Media Coverage

In a story about mental health care inside the Erie County Holding Center, Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney discussed reforms undertaken at the Holding Center, noting “one of the very positive things we did was establish a relationship with the university.” The story states that the county contracts with the Department of Psychiatry, which provides services at the holding center and Erie County Correctional Facility. The story quotes Daniel Antonius, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry, who said, “We see inmates sometimes within a day and sometimes within one to two weeks, so if you compared to the community standard — it's actually pretty quick because in the community you often wait two to three months before you’re seeing a psychiatrist.”
A story on a dinner held by doctors and students from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to talk about health care with community members from Buffalo’s East Side interviews Linda F. Pessar, MD, director of the Center for Medical Humanities and professor emerita of psychiatry. Pessar said that with the population becoming increasingly diverse, it’s important that doctors start listening and adapting. “The entrepreneurial private practitioner practicing at the community in which he or she lives and grew up is a fading idol,” she said. "If we don’t become responsive to community members, we will not practice the medicine we need and hope to practice, and it seems to me that’s the bottom line.”
An article about the role alcohol consumption can play in a relationship reports a UB study showed that heavy drinking wasn’t the problem in couples, unless only one person was doing the heavy drinking, and quotes Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, research professor of psychiatry and director of UB’s Research Institute on Addictions. “Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce,” he said.
Tianeptine is an unapproved antidepressant drug that is believed to have caused an increase in calls to U.S. poison centers. Raphael J. Leo, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, recently published a case study on the drug that noted that blogs advocate use of amounts greater than the recommended daily antidepressant dose in order to achieve “opioid-like effects.” Some people who seek out tianeptine are searching for “a supplement to enhance mood and cognitive function,” he said, adding that he does not think all purchasers “necessarily think of it as an opiate.”
Local and national media are reporting on a study published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation by UB concussion researchers John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics, and Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry. Their study found that 21 retired NFL and NHL players exhibited no signs of early onset dementia, which would have been expected if they were affected by the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has been linked to athletes with a history of concussive or sub-concussive injuries.
An article on Demi Lovato’s hospitalization after an apparent drug overdose mentions a quote earlier provided on an unrelated story by Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, research professor of psychiatry and director of UB’s Research Institute on Addictions. “The longer a person is sober, the better his or her chances of staying away from drugs permanently,” Leonard said.
The Access to Psychiatry through Intermediate Care (APIC) program assists families struggling with disabled loved ones by connecting them with key medical and social services, and developing strategies to prevent avoidable emergency room and hospital stays. Michael R. Cummings, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, helped establish APIC in 2014. The Department of Psychiatry secured a $1.8 million, five-year grant to run the program.
New treatments are helping to break the stigma of mental illness. Michael R. Cummings, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, said new drugs have opened up new ways to treat people. “So prior to that there were very few treatments for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for severe depression. Essentially individuals that had those conditions were institutionalized in large state hospitals with significant overcrowding and significant understaffing.”
UB’s Health in the Neighborhood course offers first-year students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences the opportunity to better understand medical disparities and how social determinants can affect people. “If you want to learn about the source of that ambivalence and distrust, to discuss what health care providers can do to improve that, you need to go in without your white coat,” said Linda F. Pessar, MD, a teacher and founder of the course, professor emerita of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medical Humanities. “How can you trust someone who you feel is clueless about your life?”
An article about health disparities in the local African-American community features Linda F. Pessar, MD, professor emerita of psychiatry and founder and director of the Center for Medical Humanities in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Pessar participated in a daylong event in April at the new home of the Jacobs School that was designed to bring awareness to the issue and come up with ways to ignite change, which was sponsored by UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “We have over 200 years of built-in distrust with the African-American community,” Pessar said. “We cannot offer care that will be accepted until we spend some time building trust.”
A story on WKBW-TV about a new study that found that loneliness can become a greater health risk than obesity interviews Michael R. Cummings, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, who said if you’re feeling lonely, basic social exercises like going out to eat with friends and being out where you’re comfortable can go a long way toward taking steps for your health.
Daniel Antonius, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry, was interviewed for an article about the Toronto driver who killed 10 pedestrians in a van attack. Antonius noted the driver’s history of posting misogynist statements and praise for other misogynists who have committed murders and said that these actions constitute another form of terrorism. “That feeling that someone is out to get you, maybe not you personally but you as part of a group you represent, that is terror,” he said.
Steven L. Dubovsky, MD, professor and chair of psychiatry, questioned the need for pharmacogenetic testing for antidepressants in an article about disability management. Dubovsky said there’s no reason why measuring genes for enzymes will predict what happens to a drug and whether or not a patient will respond to it. “One reason for this is that most psychiatric drugs are metabolized by multiple enzymes. And if one is low or high in activity, other enzymes will change their activity to compensate for that,” he said.
An article about the avalanche of fan mail offering friendship, encouragement and sexually provocative photos that is being sent to Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people in a shooting rampage at a Florida high school last month, in jail interviews Steven L. Dubovsky, MD, professor and chair of psychiatry, who said some people get a kind of “notoriety and fame by association” with heinous killers. “It’s like hanging out with a rock star or being a groupie,” he said.
First-year medical students discuss the Health in the Neighborhood course at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and their experiences learning about health care disparities directly from those who are experiencing them in Buffalo. “In order to the learn from the community, it is important to engage as listeners and learners,” said Linda F. Pessar, MD, founder of the course and professor emeritus of psychiatry. The story focused on the national attention it’s drawing from the American Medical Association. “It’s important to have an organization like the AMA be involved in what we’re doing because they have a lot of influence,” said Lisa Jane Jacobsen, MD, associate dean of medical curriculum.