Guardian Mental Health

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

Mental health tribunal proposals put justice at risk | Letter

Giving tribunals the power to take decisions in more circumstances without an oral hearing will penalise the most vulnerable, say leaders of charities and human rights groups

The proposed changes to mental health tribunals put justice at risk. Mental health tribunals determine whether people detained under the Mental Health Act stay in hospital or return to the community. Since 2012, over 9,000 people have been discharged as a result of a mental health tribunal. We believe the Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC) proposals will damage the fairness of tribunals, potentially undermine human rights, and lead to longer detentions.

Pre-hearing examinations are valued by tribunal judges and patients alike, as they give detained people an important opportunity to be heard. Abolishing them only serves as another way to cut people out of their own care.

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20 June 2018, 4:49 pm

Many of my childhood friends are dead. Is masculinity to blame?

The blue-collar town of Kamloops has been riven by accidents, overdoses and suicides. After losing several friends, one writer returned to find out why

I grew up in Kamloops, a small blue-collar city in British Columbia about 350km north-east of Vancouver. Kamloops wasn’t the middle of nowhere, but at the time it felt pretty close. I moved there with my family when I was in grade five, and early on my fate felt sealed: I was a mediocre student, and not good enough at hockey to catch the eyes of the scouts. The city’s small-town feel was coupled with a sense of isolationism, and in high school my friends and I spent our nights crashing house parties, playing hockey, getting into fights, drinking and taking drugs.

When we graduated high school, it felt like a vast open field – part economic wasteland, part basecamp at the foot of a daunting mountain. Some of us went to college, but it seemed the only way to make substantial money was to join the resource labour force. My career options seemed limited to a local mine, mill, warehouse or oilfield.

Nobody asked our fathers about their feelings because they were too busy working

Related: ‘Our society is broken’: what can stop Canada’s First Nations suicide epidemic?

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20 June 2018, 10:00 am

‘If it wasn’t for football, I’d be dead, or in a gutter’ | Sarah Johnson

A World Cup-style tournament in Barnsley shows how team sports can help people cope with mental illness

The Brazilian striker has been threatening to score all game. He’s narrowly missed a few shots at goal already. Other attempts have been blocked by the Argentinian defender who has been putting his body on the line in a desperate attempt to keep his country in the game. The relentless Brazilian attack continues as a midfielder passes to the striker again who pivots, smashes it with his right foot and watches as it screams into the back of the net.

Related: Gardening, art, sport – ‘prescriptions’ for mental health that don’t involve pills

I don’t notice my schizophrenia now. I’m a person again. Today my mind’s on stuff – that’s how football helps people

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20 June 2018, 6:00 am

Perfectionism and poverty: why musicians struggle with mental health

Mental illness claims the lives of too many in music. A new helpline seeks to change that

When Jess Cornelius named her 2016 album Give Up on Your Health, she did so as a warning to herself not to get sick – physically, or mentally. As an artist, she couldn’t afford it.

The musician, who performs as Teeth & Tongue, has just swapped Melbourne for LA. Sounds great, except she found that sorting out visas, tax, social security numbers and bank accounts leaves little time for creativity. Being a musician is dispiriting, she says.

Related: ‘I was literally tearing myself up’: can the performing arts solve its mental health crisis?

Artists like Adele are admitting that touring is taking a toll and they need to put health first

Related: Adele: ‘I’d be happy never to tour again’

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20 June 2018, 2:21 am

Mental health event to replace Frightened Rabbit set at Meltdown

Southbank festival will host a panel on mental health and the music industry following band frontman Scott Hutchison’s death in May

Frightened Rabbit’s set at Meltdown festival in London is to be replaced by a panel on mental health awareness and the music industry, following the death of singer Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in May.

The Scottish indie band were due to perform on 19 June at Southbank Centre’s annual arts festival, this year curated by the Cure’s Robert Smith. Hutchison was last seen on 9 May. Police found his body near Edinburgh the following day.

