Category Archives: Front Page Story

Dr. Erin Richard Helps with Novel School Design

by James Glass

Dr. Erin Richard, Associate Professor in the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development and Louisiana State University (LSU) has helped pave the way for two traditional elementary schools in the East Baton Rouge Parrish School System to transform into magnet schools.

Superintendent Sito Narcisse has proposed converting two Baton Rouge elementary campuses into health care and environmental education programs. These two programs would be backed by Baton Rouge General Medical Center and LSU, according to a report in The Advocate.

Dr. Richard, who holds a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from LSU, has applied her expertise and conducted evaluation workshops on the teachers being brought on board to launch the new program in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.

The two schools being proposed are Park Elementary and Polk Elementary. Superintendent Narcisse’s proposal noted that Park Elementary would then add a middle school and the name would change to Park Elementary Medical Academy. Polk Elementary would become a sixththrough-12th-grade school and would be renamed the Eva Legarde Research Center for Coastal Studies and Environmental Studies.

In a memorandum from Superintendent Narcisse, the Eva Legarde Research Center for Coastal Studies and Environmental Studies would be based on a phase-in approach, with 50 students per grade level or approximately 350 students. Successful participation in this program is an asset for students interested in pursuing their post-secondary studies at LSU.

Narcisse explained that professional development, both at the district level and in partnership with LSU, is a crucial component to ensure that teachers have the expertise and support to ensure that the program is implemented with fidelity.

This is where Dr. Richard’s expertise plays a key role in the successful completion of professional development. As a faculty member in the LSU School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, Dr. Richard teaches courses on work stress and health, organizational needs assessment, program evaluation, and quantitative research methods.

Dr. Richard consults with local organizations to provide services such as training needs assessment, program evaluation, leadership development workshops, and survey design and

Her research focuses broadly on the promotion of worker well-being, with a focus on topics related to emotion, self regulation, interpersonal communication, and leadership.

Dr. Richard is currently examining how organizational leaders manage negative emotion and promote resilience in followers.

“This is a dream coming true before our very eyes,” Edgardo Tenreiro, chief executive officer for Baton Rouge General, told the board. Tenreiro said Baton Rouge General has a school of nursing that the Park Elementary program could feed into, noting there’s a shortage of nurses right now.

Christopher D’Elia, dean of LSU’s college of coast and the environment, said the college has successfully partnered for years with science-minded students at Scotlandville High and he sees the new Eva Legarde school as an opportunity to expand on that. “I’m looking for more of the same and better, and I just can’t tell you how excited we are about this opportunity,” D’Elia said.

Dr. Richard has conducted applied research funded by the Office of Naval Research in partnership with the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), and she has collaborated on projects funded by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). She has also consulted with local organizations to provide new manager training.

Her focus is on intrapersonal and interpersonal processes related to emotion in the workplace, the promotion of worker well being, with a concentration on topics related to emotion, self-regulation, interpersonal communication, and leadership. Her research Interests include Industrial and organizational psychology, work stress and health, leadership and emotion Interpersonal emotion management, work motivation, cyber-aggression and workplace

She has published her research in academic journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Occupational Health Science, and many others.

Dr. Richard’s publications include:

Matey, N., Sleiman, A., Nastasi, J., Richard, E. M., & Gravina, N. (2021). Varying Reactions to Feedback and their Effects on Observer Accuracy and Attrition. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 54(3),1188-1198.

Richard, E. M. (2020). Promoting employee resilience: The role of leader-facilitated emotion management. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 22(4)*, Special Issue on Resilience and HRD (J. Mendy & M. Bal, Issue Eds.) Issue awarded the 2020 Best Issue Award from the ADHR editorial board.

Richard, E. M., Young, S. F., Fischer, J. J., & Giumetti, G. W. (2020). Unique effects of cyberaggression on victims’ counterproductive work behavior via rumination and negative emotion. Occupational Health Science, 4, 161-190.

Richard, E.M. Fischer, J. J., & Zhou, Z. E. (2019). Cyberbullying in the Workplace: Cross-cultural Issues. In G. Giumetti and R. Kowalski (Eds.), Cyberbullying in Schools, Workplaces, and Romantic Relationships: The Many Lenses and Perspectives of Electronic Measurement. Routledge/Taylor Francis.

Dr. Richard received her PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University. She is Assistant Professor in the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, in the College of Human Sciences & Education at Louisiana State University. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Business and Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and the inaugural board of Occupational Health
Science. She is also a member of the Academy of Human Resource Development, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology

An Ounce of Prevention

The third reason for death in the U.S. is unintended outcomes of medical treatment. A study by Martin Makary, MD, then a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that medical errors–comprise the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

“It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” Makary said to The Washington Post.

We know about some of these problems. When the specialists go on vacation the mortality drops. For the one out of 1,000 women saved by mammography, up to 10 healthy women will be treated needlessly. A third of FDA approved drugs have been found to later have safety issues.

However, in a comparison of age-adjusted deaths from all causes, the World Health
Organization ranks the United States last in similar countries. At the same time, Louisiana
ranks 50 of all the states.

For this report, we look at the barriers to providing prevention, rather than the expensive and dangerous treatments now provided by the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Consider an example from mental health. Imagine that a patient with psychosis is given nutrients. She improves her quality of life to such a degree that she no longer needs yearly hospitalizations, which, along with other expenses, amounted to $500,000 of costs over a five-year period.

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, Professor Emerita in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, in and expert in the field of nutritional mental health, thinks this type of prevention might save lives and money. Kaplan publishes widely on the biological basis of developmental
disorders and mental health – particularly, the contribution of nutrition to brain development and brain function. 

In her “Hospitalization cost of conventional psychiatric care compared to broad-spectrum micronutrient treatment,” in International Journal of Mental Health Systems, Kaplan points to
dramatic savings for those patients that respond to nutritional interventions. Nutrition is one of the innovations in illness prevention that has been neglected for decades. Other basic approaches include behavioral and psychological treatments for lifestyle based illnesses, equally as costeffective.

Prevention requires tools that are often unfamiliar because educational, behavioral, and social interventions, not usually considered to be part of medicine, may be most effective for many diseases,” said Hamilton Moses and co-authors in, “The Anatomy of Health Care in the United States,” in an article of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

While medical costs are driven by chronic disease, it is not due to an aging population, even though age is often cited as the cause. Moses shows that about 80 percent of the total health care cost is accounted for by those under 65, and relate to psychological, social and behavioral elements. The CDC estimates that three lifestyle factors––poor diet, inactivity, and smoking–– account for 80 percent of heart disease and stroke, 80 percent of type 2 diabetes, and 40 percent of cancer.

“Behavioral intervention is the foundation for lifestyle medicine,” writes Dr. John Caccavale, author of Medical Psychology Practice and Policy Perspectives. “Of the top four classes of medical problems in America – metabolic disorders, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and mental disorders – physicians will have great difficulty demonstrating that they are improving patient health by utilizing medications as a first-line treatment for these classes of disorders,” writes Caccavale.

“I think wellness/prevention are areas where there is tremendous need in primary care,” said health psychologist Dr. Michelle Larzalere.

“For both physical and mental health, the need to work on active problems is often so high that wellness/prevention get shorted on attention,” Larzalere said.

“The health habits that most reduce the preventable component of the most prominent causes of morbidity and mortality in the US, –for example, refraining from smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol consumption– are behaviors that psychologists can really impact positively. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, other needs are so great that it is hard to make time for wellness/prevention initiatives unless there is a specific plan put in place.”

Author of Health Psychology, Dr. Linda Brannon said, “The division of health into mental and physical health is a false dichotomy that we need to get over. I think that many providers address the presenting problem to the extent that they do not look beyond it.”

For decades now, psychological scientists have known that behavior is the key to costs.  Larzelere explained that psychological scientists have agreed that those using an integrated care model can expect a 30 to 60 percent reduction in medical use costs.

Quality care and cost savings dovetail at the primary care level. To put this in perspective, a 10 percent reduction in medical/surgery costs nationwide –by treating the mental or behavioral
component– would exceed the entire current national mental health budget, she explained.

She is correct. Prior to Covid, CMS and The National Health Expenditure Accounts reported that healthcare spending reached $3.5 trillion in both public and private sources. This is $10,739 per person. And accounts for 17.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

A ten percent savings, as Larzelere suggests, is $350 billion. Estimating savings at 30 percent could mean a savings of $1 trillion dollars.

Is all this spending doing anyone any good?

A pattern of poor health outcomes and high costs reflects the country as a whole. The United States ranks 50th out of 55 industrialized countries in a measure of life expectancy and medical care spending, according to Bloomberg, who concluded the U.S. is the “least-efficient” health-care system in the world.

Louisiana is always at the bottom. In the most recent report from America’s Health Rankings, an annual analysis of the United Health Foundation, Louisiana ranks No. 50.

The state has its challenges. Nearly 21% of the population of the state is at the poverty level or below, when only 12 1/2% of the citizens nationwide fall at this level of economic status. Over 41% of the citizens a Louisiana fall at 200% of the poverty level or below. Compare this to 29.75 percent nationwide.

Health is woven into a complex set of social and psychological behaviors, not a single cause. “Socioeconomic status is one of the most powerful predictors of all cause mortality,” says Dr. Chris Leonhard, health psychologist and Professor at the Chicago Professional School at Xavier. “New Orleans is a startling example of this,” Leonhard said. “Life expectancy at birth in the Tremé where the average household income in 2010 was about $26,000 is 55 years, while in Lakeview, the average 2010 household income $75,000, and life expectancy at birth is 80 years.”

