Guardian Mental Health

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

Inside the mind of a murderer: the power and limits of forensic psychiatry – podcast

When I was called in to assess Seb, I needed to understand why he had committed such a horrendous crime. But first I had to get him to talk. By Taj Nathan

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2 August 2021, 11:00 am

Tyrone Mings opens up about mental health struggles at Euro 2020

England and Aston Villa defender reveals he had crisis of self-confidence before opening game

The England footballer Tyrone Mings has revealed how he struggled with mental health problems at Euro 2020, with a crisis of self-confidence leaving him feeling like 95% of the country had doubts about him.

Mings, a defender for England and Aston Villa, said even after working hard with a psychologist he found it difficult to sleep before matches. He had stood in for Harry Maguire, who was recovering from an ankle injury, in England’s first two games against Croatia and Scotland.

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2 August 2021, 7:49 am

Wellbeing in decline in England as loneliness rises, report shows

Decline started before Covid pandemic and continued to drop as country entered first lockdown in March 2020

Wellbeing in England has decreased in the last year while loneliness and mistrust in government has increased, analysis of ONS data shows.

The new report from Carnegie UK comes in advance of the publication on Tuesday of the latest ONS GDP figures, which are expected to show that the UK economy grew in the second quarter of 2021.

Related: Virtual contact worse than no contact for over-60s in lockdown, says study

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1 August 2021, 11:00 pm

Serious questions raised by solitary confinement in prisons | Letters

Emma Ginn and Annie Viswanathan on the effect of solitary confinement on immigration detainees and Dean Kingham on prisoners abandoned to close supervision centres. Plus, Howard Thomas on steps towards sending fewer people to prison

Prolonged solitary confinement is an extreme form of treatment, prohibited in all circumstances under international law. Your article (Fifty-two prisoners in close supervision units ‘that may amount to torture’, 26 July) exposed this practice in highly restrictive prisons.

Prolonged solitary confinement has in fact become routine in all prisons during the pandemic, with many individuals being confined alone or with a cellmate for 22 to 24 hours each day since March 2020.

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1 August 2021, 4:26 pm

Ollie Pope says Ben Stokes decision shows how mentally tough elite sport is

  • Stokes has withdrawn from India series over mental wellbeing
  • Pope: ‘It’s sad but I think it’s a reminder to everyone’

Ollie Pope says the withdrawal of Ben Stokes for the Test series against India is a reminder of how mentally tough the demands of playing international sport are during a pandemic.

Stokes, England’s Test vice-captain and heartbeat of the team, has taken an indefinite break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and rest the left-index finger he fractured playing in the Indian Premier League in April. The all-rounder’s absence is a blow to England’s chances in the five-Test series against India that starts at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

Related: Ben Stokes takes indefinite break from cricket to ‘prioritise mental wellbeing’

Related: Jack Leach knows India series could secure his ticket to the Ashes

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1 August 2021, 3:01 pm

The Observer view on the plight facing children post-Covid | Observer editorial

This is quickly becoming no country for young people

The prime minister has touted “levelling up” as the overarching theme of his domestic policy agenda. But in no area is the hollowness of this commitment revealed more than in relation to children and young people. Throughout this pandemic, the government has disregarded the young. At almost every turn, it has failed to put in place adequate measures to reduce the impact of Covid, which has been hugely disruptive to their education and wellbeing.

And so it continues, with the government washing its hands of any responsibility for ensuring this month’s exam results are fair to young people, an ongoing lack of clarity about any requirement for university students to be double-vaccinated ahead of the start of term to attend in person and an ill-advised reform to vocational education that its own assessment says will disproportionately affect young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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1 August 2021, 5:00 am

Assaults on police in England and Wales rise above 100 a day during pandemic

Officer morale sinks in the 43 forces as attacks rise by 20% during the Covid crisis

A major increase in attacks on police has been recorded during the pandemic, according to official figures revealing that there were more than 100 assaults on officers in England and Wales every day.

With senior police figures warning that officers have faced deliberate spitting and coughing since the start of the crisis, it has emerged that there were 36,969 assaults on police in the year that followed the outbreak in March 2020. It represented a 20% rise on the previous year

Related: Police mock Johnson’s big crime plan: Politics Weekly podcast

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31 July 2021, 9:30 pm

It’s a year since my open-heart surgery. It took almost losing my life to rediscover my lust for it | Andrew Stafford

Though I wouldn’t recommend it as a solution to psychological trauma, it gave me a radical sense of perspective and gratitude

The scar on my chest is seven inches long. At the top of my sternum, the incision site, it’s white and waxy, slowly fading on its journey south. But the last inch is a raised, red, rubbery knob of keloid tissue – a constant reminder, not that I need it.

It will be a year on Tuesday since I underwent open-heart surgery. I have not been quite the same person since; something for which I am mostly profoundly thankful, as much as I am to still be alive.

