Guardian Mental Health

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

    Loneliness heightened by social media, Jo Cox’s sister says

    15 December 2017, 2:06 pm

    Kim Leadbetter calls on government and public to act to address issue at launch of report by murdered MP’s commission

    Social media is a double-edged sword that could make Britain’s loneliness epidemic worse, the sister of the murdered MP Jo Cox has said in response to research which found that 9 million people in the UK feel permanently isolated.

    Speaking at the launch of a report commissioned by the Labour MP before her death, Kim Leadbeater said technology was a force for good, but that it had reduced people’s time for “proper human connections”.

    Related: Loneliness is harming our society. Your kindness is the best cure | Rachel Reeves

    Related: The age of loneliness is killing us | George Monbiot

    Continue reading…

    ‘The government’s played us for fools’: your best comments on the Guardian today

    15 December 2017, 12:17 pm

    Brexit negotiations, counselling and who’s actually heard of the 2017 word of the year dominate today’s comments

    Readers have been discussing the latest on the EU27 summit, as well as the benefits of counselling and Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year: youthquake.

    To join in you can click on the links in the comments below to expand and add your thoughts. We’ll continue to highlight more comments worth reading as the day goes on.

    This is the tragedy and the black comedy at the same time, isn’t it – May and her cabinet, after 18 months, have not even discussed a preferred outcome or direction for Brexit.

    Logically, there can be no talk of negotiation all this time if there is no clear goal towards which you’re negotiating.

    That was the first of these articles on loneliness that clicked with me at all, thank you, Sachin. The one thing I know about loneliness, and which this article makes clear, is that companionship needs to be incidental, not just taken like medicine.

    And that’s why Men’s Sheds work – you don’t go there to be friends with the others because you haven’t any friends yourself, you go there for the workbench and the tools and to make things. And once there, you become friends with the others, via the work and in a proper social context, not a therapeutic or medical one.

    First time I’ve come across this word.

    Don’t understand why they think it sounds an optimistic note. Having been a youth and having since matured, I regard youths as “work in progress”. Their judgement is not really to be relied upon when it is highly likely to change as a result of greater experience. Furthermore, to the extent that it is a phenomenon at all (is it?) it surely reflects the deep divisions in society.

    I remember being young, not so long ago, almost yesterday as I approach my 70’s.

    I thought I knew so much only to realise I only knew so little of life. But in comparison to today’s youth I was savvy, street wise and knew so much general knowledge with the benefit of a balanced education provided by the state.

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    A moment that changed me: when overwhelming sadness drove me to seek counselling | Sachin Nakrani

    15 December 2017, 9:00 am

    I still don’t know whether I had – or have – depression. But it was only by coming to terms with my feelings that I avoided sliding into an even darker place

    I’d never said goodbye to a man before. Not a man like David, anyway. A man I had been so close to, a man with whom I had shared so much of myself. But now it was time to say goodbye. So I stood up, leaned forward and shook his hand. I smiled, he smiled, and I walked out of the door, almost certainly never to see him again.

    A total of 20 times, stretching from spring to autumn, each for precisely 50 minutes: those occasions David and I spent together will live with me forever. Part of me wonders how I will cope without him, but I know there’s nothing else he can do for me now. And there are no regrets, because seeking help was exactly the right thing to do. David was kind and attentive from the start, and while he knows an awful lot more about me than I do about him, I don’t feel used in the slightest.

    Related: It’s OK not to be OK: why we need to embrace sadness | Johanna Leggatt

    This was rock bottom, and for the sake of my family and friends and my wife and daughter in particular, I had to rise up

    Related: The science of Sad: understanding the causes of ‘winter depression’

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    Bullies have no place in academia – even if they’re star scientists | Anonymous academic

    15 December 2017, 7:30 am

    My bullying supervisor damaged my mental health. But when I stood up to him, I received no support from my university

    I was awarded a prestigious fellowship in 2015 and moved my family across the country to take up a postdoctoral position at a world-class biomedical research institute. Little did I know that this seemingly invaluable opportunity would set me on a dangerous path to mental ill health.

    My self-confidence, scientific progress and mental health were in decline from the beginning. My supervisor belittled me in front of my peers, derided me for enacting laboratory safety measures and denied me the technical training I needed to gain traction in a new scientific discipline. I recall silently sobbing as his large frame hulked over me, and how he gesticulated wildly as he yelled, “Just do what I tell you!”. That meeting lasted 90 minutes, the culmination of months of relentless bullying from he, the principal investigator on our research project.