Pre-Covid, Louisiana paid $10.7 billion on behalf of about 1.9 million Medicaid recipients, averaging about $5,694 per recipient, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
During the fiscal year 2017–2018, about 39.6 percent of Louisiana’s population were enrolled in the Medicaid program and payments were made on behalf of 1,876,908 recipients.

However, according to an analysis by Blake Kruger and Jeremiah Brown, Louisiana spends the most on Medicare beneficiaries per capita than any other state. At the same time, we reports greater disparities in health status and death rates than other states.

Kruger and Brown investigated the associations between healthcare intensity, healthcare spending, and mortality in Louisianan Medicare beneficiaries. They defined healthcare intensity to be synonymous with the hospital care intensity index, a combination of inpatient days and physicians’ services.

The researchers found no association between healthcare intensity and spending. Nor did they find any association between spending and mortality, noting, “We also observed no association between health-care spending and age, sex, and race-adjusted mortality.” And, when they compared healthcare intensity to age, sex, and race-adjusted mortality, they could find no meaningful associations. Nor did they find than more spending made any difference in survival when adjust for smoking, inactivity, or obesity.

They concluded, “We found that no associations exist between healthcare intensity and spending, spending and mortality, as well as healthcare intensity and mortality. The lack of an
association between healthcare intensity and spending may indicate that outpatient care in Louisiana is becoming more highly utilized and thus our measure of inpatient care intensity
is becoming less sensitive. These findings may also reflect that spending more on healthcare in Louisiana may not improve rates of survival and should prompt reflection as to the role social programs play in producing more auspicious health outcomes for Louisianans.”

Healthcare is Designed by Special Interests

The sheer size and complexity of the healthcare industry would suggest that innovations would be challenging, but change may be even more unlikely because of the political power yielded by the industry. Over the last years the pharmaceutical industry, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association were the some of the highest contributors to Congress.

Psychology and other groups have not been able to garner a place at the medical table. California Attorney David Ries of Human Capital Specialists tried to persuade federal Rule makers to include psychologists in the bonus plan for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) but failed. He told the Times that the final Rules were very disappointing, and said, “The broad recognition of the importance of behavioral health to overall wellness indicates that ACOs are unlikely to achieve their treatment objectives …”.

These special interests exert themselves not only through direct lobbying, but the medical-pharmaceutical-hospitalinsurance industrial complex has a firm hold on the prices and services through the “CPT Codes” and the “Relative Value Scale Update Committee” or RUC. These special interest groups decide what services are allowed and how much they are reimbursed.

The CPT codes, short for Current Procedural Terminology, control what services are allowed and reimbursed. The codes are created by three hundred “Advisors and Experts,” primarily from the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates, representing medical specialties, who attempt to influence an “Editorial Panel,” composed of representatives from medical societies, insurance companies and the government. This panel conducts secret meetings and decides on what healthcare services are paid for, and which are not.

Dr. Tony Puente, Past-President of APA, was one of the two outsiders allowed to participate in the CPT process. “Essentially,” he said, “the CPT tries to divvy it up in a way that is theoretically and empirically, and diplomatically and politically, correct.” Participants must sign a strict AMA (American Medical Association) confidentiality agreement and declare, “I will not disclose, distribute or publish confidential Information to any party in any manner whatsoever.”

To decide on reimbursement, 28 voting members on RUC, representing medicine specialties such as anesthesiology, cardiology, neurology, neurosurgery, obstetrics, oncology, psychiatry, and so on, meet and decide how much each service is worth, and how much is to be paid.

The CPT system is dominated by organized medicine. “Every seat at the table has a vested interest, mostly not supporting your proposed code,” said Dr. Travis Thompson, professor, psychologist, and leader in the Association for Behavior Analysis International. He was speaking after it took him and colleagues three years to muscle through codes for the treatment of autism.

While the CPT approval is a first leg of a long journey, another element of this behind-the-scenes influence is the panel known as AMA/ Specialty Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC. Since 1991 members of the RUC establish the value or price for the CPT codes.  Somehow this is not considered price-fixing.

Control of the CPT and RUC have helped shaped health care toward high technology and high prices, less primary care, and no prevention.

A dramatic example of flawed decisions in the medical/pharma industrial complex is the opioid crisis. Twenty years after a marketing blitz aimed at convincing physicians that opioids were safe and effective, the overprescribing of this heroine-type drug has catapulted overdose deaths to the highest rate in modern times.

Despite the flood of legal opioids into the society, the CDC reported no change in pain that would meaningfully drive the prescribing: “…there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported.”

In contrast, the CDC did find that psychological and physical treatments for pain were beneficial (“CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain”). This despite the fact that these non-medical approaches are rarely integrated into
treatment programs.

And, they were often the more appropriate treatment. “It is now widely accepted that pain is a biopsychosocial phenomenon,” clinical health psychologist and Past-President of the Southern Pain Society, Dr. Geralyn Datz said, and that must be treated as such.


Dramatic changes are needed in the structure and function of the healthcare institutions currently used for the state and the nation. Individuals will need to be treated for root causes,
which will be more behavioral and psychological in nature than the current methods or models.

Louisiana may have the most to gain from prevention and innovations of any state in the nation. But there is a long way to go.

“A bright new future of understanding, preventing, and treating mental disorders awaits us,” writes Bonnie Kaplan.

But just how long is that wait going to be?



Gov. Congratulates Rep. Johnson

On Oct. 25, after more than three weeks of struggling in the U.S. House of Representatives, Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, a conservative from Shreveport and an LSU educated Constitutional attorney, was elected Speaker of the House.

In a press release from October 25, Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “Congratulations to Louisiana’s Mike Johnson on his election as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. In Louisiana, despite our differences, we have found ways to work across party lines to guide our state through challenges and deliver progress for our people. I hope that Speaker Johnson can bring these Louisiana values to Washington.”

On the same day, the Louisiana Democratic State Party Chair Katie Bernhardt also issued a press release saying that Mike Johnson was a “threat to democracy,” and that he was a “radical MAGA and Freedom Caucus member.”

Johnson is the representative of Louisiana’s fourth congressional district. He is 51 years old. Born in Shreveport, Mr. Johnson is the oldest son of Jeanne Johnson and firefighter James Patrick Johnson. He has three younger siblings.
Mr. Johnson received his high school diploma from Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport. In 1995, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he went to Louisiana State’s Paul M. Herbert Law Center, earning a Juris Doctor in 1998.

Mr. Johnson and his wife, Kelly, have four children: Hannah, Abigail, Jack, and Will. According to sources, Mr. Johnson is a devout Christian, has been the host of a conservative radio talk show, a columnist, a college professor, and a constitutional law seminar instructor.


For Veterans Day: Our WWII Fathers

They were young and they were green. Two-thirds of them had never even fired a rifle. They marched off, 16 million of them, half of all the young men in the country, to the deadliest and most widespread war in history.

They went to stop the Axis powers from carving up the world. And they did it.  They were our fathers. As the last of the WWII Veterans fade from life’s stage, we honor all our Veterans this month by sharing three stories, by psychologists, about their WWII fathers.

With some saying that we are on the brink of war, the realities of world war must not be forgotten.

In this special feature, Dr. Susan Andrews, Dr. Julie Nelson, and Dr. John Magee will share some of what they remember about those in the Greatest Generation.

Kenneth A. Ring, Jr.
Battle of the Bulge, defense of Alsace, France
Awarded Silver Star, two Bronze Stars
by Susan Andrews, PhD

My father, Kenneth A. Ring, Jr., was one of the thousands of veterans who served our country in the last days of WWII in France, Austria, and Germany. My memories of my father have always pictured him as “larger than life.” I knew he was multiply decorated (Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars) and I guess I knew that meant that he was a hero but I don’t think the meaning really sunk in until recently. My son was telling me what he had learned about how his grandfather had earned the Silver Star, and wondered if I knew how my father earned the Bronze Stars.

Dad never talked about the war to me–or in mixed company, in general.  Unfortunately, he died in 1978 at age 53 from a brain tumor. However, my brother knew a lot of his stories from years of hunting and fishing trips with dad and other men, some veterans. In the evenings, they would sit around and trade stories. My brother has an amazing memory and shared some of what I am now sharing with you. Some of it comes from details of two books about the 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division (I.D.) published immediately after the war.  The first book tells the story of the 42nd I.D. while the second book details the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D., which was dad’s regiment.

The 222nd was part of the Rainbow Infantry Division under the command of Major General Harry J. Collins, and shipped from Fort Bragg to Camp Gruber to Camp Kilmer to Marseilles in November 1944, and in 1945 took part in the Battle of the Bulge.

My father was a leader even before he was pressed into his role in history. He was the Cadet Commander of the ROTC at Texas A&M, in his junior year in petroleum engineering when he was called to active duty. He reported to Camp Gruber with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

My mom, newly married, tagged along and rented a room in a house in the little Oklahoma town of Muskogee just to be near dad until he shipped out, sometime before September 1944. I did not meet my father until the war was over and he shipped home. Mother and I lived in Dallas, Texas, where both of my parents were born and grew up a block apart.

My father was on the front lines in heavy combat for 114 days in the thick of those last days of the war in Europe. He was awarded his Silver Star for his heroic defense of Alsace France on January 24, 1945. At that point he would have been in Europe for only 2 or 3 months. Only a few months before he had been a petroleum engineer junior year student at Texas A&M.

