored, “Review of Bioethics, Culture and Identity: A Philosophical Disease, “Review  of Education in the Marketplace,” and “Review of Psychoanalysis at the Margins,” all for Soundings.

Strongly engaged in the community, he was a frequent presenter at conferences and conventions. Dr. Burstein presented at the American Psychological Association, Southeastern  Psychology Association, Society for Values in Higher Education, and the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education Annual Conference.

Examples include: “The future of psychotherapy: Fiscal and legal issues,” for Proceedings of the  American Institute of Oral Biology, in Palm Springs, California; “Psychoanalysis and Academic  Psychology,” at the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education Sixth Annual  Conference, in Toronto, Canada; “Perversion in Higher Education,” at the 1997 Conference on  Values in Higher Education in Knoxville, Tennessee; and “Against the Grain: The Natural History of an Inter-disciplinary Faculty Development Program,” at the 1999 AAHE Conference on  Faculty Roles and Rewards, in San Diego, California.

He and Dr. Loucks presented, “Burstein-Loucks scoring system (BLRSS): Introduction and  overview,” in 1984 at International Rorschach Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The two presented  again in 1986 with, “Sense and nonsense on Rorschach scoring,” at the American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C.

In retirement, he turned his interest to literary and creative publications. He was a member of  Inklings, a writers’ critique group in Mandeville, Louisiana, and a reader for Silver Blade, a  fiction quarterly. He published fiction with Flash Fiction Press including, “A Dog’s Tale,” “The Smokers,” “Bonehead,” and “Mimicry.” He wrote a novella, The Owl, available on Amazon.

He contributed a monthly film review, A Shrink at the Flicks, for The Psychology Times, and  won an award for Best Column from the Louisiana Press Association.

Dr. Alvin Burstein is survived by wife, Dr. Sandra Loucks, two children from a previous  marriage––Daniel and Jessica, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents and a young son. Dr. Loucks wrote, “We married in 1978 and were married 45 years. Al and I came from very different backgrounds, yet we found  commonality in our love for psychology, teaching, the application of psychoanalytic technique, and other shared values such as hard work and speaking truth to power. We ultimately both  became full professors and were both ABPPs.”

Dr. Loucks was born in New Orleans, and received her undergraduate degree in psychology  from what was then LSUNO. She is accomplished in her own right––she has served on state  boards, in associations, and has numerous professional publications. She has served as the  head of continuing education at the New Orleans–Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center.

“Al and I have been described by friends as ‘joined at the hip.’ During our years of retirement  we were inseparable. We were devoted to each other through many professional battles and  accomplishments. I’ll never feel truly whole without him though he’ll always be part of me.”

A celebration of Dr. Alvin Burstein’s life will be held 10:00 AM Saturday, November 11, 2023 at  Rose-Mann Funeral Home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

[Editor’s Note: We thank Dr. Loucks for her assistance with this article and wish her and the  family our most sincere condolences.]

Tapping Reduces Cortisol by 43%

That is what Dr. Peta Stapleton on Bond University in Australia found1 when she replicated  Dawson Church’s 2012 cortisol study.1 In the original study, Church et al examined salivary  cortisol levels in 83 subjects who were randomly assigned to either an emotional freedom  technique (EFT) group, a psychotherapy group (SL for Sympathetic Listening) or a no  treatment group (NT). The EFT group had a 50-minute session of tapping with a certified EFT coach. The NT group waited 50 minutes in the waiting room and the SL group had a 50-minute session with a licensed therapist. Cortisol was assayed just before and 30 minutes after an intervention. Emotional distress was assessed using the Symptom Assessment-45 to measure  the subject’s level of anxiety and depression. The EFT group measured a significant decrease  (p<0.03) in mean cortisol level (-24.39%) compared to a decrease of -14.25% in the SI group and  -14.44% in the NT group.

Dr. Stapleton replicated the original Church study almost exactly. However, her results were  even more dramatic. The EFT group reduced cortisol after 1 hour of EFT by 43%. There were 53  subjects in this study randomly assigned to one of the three groups. The Symptom Assessment-45 was again used to assess psychological distress. Salivary cortisol assessment  was performed 30 minutes before the intervention and 30 minutes after.

Cortisol is considered to be an important biological marker of stress. EFT or acupoint  stimulation is shown to be an effective method to reduce stressrelated cortisol in a person. In  an experimental situation, this is “interesting” and often that is all that happens with a reader  who has an interest in stress reduction. In a real life situation, however, where someone has a  history of not dealing well with stress, finding a short, easy to apply method that reliably  reduces the amount of cortisol circulating in their body, the importance cannot be over-stated.

