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Houston will be home to the nation’s largest psychiatric hospital in 2021

The UTHealth Behavioral Sciences Center will be making history in Houston.

The facility will be the first public mental health hospital constructed in more than three decades, and will be the largest of its kind in the United States.

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UTHealth enlisted the help of architecture firm Perkins and Will to design the mental health facility near the Texas Medical Center.

The future building will “consist of two buildings connected by a glazed bridge, surrounded by a tranquil green space,” as reported by Jillian Goltzman at Innovation Map.


The facility will be an educational hospital, where future physicians and specialists will be trained. Not only will the facility provide mental healthcare, but substance use intervention, treatment and medical care via integrated treatment programs, according to Innovation Map.

The infrastructure of the new building is being carefully crafted to assist with patient care. Light and sound were both important considerations in the development of the building.

The ultimate goal is to create a “peaceful environment for patients and staff.” The facility will have tunable light fixtures that adjust to the time of day, as well as noise reduction coefficient acoustics to reduce noise impact.

To help transition patients back into everyday life, the facility will include a therapy mall, that “can serve as a salon, boutique, fitness center, movie night spot, or music therapy space.”

The UTHealth Behavioral Sciences Center will be opening its doors in late 2021, and will include 264 inpatient beds.

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NAMI, KIND launch petition over medical boards’ intrusive psychiatric questions

It’s been seven months since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic. And while many are getting tired of being in quarantine, those on the front lines are dealing with a different kind of fatigue.  

“There are very few physicians who won’t have taken care of people with COVID-19 or known someone who has died of COVID-19,” said Eileen Barrett, an associate professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico.

And although recent studies have shown that at least half of medical health experts are struggling with trauma and depression, a survey found that 40 percent of physicians –– who also report high rates of suicide –– are afraid to get help due to concern that it could affect their medical license.


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“Those risking their lives the front lines of this pandemic deserve our support, and that includes support for their mental health,” said Katrina Gay, National Director of Strategic Partnerships at NAMI, in a statement. 

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and KIND are petitioning five states – Florida, Wyoming, Alabama, Oklahoma and Idaho – to reconsider asking intrusive questions related to mental health on board license applications. 

“There are people who want to express their solidarity, compassion and support for healthcare workers,” said Barrett. “This is something that is tactical, tangible and achievable for people to make a difference in healthcare workers’ lives.”


Our country is in a historic fight against the Coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


Historically, state medical license boards have required applicants to disclose any history of psychiatric difficulties or receiving treatment, through varying lines of questioning. But the American Psychiatric Association has said that having psychiatric history is not an accurate predictor of mental fitness, which makes such questions irrelevant –– and potentially a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prevents discrimination by public entities on the basis of disability, unless shown necessary.

“It’s hard enough to get to get the time off from work; it’s hard enough to access mental health care; it’s hard enough to navigate the health system; and then to worry about whether you will lose your license, that’s a legitimate fear,” said Barrett, who was one of several medical experts who worked with the New Mexico Medical Board to update their language to help destigmatize seeking mental health treatment. 

“If we have bias against health professionals getting mental health care, then we have bias towards people getting mental health care,” she said. 

Research shows that asking these questions has discouraged many who need it from seeking psychiatric treatment out of fear of losing

CNN medical analyst: I’d perform psychiatric evaluation on Trump if he were my patient

Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst and visiting professor at George Washington University, said she would perform a psychiatric evaluation on President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE if he were her patient and left the hospital while still infected with the novel coronavirus “to go for a car ride.”

“If @realDonaldTrump were my patient, in unstable condition + contagious illness, & he suddenly left the hospital to go for a car ride that endangers himself & others: I’d call security to restrain him then perform a psychiatric evaluation to examine his decision-making capacity,” she tweeted on late Sunday.

Earlier Sunday, Trump, who was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment last week after confirming he and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpGOP lawmaker calls on Pelosi to apologize for response to Trump contracting coronavirus White House gave New Jersey officials list of 206 people at Trump’s Thursday fundraiser events Photo of Mark Meadows rubbing his head during update on Trump’s health goes viral MORE tested positive for coronavirus, was seen riding in a motorcade and waving at supporters during a “surprise” trip around the hospital.

Trump and Secret Service agents were seen wearing masks inside the vehicle. 

Deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said Trump “took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed.”

The official added that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

Deere declined to say if the president requested the move. 

The drive-by sparked criticism online from those who said the move put others who rode in the vehicle with Trump  at unnecessary risk. 

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. This is insanity.”

Wen previously served as president of Planned Parenthood before being removed from the organization last year due to “philosophical differences” she said she had with new board chairs “over the direction and future” of the organization. She was the first physician to head Planned Parenthood in years.

–Updated at 7:47 a.m.

Harvard Psychiatric Leader Appointed to Posts at Baylor College of Medicine and Menninger Clinic

HOUSTON, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Baylor College of Medicine and The Menninger Clinic jointly announce the hiring of Robert J. Boland, M.D., as vice chairman of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of staff at The Menninger Clinic. Boland joins the organizations on January 4, 2021, after transitioning from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Boland is currently vice chair of education and director of the psychiatry residency program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is board certified in psychiatry with expertise in medical education, psychosomatic medicine and geriatric psychiatry. He is an alumnus of Georgetown University where he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees.

Prior to joining Brigham and Women’s Hospital five years ago, Boland had an 18-year tenure at the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, RI. He developed special interest in depression resulting from medical illness and, with Brown and the Centers for Disease Control, he examined the influence of depression on the course of HIV in women.  Currently, he’s an associate editor of Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science.

“Dr. Boland brings exceptional leadership experience and skills to The Menninger Clinic and to Baylor College of Medicine. His focus on innovation and the application of technology in our field of medicine is important to patients of the Texas Medical Center,” says Wayne Goodman, M.D., Chair and the D.C. and Irene Ellwood Chair in Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science.

As one of Baylor’s teaching hospitals for psychiatrists and psychologists, The Menninger Clinic values Boland’s mentoring of early-career psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians. In addition, His work in geriatric psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry required the ability to treat complex patients, which Menninger has specialized in treating for 95 years.

“Dr. Boland is an innovator in the way patient care is delivered to meet the needs of communities today,” said Armando E. Colombo, president and CEO of The Menninger Clinic. “We share a common belief about the opportunity of psychiatry to improve the productivity and health of individuals, families and communities.”

A nationally ranked hospital, The Menninger Clinic serves Houston and Texas and is also a trusted assessment and treatment provider for people across the country.

Contact:  Nancy Trowbridg
C: 713-806-5061
[email protected]

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SOURCE The Menninger Clinic

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