As a 21-year-old, green, 2nd lieutenant, he was instrumental in turning the tide in the Battle of the Little Bulge, important in the defense of Alsace, France, for which he earned the Silver Star. He also earned two Bronze Stars in the short 3 or 4 months after that. Dad and his Company made raids behind enemy lines.  He found and arrested Hitler’s secretary, and many other high-ranking Nazis, who were trying to hide in the Bavarian Alps, including the infamous Butcher of Paris, SS General Von Oberg, who was posing as a private.

As the Commander of his Company in the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D., they advanced 450 miles from the Hardt Mountains of France to the border of Austria, along the way capturing the towns of Wurzburg, Schweinfurt, and Furth. His was the first unit to successfully cross the Siegfried Line. Dad said that they knew the fighting was going to be intense when the men were given a steak dinner and a new pair of socks the night before. The Rainbow Division captured 51,000 German prisoners. When they were finally in the Tyrol and quartered in fancy hotels, Dad’s men found a cache of $300 million in gold and art (just like the Monument Men). He also served as the Occupational Mayor of Achensee, Austria, in the Tyrolian alps. Finally, his unit was among those who captured Munich.

One of the highest profile things my father did was to command the forces that liberated Dachau through the front gates. I never heard the stories of those days from my father. But, I accidently––at age 14 while looking for something in the attic–– found the pictures my father had taken inside Dachau. Members of my family and myself have occasionally seen captured news footage of my father that was taken during the liberation. I know I had nightmares as a teen and young adult from the photographs. In fact, I can still see the pictures as if they are burned on my brain. I feel sure that my father had more than nightmares from that experience. The concentration camps were among the true horrors of that war. However, that kind of emotional reaction was handled differently by most WWII veterans.

Finally, my father moved to Vienna and became the Aide and bodyguard for General Mark Clark, the general over Austria. Among other things, dad organized and ran the Officer’s Club in Vienna for the General until he was discharged and returned home to mom and me.

In trying to imagine what veterans like my father must have gone through, I have tried to gather as much information as I could find about what my father lived through in the first few months after landing in Europe, the events that led to his Silver Star.

His unit landed in Marseilles in November 1944. It was called the worst winter in Europe in 100 years. The temperature dropped to 20 degrees below. Our troops were not prepared for the extreme cold. The bitter cold of that winter is one reason why the Russians defeated the Germans.

The landing and deployment of the Rainbow Division into the Western Front was supposed to be kept a big secret but somehow the Germans found out they were coming and were ready, waiting and actually taunting our young, totally green troops when the Battle of the Bulge started Christmas eve 1944.

The Germans were planning the last major offensive campaign on the Western Front in Europe, called Operation North Wind (Unternehmen Nordwind). It began on December 31,1944 in Alsace Lorraine and ended on January 25, 1945. Hitler, himself, briefed his military command on December 28, 1944, three days prior to the launch of Operation North Wind. Hitler told his command that the goal of the offensive was to break through the lines of the US 7th Army and the French 1st Army in the Vosges mountains and destroy them. He wanted to liberate Alsace but more he wanted to “exterminate the enemy forces wherever we find them…destroy their manpower.” This last Battle of the Little Bulge, as some called it, was a month of some of the bloodiest fighting by the Americans in Europe. Winston Churchill called World War II’s Battle of the Bulge “the greatest American battle of the war.” Steven Spielberg impressed the 6-week ordeal on the popular imagination with the movie, Band of Brothers, which dramatized the attack on the village of Foy by three companies of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. The 222nd I.D. fought alongside of the 101st.

Imagine the stress these young men were under. They have never faced combat and now they are facing two very experienced German army groups; one group was commanded by Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, himself. Our young men sat in their foxholes, wet and freezing, close enough to the Germans that they could hear them being whipped up to a battle frenzy with drugs, mostly crystal meth, while waiting for dawn.

The fighting, which started on December 31,1944 was intense and our line had bulged as we retreated. The 222nd had been forced, because of casualties and the delay of reinforcements, to pull back up north from Strasbourg toward  Haguenau to the French town of Neubourg where my father set up a defensive position on the south bank of the Moder River on January 21, 1945. Thus, at age 21 my father found himself the leader of Company M (heavy machine gun platoon) of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D. He was a Company Commander because of field promotion after the death of Company M’s commander in the earlier battle.

I have seen it written about the events of those days: “Further withdrawal was being planned; had it not been for the brilliant defenses of the 222nd.”

My father was a crack shot and he had taken up a defensive position in a farmhouse basement, where he was lying on the snowy steps coming out of the basement, surrounded by sandbags with several carbines and several of his men behind him, reloading the carbine rifles and passing them up to him. It was night, about 20 degrees below; the roads were so covered with ice that men could not walk without slipping and falling.

My father ordered his men to hold their positions when the Germans penetrated the main line of resistance with a large force. The 222nd had no artillery support or tanks or tank destroyers. It was riflemen against self-propelled guns and armor. They were trapped in the basement with only turnips and schnaps to eat or drink for three days. Dad had blown three bridges that the tanks could cross on the Moder toward the Rhine. All night he lay in the snow and shot moving targets in the snowstorm. In the morning light, they saw that the enemy casualties were enormous; the Germans had withdrawn and were never able to capture the town of Neubourg.

In the final analysis, my father spearheaded a defense of what later proved to be the last offensive action ever launched by the German army on the western front in Europe.

For my father, as for so many others, he saw horrors and lived through things that we can only imagine today with the help of movies. He rarely spoke of it.  He never went to therapy or claimed any mental or emotional disorder. Most of the true heroes I have met do not ever talk about what they did to be known by others as heroes. Maybe they don’t even think of themselves as a hero. I don’t know.

My father probably had what was called “combat fatigue” when he returned home. I really do not think he had PTSD. WWII vets did not react in the same way as veterans with PTSD do now. They came home from war, drank a bit too much, had an occasional nightmare but with family support and knowing they won and saved the world, they tried to put it behind them.

They typically did not talk about it much and did not even seek out other veteran groups. They felt that people did not want to hear about it. They did not want people to feel sorry for them. They did not want to be the hero who came back troubled by what he did over there and the people that he had bombed or killed.

Only in recent years have I realized that in my growing up years, I was often afraid of my father. He would become fiercely protective when his family was in danger and I can remember him spanking me when I came home crying that some kid had hit me. He spanked me and made me go back out and stand up for myself to the bully. He later explained and apologized saying that he saw many European children not know how to protect themselves and that he never wanted to see that happen to us if some foreign power were to invade our country. In those days, late 1940’s and 1950’s, people thought it was possible that America might be invaded.

I lost my father at his young age of 53. Many of those brave men died young.  Some blame their early deaths on the amazing stress and horrors they endured and then mostly buried when they returned from the war. Although it is not easy to “re-member” the events of those days, it is with great love and honor that I remember my father; he was a great influence in my life.

Gordon Nelson
Master Sergeant Army Air Corps, 20th Air Force,
XX Bomber Command, HQ
by Julie Nelson, PhD

I don’t think my father, Gordon Nelson, had any romantic ideas about war. Like all true Irishmen he told amusing stories about his experiences, which seemed to lighten what I always thought was a more melancholy undertone. But maybe that’s just true of the Irish in general.

Dad (Gordon) was 19 when he signed up for the Mississippi National Guard. Coming from a poor, single mother family (his own father had taken off when he was small), his options for college were nil. He enlisted in November of 1940, probably knowing that peacetime draft would pull him in, because this was before Pearl Harbor in ’41. Gordon was a strategic thinker, so he might have signed up so he could change from the Army Infantry to the Air Corps (later renamed Air Force).

This now seems logical. My kid brother, Kevin, said that Gordon realized that 2nd Lieutenants and Sergeants in the Army Infantry “… were all being shipped to Europe battlefields and killed within two weeks on average. He said he was in line for that, so he switched to U.S. Army Air Corps which later was known as the Army Air Forces.”

Gordon’s letters home to his mother were significant. “Those letters,” Kevin said, “were poignant and fascinating to read. Very telling. I started seeing a change in tone in GN’s letters…something along the lines of grim acceptance that he was doomed and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it.”
Gordon had bomber training at MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida, and then went on to Smoky Hill Army Air Field in Salina, Kansas where he had his first experiences in B-29s. The subtext which was to color his war experiences.

In a letter home from Smoky Hill, Gordon said that he and his buddies “were all a little droopy” because of a recent crash. A crewmember had come to his office and inquired about a fellow and Gordon said, “Who, that little Dago kid? He was killed in the crash.” Gordon wrote that the crewmember “… just slumped in shock and grief because they had become quick friends and poof, he was gone, dead.”

The dangerousness of the B-29s would follow him to the other side of the world.

B-29s were the very heavy bombers that were pushed into production by Roosevelt. While considered the most advanced bombers in the world at that time, they were not fully tested by the time they were put into service. Because of their size and heavy loads, they were hard for pilots to handle. Takeoffs were risky. Boeing had rushed development and the B-29s had mechanical problems, including engines with a tendency to overheat.

Gordon served with the 20th Air Force, XX Bomber Command, at the Kharagpur Air Field, West Bengal, India. From Kharagpur, the bombers would double as transports and carry their own fuel and cargo, over the Himalayan Mountains, known as “the Hump.” There were so many crashes between India and the China air bases that pilots called it “The Aluminum Trail.”

