Guardian Mental Health

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

'Before, I was quite a shy person': life after brain damage

Suffering a traumatic head injury is a terrifying ordeal, with serious implications for the way we live. Yet, strangely, there can be an upside. Here, four people talk about their experiences

Alpha Kabeja was cycling back from a job interview with MI6 on New Year’s Day 2012 when he was hit by a van and taken to hospital by ambulance. Actually, that’s not exactly right. He was taken to hospital in his private plane (the pilot parked it in one of the hospital quads). Wait, that’s not it either.

What actually happened on that cold, sunny day was that Kabeja came back from an all-night party, slung a bag of clothes over his shoulder, and cycled off to see his girlfriend. He was in a hurry, so when he realised he’d forgotten his helmet he thought, no bother. Moments from his home, he was hit by a van. The driver fled the scene, and Kabeja suffered a brain injury. The interview and the private plane? All fabricated memories produced by his brain as a way of making sense of his traumatic injury.

One patient brought her family to the appointment. ‘Doctor,’ her relatives told him, ‘she’s much nicer now than before’

I’m more positive now. I can’t seem to stop myself smiling

I wasn’t artistic at all. Now I can’t believe how well I can draw

‘After a year in hospital I ran away. They sent a helicopter to look for me’

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9 December 2018, 8:00 am

Medicare to cover treatment for severe eating disorders for the first time

Government announces $110.7m in funding to provide treatment packages for up to 30,000 patients a year

Tens of thousands of Australians with severe eating disorders will soon be able to access treatment under Medicare for the first time.

The government says that from 1 November next year, patients will be able to access a Medicare subsidy to receive up to 40 psychological services and 20 with a dietician each year.

Related: The cost of getting well in Australia is keeping us sick | Fiona Wright

Related: The lie pictures tell: an ex-model on the truth behind her perfect photos

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9 December 2018, 6:33 am

Death in prison of man with Asperger's 'raises serious concerns'

Nicky Reilly was found hanged in 2016 after being jailed for a botched Exeter bomb attack

A coroner has expressed concern over the care given in prison to a man serving a sentence for a botched terrorism attack who was found hanged in his cell.

Mohammed Saeed Alim, who was born Nicky Reilly, was jailed in 2009 after a bungled attempt to set off a homemade bomb in a Devon restaurant.

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7 December 2018, 6:56 pm

Sharp rise in number of young people seeking help for anxiety

Majority of Childline sessions provided to girls with helpline’s founder saying system is ‘failing them’

A children’s helpline says the number of counselling sessions it has delivered to youngsters with anxiety has almost doubled in two years, with nine out of 10 calls from girls.

According to Childline, which is supported by the NSPCC children’s charity, there has been a sharp rise in the number of young people seeking help because of anxiety as they struggle to cope with the demands of modern life.

Related: Night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean?

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7 December 2018, 12:01 am

Welcome to the trip of your life: the rise of underground LSD guides

Some Americans searching for alternative paths to healing have turned to psychedelics. But how does one forge a career as a guide when the substances are illegal?

Steve has cops in his family, so he doesn’t tell many people about his work as an underground psychedelic guide. The work takes up a significant amount of his time – around once a week, he’ll meet a client in their home or in a rented home, dose them with MDMA or hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, and sit with them while they trip for up to 10 hours – but he doesn’t tell his siblings, parents or roommates about it, nor his fellow psychology PhD students.

They would probably never guess, either: Steve doesn’t display any signs of involvement with a stigmatized counterculture that many Americans still associate with its flamboyant 1960s figureheads. He’s a bespectacled, soft-spoken former business school student who plays in a brass band and works part-time as an over-the-phone mental health counselor. After one glass of wine, he says: “Whoa, I’m feeling a little drunk.”

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6 December 2018, 9:00 am

Mental health patients 'should be given more rights over treatment'

Review suggests raft of improved rights for people detained under the Mental Health Act

People with serious mental health problems should be given a host of new rights to ensure they receive better care if they are detained for compulsory treatment, an inquiry ordered by Theresa May has found.

The 50,000 people a year who are sectioned under the Mental Health Act should be able to set out how they want to be looked after and challenge doctors’ decisions about them, said the year-long independent review, led by Prof Sir Simon Wessely, an ex-president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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6 December 2018, 12:01 am

Tyson Fury has beaten his demons to become a champion for mental health | Benji Waterstones

The heavyweight boxer who used to pray for death has shown that depression and addiction don’t have to be for ever

As a psychiatrist whose job is to preserve healthy minds, it feels a little unusual to be championing a mental health advocate who punches people in the head for a job. But that’s where I find myself with Tyson Fury.

On Sunday, having set my alarm for silly o’clock in the morning, I got up, boiled the kettle and sat down to watch two grown men try to knock each other into states of unconsciousness; the kind I’d always been taught to avoid at medical school. I’m not really a fan of boxing. Besides the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy induced by a head injury (“punch-drunk syndrome”), I’ve never understood how bloody violence is permissible in society so long as it’s within a ring?