    Related: Not all PhD supervisors are natural mentors – some need training

    While I was forced to take a leave of absence and spend thousands on therapy, my supervisor continued unabated

    Related: Tackling sexual harassment on campus is about more than naming and shaming | Alison Phipps

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    Failure to rehouse Grenfell survivors ‘could worsen mental health’

    14 December 2017, 6:00 am

    Health officials and support groups warn of fresh wave of post-traumatic stress six months after disaster that killed 71 people

    Grenfell Tower: delays and trauma mark painfully slow progress

    Survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster are facing a new wave of post-traumatic stress with their chances of treatment hampered because so many victims remain homeless, experts and victims’ representatives have warned.

    Six months after the west London tower block burned down, NHS staff and representatives of the bereaved said that because only 45 of the 210 households made homeless have been permanently resettled, victims cannot begin proper psychological treatment to address symptoms. These include often horrific memories and flashbacks from the fire, which killed 71 people, including 18 children.

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    Is it time to ban children from using smartphones? | Julian Baggini

    13 December 2017, 12:36 pm
    Mounting evidence suggests smartphones cause disrupted sleep, depression and higher rates of attempted suicide. Action is surely required

    Imagine the latest must-have item for kids was addictive and had a proven link with disrupted sleep, depression, low self-esteem and attempted suicide. You certainly wouldn’t buy one for your own offspring, but you might think banning it altogether was a step too far. That is, until your child comes home from school begging to have one, just like their friends.

    Related: Enough with the moral panic over smartphones. The kids are all right | Catharine Lumby

    Related: The iPhone is the crack cocaine of technology. Don’t celebrate its birthday | André Spicer

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    Facebook Messenger for six-year-olds: need I say why that’s a bad idea? | Nancy Jo Sales

    11 December 2017, 12:36 pm

    Experts agree that excessive screen time is already a health hazard for children. Yet the tech giant wants to target them at an even younger age

    Letting six- to 12-year-olds use Messenger Kids, Facebook’s new app targeting young children, is a terrible idea, and not necessarily because of concerns over online safety.

    Facebook went to great lengths in rolling out the app to assure parents that its latest shiny object was developed “with parents” and “parenting experts” to keep kids “safe.” This was even used as a rationale for developing the app, as Facebook said in a blog post on the day of the launch, the alleged “need” for a messaging app for young children that gives parents a “level of control”.

    Facebook doesn’t effectively control the grievous amount of abuse on its main platform

    Related: Data-hungry Facebook seeks younger recruits | John Naughton

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    Loneliness is a ‘giant evil’ of our time, says Jo Cox commission

    10 December 2017, 6:00 pm

    Rachel Reeves argues that welfare state architect William Beveridge would add disconnected society to list of challenges

    One of the key architects of Britain’s welfare state would have added loneliness as society’s sixth “giant evil” if he were alive today, Rachel Reeves will say after completing a year-long study into the issue.

    The Labour MP, who co-chaired the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness after her friend and colleague was murdered last year, will argue that the weakening of trade union, church, local pub and workplace ties have left a disconnected society.

    Related: Loneliness is harming our society. Your kindness is the best cure | Rachel Reeves

    Related: The age of loneliness is killing us | George Monbiot

    Continue reading…

    The week in radio: Newsbeat: My Mind and Me; Mysteries of Sleep: Sleepwalking; The Art of Living: When Words Fail, Music Speaks

    10 December 2017, 7:00 am

    Teenagers with mental health problems took centre stage on Newsbeat – and has sleep ever been so interesting?

    Newsbeat: My Mind and Me (Radio 1 and 1Xtra) | iPlayer
    Mysteries of Sleep: Sleepwalking (Radio 4) | iPlayer
    The Art of Living: When Words Fail, Music Speaks (Radio 4) | iPlayer

    Radio 1 understands its audience. It knows that, despite Ofcom’s worrying about too many old people tuning in (ban their ancient ears!), the people who really listen to it – as in take it seriously – are young. Teenagers. Twentysomethings. And although plenty of young people in the UK are having the time of their lives, many are not. Many of them are suffering with mental health issues. Some recent stats. Seventy-five per cent of mental illnesses start before a child is 18; 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness; 75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment.

    Scientists now believe that certain parts of the brain can rouse themselves while others remain dormant

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    Alarm over restraint of NHS mental health patients

    10 December 2017, 12:05 am
    New figures reveal that girls, young women and black people are more likely to be held down by staff on wards

    Patients in mental health units were physically restrained by staff more than 80,000 times last year in Britain, including 10,000 who were held face down or given injections to subdue them, new NHS figures show.

    Girls and young women under the age of 20 were the most likely to be restrained, each being subjected 30 times a year on average to techniques that can involve a group of staff combining to tackle a patient who is being aggressive or violent.

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    US prisoner gouged out eyes after jail denied mental health care, lawsuit says

    8 December 2017, 10:11 pm

    Colorado prisoner sues law enforcement, alleging officers ignored acts of self-harm and responded to schizophrenic episodes by beating and tasing him

    A mentally ill Colorado prisoner gouged his eyes out and became permanently blind after jail officials repeatedly denied him treatment for psychosis despite multiple suicide attempts, according to a lawsuit.