Related: Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison: a songwriter who found humanity in our flaws

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19 June 2018, 11:19 am

From overnight oats to boiled eggs – is meal prep taking the joy out of eating?

Loved by fitness fanatics, the thrifty and eco-warriors, there are now 8m posts of pre-prepared meals on Instagram, arrayed in rows of colourful Tupperware. But is it good for you?

The relationship between food and social media was once straightforward. Those were the innocent days when no meal could be declared consumed unless it had also been photographed, filtered and posted on Instagram, when the world seemed merely a stage for avocado toast, açai bowls and barista art. It was a different time – a time before meal prep.

While meal prep has long existed, of course, it has grown in popularity over the past six years, aided by Instagram, where there are 8m posts with the hashtag #mealprep. Most show a variety of meals prepared for the week ahead – quinoa salads, chicken rice bowls, carrot sticks, broccoli florets, hulled strawberries – all displayed in a selection of artfully photographed Tupperware-style containers.

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19 June 2018, 5:00 am

Deaths of mentally ill rough sleepers in London rise sharply

Research finds 80% of rough sleepers who died in capital in 2017 had mental health needs compared with 29% in 2010

Deaths of rough sleepers with mental health problems have risen sharply over the last seven years, prompting concern that specialist services are not reaching those who need them.

Research released on Tuesday by the homeless charity St Mungo’s shows that four out of five (80%) rough sleepers who died in London in 2017 had mental health needs, an increase from three in 10 (29%) in 2010.

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18 June 2018, 11:01 pm

'It consumed my life': inside a gaming addiction treatment centre

As the World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition, one UK treatment centre reveals how it is trying to tackle the problem

Ian* was in his 20s when he started gaming in the mid-1990s. A long-time interest in building PCs had developed into an initially healthy interest in first-person shooters like Counter Strike and Team Fortress, which he’d play at weekends and when he came home from work.

It was the online element of these games, he says, that really changed his relationship to gaming, and what started as a hobby quickly took over his life.

When I got home on a Friday night, I would sit at the computer and I wouldn’t leave until Sunday night

Game makers are deliberately tapping into an addictive process

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18 June 2018, 1:20 pm

Ex-soldier killed himself weeks after friend's suicide

John Paul Finnigan and Kevin Williams both struggled with PTSD after serving in Iraq

Two former soldiers who killed themselves within weeks of each other should have received more support, the brother of one of the men has said.

John Paul Finnigan and Kevin Williams served together on the frontline in Iraq and formed an “undeniable bond”. When they left the army they both struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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17 June 2018, 1:12 pm

Yes, we can teach our children about technology, but let’s just ban phones in school | Sona Sodha

We need to provide safe spaces where kids can learn positive online behaviours

When I heard that Eton now requires its year 9s to hand in their mobile phones at bedtime, my immediate thought was I quite like the idea of a check-in, zone-out service that would confiscate my smartphone as the Love Island credits start to roll and return it in time for the 8am news bulletin. But if Eton expects its 13-year-old boarders to hand in their phones overnight, where are they the rest of the time? And why are older boys allowed to keep their phones overnight?

On schools and smartphones, I’m an enthusiastic proponent of the nanny state. After Emmanuel Macron made it a key pledge in his presidential campaign, the French government is banning mobile phones in schools altogether after September. In the UK, the decision is left to headteachers: some ban them, others take a more permissive approach.

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17 June 2018, 8:59 am

Why Dutch teenagers are among the happiest in the world

Teens in Netherlands regularly top life satisfaction tables, with schooling playing a big role

In a biology class at a secondary school near Rotterdam, Gerrit the skeleton is not the only one with a permanent grin.

The Groen van Prinstererlyceum, which first trialled happiness lessons a decade ago, teaches some of the least troubled teens in the world.

Related: Young people can be champions of change in mental health care

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17 June 2018, 7:00 am

Mental health patients still sent hundreds of miles for treatment

Despite government promises to end practice, figures show almost no change since 2016

Hundreds of mental health patients are being sent hundreds of miles from home to get treatment, despite ministers branding the practice damaging and unacceptable.