But President Roosevelt wanted to bomb Japan and had promised Chiang Kai Shek that the U.S. would bolster the Chinese war efforts, and the B-29s were the best chance to reach the Japanese islands.

So, my father’s war stories included the occasional mission with him as a tail gunner, the highjinks of young men, living as best they could in the moment, and dealing with whose plane would be going down next. Toasting their dead and “turning down the cup” of the friend they’d all lost. The imagery Gordon could paint (he was a poet at heart) of India was, I think, part of how he coped, and also the irony he saw in things that happened.

The Japanese would strafe the airfield at Kharagpur and the men would dive into the ditches on either side of the runway, Gordon told Kevin. But, it was considered almost as dangerous to jump into a ditch because of the poisonous krait snakes and cobras that were often in the ditches.

The cobras were everywhere. They were so bad that tent members would hire a local “coolee” to bring his pet mongoose in and clear the tents before everyone went to bed.

In the latter part of the war, General Curtis LeMay took command and turned a failing B 29 program into a successful one, by flying low altitude missions that had more bombing accuracy, albeit even more risky.

My father liked and respected LeMay, and was part of the group that attended when LeMay inspected the facilities. During one inspection of the cafeteria, the General singled out my father and abruptly asked, “Sergeant! What do you think of this mess?” Gordon, confused about of what LeMay was asking but not wanting to appear inattentive, fudged and answered, “Well, Sir, I guess it’s not too good?”

LeMay cursed and said, “I knew it! Get this damn mess up to snuff for these men.” And then LeMay walked off in disgust, thinking that Gordon had confirmed that the food, “the mess,” was substandard.

At a 1986 Christmas party we held in Baton Rouge, my father came face-to-face with a piece of his past. As the young Sergeant in India, he had spent his money collecting some “stones” that he bought from Indian jewelers. He had sent one, a star sapphire, home as a gift for his baby nephew. Forty years later it had found its way into a dinner ring for that nephew’s wife.

Recounting the events, Gordon said that the other stones had “disappeared,” which he thought was due to retaliation by a tent member. Gordon had taken the tent member’s beer (he had left him “Rupees 18”). He and his buddies had needed the beer––they had drunk all of theirs–– because Baldy Van Buren was in the base hospital with the flu and they went to visit him and would never go empty handed (without liquor) to see Baldy.

“In those days we thought we would live forever,” Gordon wrote to us. “But now it seems so long ago and far away that the little stone and the lives it touched has a strange poignancy about it. After thinking about it I’m reminded of the verse from the Rubaiyat that goes: “And not a drop that from our Cups we throw/ For Earth to drink of, but may steal below/ To quench the fire of Anguish in some eye/ There hidden––far beneath and long ago./”

“Can’t you hear temple bells, Indian children calling ‘Bakaheesh, Sahib.’ I can. Haven’t thought of it for 40 years, but I can see Baldy the practical joker, in the rick-shaw race we had in Calcutta flinging handfuls of appes at the hundreds of kids running behind to bottle up the rest of us.”

“The war was winding down––or sort of,” Gordon wrote. “Some of us were being rotated back stateside to form a new 21st Air Corps and go West to Guam. Others were preparing to be flown across occupied China. To do this they flew long, long missions in the B-29s and on one of them to Mukden, Manchuria, Baldy’s plane had engine trouble and crashed.”

It was this tone, where the story ends in a minor key, that I always noticed. I do think my father was affected by the war, whether it was PTSD or Moral Injury or just the way that a young man would be affected when people around him keep dying.

He was not in regular combat like some–I believe he worked to avoid that. I think that my father flew only the required number of combat missions.
But one night, late, while he was drinking too much, he began to talk about an event I’d never heard him talk about before. While guarding a prisoner, the man escaped. Dad shot at the man’s legs to stop him, but missed, and killed him. My dad began to cry, and then he started to sob, and he didn’t stop. I was stunned and felt helpless. I said something lame like, “It was an accident.” After a while, he finally stopped, wiped his eyes and, embarrassed, told me to ignore him, that he was being “silly.” The next day he refused to talk about it and acted as if nothing had happened.

Gordon was not any sort of hero, and would candidly say that he spent most of the war scared out of his wits. He came home in April 1945 and went to college on the G.I. bill and studied journalism and Shakespeare. He married my mother and contributed four children to the baby boom and was normal, for him. He lived to 91, and was happy.

As far as I know, once he returned to the U.S., he refused ever to fly again. When my kid brother visited Ireland, Dad “treasured the vial of Irish dirt” Kevin brought back for him from Killarney, his hereditary home. Dad always wanted to see Ireland for himself, but he never did.

Warren Magee
Second Lieut., Marine Corps
“Soldier’s Heart”
by John W. Magee, Jr. PhD

My Father, Warren Magee, never once talked to me about his combat experiences in World War II as a Marine Corps bomber pilot. Not once.
Warren Magee was the third of four boys born to Johnny and Vina Magee. His father, “Dr. Johnny,” was a true country veterinarian, and, during the Depression, often took payment in fruits and vegetables, and sometimes a chicken. Vina once told me the family history was one of “country folk.” It was not an apology.

Warren wanted to be a veterinarian like his father, and a farmer like his Uncle Lamar. After high school, he started college in Pre-Veterinary and Agricultural Studies at Mississippi State University.

Warren was 20 years old, a full-time, sophomore-level, undergraduate student on December 7, 1941—the “date which will live in infamy”—when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He learned of the bombing that Sunday in the small country store of his uncle in Caseyville, Mississippi, less than 100 yards from Uncle Lamar’s 400-acre farm.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Warren left college and joined the Marine Corps. The course of his life changed forever, as it did for most everyone in his generation, including his three brothers—one of whom joined the Army Air Corps, another who was a glider pilot involved in the fighting of Europe in 1944, and another who joined the Merchant Marines.

My uncle, W.O., was a child during World War II, but later joined the military, and served in Vietnam as a navigator on B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War. Uncle W.O. recalls my Father, Warren, as one of a group of young officers in World War II who were called “90-Day Wonders.” After Pearl Harbor, because of urgent need for officers, some were put through an intensive, condensed training period of 3 months. The term was sometimes used as derogatory, but by others with affection. Of the 90-day training, W.O. says “if you survived it, you went on.”

Warren did survive the training, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, and then sent to train at Corpus Christi Naval Base, where he became a pilot. Information from “The Slipstream,” published by the Corpus Christi Naval Base after the war, indicates Warren was part of Squadron 5A, one of the earlier squadrons to go through Corpus Christi. According to W.O, Lieutenant Magee, at 5 feet, 8 inches tall was the ideal height for a pilot in the smaller bomber cockpits.

Warren was sent to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry, Point North Carolina, with Marine Air Craft Group 11 (“MAG 11”), 2nd Marine Air Craft Wing (“MAW”), under the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Cherry Point had an auxiliary pilot training station at Edenton, North Carolina, a small, picturesque town on a natural harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. Warren was a flight instructor there on B-25 Mitchell Bombers for Marines who would serve in the Pacific.

It was at Edenton that Warren met my Mother, Sarah Russell, who reportedly broke a date with a Major to go out with Warren. Uncle W.O., who grew up in Edenton, said “Warren got the prettiest girl in town.” Sarah used to say she first spotted Warren in church. Although Warren probably attended her church, and she may have spotted him there, they actually first met at the USO Club. “He was so good looking,” she said of my Father, “and a good dancer.”

Sarah also told a story that Warren had said that on a specific day and time he’d fly over her family’s house. Sarah waited outside, until his bomber appeared and he dipped each wing as his “wave” to her. Warren was a young man preparing for war, but there had still been a little room for romance.
Only months after their wedding, Warren was sent overseas to Okinawa for the remainder of the war. It was from Okinawa that he and his crew flew bombing missions until the war’s end.

My Father only told me one story that had occurred while he was in the Pacific. It was a typical Warren story, and not a combat story.

Warren was leaving his plane when he saw a group of indigenous people in a circle, just off the runway. Curious, Warren walked over. The group had circled around a snake and one of them was trying to kill it with a long pole.

In college, Warren had earned extra money by catching snakes for the biology department. He had been taught that the only poisonous snake with round pupils was the coral snake. This snake was clearly not a coral snake, so Warren moved inside the circle and grabbed the snake just behind the head. The people in the circle began yelling, which Warren interpreted as undeserved congratulations.

Then, still holding the snake, he began to think more about that rule. Realizing he wasn’t sure if this was the rule for “all” snakes, or just for snakes in the U.S., he walked outside of the circle and tossed the snake into the brush. He continued to receive congratulations, and, of course, later learned the snake was indeed quite poisonous. He said he never engaged in snake-catching on the island again.

Warren separated from the Marine Corps as a Captain after the end of the war in February 1946. Uncle W.O. and other family members indicate that Warren did not talk about his combat experiences, so the number of combat missions he flew, or specific events he experienced, are unclear.

After his military service Warren intended to return to college to become a veterinarian. But Mississippi did not have a Veterinary school and out-of state admissions were very rare. An individual at a school in Alabama reportedly asked Warren for $500 as a bribe for admission, but Warren refused. He never got into veterinary school.

In 1946, he started in the oilfield business, where he worked for 39 years. After his death, I learned he quit one job when they wanted to transfer him to Morgan City because he was concerned that my sister and I would not get a good education there.

