Guardian Mental Health

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Mental Health newsfeed.

Polishing up on new household rules | Letters

Virginia Smith is intrigued by the psychology of cleanliness, Mike Hoskin is feeling overwhelmed by the proposed schedule and Nicky Ford is concerned about the environmental impact

Absent from your otherwise fascinating survey of towels and toilet brushes (Ditch your loo brush, 21 February) was any recognition of the weird psychology of cleanliness. Beyond a certain point, it becomes irrational. To get or follow instructions from an OCD cleaner is very problematic – just look at the extent of her daily routines (and the amount of water she uses for washing).

With OCD, a vivid imagination will supply all the motivation needed to spend every waking moment fighting against “dirt” seen or unseen. To those who have it, it is no joke; even worse is how the psychology can leach into the imaginary metaphysical world, with whole races, classes and genders becoming stigmatised as “unclean”.

Continue reading…

22 February 2019, 4:34 pm

One in 13 teenagers has experienced PTSD, research finds

Experts concerned that young people not accessing mental health support for trauma

Of all 18-year-olds in England and Wales one in 13 have had post-traumatic stress disorder at some point, half of those within the previous 12 months, researchers have said.

The study’s findings have been met with alarm among experts, who raised concerns that few of the young people who experienced trauma accessed support for their mental health from medical professionals.

Related: Blaming Instagram is too easy: politicians must do more to help teens

Continue reading…

21 February 2019, 11:30 pm

OCD isn’t about being over-tidy. I had intrusive thoughts about sex | Rose Cartwright

Confronting and understanding the disorder has been a lifelong journey for me. My memoir, Pure, is just the latest step

Defining obsessive-compulsive disorder is tricky. Redefining it against the grain of near-universal misunderstanding is trickier. For decades, OCD has been conflated with perfectionism, rigidity, neatness, cleanliness. I hope that Pure – the Channel 4 TV drama series based on my book of the same name about living with intrusive sexual thoughts – has gone some way towards addressing these misconceptions.

What I didn’t want to do with Pure was replace one reductive definition with another. OCD is no more about sex than it is about tidiness. The object of the obsessions is actually irrelevant when defining the mechanics of the condition and how it affects your brain. Someone with OCD experiences repetitive unwanted thoughts, fears, doubts or images. Everyone is familiar with such intrusions. But not everyone is rendered intensely anxious by them, or feels compelled to spend hours every day trying to resolve, escape or explain them. It’s this compulsive reactivity that marks out OCD. The compulsions make the obsessions worse and sufferers get stuck in a debilitating loop: a vicious cycle.

Aged five, I’d climb the walls, terrified the Bosnian conflict would come for my family

Related: Pure review – a masterly comedy about sex and mental health

Continue reading…

21 February 2019, 6:00 am

'Struggling to cope': child suicide rates may rise as intentional self-poisoning rates double

There were more than 30,000 deliberate self-poisonings in children aged five to 19 over a decade

The number of Australian children deliberately poisoning themselves with drugs like paracetamol and antidepressants has doubled in the past decade, which medical experts say may predict a future rise in youth suicide rates.

The authors of the study, published in the medical journal BMJ Open on Thursday, said the findings suggest a generation struggling to cope.

Related: Yes, children are in distress. But don’t blame it all on Instagram | Gaby Hinsliff

Continue reading…

20 February 2019, 5:00 pm

'Not rock-bottom distressing enough': Pure reviewed by people with OCD

Is it too tame, too perverse or does it just miss the point? People with OCD reveal what they really feel about Channel 4’s comedy about living with ‘pure O’

I’ve had mental health problems since I was a child, but was only diagnosed with OCD in my 20s. I had intrusive thoughts that were similar to the main character Marnie’s – they revolved around sexual obsessions, which included harming children. In Pure, Marnie snaps between reality and intrusive thoughts. You can see she’s disoriented, but it doesn’t show the rock-bottom distress – not knowing how you’re going to carry on living your life with these thoughts in your mind.

