Guardian Mental Health

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

The surge in wild swimming shows we are looking for something we’ve lost | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

It has become a social media cliche, but taking the plunge in lakes and the sea offers healing and the chance to reconnect with nature

The romantic poets – Coleridge, Byron, Keats – loved to swim. Swimming in open water offered the opportunity to connect with nature, nourish creativity, garner spiritual inspiration and experience the sublime. Their obsession was called hydromania, and it’s back. “Wild swimming”, as it is now known, is growing in popularity across the UK. It is increasingly featured in the press and on social media, often coupled with intensely romantic language. In publishing, memoirs about swimming and its ability to heal addiction and mental health problems have become their own niche genre.

Related: ‘I launch naked into the unknown’: writers on the joy of wild swimming

Related: Why wild swimming in depths of winter is the new natural high

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29 January 2020, 8:00 am

'Reducing stigma': could mental health days help California students?

A recently introduced bill would allow students time off to treat or attend to mental health needs, following similar moves in Oregon, Florida and Utah

Students in California may soon have the option of taking a mental health day.

Senate bill 849, written by the California state senator Anthony Portantino, would allow students time out of school to treat or attend to mental health needs without risk of being considered truant, an infraction that could lead to penalties for students and fines for parents.

Related: ‘I broke down’: new law will let students take mental health days

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28 January 2020, 6:03 pm

Disabled man starved to death after DWP stopped his benefits

MPs call for inquiry into case of Errol Graham, 57, who weighed 28.5kg when he was found dead

MPs and campaigners have called for an independent inquiry after it emerged a disabled man with a long history of mental illness starved to death just months after welfare officials stopped his out-of-work and housing benefits.

Errol Graham, a 57-year-old grandfather, and in his younger days a keen amateur footballer, weighed just four and a half stone (28.5kg) when his emaciated body was discovered by bailiffs who had broken down his front door to evict him for non-payment of rent.

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28 January 2020, 4:08 pm

One in 20 teachers have 'mental health problem lasting more than a year'

Report finds panic attacks and anxiety issues contributing to teachers leaving the profession

The government is being urged to monitor teachers’ wellbeing after research revealed that one in 20 are reporting mental health problems which last more than a year.

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first to examine the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England over three decades, based on data from more than 20,000 staff.

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28 January 2020, 12:01 am

Third of UK doctors report burnout and compassion fatigue

BMA says medics’ wellbeing is suffering as a result of strain on NHS

Almost a third of UK doctors may be suffering from burnout, stress and “compassion fatigue”, according to a survey that has raised concern about excessive workloads in the NHS.

A&E doctors and GPs are the most likely to feel burnt out. They have the highest levels of exhaustion and stress, the survey, published in the BMJ Open journal, found.

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27 January 2020, 11:30 pm

The harsh reality of nursing in the NHS | Letter

A student nurse currently on a placement says she loves the NHS, but experiencing how strained it really is before she starts practising as a qualified nurse is disheartening

And another patient through the doors; they’ve had a fall and can’t stand up. Then, a patient with a head injury who’s on blood thinners. Abdominal pain, raised temperature and confusion. The paramedic crew thinks sepsis, straight through to resus. Another fall. Loss of consciousness. Chest pain. They keep coming, an endless trail of trollies into the cliche of the overcrowded winter A&E department where I am on a student placement. Patients should move up to the ward as soon as they are stable. However, a lack of beds in the hospital results in a stalemate of patients queuing in the corridors, euphemistically termed “overflow”.

Transferring patients to the ward is a task that I can do as a student nurse, and is good practice for handing over when I am qualified – so as long as the patient is stable I am happy to photocopy the paperwork and manoeuvre the trolley out of the department. The calm of the wards is refreshing. One particular patient, however, starts vomiting as we arrive. Immediately, the atmosphere changes and the ward will no longer accept the patient. This is stressful for me and devastating for the patient, who has been waiting for hours, and only after a heated exchange between the ward and A&E do they agree to accept them. Wrangling over patients is not uncommon and I wonder if ward staff are really aware of how many patients their A&E colleagues are seeing and treating. The volume of patients is not unique to A&E, but the finite capacity of beds on a ward means they are sheltered from endless trollies of people waiting patiently and impatiently for treatment.

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27 January 2020, 6:03 pm

We should thank Fergal Keane for bearing witness to unbearable horrors | Suzanne Moore

The BBC reporter has revealed that his work has left him with PTSD. On Holocaust Memorial Day, we should remember the debt we owe to those who have experienced dreadful things on our behalf

Trauma, like its sibling stress, is a much-overused word these days. People are “stressed” by a full inbox or “traumatised” because they left their phone in an Uber. Maybe we underplay the reality of trauma because we cannot look it in the face. Our streets are full of bundles of rags in sleeping bags, with people inside. We could ask them about the trauma of abuse or addiction, but we scuttle past. This is not a blame game – we all cope by shutting down.

