Guardian Mental Health

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

I’m learning to live with my fear for my baby’s safety: it’s the price we pay for love | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Anxious expecting parents should know the terror doesn’t dwindle, but it does become more manageable as time passes

I write this from a house that is slowly emerging from Covid, which finally caught us after two and a half years of the pandemic. In some ways, nursing a small, sick baby with a sick husband while also very sick myself was a more hellish experience than childbirth. There were points at which I wondered how we would be able to care for him. Thankfully my mother arrived bearing Calpol and some seriously old-school cough syrup, and for the past week has been feeding us and nursing us, risking her own health in the process.

These challenges mean that I have been thinking rather a lot about fear and how it relates to parenthood. The baby’s history of breathing problems meant that I was genuinely frightened when we caught the virus, and though I knew it didn’t affect children much, a child I happen to know and love had a very severe reaction to the disease. That, as well as my son’s time in a newborn intensive care unit, made it difficult not to let myself become consumed by terror, and yet somehow I coped. While I was there, I saw some very sick babies and some very frightened parents. There was a moment in the bedroom, as I feverishly rocked him back and forth, when I semi-hallucinated all the women who had done the same with their own sick offspring. Most of us need only look at our own family trees to see multiple infant mortalities. In my own family’s history is a tale of returning home from burying one child to find another dead.

This all sounds rather dramatic, but I’m convinced these past tragedies are somehow encoded in us. They are, after all, part and parcel of the history of humanity, and in many parts of the world continue to be a living reality. Perhaps it’s why the other mothers I speak to admit that they, too, check their babies’ breathing in the night. How many times in the last few months have I placed my hand to my son’s chest to check that he still lives? It makes sense, though: it is only in the past century that we have been able to have much confidence that our babies will survive, and even then you have myriad terrifying, unpredictable threats: Sids, meningitis, polio – again.

Fear, my mother says, is the price we pay for love. The fear I feel that something will take my child away from me is so terrible that, like an eclipse, it’s better not to look directly at it. And yet I am not an especially neurotic mother and nowhere near as anxious as I thought I might be. My history of PTSD – which at one point manifested as health anxiety – meant I considered parenthood with trepidation. Would I be consumed by fear? Would I transmit that fear on to my baby? And yet the things we believe will happen do not always come to pass.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a Guardian columnist and author

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 300 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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4 July 2022, 2:19 pm

Woman suffering mental health crisis left waiting eight days in A&E

18-year-old had to sleep in chair at St Helier hospital in Sutton as no beds were available in NHS facilities

An 18-year-old woman suffering a mental health crisis was forced to wait eight-and-a-half days in A&E before getting a bed in a psychiatric hospital – believed to be the longest such wait seen in the NHS.

Louise (not her real name) had to be looked after by the police and security guards and sleep in a chair and on a mattress of the floor in the A&E at St Helier hospital in Sutton, south London, because no bed was available in a mental health facility.

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4 July 2022, 6:00 am

‘Dejected and desperate’: the ordeal of a mental health patient left in limbo

The parents of Louise, 18, describe her ordeal as she waited for mental health support in an NHS A&E for eight days

David and Angela, the parents of the 18-year-old woman who endured an eight-and-a-half day-long spell in A&E waiting for a mental health bed, describe her and their ordeal.

“Louise (name has been changed) has been experiencing mental health difficulties since October 2021. She was diagnosed soon after with ADHD and EUPD – emotionally unstable personality disorder. Since then she’s been admitted to hospital five times, each time for four to six weeks. Each admission had come after Louise has left home, threatened to harm herself and been picked up by the police under a section 136 order, which lets the police take you to be assessed at a ‘place of safety’, which is either a section 136 suite or A&E unit. We can’t praise the police highly enough for their speedy response and caring attitude when they are called.

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4 July 2022, 6:00 am

Medics battle relentless wave of trauma in Ukrainian town of Borodyanka

Psychologists are struggling to help stricken locals cope with PTSD while facing their own grief after intense bombing

Ludmilla Boiko can’t sleep. Every night, before going to bed, she takes pills that eventually shift her into unconsciousness. “No normal person can go through this and come out without traces,” she said.

Boiko knows better than most the psychological effects Russia’s invasion has had on people in Ukraine. As the director of a long-standing Ukrainian centre of psychology in Borodyanka, a town north of the capital Kyiv which was pummelled by Russian bombs and then occupied, Boiko is at the forefront of one of Ukraine’s biggest civilian challenges – helping a traumatised population cope with the horrors of a war that shows no sign of ending.

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3 July 2022, 8:45 am

TalkTV apologises to mental health charity over ‘plain wrong’ claims

Channel apologises to Mind after claiming charity funded legal fees of asylum seekers

Rupert Murdoch’s talkTV has apologised to Mind after claiming on-air that the mental health charity funded the legal fees of asylum seekers.