Warren grew up Methodist, and Sarah, Baptist, but my father did not believe that only one religion had it “all figured out.” When we first moved to Shreveport, my parents visited different churches, looking for the right fit. Eventually, they joined the First Presbyterian Church, and more importantly, they became part of a Sunday School Class. For years, I witnessed the importance of that class to my parents. Besides attending Sunday school, they ate together, played bridge, fished, and took trips. I still recall laughter as a regular feature of those times, even as I wondered how religious people could laugh so much.

It was some 30 to 40 years later, ten years after my father died, that I learned more about the “Sunday School Class.” In the late 1990s, I recognized one of the men from the Class and learned he was a former POW from World War II. His wife told me something that I had never known—every man in the class was a World War II veteran.

The class was like a family, and I’ve often wondered about the combat experiences of all of those other men in the class. The laughter that I heard as a child, and their obvious love for one another, means much more now, after learning about PTSD, and my 29 years of clinical experience treating combat veterans. Ironically, I know more about the combat experiences of that ex-POW than I know about my own father’s experiences in the war.

My father died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 64, one month before his retirement, and before I had earned my PhD.

It was only after his death that my Mother told me the one combat-related story she knew, of a time when Warren and his crew almost had to ditch his B-25 Bomber into the Pacific Ocean when returning to Okinawa after a mission. She had no details other than they almost did not make it back. I think Warren would have been the same person, regardless of his circumstances. I never heard him curse, ever. He never spoke ill of others because of race, age, sex, or religion. He was honest and ethical in all his relationships.

Warren never became a veterinarian, and never had a farm. Despite many reversals of fortune, I never heard my father complain about the unfairness of life, even though his early goals in life were not realized, and even with numerous major stressors and losses involving family and finances.
I don’t think my Father had PTSD, but he had a strong sense of doing what was right and facing things directly. He transmitted to me an awareness of his expectations, whether these came from the Marines or the war, or just my Father. These included standing up for what was right, even against bullies, and even at the cost of a fight.

My father softened over the years, though he could still be tough. Somewhere along the way, the tough Marine country boy seemed different. He read poetry books I gave him, even though I know he much preferred other offerings. He did not judge me through my various phases (long hair, beard, leaving school, living with a girlfriend). He was amenable to change, even in himself.

A couple of years before his death, my father and I went fishing. I asked him about his life—it had turned out so differently from the one he had planned before World War II. He told me he was happy and had been happy, and believed things had turned out the way they were supposed to. He talked of the important things of his life—family, friends, the Sunday School Class, daily choices in life. He wondered if my sister and I would have received a good education if we had been living on a farm deep in rural Mississippi. He had once told me that you can “lose” almost anything you get in life, but not education.

After my father’s death, my Uncle Mac told me a story about Warren’s last trip to Mississippi. While squirrel hunting somewhere deep in woods unfamiliar to my Father, he and Uncle Mac separated to hunt alone. Later in the day, Mac realized he hadn’t heard Warren fire a shot all morning, and he went to find him.

Mac found Warren sitting on the ground with his back against a tree, looking up at the tall canopy of trees above, his rifle some distance away. Warren said that he had been so struck by the beauty around him that he just sat down to enjoy it, and he didn’t want to spoil it by hunting. Warren told Mac “If heaven’s supposed to be better than this, it must be some place.”

Two months later my Father passed away.

That day when we went fishing, when I asked about his earlier dreams, as he explained how he had been happy, even though he never got to be a country veterinarian or farmer, my Father also said, “Besides, try and picture your mom living way back in the woods.” I realize that Warren had his priorities right—he didn’t want to lose the prettiest girl in Edenton.

I’m sure my Father was grateful for the life he had, even if it wasn’t the life he planned. As a school boy, he chose his grandmother’s farm for the summers. As a young man, he chose to join the Marines, instead of continuing his studies. He chose not to pay a bribe to get into veterinary school. He made the choices he wanted to live with. I know he wouldn’t use the words I’m using, but I’d say he figured out what was important. Warren got the big things right, even if others wouldn’t see them as the big things.

One of the old terms for PTSD was “Soldier’s Heart.” In that time, some believed that the afflicted soldier was suffering from a form of heart-sickness for his home and family. I don’t think my Father had PTSD, but I think he had to overcome more body-blows than the average boxer, and he did so with quiet grace. Maybe for him, the term “Soldier’s Heart” would have meant more about the internal and external resources that helped him overcome life’s “slings and arrows” so he did not succumb to them.

After my father’s death, my sister Susan said that, even though our Father was often quiet, “You always knew he loved you.” I think there may be no greater inheritance to have from anyone.

Dr. Buckner Awarded Grants: Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Microaggressions for Blacks

Dr. Julia Buckner, Professor in the Department of Psychology at LSU and the Director of LSU’s Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Laboratory & Clinic, has been awarded two grants, totaling over $800,000, to study alcohol and drug abuse for Black persons including the impact of microaggressions.

Dr. Buckner is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at LSU-Health Sciences Center and a Visiting Professor at the London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences.  She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.

The first grant is for the project, “Black Hazardous Drinkers:  Ecological Momentary Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Microaggressions.” The agency is the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the amount is $402,835.00.

According to the project materials, “Black persons are the second largest racial minority group in the U.S., accounting for over 13% (44 million) of the population. Black persons evince numerous health inequalities, particularly as it relates to alcohol consumption and negative affect (NA; e.g., sadness). Indeed, Black individuals evince the greatest increase in average daily volume of alcohol consumed such that it is 41% greater among Black compared to White individuals who consume alcohol.

“Further, Black Americans report increases in drinking frequency and heavy drinking episodes at rates greater than most other racial/ethnic groups. And when Black persons experience alcohol use disorder (AUD), their symptoms tend to be more chronic than non-Hispanic/Latin White individuals. Minority stress-based models
of substance use and mental health outcomes tend to propose that
marginalized groups such as Black Americans are vulnerable to risky substance use via the interplay of several domains including interpersonal (e.g., experiences of racial discrimination) and individual factors (e.g., emotional symptoms). Indeed, meta-analytic data indicate that racial discrimination is positively related to alcohol consumption, heavy/binge drinking, at-risk drinking, and
drinking-related problems among Black persons. […]

“There is a need to understand the proximal and longitudinal nature of MAs [microaggressions] and alcohol use motivation (i.e., greater alcohol craving, intention to drink, and coping-oriented motives for alcohol use) and drinking (i.e., greater alcohol consumption, greater frequency of drinking, and more negative consequences from drinking) among this health disparities group.”

The second grant is for the project, “Ecological Momentary Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Microaggressions and Cannabis Use among Black Adults.” The agency is the National Institute On Drug Abuse and the amount is $419,904.00.

From the materials, “Black individuals who use cannabis use cannabis more frequently and are more likely to use riskier cannabis use methods (e.g., blunts), associated with greater exposure to carcinogens and toxins and with greater risk for cannabis use disorder (CUD). In fact, Black individuals who use cannabis are more likely to meet criteria for CUD than White or Hispanic/Latin persons. This is concerning given rates of cannabis use (including daily use) appear to be increasing among Black adults in the U.S.

“Minority stress-based models of substance use and mental health outcomes propose that marginalized groups, such as Black Americans, are vulnerable to risky substance use via the interplay of several domains including interpersonal (e.g., experiences of discrimination) and individual factors (e.g., emotional symptoms). Yet, despite meta-analytic data indicating that racial discrimination (a source of significant minority stress) is positively related to adverse drinking outcomes among Black individuals, the impact of racial discrimination on cannabis use behavior among Black individuals has received little empirical attention. […] there is a need to understand the longitudinal nature of MAs and cannabis use motivation (i.e., greater cannabis craving, intention to use, coping-oriented motives for cannabis use) and cannabis use and related problems among this population.”

Dr. Buckner’s program of research primarily focuses on: (1) psycho sociocultural causal and maintaining factors implicated in substance use disorders and co-occurring anxiety substance use disorders; and (2) development and evaluation of empirically-informed treatment and prevention protocols for substance use disorders, including treatment for co-occurring anxiety-substance use disorders.

Dr. Buckner has had over 190 publications and she has utilized a variety of methodological procedures in her research, including ecological momentary assessment, affect and craving induction paradigms, attentional processing paradigms, technology-based interventions, and randomized clinical trials.

She has been involved in several NIH grants as PI, co-PI, consultant, and sponsor and is currently Project Director on a graduate education training grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services’ HRSA. She has also received awards from organizations such as the American Psychological Association, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Anxiety Disorders Association of America, and Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Addictive Behaviors & Anxiety Disorders Special Interest Groups.

Dr. Leonhard, Award Recipient, Grateful to Late Janet Matthews

Dr. Christoph Leonhard, founder and first department chair of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier, is the 2023 recipient of the Janet R.  Matthews, Ph.D. Outstanding Psychology Mentor Award, announced by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Spokesperson Dr. Amanda Raines, said, “This award recognizes and honors Dr.  Janet R. Matthews for her lifetime of mentoring work and the impact she had on psychologists in Louisiana. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions in their mentoring of others in psychology. This year we
are recognizing Dr. Christoph Leonhard.

“Dr. Leonhard is a Professor of Clinical Psychological at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University,” Raines said. “In his current and previous roles, he has tirelessly mentored dozens of students and chaired numerous doctoral dissertations. Dr. Leonhard has also mentored faculty within the department to aid in their transition to academia. In sum, he consistently goes above and beyond to cultivate competent and diverse professionals.”

Dr. Leonhard told the Times that he is particularly grateful for his connection to Dr. Janet Matthews.

