Guardian Mental Health

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

Doctors’ failings on eating disorders ‘are costing lives’

Lack of training and understanding is leading to avoidable deaths, MPs warn

Lack of understanding of eating disorders among doctors is resulting in too many avoidable deaths, with medical staff receiving too little training, a parliamentary select committee has found.

Training on eating disorders in medical schools is limited to “just a few hours”, but junior doctors and GPs need significantly more, according to a report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee published on Tuesday.

Continue reading…

18 June 2019, 5:01 am

Universal credit is failing military veterans, study finds

Veterans with complex needs report overwhelmingly negative experiences of benefits system

Ex-service personnel with physical and mental health issues have described how they felt ignored and let down by their country after falling foul of a social security system that failed to offer adequate support when they fell on hard times.

Research has found that many armed forces veterans with complex needs report overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, fit-for-work tests used to gauge eligibility for disability benefits, and benefit sanctions.

Related: Spare a thought for Britain’s veterans left to battle their demons alone | Andy Price

Continue reading…

17 June 2019, 11:01 pm

Spotting mental health issues in schoolchildren | Letters

Readers react strongly to the news that Theresa May is to pledge new materials and guidance for teachers as part of a prevention initiative

The news that Theresa May is focusing on mental health training for teachers (Report, 17 June) left me speechless. As I read on in the paper about the failure of NHS care for children with autism, the closure of Sure Start centres, and the government’s weak and dishonest response to tackling climate change, and remembered previous articles about schools turning to charities for money to feed and clothe hungry pupils, it became clear that the issue is not that teachers don’t spot mental health problems, but that there is minimal interest from this government in tackling the causes of, or providing treatment for, these debilitating conditions. As thousands of parents can attest, diagnosing the need is not the issue.
Jill Wallis
Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

• Once again the government comes up with a new plan for teachers to do something they used to be able to do before the cuts. Creative subjects (art, drama, music, creative writing and film-making) have been cut from syllabuses, but teachers of these subjects know they are crucial spaces in which students explore and articulate things that interest, puzzle, frighten and inspire them. Most importantly, students do this with their friends and peers, supported and encouraged by a skilled and concerned adult.

Continue reading…

17 June 2019, 4:43 pm

It took me years to come out as bisexual. I just didn’t feel safe enough | Sharan Dhaliwal

Homophobic attacks will only add to the uncertainty felt by some LGBT people. It’s time to change the narrative

I came out last year, just before my 34th birthday, as a bisexual woman. As a result, I regularly hear from people asking what they should do because they’re getting older and, sometimes, are more frightened to come out. I understand. I wasn’t sure what to do for a long time – I didn’t know if I was going to be accepted or understood. As a 35-year-old who had been previously engaged to a cis man and as someone who could have never imagined being publicly happy with a woman or nonbinary person – I empthasise.

Coming out as bisexual – a misunderstood sexuality – added layers of insecurity and doubt. Will everyone think I’m just seeking attention? Do I just need more Instagram likes to make this go away? Just because I think Zoë Kravitz is beautiful does that really equate to being queer? Why didn’t you do this earlier?

Related: You saw me covered in blood on a bus. But do you get outraged about all homophobia? | Chris

Continue reading…

17 June 2019, 8:00 am

Heathrow's planes over Richmond Park would 'damage mental health'

Millions of people who use park face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour under plan

A psychologist who treats patients experiencing stress and anxiety with a dose of nature in Richmond Park says the expansion of Heathrow airport will be detrimental to mental health.

Heathrow will on Tuesday publish a consultation on its “master plan” for airport expansion, including environmental aspects of building a third runway.

Related: Heathrow expansion plan involves planes over Richmond Park

Related: Two-hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study

Continue reading…

17 June 2019, 7:45 am

Teachers to be trained to spot mental health issues early

PM to pledge new materials and guidance for schools as part of prevention initiative

Theresa May is to announce that all teachers in England and Wales will be trained to spot the early signs of mental health issues in children as part of a package of measures aimed at prioritising prevention.