    Ryan Partridge, 31, sued Boulder law enforcement officials on Thursday, alleging that while he was jailed for months for minor offenses that were later dismissed, officers ignored numerous acts of self mutilation and responded to delusional episodes by beating and tasing him. Officials also ignored a judge’s emergency order to get Partridge psychiatric treatment, leaving him alone in his cell where he “plucked out his own eyeballs”, the suit said.

    Getting tased and beaten, all that is stressful. What can be worse than that is the delusion that arises in isolation

    Related: Britain’s prison suicide crisis: ‘There’s no political will. Dead prisoners do not win votes’

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    For the poor, it’s just one thing on top of another | Letters

    8 December 2017, 7:05 pm
    Robert Holland on the impact on children, Paul Nicolson on the endless pressure on benefit claimants and Steven Dorner on the psychological impact

    Visitors to foodbanks are often in distress, so Heidi Allen MP is right to cry (Tory MP cries at universal credit impact speech from Frank Field, 5 December). The most distressed person I’ve seen as a foodbank volunteer was a man making his first visit ever after Christmas. After spending on rent, fuel and food, he and his partner had no present for their four-year-old daughter on Christmas Day. He told me between tears: “She kept on asking if she had been naughty. We reassured her, but she just asked again and again. She doesn’t realise about money and could not understand.” (In the Salvation Army we had a suitable book and another toy for her, donated by the public.)
    Robert Holland
    Keighley, West Yorkshire

    • Frank Field is right to highlight the very unreasonable state-imposed stress that leads to suicidal thoughts among benefit claimants. “It’s just one thing on top of another,” was the cry from a 50-year-old single adult in London trying to pay off rent and council tax arrears, which had piled up when he had no income as a result of a three-month benefit sanction, out of £73.10 a week jobseekers’ allowance. He was then forced by the jobcentre into a zero-hours contract and moved on to universal credit, both leaving him without income again for weeks at a time. Then the bailiff called at 7.30am demanding £400 for a TV licence fine, and his fees, to be paid the next morning.
    Rev Paul Nicolson
    Taxpayers against Poverty

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    The Grenfell survivors don’t need our pity – they need homes | Deborah Orr

    8 December 2017, 3:33 pm
    The first duty was to make those affected feel safe and secure again. Surely that’s the very least they deserve

    John Green, the psychologist who leads the mental health response to the Grenfell fire, says the disaster has transformed the local NHS trust into “the largest trauma service in the UK”. It’s not just the survivors of the fire who are affected. Many people in the community are haunted by what they saw, smelled, felt, heard, learned and imagined that appalling night and in those dreadful following days.

    The singularity of Grenfell is that those affected are concentrated in a stable community. It’s not like the typical terror attack, which will usually strike many people from disparate places just visiting or passing through. Grenfell is tightly knit – a dense site of shared trauma.

    Related: Grenfell Tower mental health response ‘largest of its kind in Europe’

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    My daughter is hurt at being rejected by the girl she called her best friend

    8 December 2017, 3:00 pm
    She used to be a happy child, but this has hit her hard. How can I help her to stay resilient? Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader

    My daughter is eight and has two siblings. Another girl, F, of the same age, has been a constant presence in her life since birth. Because of this, in the first couple of years at school, they would often refer to each other as best friends and go to each other’s homes for play dates. The relationship seemed fractious at times, with F appearing to be more in charge in general. I put some of the difficulties down to their age and the fact that there was also a third girl, S, in the group. When I discussed it briefly with F and S’s mums, the feeling was that the usual problems of a three-way relationship came into play at times and that my daughter and S seemed to take it in turns to feel left out.

    However, in the past couple of years, it has become clear that F does not want to be friends with my daughter. The difficulty is that my daughter feels bonded to her and is very hurt by this. In conversations with her, she has said it makes her feel very sad, that it makes her not like herself, and that she wishes she didn’t exist.

    The best hope for your daughter’s resilience is her relationship with you

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    Frank Bruno: ‘As a baby, I would try to smash my way out of the cot’

    8 December 2017, 1:30 pm
    The ex-boxer on getting into fights, being bullied, the influence of his parents, the impact of his bipolar disorder and his love for his children

    Mum told me that, as a baby, I would try to smash my way out of my cot. The fire and aggression that served me so well in the boxing ring was there from the start. With two older brothers and three older sisters, I was always battling for attention. I found it on the streets of Wandsworth, south London, where I grew up.

    By the age of seven I was already in with the wrong crowd and getting into fights. Eventually, I was expelled from school for getting into a scuffle with a teacher. Dad gave me such a hiding when I got home. I got the curtain rod good and proper.