Presenter Mike Graham claimed on his show, The Independent Republic of Mike Graham, last month that the charity was claiming to fund mental health support while actually paying migrants’ legal fees.

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2 July 2022, 11:36 am

Vulnerable Australians ‘filled with dread’ over telehealth cuts

Decision to end a range of services on 30 June will lead to ‘avoidable suffering and distress’, medical practitioners say

Living through Covid-19 with inflammatory arthritis, telehealth has been the only way for Eliza Sorensen to safely access her routine medical appointments.

Sorensen is considered severely immunocompromised due to the medication she takes to control her chronic disease. She also lives with asthma.

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1 July 2022, 8:00 pm

High-street blood pressure checks promised in NHS England shake-up

Integrated care systems replace clinical commissioning groups and aim to catch conditions earlier

Blood pressure checks will be available in betting shops and specialists in children’s mental health drafted in to GP surgeries in some parts of England as part of a major shake-up of the NHS.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, pledged that 42 new “integrated care systems” (ICSs) launched on Friday would “transform” how healthcare is provided and cut avoidable deaths.

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1 July 2022, 5:00 am

Coroner issues warning on NHS mental health services after girl’s suicide

Coroner will write to health secretary after finding neglect led to death of 14-year-old Robyn Skilton in West Sussex

A coroner has said Britain is failing young people and more will die because of under-resourced mental health services, as she ruled that neglect led to the death of a 14-year-old girl.

Penelope Schofield, the senior coroner for West Sussex, said she would write to the health secretary, Sajid Javid, to raise concerns after the case of Robyn Skilton, who killed herself after being let down by “gross failures” in NHS mental health services.

In the UK, the youth suicide charity Papyrus can be contacted on 0800 068 4141 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org, and in the UK and Ireland Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. 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 June 2022, 10:44 am

Move yourself happy! How to exercise to boost your mood – whatever your fitness level

There are plenty of workouts to improve your physical health – but what if you are exercising to improve your mental health? Experts offer their tips

Everyone knows the benefits of exercise: stronger muscles, more energy, weight management, better sleep. A mood boost is often tacked on as a bonus. But there is stronger evidence than ever before that movement not only improves your mental health, but also protects it.

Depression is the fourth most serious disease worldwide, yet the psychological benefits of exercise have been overlooked, says Jack Raglin, a professor of kinesiology at the Indiana University’s School of Public Health: “The evidence just keeps on coming.”

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29 June 2022, 5:00 am

Shop workers blame cost of living stress for rising abuse

Violence towards customer-facing staff on increase again, says report, as new penalties come into force

Abuse and violence towards shop workers and service staff is on the rise again, research shows, with a quarter of those reporting hostility blaming the cost of living crisis putting increased stress on customers.

Figures from the trade body the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) revealed 44% of frontline retail staff have experienced hostility from customers in the past six months – up by a quarter from the figure of 35% in February.

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28 June 2022, 5:01 am

Warnings of mental health crisis among ‘Covid generation’ of students

Pandemic has had lasting impact on students’ wellbeing and problem is getting worse, say UK experts

The pandemic has had a lasting legacy on the mental health of the “Covid generation” of students, exacerbating rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm and resulting in a “significant rise” in young people struggling at university, experts have said.

UK universities have reported that more students are experiencing mental health problems in the aftermath of the pandemic, and that this is expected to continue with the cohort arriving in September, whose school experience was heavily disrupted by the pandemic.

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27 June 2022, 11:01 pm

Living on a Thin Line by Dave Davies review – a Kink in his armour

This powerful tell-all from the Kinks guitarist puts the spotlight on his own bad behaviour, dalliances with the occult and his recovery from a stroke

Dave Davies, co-founder of the Kinks, has had a life of era-appropriate excess and lived to be contrite about it. This new and updated memoir – a previous account, Kink, was published in 1997 – has its origins in a period of intense rehabilitation and re-evaluation prompted by a stroke the guitarist suffered in 2013. This firebrand once slashed the speaker cone of an amp with a razor blade to get the distorted sound on one of the most electrifying riffs in rock – You Really Got Me. After his stroke, he had to completely relearn how to play guitar. His enthusiasm for neuroplasticity – the way in which the brain lays down new pathways – is one of the book’s more endearing aspects.

If the past is absolutely another country, the rock past seems more foreign still with every passing hour. Where once rock’n’roll was a viable and heroic alternative to square life, the egregious behaviours enabled by fame’s warped power and cartloads of drugs make for increasingly uncomfortable reading now: it was an era of rampaging ids with little accountability. The arc here is redemptive, though; the focus very much on Davies’s own stormy internal weather.