Latest NHS figures show that in February 650 adults in England had to travel for inpatient treatment, even though Jeremy Hunt, the health and social care secretary, has pledged to reduce, and eventually ban, out-of-area placements by 2020.

Between 2010-11 and 2016-17, health spending increased by an average of 1.2% above inflation and increases are due to continue in real terms at a similar rate until the end of this parliament. This is far below the annual inflation-proof growth rate that the NHS enjoyed before 2010 of almost 4% stretching back to the 1950s. As budgets tighten, NHS organisations have been struggling to live within their means. In the financial year 2015-16, acute trusts recorded a deficit of £2.6bn. This was reduced to £800m last year, though only after a £1.8bn bung from the Department of Health, which shows the deficit remained the same year on year.

Related: Figures reveal ‘alarming’ rise in injuries at mental health units

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16 June 2018, 8:05 pm

Flowers review – mental-health comedy blossoms into utter brilliance

The second series of Will Sharpe’s deeply imaginative comedy-drama has been serious and sensitive in its handling of difficult issues, and hilarious to boot.

It could have finished after the fifth episode on Thursday, and a performance of Amy’s manic, screamy music installation with her Pink Cuttlefish Orchestra. There was a chaotic sort of peace that seemed like a natural end to the second series of Will Sharpe’s deeply imaginative … thing. (Is it a comedy? A dramedy? Dromedary?)

But then, the next day, there was the sixth and final episode, set before the first series. Shun (Sharpe) turns up in a taxi, generous and innocent but carrying sadness and tragedy. He sees the weird world of the Flowers family for the first time, before they see him, and he immediately takes refuge under the family Volvo. Even potential death is a less frightening prospect. They find him though, in a narrow horizontal world under the car. Maurice (Julian Barratt) tries out a Japanese greeting, embarrassingly.

Related: Flowers: the hilarious ‘comedy with mental illness’ redefining sitcoms

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16 June 2018, 5:30 am

In dark times, we need heroes – this one is a raccoon | Hannah Jane Parkinson

In the interests of our collective mental health, we need good, fun news as well as bad – so thank you, MPR raccoon

The last time a raccoon hit global news, it was Conrad, the Toronto raccoon killed on the road (bear with me), which inspired a vigil in tribute. City services left the raccoon on the side of the road for so long that someone left a note and a rose by the body. Soon, a framed photograph of a raccoon popped up; a Sharpie was left to encourage written respects on a card; candles and flowers surrounded the corpse. The raccoon was named Conrad. Most people appreciated the offbeat humour in this; others complained that the raccoon was being “disrespected”, even though it had a better send-off than many humans.

But there can be no ambiguity over the heartwarming tale of what happened to the critter that became known as the MPR raccoon, which has captured the world’s attention over the past couple of days. MPR raccoon (named after Minnesota Public Radio) got stuck on a ledge. Raccoons, which tend to climb upwards when stressed, scaled 23 floors of an office building before getting tired and having a nap on a windowsill. Office workers, powerless behind their sealed-shut windows, took photographs of the raccoon, and cars the size of toys below, and discussed what to do to help.

@norm @311Toronto 8:20 pm. Come on, Animal Services. pic.twitter.com/3RPc1XdX50

Well it was a nice lake day until my dog nearly drowned my sister pic.twitter.com/ttBMcrM4cA

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14 June 2018, 3:44 pm

A doctor's dilemma: lock Susan up or let the streets claim her young life

She was a sex worker in her 20s with the health of an 80-year-old. Were we right to section her to stop her drug abuse?

We found our patient lying on a mattress on the floor of her room, naked and intoxicated with ketamine. Her speech was slurred and confused, her eyes roaming aimlessly, but she appeared happier than she had been for a while. Some other patients were with her, clearly substance affected.

My colleague and I tried to remain composed, but I had that slow sinking feeling that we had already lost control of the situation. I couldn’t remember the part of our induction where all your patients take drugs and you have to pretend like everything is still normal.