“My first feeling about the award was gratitude toward the late Dr. Janet Matthews, whom the award is named after. When I arrived in New Orleans about a dozen years ago with the idea to possibly start a PsyD program here, folks quickly directed me to Janet. Her mentorship and support were instrumental in helping get the program started,” Dr. Leonhard said.

This is a legacy award developed by Dr. Laurel Franklin, who was mentored by Dr. Janet Matthews. Dr. Janet Matthews passed away in 2019.

Margaret Smith, PsyD, the current Department Chair/Director of Clinical Training/Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University of Louisiana, said, “Dr. Christoph Leonhard was the founder of our program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University. He worked tirelessly with our students ensuring that they would have opportunities to present posters at the Xavier Health Disparities conference as well as at the Louisiana Psychological Association annual conventions. He has mentored a number of our students to successfully publish articles and has provided guidance and mentorship to our adjunct and core faculty members over the years. He has also provided me with mentoring on administrative program responsibilities.”

Dr. Leonhard also said, “Additionally, I feel very honored that the LPA recognized me for the mentoring I do with our PsyD students. Working one-on-one with our students is the most rewarding part of my job. I feel very humbled by the award because the bulk of this honor really belongs to my mentees. The very essence of mentorship is the collaboration between the mentor and the mentee – with the heavy lifting being done by the mentee. Most of my mentoring centers around professional development with a focus on research and clinical skills. Doing research, writing proposals, dissertations, conference presentations, and publications is all done by the mentees with only sporadic input from me. Ditto for clinical skills development. I can mentor and guide all I want but ultimately, it’s the mentee who is attending that workshop, reading that book, or working in supervision to develop that new skill.”

What does he think are his most important achievements so far?

“Even if it is now unfortunately closing, my bringing a Chicago School clinical PsyD program to New Orleans in collaboration Xavier University is my proudest achievement,” he said. “We have been able to train a goodly number of much needed psychologists, many of whom represent historically marginalized  populations. And we will graduate several more as the program is being taught out. Most of our graduates are now practicing locally and are bringing much needed mental health services to this underserved area,” Dr. Leonhard said.

“With the PsyD program closing, I am transitioning to focusing on my consultation practice. For the past three years, I’ve been writing about statistical and methodological problems with using neuropsychological tests to determine whether an examinee is malingering. There are huge social justice implications of this work that I plan to pursue in the future. As luck would have it, some of my
mentees are also interested in this work,” Dr. Leonhard said.

Dr. Leonhard has a Google Scholar Ranking at Institution: 10th most productive (1,323 Citations, h-index: 12), he was named the Chicago School of Professional Psychology: Distinguished Teaching Award for Diversity and International Psychology He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy: Honor Roll, and Illinois School of Professional Psychology: Faculty of the Year Award.

He has served as Visiting professor at University of Malta, Visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, and Instructor at the Institut für Verhaltenstherapie  und Sexuologie.

His research positions include Research Consultant at Institut für  Verhaltenstherapie und Sexuologie, Nuremberg, Germany, where he worked in designing, implementing, and publishing research on the topic of mindfulness-based Self-Practice/Self-Reflection in the advanced training of CBT therapists.

He also has served as Research Consultant at “RAI Ministries-Camp Restore”, a social justice program in New Orleans East. He has served as Program Evaluation Consultant at “The Way Back In,” a residential and outpatient clinic for patients with substance abuse problems.

Examples of his publications include:

Leonhard, C. & Leonhard, C. (in press). Neuropsychological Malingering Determinations: Science or Fiction of Lie Detection?  Georgia Law Review, 58(2).

Leonhard, C. (2023) Quo Vadis Forensic Neuropsychological Malingering Determinations? Reply to Drs. Bush, Faust, and Jewsbury. Neuropsychology Review.

Leonhard., C. (2023). Review of Statistical and Methodological Issues in the Forensic Prediction of Malingering from Validity Tests: Part II: Methodological Issues. Paper accepted for publication in Neuropsychology Review.

He will be conducting a Forensic Grand Rounds organized by Alberta Hospital Edmonton and the University of Alberta via Zoom on October 11 at 10AM Central Time. The title of the presentations is Neuropsychological Determinations of Malingering: A Forensic Junk Science?. The event is free and open to all who are interested with prior registration required at

Dr. Joy D. Osofsky Acknowledged for Scientific Contributions

Dr. Joy Osofsky’s achievements were recently acknowledged by the Louisiana Psychological Association when they named her the recipient of the Award for Contributions in Psychological Science.

Dr. Osofsky, clinical and develop-mental psychologist, is the Ramsay Endowed Chair and Barbara Lemann Professor of Child Welfare at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where she is director of the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health.

She has published widely and authored or edited numerous books on trauma in the lives of children. She has established an international reputation has an expert
in this area and recently testified at a congressional panel. Currently, with three  colleagues, she is editing the WAIMH Handbook of Infant and Early Childhood  Development.

Dr. Osofsky is also Past President of Zero to Three and of the World Association  for Infant Mental Health. She currently serves on the Board of Zero to Three. She  has served as Co-Principal Investigator of four Centers within the National Child  Traumatic Stress Network since 2003. She is currently President Elect of Division 7(Developmental) for American Psychological Association.

The Louisiana Association spokesperson, Dr. Amanda Raines, said, “Dr. Osofsky is  a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry with the LSU Health Sciences Center and  the Paul J. Ramsay Chair. She is an internationally recognized expert in infant and  child mental health. Dr. Osofsky has published hundreds of peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters and received support for her work  through various agencies.”

The nominating individual said, “Dr. Osofsky’s decades-long career embodies the  heart of excellence in bringing the science of psychology to the benefit of others,  through applications, education, writing and scientific investigation. She is a clinical psychologist, professor, author, researcher, and she brings her integrative thinking to the education of tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. She exemplifies what it means to advance psychology for the benefit of the larger society.”

In 2007, Dr. Osofsky received the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence in work
with trauma by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. In 2010 she  was recognized with the Lourie Award for leadership and outstanding contributions to the health and welfare of children and families. In 2020, she was awarded the Translational Research Award from the International Congress on  Infant Studies and in 2021 she received the Zero To Three Lifetime Achievement  Award. Dr. Osofsky has been recognized many other times for her contributions.  These include Honorary President Distinction, World Association for Infant Mental  Health; Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association for leadership in mental health recovery following Hurricane Katrina; the Nicholas Hobbs Award by Division 37 of the American Psychological Association for contributions to public policy; the Medal of Honor by the Mayor of New Orleans;  the 2000 Role Model by Young Leadership Council, New Orleans; Best social  science reference text, American Publishers Association for the WAIMH Handbook of Infant Mental Health (four volumes), as just a few examples.

Dr. Osofsky serves as Clinical Consultant, Safe Babies Court Teams, Zero to Three, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia,Arkansas, Connecticut, Nebraska, Iowa, New York, Cherokee, NC. She is the Past-President, Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families and Member of Executive Committee of Zero to Three (2000-2007); Member of Board of Directors (1986-present); Member Committee on the Board (2006-present); Program Chair, National Training   Institute (2009-present).

The Times asked her what she feels are her most significant contributions.

“I have  contributed over many years to recognizing the importance of understanding of  the effects of trauma on children and on their families, and says to help them recover and gain resilience,” she said. This includes  contributing to an understanding of preparation, response and recovery following  major  disasters including recently the intersection and inequities related to the  COVID-19 pandemic, she explained.

“I have developed one of the few programs in the country offering training to psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows and child psychiatry fellows in infant  and early childhood mental health including training in evidence based clinical practice for young children under the age of six years,” Dr. Osofsky said.

Her work has been acknowledged through numerous grants including:

Louisiana Association of United Ways/Red Cross funding for Family Resiliency Project, Co-Project Director with Howard J. Osofsky, M.D., Ph.D., 2008-2009, $554,246;

Louisiana Rural Trauma Services Center Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration. Principal Investigator, Center in National Child Traumatic Stress  Network, 2008-2012, $1,999,000 (50% time);

Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project for the Gulf Region Health  Outreach Program, Funded as part of the Medical Settlement following the  Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Co-Director, 2012-2017, $14,400,00 (80% time);

Terrorism and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Co-Principal Investigator, 2016-2022, $1999,000 (50%  time); and

Harris Foundation funding for Prenatal and Perinatal Behavioral Support for  Maternal and Infant Well-Being, (MIST Program). CoPrincipal Investigator, 2017- 2024. $630,000, 20% time.

Examples of her extensive publications include:

Osofsky, H.J., Osofsky, J.D., Hansel, T.C., Lawrason, B., & Speier, A. (2018). “Building
resilience after disasters through the Youth Leadership Program: The importance  of community and academic partnerships on youth outcomes.” Progress in  Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 12. Special  Issue, 11-21.

Weems, C. F., Osofsky, J. D., Osofsky, H. J., King, L. S., Hansel, T. C., &  Russell, J. D. (2018). Three-year longitudinal study of perceptions of competence and well-being among youth exposed to disasters.” Applied Developmental Science, 22(1), 29–42.

Osofsky, J.D. & Osofsky, H.J. (2018). “Challenges in building child and family  resilience after disasters.” Family Social Work, 21,115-128.

Osofsky, J.D. and Osofsky, H.J. (2020). “Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill:  Lessons Learned about Short and Long-term Effects.” International Journal of  Psychology.

