Category Archives: News Stories

Louisiana Department of Health Releases Outcomes Report––Meets 91% of its 45 Goals

In a Nov. 27 announcement, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) released its annual Outcomes Report detailing the results of key initiatives and policy goals for FY 2023. LDH was successful in completing 91.1% of its 45 goals and 92.5% of its 253 deliverables outlined in the FY 2023 LDH business plan titled “Invest: Teaming Up for a Stronger LDH and a Healthier Louisiana.”

According to officials, goals were selected from a range of policy priorities and include addressing chronic disease; improving maternal health; expanding Medicaid policies that address environmental health risks; expanding the behavioral health system’s capacity; and improving services for citizens with developmental disabilities, among others.

LDH had five major categories designed to make measurable improvements: Improve health and well-being across the lifespan of Louisianans; Support vulnerable and underserved populations; Invest in and empower #TeamLDH; Improve performance, accountability and compliance; and Strengthen customer service, partnerships and community relations.

“Improving health outcomes for all Louisianans is critical, and the Department of Health has made tremendous progress in implementing policies that address some of the biggest health challenges facing our state, including chronic diseases, maternal health, behavioral health and overall access to quality medical care for all of our hardworking individuals and families,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Childhood Experiences and executing trauma-informed care, more families throughout Louisiana can work towards being happier, healthier and readily have access to the care they need,” said Louisiana First Lady Donna H. Edwards.

“The Department’s dedication to addressing the mental health crisis in Louisiana is both commendable and essential. LDH’s involvement in the launch of the Louisiana 988, alongside the efforts of the Office of Behavioral Health, is a significant step towards ensuring Louisianans in crisis have access to the support they need,” said State Representative Laurie Schlegel, District 82.

Tonja Myles, Certified Peer Support Specialist, Set Free Indeed Ministry, said, “Louisiana 988 has quickly proven to be a critical source of 24/7 mental health support. Upon its launch, many Louisianans were unaware of this crucial resource. However, LDH has made significant progress in promoting this important tool, which is becoming more widely utilized and known during a time of mental health crisis in our state. I look forward to seeing the continued usage and promotion of 988, aimed at reaching our most vulnerable residents in their time of need.”

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Louisiana Department of Health Seeks to Destigmatize 988 Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID Vaccines Linked to Increased Overall Mortality

Evidence continues to mount

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

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

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

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

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

Key findings from the 180-page report include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Correlations reports and this study can be found at

Dr. Nemeth Collaborating to Help in War-Torn Ukraine

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

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

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

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



Heat Deaths Now at 25 LDH Issues Warnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We asked her about what else is on the horizon.

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

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

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

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



Healthcare & Education Alliance Secures $400 Million for La Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office of Behavioral Health Celebrates 988 Crisis Line Success

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

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

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

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

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

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



Times Wins Honors at Louisiana Press Assn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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