Related: US fans don’t always take British boxing seriously – Fury showed they should | Richard Williams

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5 December 2018, 12:44 pm

No jobs, no homes, no services: how inequality is crippling young people | Anna Bawden

A new report concludes that socioeconomic factors are seriously jeopardising the future health of 16 to 24-year-olds

Young people’s health and wellbeing is being eroded by a lack of jobs, a shortage of housing and cuts to public services. A new report by the Health Foundation published today concludes that in many cases, the long term health of 16- to 24-year-olds is being jeopardised by socioeconomic factors and a lack of public services. “To be healthy, everyone needs a job, a friend, somewhere to live and education or job opportunities,” says Jo Bibby, director of health at the Health Foundation. “Conversely, not having those things increases the chances of illness later in life.”

Part of its two-year inquiry into young people’s future health, the report brings together the results of six months’ qualitative interviews and workshops with over 600 young people – including around 80 who directly helped with the research – and those providing services in Bradford, Bristol, Denbighshire in Wales, Lisburn in Northern Ireland and North Ayrshire in Scotland to see to what extent 12- to 24-year-olds across the UK today have the building blocks to become healthy adults. Young people are “adversely affected by weak jobs markets, poor housing and cuts to public services” and that “many of the protective factors that are so important for future health, such as a financial and practical safety net, are missing,” says Julia Unwin, strategic adviser to the Health Foundation’s inquiry.

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5 December 2018, 7:30 am

‘I tried to take my own life. They told me I’d have to wait a month for help’ | Mary O’Hara

Despite government promises, mental health services are still failing young people. Here, some of those affected speak out

The word “crisis” comes up a lot whenever children and young people’s mental health is mentioned. Whether it’s youngsters in desperate need of acute care being sent hundreds of miles away for treatment due to local bed shortages, failure to receive help even after their GP has referred them for specialist care, or enduring problems with NHS child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs), patients under 18 find it increasingly difficult to access the support they need.

Related: Young people’s mental health is a ‘worsening crisis’. Action is needed | Mary O’Hara

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5 December 2018, 7:00 am

Suicide crisis in remote Indigenous communities 'Australia's shame', Senate inquiry finds

Deaths often driven by ‘despair caused by the history of dispossession’, report says

A Senate inquiry into mental health in rural and remote areas has found that suicide has long since reached a crisis level in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and “that this has been allowed to continue unchecked for so long is to Australia’s shame”.

The inquiry released its final report on Tuesday, finding that mental health services for all people in rural and remote areas were lacking, but “in too many cases, the causes of suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is not mental illness, but despair caused by the history of dispossession combined with the social and economic conditions in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live”.

Related: Can we handle the truth? Indigenous Australians depend on it | Paul Daley

Related: Australia’s drought crisis and farmers’ stories of anxiety, fear and resilience

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5 December 2018, 2:41 am

Don’t blame an increase in drug scares among older people on the 1960s | Tom Chivers

More over-45s are arriving at hospital with drug-related mental health issues, but there’s a myriad of reasons why

If you can remember the 60s, you weren’t really there, and all that. The baby boomer generation – that of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight festival and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the generation inspired by On The Road and Naked Lunch – was always famous for its liberal attitude to drug-taking, among many other things.

Now, it seems, that lifestyle may have caught up with them. According to new NHS data on drug misuse, there has been an 85% increase in hospital admissions for “drug-related mental and behavioural disorders” among the over-45s in the last 10 years.

Related: NHS hospitals treat soaring number of older people for drug misuse

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4 December 2018, 12:07 pm

Crisis in New Zealand health services as depression and anxiety soar

System neglects ‘missing middle’ of the population who face common problems

A landmark inquiry has found New Zealand’s mental health services are overwhelmed and geared towards crisis care rather than the wider population who are experiencing increasing rates of depression, trauma and substance abuse.

It has urged the government to widen provision of mental health care from 3% of the population in critical need to “the missing middle” – the 20% of the population who struggle with“common, disabling problems” such as anxiety.

Related: ‘We need to change’: Death of New Zealand newsreader puts spotlight on depression

We can’t medicate or treat our way out of the epidemic of mental distress.

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4 December 2018, 2:21 am

Aggressive debt collectors raise risk of suicide

Research showing level of risk to people heavily in debt leads to calls for change to law

More than 100,000 people a year in England who are mired in heavy debt try to end their lives, new research has revealed.

Intimidating and threatening letters sent by debt collectors, bailiffs and councils raise the risk of suicide by adding to people’s feelings of despair, the study found. The findings have prompted calls from mental health experts for an urgent overhaul of the tactics banks, utility companies, credit card companies and others use to pursue people struggling to repay money they owe.

The last thing those struggling with debts need is a bunch of near thuggish letters dropping through the letterbox

*People with multiple debts are five times more likely to have tried to kill themselves than those with one debt.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those who made a suicide attempt last year were in problem debt.

The “double stigma” around debt and suicide means many of those who are struggling do not tell anyone how they are feeling or seek help.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

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3 December 2018, 7:30 pm

Life in debt: 'The council was more aggressive than the payday lenders'

Lee Brookes, who is in his early 40s and works in IT, describes how running up debts of £32,000 led him to attempt to kill himself

Since my mid-teens I’ve struggled with episodes of mania brought about by my bipolar disorder. Such mania led to intense periods of superfluous spending, which was indulgent, unnecessary and extravagant. From buying endless rounds at the pub for friends, to taking myself on a spontaneous solo getaway to Paris and spending over £1,700 in the process, my spending rapidly span out of control.