To me, harming children is the very worst thing you could do. Imagine having that in your head all the time, without being able to turn it off. In the show, Marnie has moved to London and she’s out socialising. I spent a lot of my youth lost. I wanted to be a primary school teacher, but obviously that idea went out the window. I used to try and shut myself up. I just wanted to feel normal; I wanted to be like everyone else. I remember banging my head against walls sometimes, trying to make it stop. You don’t get any of that in Pure.

Related: Extreme sex OCD: Pure, the TV drama that’s set to smash taboos

Continue reading…

20 February 2019, 1:22 pm

Are we having fun yet? How I found joy in the most unlikely of places | Johanna Leggatt

I was vacillating between overwork and overindulgence – and then I took my car to a mechanic

Towards the end of last year, as I hurtled towards near exhaustion and a work schedule that left very little time for relaxation, I had a dream.

It was one of those momentous dreams that trails you the following day, shadowing your thoughts, hovering right at the edge of your consciousness. In the dream, I was surfing to some indistinct shore, riding the gentle wave on my board with my body facing the sun and the water spraying my toes.

Related: Ode to joy: how to find happiness in balloons and rainbows

When we do eventually close our laptops, we ‘relax’ with a kind of twitching, manic purpose

Related: I don’t want to achieve anything on the weekend – I just want to watch TV | Sinead Stubbins

Continue reading…

20 February 2019, 2:56 am

Link Wray’s Rumble is top of the banned pops | Brief letters

Oldham Evening Chronicle | Eating disorders | Churchill and Gallipoli | Ready to Rumble | Scone wars

Several years ago a journalist from the Oldham Evening Chronicle (Letters, 18 February) interviewed a group of female heads of voluntary sector organisations for International Women’s Day. Having given my name, I was asked: “Is that Miss or Mrs?” Answering “Ms”, I was told: “The Chronicle does not use the term ‘Ms’.” An elderly lady in the group who’d previously given her title as Mrs then shot back: “Actually, I’m a Ms too!” I don’t remember the article – possibly it was deemed unpublishable due to our extreme titling demands.
Danielle Lowy

• Your article (Huge rise in number of people admitted to hospital with eating disorders, 16 February) could imply that this is a condition solely of young girls and women influenced by social media. Many men are affected as adults following histories of severe OCD and underlying problems sometimes linked to being on the autistic spectrum. Such men live often in misery and isolation.
Jane Ghosh

Continue reading…

18 February 2019, 6:40 pm

Osher Günsberg: the TV host on anxiety, dating and if there'll be a gay Bachelor

After years on reality TV helping contestants through vulnerable moments, The Bachelor host tells Brigid Delaney about his own experiences of opening up

The best television hosts are, in many ways, the most bland. They are the filler between the contestants, the banter before the ad break; they conduct the benign interviews with those about to be booted off the show. In the role of television host, it’s necessary to skate smoothly along the surface.

It’s notable then that one of Australia’s most enduring and successful TV hosts also openly chronicles his emotional and mental challenges with a bracing frankness.

Related: Behind the scenes of reality TV: ‘You’re a little bit daft to apply’

I would love it if we could make a gay Bachelor. I think it might take off

Related: Nick Cummins proved too sensitive for the nightmarish Bachelor | Eleanor Robertson

Continue reading…

18 February 2019, 5:00 pm

'I do an autopsy on someone who is almost unrecognisable as a person'

Carrying out post-mortems in mortuaries can be difficult and very emotional. I always afford patients as much dignity as I can

I am involved in the autopsy of a person who has died in an explosion and who is almost unrecognisable as a human being. As the forensic pathologist seeks to document each mark and injury, and to determine the exact cause of death I, in my role as an anatomical pathology technician, think about what I can do to attempt a reconstruction.