Related: Sam is a convicted paedophile … and a teenage girl

Related: My patient told me he is going to stab someone. There’s nothing I can do

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14 June 2018, 10:15 am

Social media firms 'must share child mental health costs'

NHS boss Simon Stevens warns of double epidemic of child mental health and obesity

Social media firms must share the burden with the health service as it battles mental health issues in young people, the head of NHS England has said.

Setting out the health service’s key priorities for the future as it marks its 70th year, Simon Stevens, the body’s chief executive, warned of a “double epidemic affecting our children” that also included obesity.

Between 2010-11 and 2016-17, health spending increased by an average of 1.2% above inflation and increases are due to continue in real terms at a similar rate until the end of this parliament. This is far below the annual inflation-proof growth rate that the NHS enjoyed before 2010 of almost 4% stretching back to the 1950s. As budgets tighten, NHS organisations have been struggling to live within their means. In the financial year 2015-16, acute trusts recorded a deficit of £2.6bn. This was reduced to £800m last year, though only after a £1.8bn bung from the Department of Health, which shows the deficit remained the same year on year.

If you have had stomach-shrinking surgery we would like to hear from you. What was your experience like? Did you find the procedure helpful or not?

Related: May to give NHS ‘significant’ cash boost, Jeremy Hunt reveals

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13 June 2018, 11:09 pm

Why are social workers excluded from new bill to protect emergency staff? | Ruth Allen

The profession works in risky, sometimes dangerous situations yet is treated differently to other emergency service colleagues

Social workers prioritise people who are most marginalised, desperate and often unhelped, overlooked and angry; as a consequence, we work often in risky, sometimes dangerous situations. Yet we are treated differently to other emergency service colleagues. Why?

In 2013 I wrote a piece describing social work as the forgotten emergency service. Six years on, judging by a bill moving through the House of Lords, it seems this is still the case. The assaults on emergency workers (offence) bill proposes a new offence in England and Wales of assaulting an emergency worker and looks to impose stiffer sentences for offenders.

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13 June 2018, 7:33 am

​​Want more people to get help? Make mental healthcare more affordable | Adele Perovic

Seeking treatment takes time and money and is often difficult to access for marginalised people

The recent deaths by suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have caused an outpouring of shock and grief on social media, and naturally raise questions as to how we can better support people with a mental illness at risk of self-harm. While sharing advice like “reach out to your friends and family” and “seek medical help” is undoubtedly positive, actually “getting help” in the Australian healthcare system can be both difficult to achieve, and very expensive.

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

Steps towards making our society more equal would help to improve the mental health of those most vulnerable

Related: NDIS failing people with severe mental health issues, new report warns

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13 June 2018, 2:06 am

How to support friends through their mental health struggles

If someone you know is finding the going tough, here’s what you can do to help them

Bristol University students and representatives have spoken up about the student mental health crisis and the state of provisions at the university. While student activists continue to push for better support, there are things we can do on the ground to support our friends who are struggling.

As Cambridge University Students’ Unions’ welfare and rights officer, a big part of my job is training students not only on mental health and wellbeing, but also on peer support. Alongside services, friends are well placed to help. We know each other better than service providers. We can be easier to open up to, serving as a bridge to getting more formal support.

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12 June 2018, 12:41 pm

Universities’ league table obsession triggers mental health crisis fears

Academics urged to open up about stress and anxiety over high-stakes research audit

Academic researcher John Banks (not his real name) still has big personal regrets about bowing to pressure from his former university in the run-up to the government’s last high-stakes audit of research.

Universities obsess about the government’s Research Excellence Framework, known as the Ref, with good reason. The four-yearly exercise determines not only where around £2bn a year of public funding will go, but where universities and individual departments will rank in league tables.

Related: I wish we could talk more openly about mental health in academia

Related: In UK universities there is a daily erosion of integrity | Stefan Collini

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12 June 2018, 6:15 am