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02/01/11 Offers AMHCA Members Website Creation and Online Marketing

A company created for therapists, by therapists, specializes in creating websites for mental health professionals that are engaging, professional, cost-effective—and extremely easy to maintain and update content. Through the partnership, AMHCA members will receive exclusive benefits and promotional offers. 

For example, to launch the partnership, AMHCA members will receive one month free when they sign up for TherapySites services by entering the promotional code, “AMHCA.” TherapySites integrates professional website design, hosting, and content that is HIPAA compliant. There are no set-up or design charges, just an all-inclusive monthly fee. 

The websites include a variety of tools that makes it simple for practitioners to manage and update their own website. The intuitive content management system makes it easy for users to change their website so that it stays current and can provide helpful information for clients and potential clients. 

The TherapySites package includes: 

  • Search-engine optimization
  • Integrated email
  • Editing tools
  • Client management tools
  • Credit-card processing
  • Online appointment notifications
  • Unlimited technical and customer support

“We’re very excited about this new partnership with the American Mental Health Counselors Association as it furthers our mission to make a positive impact in the mental health profession,” said TherapySites President Kate Maloney, PhD. “We believe that TherapySites is revolutionizing the way therapists grow their businesses, build relationships, and reach out to clients because it provides a tailored and affordable approach to creating a dynamic online presence.” 

Click here to take advantage of the one-month-free offer, or to get started today building your online presence.

Few Americans Are Aware of Mental Health Parity Law

An overwhelming majority of Americans remain unaware of a law mandating equal coverage of mental health benefits by insurance companies, a cause for concern at a time when one-quarter of Americans are reported to have a mental health disorder and only a minority are receiving treatment.

In a survey recently conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 87 percent of Americans said they had not heard of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, a federal law now in effect for people who have health insurance through a group or employer plan. And only a scant 7 percent of respondents said they recognized the phrase “mental health parity.”

In the APA survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,940 adults in December 2010, nearly one-third of adults (29 percent) said they don’t know if they have adequate mental health coverage, and 45 percent said they are unsure if their insurance reimburses for mental healthcare.

The law, signed by President Bush in 2008 and put into effect for most plans on Jan. 1, 2011, extends equal coverage to all aspects of health insurance plans. 

More than half of respondents (56 percent) selected cost of care as a reason why they or a family member might give for not seeking treatment. The other commonly selected reasons selected: not knowing how to find the right professional (42 percent) and not knowing if seeking help is appropriate (40 percent).

Only 8 percent of adults cited stigma as a top reason for not seeking treatment. An equal number reported privacy or confidentiality as their top concern.

Source: American Psychological Association. Click here for more information about the survey.

Mindfulness Meditation Changes Brain Structure in Only Eight Weeks

Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress, according to a study that is the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain.

Previous studies have found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, MR images were take of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation—which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind—participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

Responses of meditation group participants to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. 

Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.
The study appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.