Related: ‘A mother tells me her son joined Isis and is now dead’

Continue reading…

18 February 2019, 8:00 am

Working together on mental health | Letters

The NHS is making progress in protecting young people’s wellbeing, but wider society has a vital role too

As a mental health nurse since 1984, stories like this never get easier to read (“Suicidal children face long delays for mental health care”, News). One delay is one too many but context is vital too.

Your article was based on a small audit from a single London hospital, using outdated information going back four years. There was precious little explanation about how mental health services are improving or what is driving demand for care. In London alone, the number of young people’s mental health beds are up almost 25% since 2017.

Continue reading…

17 February 2019, 5:59 am

A letter to… my little brother who passed away

‘I would have dropped everything, done anything for you’: the letter you always wanted to write

When anyone asks whether I have any siblings, I say I have a younger brother. Some people ask more questions about you. How old is he? What does he do? I answer: “Oh, he passed away.”

Recently, someone asked why I say “have” and not “had”. It’s deliberate, I explained. I am a sister. A bossy, risk-averse, boundary-abiding, 31-year-old big sister. To be a big sister, you have to have a younger sibling, so…

Related: A letter to… my neighbours, and their apple tree

Continue reading…

16 February 2019, 6:45 am

Hospital admissions for eating disorders surge to highest in eight years

Campaigners raise alarm about growing crisis of young people with anorexia and bulimia

There has been a dramatic rise in hospital admissions for potentially life-threatening eating disorders in the last year, prompting concern from experts about a growing crisis of young people experiencing anorexia and bulimia.

Figures seen by the Guardian show year-on-year rises in hospital visits, with admission numbers more than doubling from 7,260 in 2010-11 to 16,023 in the year to April 2018. The latest figure is up from 13,885 the year before – the highest spike in eight years.

Related: Instagram urged to crack down on eating disorder images

Related: How Flat Tummy Co gamed Instagram to sell women the unattainable ideal

Research contributed by Jennifer M. Grygiel.

In the UK, B-eat can be contacted on 0808-801-0677 or emailed at (over-18s), (students) or (under-18s). In the US, the National Eating Disorders Association helpline number is 1-800-931-2237. In Australia, the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders helpline number is 1800-33-4673.

Continue reading…

15 February 2019, 7:55 pm

Alone together, or how to find strength in numbers

This week in the Upside, students helping each other, and trying to change the world

It’s a very singular irony that in a world populated like never before, loneliness has become the disease du jour.

But you are not alone, if you don’t want to be. No matter who you are and where you are, there is a like-minded soul out there, a sympathetic voice, a support group, a project, a fellowship.

“Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”

Joe Root responds to sledging from Windies bowler Shannon Gabriel.

Full story:

Digital technology could be a good reminder for the political class that they are at the service of the people and not the other way round. In a week, one would get a very good idea of whether the country wants to go to war with Iraq for example, and more questions would be asked before taking decisions that have heavy consequences.

Continue reading…

15 February 2019, 12:02 pm

Universities and the NHS must join forces to improve student mental health | Gianmarco Raddi

Mental health problems are on the rise in universities, but support is too fragmented

In universities, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety afflict one in four students, while student suicides have reached a record level in recent years and dropouts have trebled. The burden of mental health illnesses is only likely to increase as stigma recedes and more people come forward with their sufferings. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, five times as many students as 10 years ago have disclosed a mental health issue to their university.

It’s well established that the NHS is underfunded in this area: adult patients with moderate mental health needs can wait upwards of 18 weeks for psychological wellbeing services. Yet university counselling services are stretched too – across the UK, universities are staffed at a quarter to a third of what is required. At my university, students must wait up to five weeks to receive on average just four one-on-one counselling sessions. That is not surprising: there are only 15 counsellors on payroll, eight of whom are part-time.

Related: Is clearing leaving students feeling anxious and isolated?

