Guardian Mental Health

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

At least 45 Australian soldiers killed themselves after PoW training, inquiry told

ADF has never investigated whether course in coping with being interrogated or tortured was linked to deaths, royal commission hears

At least 45 Australian defence force personnel who attended training to deal with potentially being captured, interrogated and tortured, subsequently killed themselves, an inquiry has been told.

But the force is yet to investigate whether the training was a direct trigger for the deaths.

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

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30 November 2022, 7:07 am

Six in 10 older teens in England have ‘possible eating problems’

NHS Digital research reveals scale of issues, with even higher number of 20- to 23-year-olds affected

More than half of older teenagers and young adults in England have a problematic relationship with food, a major survey of young people’s mental health has found.

Six in ten (60%) 17- to 19-year-olds have “possible problems with eating”, according to research undertaken by NHS Digital, the health service’s statistical body.

One in four 17- to 19-year-olds have a probable mental disorder – up from one in 10 in 2017 and one in six last year.

Children and young people from households facing financial difficulties, such as those who cannot afford food, are much more likely to have mental health problems.

One in eight 11- to 16-year-olds, and 29.4% of those that age with a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression, have been bullied online.

One in six 17- to 24-year-olds have tried to harm themselves.

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29 November 2022, 7:37 pm

NHS England waiting times for gender dysphoria patients unlawful, court hears

Trans claimants want high court to declare that NHSE broke law by failing to meet 18-week target to start treatment

NHS England has acted unlawfully by making thousands of patients with gender dysphoria wait “extreme” periods of time for treatment, ​the high​ court has heard.

Transgender claimants, who have suffered ​distress as a result of delays, ​want the court to declare that NHSE broke the law by failing to meet a target for 92% of patients to commence treatment within 18 weeks​.​

In the UK and Ireland Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie; and in the UK, the youth suicide charity Papyrus can be contacted on 0800 068 4141 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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29 November 2022, 4:34 pm

‘Exposed to horrendous things’: young people in UK speak out against evangelical church

Ex-followers of Universal Church of the Kingdom of God say they felt pressure to give money and were told demons caused mental health issues

Rachael Reign, 29, remembers feeling nervous the first time she hit record on Instagram Live. She was about to start speaking publicly about a group that she says had consumed virtually her entire life: the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).

Walking down the street in south London when she was 13 years old, Reign had been approached by a church member who told her about the Victory youth group (VYG), part of the church that offered activities for young people.

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29 November 2022, 3:56 pm

Gambling reform is urgently needed across Australia. Lives are at stake | Nieves Murray

Research shows suicide rates can peak up two to three years after a crisis. We’re seeing this play out

There has been a lot of discussion about the need for gambling reform, quite rightly, but there is one important element that has been left out of the conversation – suicide.

Gambling is not only causing harm to people’s financial situation and relationships, it is risking people’s lives. The risk of suicide needs to be part of the dialogue if we’re to have a true understanding of the harm gambling is causing.

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29 November 2022, 3:10 am

If the secret police had a file on you, why wouldn’t you want to see it? Ask the Germans spied on by the Stasi

When East Germany collapsed, millions of the Stasi’s victims choose to remain in ignorance about their oppressors. Is it sometimes better to forget the past than to investigate it?

In East Germany, during the communist period, people would sometimes join a queue on the basis that if others were waiting, there must be something worth having at the end of it. Siegfried Wittenburg, whose images accompany this article, photographed this waiting-for-I-know-not-what in his home town of Rostock. It was safer to take photos than to criticise the regime in words, but only just.

The Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, kept Wittenburg under surveillance from 1972 almost until its own dissolution. The last entry in his file, which concerned some photos he had exhibited of Rostock’s dilapidated old town, was dated 27 November 1989 – almost three weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He knows this because he applied to see that file in 1999. Having discovered the identities of his informers, he made peace with one of them – whom the Stasi had blackmailed – and cut ties with the others. “Ever since I cleaned up my past, I feel free,” says the 69-year-old. “I became more open, happier, warmer – and successful.”

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28 November 2022, 10:00 am

Defence training pushed recruits beyond their limits with fatal outcomes, ex-cadet tells inquiry

‘Every year there was a suicide,’ James Geercke says on first day of royal commission hearings in Wagga Wagga

A former cadet says he and fellow Australian Defence Force Academy recruits were so traumatised by their extreme training regime they began hallucinating and some became suicidal.

James Geercke joined the academy in 2008 as an 18-year-old. On Monday, he told the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide that recruits were routinely pushed to their limits.