With her premiership entering its final weeks, May is keen to salvage a domestic legacy from her three Brexit-dominated years in power.

Related: Mental health of pupils is ‘at crisis point’, teachers warn

Related: Mental health disorders on rise among children

Related: What is happening with children’s mental health?

Continue reading…

16 June 2019, 9:30 pm

NHS care providers left autistic children at risk of self-harm

Inquiry finds needs of highly troubled under-18s in Staffordshire were neglected

Potentially suicidal autistic children with mental health problems in Staffordshire have been left at risk of self-harm after receiving inadequate and unsafe care, according to a damning leaked internal NHS report.

An inquiry, sparked by parents’ serious concerns, found that the needs of highly troubled under-18s in the county were neglected as a result of significant failings in care provision by the two NHS-funded providers in the area.

Related: Respite care: families at breaking point as councils slash funds | Alicia Clegg

Continue reading…

16 June 2019, 5:18 pm

How dementia robbed me of my love of cooking

Wendy Mitchell wrote a bestselling memoir about having Alzheimer’s. Here she describes how the disease has changed her relationship with food

Some days there is not much that I remember. When the fog comes down, I don’t know what day it is. I don’t know the time, or even the year. Those are the very worst days and, thankfully, they are still relatively few. But on good days, my memory is challenging. You can tell me a secret and I’ll always keep it because I simply won’t remember. But one thing I never forget is that food used to mean so much more to me than it does now.

We think of food as fuel. At its heart, that is all it is. That is all it is to me now. These days I even have to set alarms on my iPad to remind me to eat – the part of my brain that feels hunger stopped working a long time ago. Yet, when you no longer get pleasure from food, you realise it is so much more than that. It’s how we show love as a parent, it’s how we bond with friends, it’s an apology for saying the wrong thing, it’s a welcome to the neighbourhood.

I made simple suppers that only required two hobs, then one, until I realised I couldn’t use the cooker any more

Continue reading…

16 June 2019, 10:30 am

Divided, pessimistic, angry: survey reveals bleak mood of pre-Brexit UK

‘I can’t recall such despair,’ says top pollster, and 72% of population fear divisions will get worse

Britain is a more polarised and pessimistic nation than it has been for decades, according to a survey that reveals a country torn apart by social class, geography and Brexit.

The survey by BritainThinks reveals an astonishing lack of faith in the political system among the British people, with less than 6% believing their politicians understand them. Some 75% say that UK politics is not fit for purpose.

Related: Brexit has made this country as anxious as I have ever known it

I’m hearing anxieties voiced in a way that I haven’t heard since the 1990s

Related: ‘We’re a divided kingdom now’: UK sinking into Brexit gloom

Continue reading…

15 June 2019, 7:51 pm

State of Mind remains crucial for rugby league players and the public | Aaron Bower

Ian Knott almost killed himself after retirement but now gives talks on behalf of the mental health charity

In September 2010 the rugby league world changed for ever with the death of Terry Newton, aged 31. It emerged that the former Great Britain hooker had taken his own life and for the first time in the sport’s history the welfare of players and the importance of their mental wellbeing had been brought into focus.

Where a player turns at the end of his career is often overlooked but Ian Knott knows more than most how the impact of an enforced retirement can lead to mental health problems. It is those experiences, plus the legacy of Newton’s death, that have helped create a movement that started in rugby league but has now spread across sport.

Continue reading…

15 June 2019, 10:59 am

Adwoa Aboah: ‘I thought I was hideous. I wanted to jump out of my skin’

The supermodel turned mental-health activist on how battling dyslexia, drugs and depression helped her find her voice

Adwoa Aboah’s clothes are causing a stir, and not – as you might expect from one of the world’s most recognisable models – in a fashion sense. Her team are worried that her black hoodie, featuring the colourful logo of a young, disruptive sportswear brand, won’t fit with the podcast she is recording about girls’ mental health when the pictures go up on Instagram.