Creating a list of people who have a history of “not dealing well with stress” is an important  first step. These are people who for some reason tend to hold the stress producing situation in their minds and continue to think about it, such as people who are more likely to have anxiety  disorders like GAD or PTSD. The list should also include people who because of their physical  condition, such as being pregnant, do not want to maintain high levels of cortisol in their  blood.

An important second step as clinicians is for us to introduce them to various techniques to  help them reduce their stress related cortisol. The Tapping Solution is possibly NOT the best  technique. That remains to be seen. However, it is surely experimentally proven to reliably reduce cortisol and it is easy to do.

It might make a good tool for your therapy box if you see and treat people with anxiety.

1. Stapleton, P., Crighton, G., Sabot, D., and O’Neill, H.M. (2020). Reexamining the effect of   motional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol  Trauma.doi: 10.1037/tra0000563 (epub ahead of print.)
2. Church, Dawson, Yount, G., and Brooks, A.J. (2012). The effect of emotional freedom  techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis., 10, 891-6.

Office of Behavioral Health Celebrates 988 Crisis Line Success

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is celebrating the  anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline this July with a focus on growth, increased  capacity and the lives that are being changed with increased access to mental health  resources. Call volume has increased 11% since launch in July 2022, according to the news  release.

“We are proud of the work we have done to increase awareness of the 988 Lifeline, which has  been a valuable resource for Louisianans in crisis. The Lifeline offers hope and reassurance instantly with compassionate, professional intervention through calls, texts and chats, helping  to reduce stigma and build a healthier Louisiana,” said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

OBH set a goal of reaching vulnerable populations and expanding the reach of this important  mental health resource. OBH also led an effort to increase the in-state answer rate, recognizing that Louisiana-staffed call centers were best positioned to understand local culture, direct  callers to additional mental health resources and have familiarity with local stressors such as  natural disasters.

“Louisiana’s trained call center responders have been working to provide a robust response to  crisis situations and to Louisiana residents who are experiencing emotional stress over the last year, and we know that their work has saved lives,” said OBH Assistant Secretary Karen Stubbs. “Our goal with 988 has been to reduce the stigma around mental health, remove barriers and ensure Louisiana residents can make additional connections to local resources. We are making  significant progress, but we hope to expand our reach even more as we begin our second year   of 988.”

Since launch, call volume for 988 has increased by 11%, and the in-state answer rate rose from  64% in June 2022 to a rate ranging from 85% to 91% over the last year. The Lifeline offers specialized supports to veterans and their families, Spanish speakers, LGBTQ+ youth, and deaf  and hard of hearing people. Veterans, service members and their families (press 1) Spanish speakers (press 2) LGBTQ+ youth and people under the age of 25 (press 3) Deaf and hard of  hearing people (use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988) 988 is also offering text  and chat for those who prefer not to call. Louisiana has responded to an average of 224 texts  and 157 chats per month since December 2022.

The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging &  Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities,  and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid).



Times Wins Honors at Louisiana Press Assn

The Psychology Times earned second place in the prestigious General Excellence Award for its  division in the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Competition for 2022-2023, announced in late July. The General Excellence honor is sought after by newspapers as a top award in the divisions.

The Times staff members achieved a third place in Best Special Section for their community  awards project. Julie Nelson earned both a second and third place for Best Single Editorial  for her opinion pieces on the medical and healthcare professions and health outcomes in  Louisiana.

Tom Stigall’s photography composition won third place for Best Photo Package. Susan Brown and Jake Nelson-Dooley won second place recognition for Best Overall Website. Jake Nelson-Dooley placed third for his Best Web Project.

The Times-Picayune-New Orleans Advocate, The Ruston Daily Leader, The St. Tammany  Farmer (Covington), The Pointe Coupee Banner, Central City News, and the Loyola Maroon (New Orleans) earned Newspaper of the Year honors in their respective divisions in the Louisiana Press Association competition.

In the Freedom of Information Competition, The Times-Picayune was the winner, writing  about a sexual harassment scandal at a prep school and the efforts by wealthy donors to  cover it up.

The coveted “Freedom of Information” award originally came from an idea that Gordon  Nelson, long-time member of the Press Association and publisher of the Coushatta Citizen,  and Bob Holeman, current Psychology Times journalism consultant, presented to the  Louisiana Press Association in the 1980s.

The late Gordon and Lynn Nelson owned and operated the Coushatta Citizen, and were  parents of the Psychology Times publisher, Julie Nelson. Gordon and Lynn won the first  Freedom of Information award almost four decades ago.