Osofsky, J.D., Osofsky, H.D., Mamon, L.Y. (2020). “Psychological and social impact  of COVID-19.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Osofsky, J.D. & Osofsky, H.J. (October 2022, in preparation). “The importance of  building regional coalitions to support resilience for children and families in  response to disasters and violence.”

Osofsky, J.D., Osofsky, H.J., Frazer, A., Olivieri, M., Many, M., Selby, M., Holman, S.,  & Conrad, E. (February-March, 2021). “The importance of ACEs in an intervention  program during the perinatal period.” American Psychologist, 76.

She has produced over 70 books and book chapters and hundreds of scientific  presentations, invited presentations and seminars. Her works include:

Osofsky, J.D. (Ed) (2011) Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children. New York: Guilford Publishers.

Thomas, K. & Osofsky, J.D (Eds) (2012). Emerging Issues in Infant Mental Health.  Zero to Three Journal., Washington, DC.

Osofsky, J.D., Cohen, C., Huddleston, J., Hudson, L., Zavora, K., Lewis, M. (March,  2017). Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System (Update). Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and  Family Court Judges.

Osofsky, J.D., Stepka, P., & King, L.C. (2017). Treating Infants and Young Children  Impacted by Trauma: Interventions That Promote Healthy Development. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Osofsky, J.D., Fitzgerald, H., Keren, M., Puura, K. (Eds) (2021, in preparation).  WAIMH Handbook of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Two Volumes,  Springer Publishers.

Invited Plenary, “Lessons learned from children exposed to trauma.” Early Intervention and Education Meeting, St. Petersburg, Russia, July,  2013

Invited  Conference, “Trauma through the Eyes of a Young Child,” Hong Kong  Infant Mental Health Association, Hong Kong, March 2017.

Invited Master Lecture: “Recognizing the Effects of Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences during the Perinatal Period,” World Association for Infant Mental  Health, Brisbane Australia Virtual June 2021

Legacy Interview: “How to Heal Childhood Trauma,” MindinMind, UK, October 2022

What are her plans for the future?

“Currently, I continue to provide training and supervision in infant and early childhood mental health,” Dr. Osofsky said. “I initiated 4 years ago and am director of a support program with several excellent LSUHSC faculty that also has an evaluation component – Mother-Infant Support Team (MIST) for high-risk pregnant mothers at University Medical Center.”

She said she will continue to do presentations, virtually and in person, on the  effects of trauma on children and families and ways to support resilience,  including components related to inequities, in the United States and  internationally.

“I also do presentations on the impact of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue when working with trauma and how to provide support for providers,” she said.

“I am working as lead editor with three colleagues, two of whom are international,  on the two volume World Association for Infant Mental Health Handbook on  Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health which will go to press at the end of September 2023.”

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.

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.



Dr. Calamia Named for Early Career Honors

Dr. Matthew Calamia, Associate Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, has been named for the Early Career Psychologist Award by the Louisiana  Psychological Association (LPA) for 2023.

LPA spokesperson, Dr. Amanda Raines said, “This year we are recognizing Dr. Matthew  Calamia. Dr. Calamia is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the  Psychological Services Center at LSU. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and has been affiliated with the Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group in New Orleans,” she said.

“Dr. Calamia has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters  and presented his work at local, regional, and national conferences. He is a licensed clinical  psychologist with a designation in clinical neuropsychology providing direct patient care as  well as training to graduate students,” Raines said.

Dr. Calamia said, “I have spent the majority of my life in Louisiana. It was my dream to come  back and work at LSU and I have been beyond lucky to have the timing work out for that to  happen. It has been incredibly fulfilling to do training, research, and provide clinical services in my own community. I’m thankful to LPA for acknowledging my work with this award.”

As well as authoring peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Calamia has completed projects such  as the Keller-Lamar Health Foundation Validation of a Novel Web-Based Assessment of Cognitive and Emotional Functioning, as well as the Pennington Biomedical Center Nutrition  and Obesity Research Center Apathy, Unintentional Weight Loss, and Cognitive Decline in Late Life, with co-investigators, Drs. Owen Carmichael and Corby Martin.

Dr. Calamia provides direct patient care as well as training and supervising graduate  students with the neuropsychology emphasis.

Dr. Calamia’s contributions include several areas. In partnership with the Institute for  Dementia Research & Prevention at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, he and his team have explored predictors of cognitive change in cognitively healthy older adults and individuals with mild cognitive impairment. He also collaborates with the Adult Development and Aging Laboratory led by Dr. Katie Cherry at LSU.

Some of Dr. Calamia’s most innovative applications and research efforts involve technology.  He and his team are working on creating and validating computerized tools for use within a  variety of clinical populations. Currently they are looking at the effectiveness of incorporating a non-immersive virtual reality paradigm into functional rehabilitation for older adults with moderate cognitive impairment.

Dr. Calamia and his team have piloted virtual reality as a quality of life intervention for older adults in assisted living facilities. At Francois Bend Senior Living in Gonzales he and his team have residents participate in enjoyable activities using virtual reality headsets.

“There is one resident there who is not from this area originally,” Dr. Calamia previously aid,  “who cried from being able to go and ‘visit’ her hometown––in what is basically VR Google  Maps––and each week she ‘visits other places she has lived and traveled. This is such a neat  technology for reminiscence and also escape given how people have been limited in that  due to the pandemic. We are planning to expand to other senior living communities,” he  said.

Dr. Calamia’s projects also look at using specific memory scores on list-learning tasks to  predict future cognitive decline. His team is examining the impact of natural disaster on health, well-being, and cognition in adults and older adults.

Among other goals, Dr. Calamia and his group are examining the benefit of a brief memory  screening program to community dwelling older adults.

“I have conducted studies examining predictors of cognition functioning and decline in older adults,” he explained previously. “These studies have sought to carefully unpack associations by moving beyond global measures of cognition or other variables and using  multiple measures as well as statistical techniques such as structural equation modeling to address gaps in prior research.”

Along with co-authors, Calamia has published numerous articles including, “Serial Position Effects on List Learning Tasks in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease,” in  Neuropsychology, and “Social factors that predict cognitive decline in older African American adults,” in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dr. Calamia is also involved in the study of the psychometrics for neuropsychological tests.  Some of this research involves using archival clinical data from the Psychological Services  Center and Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group and data collection at the Baton Rouge Clinic.

Current projects in this area include examining associations between measures of  noncredible performance and selfreport in clinical and forensic settings. He and his team  are also examining practice effects on neuropsychological tests of attention, the validity of  existing neuropsychological measures in diverse clinical samples, comparing the predictive  validity of multiple measures of everyday function in older adults with and without cognitive  impairment, and examining psychometric properties of self-report measures across the  lifespan.

“A major emphasis of my research,” he said, “has been on examining the validity of  psychological or neuropsychological measures including the validity of measures in terms of  their hypothesized brain-behavior relationships, examining the validity of new scores  derived from existing measures or new measures being used in the field, and examining the degree to which different measures of related constructs yield different associations with  cognitive functioning,” he said.

He and his team members have authored, “The Incremental Validity of Primacy as a  Predictor of Everyday Functioning,” which is in press at Neuropsychology. “Psychometric  Properties of the Expanded Version of the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms  (IDAS-II) in a Sample of Older Adults,” is another example of his team’s contribution, this one for Aging & Mental Health. Advance Online Publication.

Dr. Calamia has conducted meta-analyses on practice effects and test-reliability for a  number of popular neuropsychological measures. “Both of these projects involved the  integration of a large amount of published literature. The practice effects publication  included nearly 1600 individual effect sizes,” Dr. Calamia explained.

Findings were published in a prestigious journal read by neuropsychological researchers  and clinicians, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, and designated for CE credit.

Other examples of his work include, “Test-Retest Reliability and Practice Effects of the Virtual Environment  Grocery Store (VEGS),” in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology; “Practical  Considerations for Evaluating Reliability in Ambulatory Assessment Studies,” in Psychological Assessment, and “The Robust Reliability of Neuropsychological Measures: Meta- Analyses of Test-Retest Correlations,” in The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

Dr. Calamia and his team are also conducting studies examining ethnic and racial disparities in cognitive aging. Collaborators in this area include Dr. Robert Newton at Pennington  Biomedical Research Center. Current projects include examining racial differences in the  association between trauma symptoms and their impact on cognitive and everyday function. They are also evaluating the utility of a novel cognitive screening measure in a diverse  sample of older adults and minority representation in neuropsychological research.

Dr. Calamia has led or been involved in neuroimaging studies using either the lesion  method or functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain-behavior relationships in  patient populations. This research has focused on clinical populations with the aim of  improving understanding of the neural correlates of emotional and cognitive functioning.  “Examining the Neural Correlates of Psychopathology Using a Lesion-Based Approach,” in Neuropsychologia, is an example.

Throughout the variety of his work, Dr. Calamia is committed to issues around diversity  within neuropsychology. He participates in the Society for Black Neuropsychology mentorship program and is on the executive board of the recently formed Queer Neuropsychological Society. He has recruited graduate students from diverse backgrounds  into his lab. One of his students led a lab publication in the special issue on “Black Lives  Matter to Clinical Neuropsychologists” in The Clinical Neuropsychologist focused on  reporting practices and representation in neuropsychology studies.

In 2021, the National Academy of Neuropsychology named Dr. Calamia as the recipient of  their prestigious Early Career Award. The National Academy of Neuropsychology is the professional association for experts in the assessment and treatment of brain injuries and  disorders, and its members are at the forefront of cutting-edge research and rehabilitation  in the field of brain behavior relationships.