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28 November 2022, 5:29 am

The ‘snowflake generation’ are brave to display their sensitivity | Letters

Making jokes dismisses their experiences, writes Maja McEwan, while Sushila Dhall applauds those who call out abuse

I valued Zoe Williams’ insightful article (In the war between snowflakes and boomers, I’m with the kids. If only it wasn’t so easy to laugh at them…, 22 November). As a 49-year-old, it seems to me that the younger generation are far more sensitive and naturally empathic than we are, leading them to experience what we would call “the normal ups and downs of life” much more intensely than we ever did.

It is far easier to dismiss their very intense experience of life, and make a joke of it, than it is to take courage and face the discomfort of opening our hearts to pain – theirs or our own – particularly if there’s a lot of pent-up and unacknowledged emotion bubbling away under the surface, threatening to spill over.

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27 November 2022, 6:19 pm

Child in mental health crisis lived at police station for two days, chief reveals

Head of West Midlands police warns of rising crime in poorest areas as forces are stretched beyond capacity

A child experiencing a mental health crisis had to live in a police station for two days due to a lack of psychiatric places, a chief constable has revealed, as he condemned austerity for hitting the poorest areas hardest.

Sir David Thompson, who leads West Midlands police, said his force – which is still missing officers and funding after cuts – was being asked to do too much, and warned of rising crime as desperation increases in the poorest areas.

Dismissed attacks from government and rightwing media that claim the police are too woke.

Condemned those trying to drag policing into the “culture wars”.

Revealed fears that the poorest areas would be hit hardest again by the cost of living crisis, fuelling a “real risk” of rising crime.

Said that bias explained some of the reasons that black people experienced more use of force and coercive powers than other groups.

Called for a radical rethink on tackling the problems blighting society, as public services work in “silos”.

Warned that police were being expected to do too much, including in the field of mental health.

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27 November 2022, 3:00 pm

Bereavement often ruptures our sense of self – but we can find our feet again | Gill Straker and Jacqui Winship

We may be for ever altered by the death of a loved one, but we will eventually be able to reintegrate into life

The experience of grief following bereavement is ubiquitous and falls within the normal range of human experience. We therefore need to be careful not to pathologise it, although the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has recently – and for some controversially – added a diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder. Nevertheless, just because the grief associated with death and dying is generally normal, this does not diminish how acutely distressing it can be, and sometimes the experience of grief can exacerbate other, more long-standing psychological issues.

Grief is painful partly because it involves an unavoidable reckoning with reality and the limits to our control. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an eminent researcher of reactions to loss, proposed a five-stage model of grief. While the idea of stages has been challenged by the idiosyncratic, cultural and non-linear nature of the experience of loss, her work highlights the common employment of defences such as denial and bargaining.

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27 November 2022, 2:00 pm

‘Abhorrent trolls’ who encourage self-harm online face criminal prosecution, says minister

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan to amend bill that, after Molly Russell case, will place duty of care on social media firms

People who use social media posts to encourage self-harm face criminal prosecution under government changes to the revived online safety bill.

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan will update the bill to criminalise encouraging self-harm when the legislation returns to parliament next month.

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26 November 2022, 10:30 pm

Mother of London firefighter who killed himself welcomes damning report

Exclusive: Linda Francois, whose son Jaden Francois-Esprit was bullied in Wembley, says culture must change

The mother of a firefighter whose death triggered a review into the culture at the London fire brigade, has welcomed the findings of a damning report.

However, Linda Francois, whose son Jaden Francois-Esprit killed himself in August 2020, said that much remained to be done and making real changes in the workplace for people like her son was what really mattered.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or by email at jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. 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 helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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26 November 2022, 5:23 pm

Humberside police judged ‘outstanding’ five years after being ranked as failing

Chief constable freed up officers’ time by cutting the amount of mental health work done by police

A police force has gone from being ranked as failing five years ago to being given the highest ever grades in the modern era by the policing inspectorate.

Humberside police has been judged as outstanding in six out of nine categories by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

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25 November 2022, 6:00 am

‘An explosion’: what is behind the rise in girls questioning their gender identity?

As the NHS reviews gender referrals, parents, clinicians and young people reveal the social, medical and emotional challenges they face

Earlier this year, a team of NHS researchers was asked to investigate why there has been such a huge rise in the number of adolescent biological girls seeking referrals to gender clinics.

The figures alone do seem remarkable.

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24 November 2022, 2:50 pm

I always knew powerful people had blind spots – now neuroscience has proved it | Suzanne Alleyne

Science shows us that many of those in authority are so used to wielding it that they are unaware of their privilege

The thing that people with power don’t know is what it’s like to have little or no power. Minute by minute, you are reminded of your place in the world: how it’s difficult to get out of bed if you have mental health conditions, impossible to laugh or charm if you are worried about what you will eat, and how not being seen can grind away at your sense of self.