Related: Student suicides: the bereaved father who says data could save lives

Gianmarco Raddi is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge

Continue reading…

15 February 2019, 11:41 am

With councils and the NHS at loggerheads, vital services are at risk | Richard Vize

As with Brexit negotiations, some people prefer to walk away or refuse to budge, rather than work together to find solutions

Who should run local health and care services, especially public health services, is becoming an increasingly tense battleground between the NHS and local government, with serious potential consequences.

The NHS long-term plan, unveiled in January, aims to deliver the “triple integration” of primary and hospital care, physical and mental health services and health with social care. From councils’ point of view, this is a unique opportunity to fix one of the big flaws in the way the NHS was set up in 1948, with a centralised service telling local services what to do, rather than focusing on the needs of local communities.

Related: Poverty and ill health: the ugly bedfellows blighting millions | Richard Vize

Public health doesn’t need to be reorganised yet again, it just needs to be funded properly

Related: Sign up for Society Weekly: our newsletter for public service professionals

Continue reading…

15 February 2019, 11:02 am

Legalisation of cannabis in the UK would help protect its users from harm | James Nicholls

Mental health issues in teenagers could be minimised by age controls and regulation over the strength of the product

New research was published this week highlighting the associations between teenage cannabis use and a range of mental health problems. The results suggested that use of the drug was associated with an increased risk of depression and a significantly higher risk of suicide attempts.

As usual in a study based on survey data, the authors noted that a clear line of causation from cannabis use to the reported effects cannot be drawn. There are always other potential mechanisms in action. Young people who use cannabis regularly may already be experiencing mental health issues that make drug use more likely; or be facing adverse life experiences that influence both their mental health and drug consumption.

Related: How dangerous is marijuana for young men’s mental health?

Continue reading…

15 February 2019, 9:00 am

New drug raises hopes of reversing memory loss in old age

Toronto researchers believe the drug can also help those with depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s

An experimental drug that bolsters ailing brain cells has raised hopes of a treatment for memory loss, poor decision making and other mental impairments that often strike in old age.

The drug could be taken as a daily pill by over-55s if clinical trials, which are expected to start within two years, show that the medicine is safe and effective at preventing memory lapses.

Related: How to avoid losing your memory in the digital age

Continue reading…

14 February 2019, 3:00 pm

Girl found hanged weeks after school self-harm incident, inquest hears

Elena Mondal, 14, was found dead at Henrietta Barnett school, north London, in 2017

A 14-year-old girl at one of the UK’s top state schools was found hanged weeks after being taken to hospital after a self-harming incident on school premises, an inquest has heard.

Elena Mondal was found in the grounds of Henrietta Barnett school in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London, on 5 June 2017, less than four weeks after she had cut her arms in the school toilets.

Continue reading…

13 February 2019, 6:10 pm

Cannabis smoking in teenage years linked to adulthood depression

Study finds one in 14 cases in under-35s could be avoided if teenagers did not use the drug

Scientists believe they have identified about 60,000 cases of depression in adults under 35 in the UK, and more than 400,000 in the US, that could be avoided if adolescents did not smoke cannabis.

An international team of scientists looked at 11 studies published from the mid-1990s onwards, involving a total of more than 23,000 people, they report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. They explored the use of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes in under-18s. Participants were then followed into adulthood to see who developed clinical depression, anxiety or suicidal behaviour. No single study looked at all three mental health issues.

Related: Quitting cannabis could lead to better memory and cognition

Related: How dangerous is marijuana for young men’s mental health?

Continue reading…

13 February 2019, 4:00 pm

Austerity causing stress and trauma to officers, say police

Call for more government funding as survey finds 80% of officers felt stress in past year

Police officers have reported being driven to breaking point by the dual pressures of staffing cuts and rising demands, with a survey finding eight out of 10 had felt stressed in the past year.

The survey by the Police Federation, which covers England and Wales, is part of a campaign to pressure the government to fund more officers on the beat after years of cuts.

Continue reading…

13 February 2019, 12:01 am