“I was excited,” Dr. Calamia said about the honor. “I worked in a neuropsychology lab at LSU  as an undergraduate. When that professor retired, I was lucky enough to be able to come  back home and start my own lab. Over the years, I’ve managed to recruit an amazing group  of graduate student mentees into my lab,” he said. “The work coming out of my lab is all a  shared effort and so this award is really theirs as much as it is mine. It’s nice to be  recognized and I hope this little boost in visibility makes future graduate applicants consider LSU.”

What are some of his future plans?

“As part of my sabbatical last fall, I learned more about the healthcare industry from  Covenant Health Network,” said Dr. Calamia. “The long-term care industry is facing immense
challenges with a large number of workers leaving the field. To support those workers, out of that partnership, we have recently received a grant with a colleague of mine in I/O  Psychology, Dr. Rebecca Brossoit,” he said.

“Dr. Brossoit and I will be developing an intervention for employees and organizational  leadership in long-term care facilities with the goal of reducing employee burnout and turnover.”



Worldviews Clash in Veto Session Results

In July 18, Louisiana lawmakers overturned Governor Edwards’ veto of a bill banning certain medical procedures for transgender children. House Bill 648 was the only one of 26 vetoes  by the governor that was overridden in the special session.

Representative Firment’s HB 648 bans the use of puberty-blockers, hormone treatment and gender-reassignment surgery for children under age 18. The veto required a super majority in both the House and the Senate chambers of the state. The House vote was 76 to 23 to  override. The Senate vote was 28 to 11.

Lawmakers failed to gather enough votes to overturn Edwards’ veto of two other bills with ongoing controversy regarding transgender issues. HB 466 would have prohibited discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms and HB 81would have required  teachers to use birth names and pronouns of students associated with their birth certificate unless a student’s parent or guardian directs otherwise.

Neither were able to be overturned by the lawmakers. The vote on HB 466 was 68 in favor to  override and 29 against. The vote on HB 81 was 67 to override and 29 against.

Edwards said in a statement, “Today, I was overridden for the second time, on my veto of a  bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and  their health care professionals. I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill as  well.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry, said, “By overriding the governor’s veto of Rep. Gabe Firment’s  bill, we send a clear signal that woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not  be tolerated in Louisiana.”

In the June Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing, Clinical psychologist, Dr. Clifton  Mixon, was among those who testified in opposition to HB 648.

“I work in a gender clinic that  prescribes hormone therapies to youth,” he said. “At the heart of this debate is mistrust in  our medical and mental health providers to provide ethical, individualized care without prejudice and based on best practices and established research,” Mixon said. “I’m here to  address these concerns in opposition to a mean-spirited bill that defies science and humanity.

“The evidence is clear––gender affirming medical interventions are safe and effective  treatment for gender dysphoria and resulting mental health problems for many trans youth. Unfortunately, you’ve been exposed to false information that misrepresents the established  research and practice guidelines on gender health care medicine. I am here with actual studies that can help you understand the actual facts. I have a doctoral degree with training  in how to conduct and interpret research,” he said.

“These medical interventions reduce risk for suicide and improve overall mental health  functioning and quality of life. We are not providing access to youth for whom it is not  appropriate.”

Psychologist, Dr. Jesse Lambert, also testified in opposition, representing the Louisiana  Psychological Association.

“A lot of research has been discussed today scientifically sound research that indicates that  this is a true phenomena and that individuals who are trans have suffered greatly.

“Citing from the American Psychological Association, we have data that indicates that  individuals who are trans experience more victimization, be that bullying, be that acts of  violence occurring in school. They feel more ostracized, more isolated and this generalizes  into relationships including close family relationships.”

He explained that a model of triage issues with different intensities and that practitioners  don’t automatically jump to biological modalities.

“If this bill should pass, psychologist would not be able to take part in a team based  approach, involving endocrinologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and contribute to an  individual’s care from a holistic standpoint.”

Speaking in favor of his measure, Rep. Firment said, “Perhaps the most compelling scientific  evidence to consider today is the fact that several progressive European nations who  pioneered chemical and surgical sex change procedures like England, Sweden, and Finland  have completely reversed course on this issue[…].

Dr, Quenton Vanmeter, a pediatric endocrinologist from Atlanta, Georgia, cited evidence  from European countries that suggests that there is no benefit in transgender surgery or  hormonal treatment and that the suicide rate is not impacted.

Dr. Stephen Félix, a pediatrician, said, “The problem with the studies that the AEP reports  and others, they do not have significant randomized control trials. They have small sample  sizes, they have poor follow up, they have a lot of people lost to follow up, they have  individuals who they have a very short period of time that they follow them.” he said.

“The studies that are coming out of Sweden, Finland or long-term studies where they looked  extensively and they said, ‘wait, this is all wrong.’ The quality of evidence that supports this  transition therapy is poor. The level of evidence that we’re presenting is strong.”

Sen. Mills said that he just needed them to understand organizations’ views. Dr. Griffin said,  “Policies are created by organizations, a small group of individuals in organizations. That is  then broadcast out and physicians like ourselves, in the trenches, […] “



Chicago Prof. School PsyD Program at Xavier Closing

Rumors were circulating last month that The Chicago School of Psychology Xavier would be closing. The Times asked officials from the school about these rumors and on June 6, 2023, Vivien Hao, Public Relations Manager, provided a statement.

“The Chicago School’s New Orleans clinical psychology program will not be accepting new students starting Fall of 2023. University officials said several factors went into this decision, including future enrollment projections,” noted Ms. Hao.

“The University emphasizes all current students will continue to be supported towards completion of their programs, regardless of whether they decide to stay or transfer to another The Chicago School campus,” she wrote.

“The Chicago School’s leadership team is evaluating the long-term future of the New Orleans program in consultation with the American Psychological Association,” Hao said.

The American Psychological Association (APA) currently lists The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, New Orleans (Clinical PsyD) as “Accredited, on contingency,” with the next site visit scheduled for 2023.

The first class of doctoral students started at The Chicago School of Professional at Xavier in 2015.

The effort was innovative in a number of ways, including getting a head start on aligning with new standards for “Health Service Psychologists” to be approved by the American Psychological Association.

The Xavier based program is also innovative because it focused on applied clinical psychology specifically for the diverse and multicultural context in south Louisiana, and on “growing PsyD Psychologists here,” explained Dr. Christoph Leonhard in a previous interview, the then department Chair. “We developed the program to meet the needs of local social service providers of psychological services and of the community,” he said, “and frankly, to provide culturally competent services by people who understand this community, which is a very unique place in many ways.”

The program organizers said, at the time, that they limited their recruitment to students inside Louisiana. The hope was to grow PsyD psychologists here, and who will remain here, in order to serve the sometimes unique needs of the Louisiana culture. “Studies indicate that newly graduated psychologists who have to leave the state to get an advanced degree do not return,” said Leonhard previously. “So the emphasis of this program is to educate and train our own.”

To help them reach this goal, Leonhard and his colleagues created an Advisory Committee of local professionals, including two area psychologists, the late Dr. Janet Matthews and Dr. Michele Larzelere.

Dr. Kelli Johnson took over as Department Chair in 2018 and more recently, Dr. Margaret Smith serves as Department Chair. Current faculty  members Dr. Richard Niolon, Dr. J. Michael Bradley and Dr. Adriana Pena.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a private university with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois. Established in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology was primarily focused on the professional application of psychology. It currently has about 6,000 students across all campuses and online, according to its .

Louisiana State University (LSU) hosts the only other clinical psychology  doctoral program accredited by APA in Louisiana. LSU also offers an accredited school psychology doctoral
program. Louisiana Tech University offers an accredited counseling doctoral program and Tulane is accredited for their school psychology program.







Mental Healing for Incarcerated People Act Signed by Governor Edwards

The final version of Rep. Selders’ House Bill 55, aimed to improve treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental health needs, and referred to as “The Mental Healing Justice for Incarcerated People Act,” was signed by the Governor on June 8. It became Act 214 and becomes effective next month.

The new law provides that it is the intent of the legislature that the state allocate funding for the new law to ensure both the access and delivery of quality care for individuals incarcerated within the Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections.

The existing law provides that the Department may establish resources and programs for the treatment of inmates with a mental illness or an intellectual disability, either in a separate facility or as part of other institutions or facilities of the department.

Act 214 amends existing law to make the establishment of resources and programs mandatory.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, “There is no anticipated direct material effect on governmental expenditures as a result of this measure. DPS&CCS states that the proposed  law includes provisions already included within a list of services that it provides utilizing existing resources and would have no fiscal impact on expenditures.”

The new law provides for the duties of the department as follows:

(1) Provide screening to persons entering state prison facilities, upon intake, for mental health disorders as defined in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, subject to appropriation by the legislature and the availability of resources.

(2) Refer a person to a facility’s mental health department if at any point during the person’s incarceration, any department staff member suspects that an incarcerated person may have a mental illness.

(3) Provide Mental Health First Aid training to employees on an annual basis, subject to
appropriation by the legislature and the availability of resources.

(4) Utilize trained peer support who have shared lived experiences to augment and enhance mental health services.

(5) Provide an incarcerated person who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, prior to that person’s release, with an appointment or walk-in instructions for a community
mental health provider to ensure continuity of care to the extent that this is feasible and subject to the availability of department and community resources.