Related: Music gave me something to believe in – and kept me alive

Related: ‘They were literally about to turn me off and on again’: Robert Webb on his brush with mortality

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31 July 2021, 8:00 pm

Revealed: the secret trauma that inspired German literary giant

WG Sebald’s writing on the Holocaust was driven by the anger and distress he felt over his father’s service in Hitler’s army

His books are saturated with despair. Over and over again, his emotionally traumatised characters are caught – inescapably – in plots that doom them to a life of anguish. Often, they kill themselves.

Now, the psychological wounds and suicidal thoughts that blighted WG Sebald’s own life and secretly inspired him to begin writing fiction are to be laid bare for the first time in a forthcoming biography.

That breakdown was crucial. It is then that he begins to write literary fiction

Related: WG Sebald’s quietly potent legacy

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31 July 2021, 5:00 pm

‘The assignment made me gulp’: Could talking to strangers change my life?

So often we interact with the world via phones and apps, but what if you struck up a conversation with a random person? A growing body of research suggests we should

It’s 7am on a Monday and my heart is racing. Normally my Mondays are reserved for tedious activities, but this morning I’m chasing a high. I’m not in a nightclub greeting sunrise with a tequila, sadly, but in an east London café. The source of my palpitations? I’m steeling myself to strike up a conversation with an unsuspecting man a few tables away.

Given that I’m a journalist who interviews people for a living, you might think I’m being overly dramatic. But talking to strangers can be terrifying. The unpredictability of how they will respond to your overture, and the possibility of rejection, is paralysing. Perhaps the worst fear of all: might they find me annoying?

We rarely interact with folks who don’t share our views – except to cancel them on Twitter

If they asked how I was, I replied honestly: hungover, stressed…

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31 July 2021, 3:00 pm

Deceuninck-Quick-Step manager makes light of domestic abuse in Bennett jibe

  • Lefevere: Bennett like ‘women who return home after abuse’
  • Rider set to re-sign for Bora-Hansgrohe two years after leaving

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step general manager, Patrick Lefevere, has likened Sam Bennett to “women who return home after domestic abuse” as the Irish sprinter prepares to leave the Belgian team for his old home at Bora-Hansgrohe.

The highly insensitive comments were made in Lefevere’s weekly column for the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad and come after Bennett, who won the points classification at the 2020 Tour de France during his first season with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, was unable to defend that green jersey due to a knee injury.

Related: German cycling director sent home over racial slur during Tokyo time trial

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31 July 2021, 2:47 pm

Insurer refuses widow’s payout plea after husband took his own life

The £338,000 claim was denied because the 49-year-old died eight days before a clause expired

The widow of a 49-year-old architect who unexpectedly took his own life has appealed to an insurance company to treat her family “fairly and with compassion” after it used its small print to decline her £338,000 life insurance claim. Had his death happened eight days later, the company would almost certainly have paid the claim.

Billie Lee-Smith, who has two daughters aged 10 and 16, now faces having to sell what she thought was her and her husband Tony’s dream home. They had taken out the policy with the insurer Aegon, which was designed to pay off their mortgage should anything happen to either of them.

Had they stayed with their previous life cover provider of many years, that policy would have paid out

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31 July 2021, 8:00 am

The knock that tears families apart: ‘They were at the door, telling me he had accessed indecent images of children’

Every month in the UK, hundreds of homes are visited by police officers dropping a bombshell: someone has been viewing images of child abuse. What happens to the families left behind?

It was an ordinary summer evening in 2016 for Emma when her ex-husband, Ben, dropped their young children back after a weekend visit at his place. The couple had been divorced for less than a year. Their split had brought with it the usual pain and sadness that comes when a long relationship ends, but things were amicable. He lived nearby in the town they had grown up in and saw the children almost daily.Emma was running a bath for the kids when she heard a knock on the door: “I thought he had forgotten something.” Instead, she was confronted by a female police officer, behind whom was her ex-husband, standing by his car, surrounded by plainclothes police.

“I immediately thought someone was dead,” Emma says. “The policewoman told me to settle the children in front of the TV and before she even had time to tell me what had happened, the senior officer came in, looked me in the eye and said: ‘I’m so sorry, life is never going to be the same again. The next few months are going to be hell.’ And then they told me they were arresting Ben for accessing indecent images of children. I felt like the world dropped away.”

This was not on my radar at all. The passwords on his computers, the time spent online – I thought he was having an affair

I was so shocked. It was as if I had lost my brother but worse. Every little memory of him was now tainted

No one in authority spoke to my children beyond one visit. The boxes were ticked immediately after their father’s arrest

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31 July 2021, 8:00 am

First Dog on the Moon is going to solve all of your problems* | First Dog on the Moon

*Important – if you are in actual agony please see a medical professional

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30 July 2021, 7:01 am

Simone Biles is forcing us to think about what sporting success really means | Cath Bishop

This astonishing athlete’s greatest triumph may be to make us confront the mental demands our culture puts on athletes

Simone Biles has given us many groundbreaking performances. This week she has pushed the boundaries of sport once more. Not by expanding her already extraordinary technical expertise as a gymnast but by challenging the persistent, macho narrative around what Olympic success and sporting strength should look like.