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27 June 2022, 6:00 am

Seed funding: Melbourne startup raises $9m for mental wellness game based on tending houseplants

Funding for Kinder World mobile app said to be largest venture capital seed investment for game studio founded by women in Australia

A Melbourne startup has raised $9m in funding for a mobile game aimed at mental wellness in what is said to be the largest venture capital seed investment for a game studio founded by women in Australia.

Lumi Interactive has been developing Kinder World since 2020. Its players take care of houseplants – which can’t be killed, and won’t die if they leave the game for too long. There are emotional check-ins where they can write down how they are feeling, or express daily gratitude, and message-in-a-bottle type kindness notes can be left for other players.

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26 June 2022, 5:30 pm

‘I can’t stay. It’s not enough’: why are teachers leaving Australian schools?

Australia is facing mass teacher unrest and an exodus from the profession. Teachers on the cusp of leaving explain why

No educator is surprised by the teacher drought Australia is now in. They’ve been watching the landscape change over the years, observing the weather patterns that don’t bode well. And now they’re leaving. Rivers of teachers drying up and no rain in sight.

Why does a teacher shortage occur? Ultimately, it’s because our education system is operating under a business model which treats students and parents as customers and teachers as expendable workers expected to function as told, rather than as autonomous professionals tasked with the unique and complex responsibility of guiding young people’s learning.

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26 June 2022, 5:30 pm

Sajid Javid tells of heartache over brother’s suicide

Health secretary urges men to discuss mental health and to ‘seek help’ when they need to

Sajid Javid has urged men to speak out about their mental health as he spoke publicly for the first time about the loss of his brother, who took his own life.

The health secretary said he still wonders if he could have acted to prevent his brother’s death, and spoke of his “deeply personal” mission to prevent suicides. Javid’s brother, Tariq, 51, took his own life in a hotel near Horsham, West Sussex, in July 2018.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email 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 June 2022, 1:30 pm

UK health services failing south Asian people with dementia, says report

Exclusive: Outdated system designed for white British patients leads to inequalities in diagnosis, care and support, review finds

Thousands of south Asian people with dementia are being failed by outdated health and care services designed for white British patients, according to an alarming review that warns the UK is “woefully unprepared” to cope with a predicted sevenfold increase in cases.

People of south Asian heritage in the UK are more likely to develop the disease than the general population due to their higher risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, that increase the risk of dementia.

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26 June 2022, 1:10 pm

It’s time for US small businesses to care about mental health

A recent survey and a legal case in Kentucky highlight the necessity for providing additional health benefits

Recently, the Society of Human Resources Executives surveyed approximately 3,100 HR executives about the benefits their companies are providing and of course the obvious ones – healthcare, retirement and paid time off – made the top of the list. But here’s something that should catch your attention if you’re a small business owner: more than 91% of the respondents also said that their company provides some sort of health benefits for mental health, which is up from 86% in 2018 and significantly higher than any levels seen over the past decade.

This is not hard to understand. Thanks to the pandemic and other stresses of modern-day life, countless Americans are suffering from mental health challenges. Awareness of the issue has been rising over the past few years, thanks in part to public disclosures by celebrities, from tennis star Naomi Osaka to gymnast Simone Biles. Survey after survey reminds employers that their workers are increasingly stressed and that more attention needs to be paid to their mental health concerns.

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26 June 2022, 10:00 am

Brain damage claim leads to new row over electroshock therapy

Experts divided on effectiveness of ECT and concerned by overuse in women and the elderly

It is one of the most dramatic techniques employed in modern psychiatry. An electric shock is administered to the brains of individuals who are suffering from depression.

But electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is controversial among some psychologists and is now the focus of a huge row – which erupted last week – over claims that it can trigger brain damage, that guidelines covering its use are weak and that it is used disproportionately on women and the elderly.

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26 June 2022, 8:00 am

‘Don’t worry!' 'He’ll be right’: Why do we say all the wrong things to parents of children with a disability? | Ellen Fanning

The golden rule of supporting others is understand first, solve second – most of the time people are looking to feel heard rather than be fixed

I remember the feeling: the well-meaning friend trying to offer reassurance about my toddler, which left me feeling dismissed, deflated and alone.

“Don’t worry! He’ll be right! Einstein didn’t talk till he was four! Did you know that?”

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25 June 2022, 8:00 pm

It’s frightening what happens to patients in Victoria’s mental health units. Change is overdue | Simon Katterl

Embedding human rights laws across the health systems of our states is long overdue and holds great promise

Out the front of every psychiatric unit, before starting work, I would take a Valium, beta blockers (to rest my heart rate) and keep some smokes on hand. Being an advocate for people on compulsory treatment orders across most metropolitan psychiatric units was a scary experience, but not for the reasons you’ve been taught to believe.

Violence pervades mental health units. But unlike what you’ve been told in the media, most of it is done to people with lived experience of mental health challenges.

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25 June 2022, 8:00 pm