I am often in rooms with people who do not understand this, people more educated than me, more privileged than me – people who are so accustomed to having power that they don’t even know it’s there. I am a black woman in my fifties, I am neurodiverse, and I have multiple mental health diagnoses. Part of my job as a researcher and cultural thinker involves working with leaders in the arts, business and politics, supporting them to see the one thing they can’t: the effects of the power that they wield.

Suzanne Alleyne is a cultural thinker, founder at Alleyne&, and fellow of the thinktank Demos

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24 November 2022, 1:00 pm

Picking up grandchildren from school can help mental health, says study

Research suggests looking after grandchildren regularly may help prevent loneliness and improve wellbeing

Taking grandchildren to playgroups and picking them up from school can help stave off loneliness, research has found.

The study, a review of previous studies involving nearly 200,000 participants in 21 countries, suggested that looking after grandchildren regularly tends to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, including feeling less isolated and greater fulfilment.

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24 November 2022, 11:31 am

I’ve just had an MRI scan. It should have been stressful – but I’ve never been so relaxed | Adrian Chiles

Half an hour with no decisions to make? That’s my idea of bliss

I had an MRI scan recently. There I lay, strapped in, with a roof tile laid on my chest. Would I like to listen to some music? No, ta. Then I was told it would take half an hour and I changed my mind about the music, but the bloke had gone. Silence it was. Silence, that is, apart from the weird, irregular clanking and banging noises these things make. It was a feet-first entry, which felt like being loaded into a cannon for a daredevil stunt. There was also a lot of going in and out. At first I thought this was the bloke trying to pick the right spot but it turned out this was the nature of this particular scan – something to do with veins that I barely understood. In a bit, out a bit, all the way in, a bit out, all the way out, back in a bit, and so on.

It ought to have been stressful, but it wasn’t. It was the opposite. I was soon intensely relaxed, having no choice but to submit to this whole disorientating caper. And that was the point – I had no choice, no options. My life’s too full of options, with thousands of decisions, on matters big and small, necessary every day. Now, for an increasingly wonderful half-hour, there were none. I had one job: to keep perfectly still as I was slid in and out at random depths like some absurdist representation of uncertain sexual intercourse. Had they been available at the time, these scanners would certainly have featured in Woody Allen’s film Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask).

Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist

This article was amended on 24 November 2022. The original photograph showed a patient undergoing a CT scan. This has been changed.

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24 November 2022, 7:00 am

Severely ill refusing sicknotes as they cannot afford time off, says GPs’ head

Exclusive: Doctors suffering ‘moral distress’ at their powerlessness to help most vulnerable, says head of the Royal College of GPs

Ill patients are refusing sicknotes from their GP because they cannot afford time off work, while physicians suffer “moral distress” at their powerlessness to do more to help the most vulnerable, the new leader of Britain’s family doctors has revealed.

More patients are experiencing asthma attacks or other serious breathing problems because they cannot afford to heat their homes, said Dr Kamila Hawthorne, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, while many have reported deteriorating mental health due to financial stress.

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23 November 2022, 12:38 am

‘We’re in a trauma together’: Americans need therapy – but psychologists are booked

A study finds that six in 10 have no space for new patients. Therapists address the surge and how to tackle it

At a time when it feels like the world’s perpetually on fire, we all need a therapist – but trying to land one these days can be a nightmare.

A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) published this week found that six in 10 psychologists “no longer have openings for new patients”. The shortage comes as demand for therapy soars: since the beginning of the pandemic, about three-quarters of practitioners have seen their waiting lists expand. In the same period, almost 80% of practitioners report an increase in patients with anxiety disorders and 66% have seen an increase in those needing treatment for depression.

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21 November 2022, 10:00 am

Exorcism can have a role to play in therapy | Letters

Fiona Findlay believes that even for atheists, it still has a place in modern society

While most understanding of exorcism comes from Hollywood films, the reality is normally much more mundane: often it is less about spectacle and more about an earnest, if rudimentary, form of therapy (A moment that changed me: ‘I visited a therapist – who offered me an exorcism’, 16 November).

Exorcism is unique in that it allows the “possessed” to externalise their trauma, to give it a name and a face, and to have it ritually extracted from them. For many survivors of abuse, feelings of guilt and complicity remain for years, and exorcism can prove a cathartic experience that, while not solving these problems entirely, can give patients the motivation to seek conventional therapy.

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20 November 2022, 4:48 pm