It was this battle with bipolar that brought about seeking my first loan from the bank in 2001. The unnecessary spending on trivial things led to my inability to cover the essentials – rent, grocery shopping and utility bills. As my spending went up, my credit rating plummeted. The banks stopped the loans and so I reached out to the payday loan sharks instead. From then onwards I was trapped in a vicious cycle of payday loans to pay off previous payday loans. My situation became so bleak and overwhelming that I attempted suicide three times, two of them as a direct response to my financial situation.

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3 December 2018, 7:30 pm

Finally the NHS is no longer treating pregnancies as virgin births | Jack O’Sullivan

The NHS is at last recognising that men have postnatal issues too, and that the health of family members is intertwined

The news that partners of those new and expectant mothers who suffer from depression or anxiety will be offered mental health checks by the NHS is extremely welcome. It is good for men, but also a breakthrough for women. That’s because the NHS is at last recognising not only that men have postnatal issues too, but that the wellbeing of new mothers is deeply dependent on supporting the skills and capacities of their children’s fathers.

This change will help to avoid the potentially tragic cases we hear about at the Fatherhood Institute, a UK charity. With support from the NHS, new fathers will be better able to deal with mental health issues they may have, and to help their partners through psychosis, anxiety and depression after they give birth.

Related: NHS to introduce mental health checks for new fathers

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3 December 2018, 5:34 pm

From football to dating to TV: 10 areas rife with racial bias in UK

Racist violence and abuse are obvious products of prejudice – but there are subtler examples too

Unconscious or implicit bias is one part of the explanation for why, despite equalities being enshrined in law, minority groups are still at a disadvantage in many parts of life. The term was popularised after US social psychologists devised a way of measuring the prejudices that we are not necessarily aware of – the Implicit Association Test. They published a paper in 1998 claiming that their tool for measuring “the unconscious roots of prejudice” showed that 90-95% of people were susceptible.

As part of the Guardian’s Bias in Britain series we want to hear from readers and find out more about your experiences and perspectives.

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3 December 2018, 6:00 am

Nauru in the grip of a mental health crisis, MSF report reveals

New data from Médecins Sans Frontières shows extremely high rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts on the island

The island nation of Nauru is in the grips of a mental health crisis, according to new data from Médecins Sans Frontières, revealing that its Nauruan and refugee patients showed similar levels of mental illness far worse than other MSF projects around the world.

It found stigma and a lack of understanding of mental illness was leading to poor healthcare for both cohorts, but that Nauruan patients were improving under MSF treatment while refugees and asylum seekers did not.

Related: Group of Manus Island refugees move to Nauru amid worsening health crisis

Related: Many families remain separated amid ongoing Nauru medical transfers

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2 December 2018, 10:30 pm

NHS to introduce mental health checks for new fathers

Health service in England to offer help for men whose partners experience health problems

New fathers and fathers-to-be will be offered mental health checks if their partner is suffering anxiety, psychosis or postnatal depression, NHS England has announced.

While it is well recognised that pregnant women and and new mothers can experience mental health problems, little attention has been paid to their partners.

Related: NHS hospitals treat soaring number of older people for drug misuse

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2 December 2018, 4:01 pm

Jimmy McGovern: ‘We can’t dodge the issue of care for the elderly any longer

Screenwriter hopes new BBC production, called Care, will spark debate on growing social problem

The screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has called for a national conversation on attitudes towards care of the elderly and infirm, saying politicians needed to stop “dodging” the issue and that more television dramas should tackle such social problems.

McGovern, the writer behind award-winning programmes such as Cracker, Hillsborough and last year’s drama Broken, has made Care, a 90-minute production for the BBC. It tells the story of a single mother who has to care for her elderly mother after she has a stroke and develops dementia, and how the local health authorities refuse to take responsibility.

Related: Complaints over social care in England nearly trebled since 2010

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1 December 2018, 1:00 pm

Ensuring a good standard of therapy | Letters

The three leading regulatory bodies for the counselling and psychotherapy profession have created a new competence framework as a response to the mental health crisis

Suzanne Moore is right (We can talk about self-care, but this mental health crisis is political, 26 November) that counselling and psychotherapy is about talking and that “it is better to talk about things rather than not”. Addressing the mental health crisis is one of the most challenging tasks faced by us all and counselling and psychotherapy have an important role to play in providing a solution. As the three leading regulatory bodies for the counselling and psychotherapy profession, representing over 50,000 counsellors and psychotherapists, we take this role very seriously. We have registers accredited by the Professional Standards Authority, accountable to parliament, and have in place robust professional training and conduct procedures.

To ensure that we continue to offer consistent training requirements and practice standards across the three professional bodies, we are mapping and defining common professional competencies for our professions. The Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd) is a collaborative project being jointly undertaken and will enable us to produce a common, evidence-based competence framework.

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30 November 2018, 4:08 pm