Aboah’s not having it. “Nah – these are my boys,” she says, of the designers behind the hoodie. “Anyway, would you prefer the one I have on underneath?” She lifts her top to reveal a white T-shirt that says: “Blowjobs are real jobs.”

The trauma that surrounds you feeling like you were stupid is something that stays with you for a long time

As a girl, I saw myself as not-black-enough and not-white-enough. Finding ‘skin-colour’ tights was a thing I couldn’t do

With activism, you don’t go to bed and the job is done – you wake up and there are still the same problems

Continue reading…

15 June 2019, 9:00 am

Blue badge scheme now open to people with invisible disabilities

New guidance means those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety may be eligible for parking permit

People with invisible disabilities can now apply to use blue badge parking permits, the government has announced.

The Department for Transport (DfT) issued the new guidance on Saturday, advising that those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety disorders could be eligible for the scheme, which allows people to park closer to their destination.

Related: ‘Don’t dwell on what you can’t do’: travelling with disabilities

Continue reading…

15 June 2019, 6:00 am

A letter to… my dad, as he settles into a care home

‘When you confessed you were barricading yourself in your bedroom at night, we knew you couldn’t go on living alone’: the letter you always wanted to write

Last Friday was one of the most profound days of my life. You remembered you were going to try out a new living arrangement and had packed some carrier bags to be helpful. DVDs were mixed with food waste and clothes, but we sorted out what you needed. I worried about how you would react when we arrived at the home and saw people having lunch, some being fed, everyone a stranger. But you bravely took your seat at the table and tried to start a conversation about Elvis.

That no one answered you breaks my heart but, like you, they were hard-of-hearing. Still, you ate lots and later told me you liked this “hospital hotel”. That day and the next, as I hung around while you settled in, I learned what love looks like from the “family members” (staff). They explained to me that you are now more a “feeling person” than a “thinking person”, and that what you need most is love.

Related: A letter to… new mothers, from a health visitor

Continue reading…

15 June 2019, 5:45 am

Robin Smith: ‘I drank vodka from the bottle. There were no half measures’

Fearless against the West Indies pace attack, the former England batsman says playing was ‘easy’ but retirement left him drinking heavily and close to taking his own life

“I was sitting on the beach in Perth, with the Rendezvous hotel behind me, and I thought: ‘How am I going to end my life?’ Robin Smith says calmly. The former England Test batsman, who was renowned for his bravery against brutal fast bowling between 1988 and 1996, shows a deeper courage as he relives the darkest days of his life since he retired from cricket and moved to Australia.

On a dreary summer afternoon in London, Smith makes it feel as if we are on an empty beach on a winter evening in Perth. I can feel the pain that surged through him in 2013 as he drained a bottle of vodka. “I knew I should stop drinking,” he admits, “but it gave me an escape where I didn’t feel so guilty. Everything seemed slightly rosier because of that injection of vodka through my veins.”

Related: West Indies’ Jason Holder: ‘Hopefully we can bring the people of the region closer’

Related: Steve Harmison: ‘I didn’t want the public to know about my depression’

Sylvester Clarke was always the most sinister bowler. He was the most dangerous. He wanted to hit you

Related: Thomas Bjørn: ‘We are privileged with a good life but this is sport’s dark side’ | Donald McRae

Continue reading…

14 June 2019, 12:00 pm

Psychedelics, dance steps and giant snakes: inside the ayahuasca show

Ino Moxo, Peruvian choreographer Oscar Naters’s new show, aims to faithfully recreate the ritual experience of taking ayahuasca – so much so the performers took the hallucinogen in rehearsal

How do you imagine a choreographer begins to create a new show? Trying out steps, exploring a chosen theme or taking the cast into the countryside to ingest a powerful hallucinogen?