But what if you can’t shut down? What if you can’t forget? What if the horrors you have seen can’t be put in a box marked “the past”, but are ever-present? Then you are in trouble. It was tremendously brave, even for a brave man such as the BBC reporter Fergal Keane, to talk about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Keane had been dealing with this after decades of reporting from conflict zones all over the world. His colleague Jeremy Bowen has spoken of long period of depression and PTSD after his many years in the Middle East.

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27 January 2020, 5:53 pm

Please Like Me raised the bar for Australian TV comedy. It also tore my heart out | Benjamin Law

Not only did Josh Thomas’s show set the standard for The Family Law, but it gave us a new expectation of what TV comedy can do

What’s your most unforgettable Australian TV moment? Vote in our poll

On paper, Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me didn’t exactly scream “LOL”.

A half-hour comedy about mental illness (anxiety, depression, bipolar), the first episode of which opened with the main character coming out as gay and the suicide attempt of his mum? Not quite your classic Australian TV comedy.

Related: What’s the most unforgettable Australian TV moment? Vote in the Guardian’s #UnforgettableAusTV poll

Related: Josh Thomas on diversity, autism and pitching to America: ‘You have to be very vocal’

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27 January 2020, 4:30 pm

Figure skater Gracie Gold's three-year road back from the abyss

The Olympic bronze medalist and one-time face of US skating reflects on her emotional return to the national stage after three years battling an eating disorder and depression

Two and a half years ago, Gracie Gold was done with figure skating. The bedazzled costumes she’d worn so elegantly winning two US national titles and an Olympic bronze medal between 2014 and 2016 had been packed up and shipped back to her parents’ home. Her skates had been tucked away in the back of her closet: the blades hadn’t touched the ice in over five months and Gold figured they wouldn’t ever again, at least not competitively.

Related: Alysa Liu, 14, successfully defends US women’s figure skating title

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27 January 2020, 12:07 pm

Mental health care postcode lottery ‘is risking lives’

Data from NHS talking therapies programme shows patients waiting more than three months for treatment

People with mental health problems are being forced to wait 112 days for treatment through the NHS’s talking therapies programme – despite a supposed six-week maximum wait.

Delays in care facing those with anxiety and depression are so long in some parts of England that they could lead to people taking their own life, a leading expert in mental health has warned.

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26 January 2020, 8:21 am

Funding crisis stops referrals to veterans' mental health charity

Combat Stress says decision to turn down new cases was taken ‘with great sadness’

A mental health charity for military veterans is no longer able to take on new cases in England or Wales because of a funding crisis.

Combat Stress said its income has fallen from £16m to £10m in this financial year partly because of a cut in its NHS funding support, and said the decision to turn down new cases had been taken “with great sadness”.

Related: Thousands of military veterans ‘let down by medical discharge failures’

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25 January 2020, 9:29 am

YouTube moderators must sign contract acknowledging job could cause PTSD – report

Moderators required to sign form before accepting a job with subcontractor Accenture, according to report from the Verge

Content moderators for YouTube have received legal warnings the job may negatively affect their mental health and cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new report from the Verge found.

Social media sites are increasingly informing employees of the negative effects of moderation jobs following several reports on harrowing working conditions, including long hours viewing violent and sexually exploitative content with little mental health support. Before accepting a job with Accenture, a subcontractor that works with several social media companies and manages some YouTube moderators at a Texas facility, employees had to sign a form titled “Acknowledgement”, the Verge reported.

Related: As a Facebook moderator I saw the worst of humanity. We need to be valued | Chris Gray

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24 January 2020, 10:06 pm

My son’s girlfriend has an eating disorder. What can I do to help him?

He can’t sacrifice himself for his girlfriend, however ill she may get, says Annalisa Barbieri

Our teenage son’s girlfriend, who is also a teenager, has an eating disorder. She will shortly start a programme of intensive daily treatment, over several weeks. She also deals with added stress and suffered a significant bereavement a year ago. She has had therapy support over several years and, according to my son, does not confide in her therapist, preferring to talk to him, which makes him feel needed, from what I understand. She has a big family and a church support system.

Growing up with a younger brother who has special needs, both of our older children were raised to have more compassion for peers who experience disability and other struggles.

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24 January 2020, 3:00 pm

The rising tide of female gamblers need help. I know, I lost my home and job | Anonymous

Like most women, I’d never been to a bookies, but gambling through apps on my smartphone ravaged my life

A couple of clicks to bet on the football: a win. Little did I know that in such a short space of time those clicks would lead me to losing my home and my job. I started gambling during a period of intense loneliness in my life. I was in an abusive relationship and my self-esteem was at an all-time low.