    I felt I should have been treated at home, but realised my kids only wanted the best for me and were acting out of love

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    It took decades after leaving care to get the mental health help I needed

    8 December 2017, 9:22 am

    It took a crisis for me to get the specialist support that children in care should receive from the start

    Almost 30 years later, my heart still pounds when I think about the night before I was taken into care at the age of 10. Left alone in the house and sleeping with a knife under my pillow. To this day I have nightmares about it.

    Trauma in childhood creates physical changes in the body; it makes us more likely to develop serious illnesses and increases the odds of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.

    Related: Children in care shouldn’t lose vital support as they turn 18 | Emma Bennett

    Related: Only 6% of care leavers go to university. They deserve better chances | Ruth Kelly

    Related: How rap therapy workshops help foster children tell stories

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    ‘Clear failures of care’: scathing report into student’s anorexia death

    8 December 2017, 12:01 am

    Averil Hart’s death was ‘an avoidable tragedy’ which shows problems with NHS eating disorders services, says ombudsman

    A talented young student died of anorexia because of numerous “clear failures of care” by GPs, hospitals and specialists in eating disorders, a scathing report by the NHS ombudsman has concluded.

    Averil Hart’s death in December 2012 at the age of 19 “was an avoidable tragedy” caused by an array of health professionals failing to appreciate how dangerously unwell she was, the ombudsman said in a report released on Friday.

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    The danger of avocados: your best comments on the Guardian today

    7 December 2017, 11:28 am

    We’re highlighting topics that have provoked interesting conversation on site today including same-sex marriage in Australia

    Your reactions to the story on stoneless avocados, an article on the need for adequate psychiatric care and 2017 in TV are some of the conversations worth checking out today.

    To join in you can click on the links in the comments below to expand and add your thoughts. We’ll continue to highlight more comments worth reading as the day goes on.

    How to cut an avocado, place on chopping board, cut, wiggle knife up and down a little to get round the stone, turn over, repeat, while knife is still embedded wiggle left to right.

    You now have one side with a stone one side without, then gently ease stone from avocado, use a spoon if required.

    I’m so glad I decided to make the 12 hour return trip to be there, I’ll never forget it

    Congratulations from the Netherlands, we can confirm that having gay marriage does not cause biblical plagues or social upheaval, it turns out that gay people are just people too who want to live, love and build a life together. Imagine that, eh? 😉

    How does one say it in Aussie? Goodonya, Australia? 🙂

    Yay!!! I don’t have to hide anymore. Just…I can be myself. Just yay. I don’t know what to say!!

    Although I disagreed with the commentator in an above subthread, it is for that very reason that you should consider my siding with them here to be of significance. They are perfectly right.

    Mental illness is negatively correlated with violence, particularly mass violence (the usual boogeyman) and mentally ill individuals are FAR more likely to suffer violence and suffer crime than to cause it. See again: *negatively* correlated.

    This was a fantastic programme – extremely hard to watch at times, but very revealing, even for those who might know much of the historical background already. The contribution of the Vietnamese participants was especially worthwhile.

    The part where it discussed president-elect Nixon’s efforts to sabotage the peace process in 1968 so he could have mould it to his own policy after taking office seem particularly pertinent today, with the most recent revelations about Trump and Flynn.

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    Those who need it most don’t get psychiatric care. It’s a mental health crisis | Vyom Sharma

    7 December 2017, 1:44 am

    People die without getting adequate psychiatric help, and it turns out even killing someone else isn’t enough to qualify for care. The system is failing

    What, precisely, is a crisis? Generally, things have to get pretty bad to be defined as one. “Housing”, “North Korean”, and ”global financial” have all seemed to earn that suffix. The problem with defining “crisis” is partly one of banality through overuse – if you believe even half of what you read, we are perpetually beset by it, in one form or another. So hearing the c-word in a context anything less than epic tends to be accompanied with a faint echo of hyperbole, and twinges of cynicism.

    Related: ‘Sadness is all you have’: why youth mental health is in need of urgent help

    Related: NDIS: people with severe mental health problems being denied access on ‘a daily basis’

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    Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley: social media is bad for mental health

    7 December 2017, 12:01 am

    Star, who quit Instagram after backlash against post about gun violence, says teenagers are especially vulnerable

    The actor Daisy Ridley, who will soon be seen on the big screen when she reprises her role as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has said social media is “highly unhealthy for people’s mental health”.

    In an interview with the Radio Times, Ridley described social media as damaging to mental health, especially for teenagers. “It’s such a weird thing for young people to look at distorted images of things they should be,” she said.

    Related: From Rey’s dark side to Snoke’s identity – the questions Star Wars: The Last Jedi must answer

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