It was the last approach for Peruvian director Oscar Naters and his company Grupo Integro in the creation of Ino Moxo, a piece of visual theatre inspired by César Calvo’s 1981 novel The Three Halves of Ino Moxo, about a trek into the Amazon to visit a revered ayahuasca shaman. Ayahuasca is an astringent-tasting plant used in traditional healing that has powerful psychoactive effects. All of Naters’ performers had experienced ayahuasca before joining the cast, but they took part in rituals together in preparation for the show, which hopes to go some way to recreating their multisensory experience through a combination of visuals, sound, movement and ritual, making the audience part of the ceremony.

Ino Moxo is at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, 15-16 June, as part of Border Crossings’ Origins festival.

Continue reading…

14 June 2019, 9:04 am

Two-hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study

Researchers say simply sitting and enjoying the peace has mental and physical benefits

A two-hour “dose” of nature a week significantly boosts health and wellbeing, research suggests, even if you simply sit and enjoy the peace.

The physical and mental health benefits of time spent in parks, woods or the beach are well known, but the new research is the first major study into how long is needed to produce the effect. If confirmed by future research, two hours in nature could join five a day of fruit and veg and 150 minutes of exercise a week as official health advice.

Related: Natural health service: wildlife volunteers get mental health boost

Continue reading…

13 June 2019, 1:17 pm

Students support disclosure of mental illness to parents

Two-thirds say problems should be revealed in extreme circumstances, research finds

Two-thirds of students think mental health problems should be disclosed to their parents or guardians in “extreme circumstances”, according to research.

The yearly Student Academic Experience Survey, conducted by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute, asked students about mental health problems for the first time this year.

Continue reading…

12 June 2019, 11:01 pm

Counting calories in a maths test? The exam board should be ashamed

Trying to recover from an eating disorder is torturous. Setting a GCSE question about calories shows a profound ignorance of a deadly illness

Pick any item of food and I will tell you how many calories there are in it. It is not a skill I’m proud of; it’s not even a good party trick. It is a product of mental illness, one that I have battled with since childhood, which eventually got me admitted to an eating disorders unit at the age of 31.

This week, students sitting a GCSE maths exam were asked the question: “There are 84 calories in 100g of banana. There are 87 calories in 100g of yogurt. Priti has 60g of banana and 150g of yogurt for breakfast. Work out the total number of calories in this breakfast.”

Continue reading…

12 June 2019, 12:18 pm

Berating Nike for plus-size mannequins is no war on obesity – it's just war on bigger bodies | Nikki Stamp

No matter how much you weigh, being active is important and needs to be encouraged

When you think of activewear, you probably think of lean, tanned bodies with abs that look carved out of stone. And, for a lot of retailers of sportswear, this is reflected in the way these clothes are marketed – right down to the faceless mannequins in stores.

Not any more. Last week Nike proved its status as a disruptor when its London store introduced a female plus-size mannequin standing alongside a slender counterpart. The company introduced its plus-sized range back in 2017 but now shoppers of all body types can see the full and natural range that female bodies come in. The plus-size mannequins are being joined by mannequins with disabilities, another welcome addition to the generally exclusionary sportswear industry.

Related: Moving the body, boosting the mind: running your way to better mental health

Shaming them doesn’t translate into the health gains we pretend to be so desperately interested in

Related: Plus-size reinvented: ‘We were told to hide, wear a sack – now we want equality’

Continue reading…

12 June 2019, 3:45 am

One in five people in war zones have mental health conditions – WHO

World Health Organization says mental healthcare must be prioritised in such areas

One in five people living in areas beset by conflict have mental health conditions, according to data from the World Health Organization that suggests far more help for survivors is needed.

The figures are substantially higher than previously thought. Data published in 2016 suggested one in 16 people in conflict zones had mental health problems. But the WHO says its figures are more robust because they are based on 129 studies, of which 45 have not been included in estimates before.

Related: Mental illness: is there really a global epidemic?

Continue reading…

11 June 2019, 10:30 pm