Biles follows tennis players Naomi Osaka at the French Open and Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon, who are unafraid to speak up in the global spotlight and place mental heath on the same level as physical health. Sadly, all have had their integrity, sporting prowess and character questioned. Michael Phelps revealed the extraordinary pressures and mental health struggles that he faced in a recent documentary called The Weight of Gold: the title says it all. Amid the stacks of gold medals and trophies, it’s hard to dismiss Phelps, Osaka or Biles as “weak losers” (unless you’re a certain brand of tabloid commentator). That means we have to think again. Surely we have had enough warning shots to realise the scale of the mental health crisis in sport – one that is also a mirror for wider society. It’s going to take more than a few extra wellbeing advisers to address the issue.

Cath Bishop is an Olympic rower, former diplomat and author of The Long Win: The search for a better way to succeed. She is an adviser to The True Athlete Project

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29 July 2021, 2:00 pm

Mental health memes are everywhere – can they offer more than comic relief?

Relatable jokes about trauma can help people feel less alone, but questions remain over how therapeutic they can truly be

When, more than a decade ago, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, I turned to the internet to learn more about my condition.

Back then, the effects of trauma weren’t exactly unknown, but they weren’t making headlines, either. Most of the information I found was on psychology websites, but it wasn’t until I went to the doctor and received my diagnosis that I fully understood what was happening to me. Public awareness of the condition was low – or at least, it wasn’t something that people spoke openly about. I felt very alone.

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29 July 2021, 9:00 am

The crushing mental toll of studying for the HSC in lockdown is sapping our motivation and hope | Max O'Connor

A two-week delay in the trials brought a flicker of joy for some year 12s, but for others, finishing major works seems impossible

Early July last year in the exam hall of Dulwich Hill High, it was quiet except for the scribbling of hundreds of pens over various trial HSC papers. Sitting directly adjacent to the hall, I remember playing hangman in year 11 biology, laughing with my mates about how horrid an HSC year spent studying in lockdown would be.

Related: Cautious welcome for rapid antigen tests to control Sydney Covid outbreak, despite reliability concerns

Related: Students in NSW stressed as Covid lockdowns disrupt school and year 12 trial exams

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29 July 2021, 5:57 am

Simone Biles and the rise of the ‘great refusal’ | Casey Gerald

Black public figures from Simone Biles to Naomi Osaka are helping us put one simple word at the top of our vocabulary: no

I can hardly do a proper cartwheel, so I’m hesitant to opine on Simone Biles’s decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics this week, telling the press and the world: “I have to focus on my mental health.” I can’t stay silent, though, because I know she’s not alone.

As a former college football player, I can imagine the psychological price Olympians pay to squeeze every ounce of greatness into a tiny window of life. As a Black man raised by a cadre of women, I can imagine the tax Black women pay because of our national commitment to “trust” them, which really just means “let them do all the work.” Or, in the case of Simone Biles, “let her put the whole country on her back”.

Casey Gerald is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here

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28 July 2021, 6:08 pm

Simone Biles receives praise for prioritising her mental health

Mental heath charities applaud Olympian’s stance after withdrawal from all-around gymnastics final

Mental health campaigners have applauded Simone Biles for prioritising her wellbeing after the world’s top gymnast withdrew from the women’s all-around gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles, 24, pulled out of the competition after a medical evaluation determined that she was not ready to compete, following her decision to leave the women’s team event on Tuesday.

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28 July 2021, 1:56 pm

Simone Biles wins all of my medals | Maeve Higgins

My heart soars imagining how much anguish will be sidestepped by girls and women who pay attention to Simon Biles’ wise words

This week was not the first time I watched Simone Biles in action and thought “Wow, I wish I could do that!” It was, however, the first time I thought I might actually be able to. I myself am a writer, making me the natural opposite of an athlete. As I slump in front of my laptop and watch her flip and twist and fly through the air, I am dazzled. But when she tells a barrage of cameras and microphones that she is withdrawing from the women’s team final mid-competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games to focus on her mental wellbeing? I am awe-struck. I sit up immediately and listen carefully to what she says, on her social media and during press conferences, and I learn over and over that you’re allowed to step back when you need to. I see from her demeanour that it’s an extremely difficult thing to do, but that it is possible. No matter how much pressure you’re under you can simply state your needs, make your health a priority and fundamentally not feel you must do what everyone else wants you to do. Forget about the Yurchenko double pike vault, it is that move – the defensive retreat, the protective step back – that wins her all of my medals.

Of course that’s a corny thing to say, and in any case I don’t have any medals except a battered one from my summer of 93 read-a-thon. Besides, Simone Biles stopped needing to win medals to prove her greatness a long time ago, although that has not stopped her from winning them. During the 2019 World Championships she won five gold medals and became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history. She is a once in a lifetime athlete, perhaps the best there’s ever been. Even in all this week’s furore, herself and her team won silver medals, an achievement as much hers as her three team-mates. The others were extremely clear on that, with one of her teammates, Jordan Chiles stating: “But at the end of the day, we did though,” she said. “This medal was definitely for her because if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here where we are right now.”

Maeve Higgins is a comedian and the author of Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else

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28 July 2021, 10:11 am