My partner introduced me to online gambling in passing, sitting on the sofa one evening. It didn’t feel like a big deal, just something to do on your phone while the TV played in the background. I won the very first time I made a bet. It gave me an instant buzz – a feeling of gratification I think I had been missing in my life.

Related: ‘I was living a secret life’: the agonising rise of female gamblers

I thought I could win millions and escape somewhere. But the more I chased this hope, the worse the problems I was trying to escape from became

Related: Britain’s betting industry is out of control. A new gambling act must curb it | James Noyes

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24 January 2020, 12:26 pm

Madness in the movie: in defence of going gothic

Joker and new psychodrama Daniel Isn’t Real depict mental health issues in outré terms – but is there a benefit to this more expressionist approach?

It probably qualifies as a collective delusion that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a leading means of on-screen male wish-fulfilment in the 1980s. More than 30 years on, male wish-fulfilment still comes with those facilely superior Schwarzenegger features attached. His son, Patrick, plays the childhood imaginary friend who comes to the aid of a depressed student photographer in the new mental health-themed psychodrama Daniel Isn’t Real. At first, Daniel is egging on beleaguered Luke (Miles Robbins) to play the sensitive artist for the ladies; next thing, the alter ego is hijacking Luke’s body to engage in rough sex in underground tunnels and murdering his therapist.

Adam Egypt Mortimer’s film is good unclean fun, Luke’s psychological meltdown slathered all over in gooey effects. But, as you are probably gathering, it’s not the most sensitive depiction of mental illness ever made. It seems to pick up where Joker, another showboating work about a toxic proxy, left off. Medical professionals rounded on Todd Phillips’s film, accusing it of perpetuating “the hackneyed association between serious mental illness and extreme violence”. Into the same discourse, which is demanding greater care in terms of how mental health is represented on screen, swaggers Daniel Isn’t Real. It will face the same question: is this outré, batshit-crazy approach still acceptable?

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24 January 2020, 10:00 am

Taylor Swift discloses fight with eating disorder in new documentary

‘There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting,’ she tells Miss Americana director Lana Wilson

Taylor Swift has disclosed her experiences with an eating disorder in a new documentary. In Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, which received its premiere at the Sundance film festival last night, Swift says that she would starve herself to the extent that she felt as if she might pass out during live performances.

The 30-year-old star said she would make a list of everything she ate, exercised constantly and shrank to a UK size two; she is now a size 10. “I would have defended it to anybody who said ‘I’m concerned about you,’” she tells the film’s director, Lana Wilson.

Related: Taylor Swift: ‘I was literally about to break’

Related: From Taylor Swift to Parkland: 10 documentaries to watch in 2020

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24 January 2020, 9:32 am

Reducing the effects of inflammation | Letters

Dr Colin Sutherland says certain foods can be anti-inflammatory, while John O’Dwyer feels the link between inflammation and depression may have been overstated

Dr Edward Bullmore (Inflammation is the new frontier in public health, Journal, 20 January) is right in saying that inflammation “seems to be everywhere”. In fact, many of the diseases of ageing have been linked to the rise in three inflammatory cytokines that all of us secrete over the age of about 65. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, macular degeneration, muscle loss leading to frailty, dementia and type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, those living into their late 90s and longer secrete an anti-inflammatory cytokine. So these individuals are able to do naturally what Bullmore wants to do with drugs.

But I’d like to suggest a further way of reducing the effect of inflammatory cytokines. A wide body of published research details the anti-inflammatory effects of various foods. These include ginger and curcumin (from turmeric), green tea, omega 3 fatty acid (from oily fish and flaxseed), resveratrol (from grapes, berries, peanuts and red wine) and punicalagin (from pomegranate). These natural anti-inflammatory substances are also available as food supplements.

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23 January 2020, 6:20 pm

Do you know someone with dementia admitted to hospital as an emergency?

If a relative, friend or someone you care for with dementia was admitted to hospital, we want to hear what happened. Share your experiences

Do you know anyone with dementia who has been admitted to hospital as an emergency? If so, we’d like to hear from you. We’d also like to hear more about this issue from NHS staff.

Figures from NHS data showed that hospitals in England recorded more than 379,000 admissions of people with the condition during 2017/18. That was 100,000 more than the number of such patients admitted in 2012/13.

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22 January 2020, 4:29 pm

Nick Luxmoore obituary

My friend Nick Luxmoore, who has died unexpectedly aged 63, was a school counsellor and psychodrama psychotherapist. He published 12 books aimed at professionals working with young people, with some eye-catching titles including Horny and Hormonal, and Feeling Like Crap, wrote regularly for Psychology Today, and was widely respected as a supervisor and trainer.

Nick was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to Judith (nee Johnstone) and Christopher Luxmoore. His father was an Anglican priest whose many roles in the church included bishop of Bermuda and archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings. His religious upbringing instilled in Nick deep kindness and care for people. He was brought up in Trinidad, where his father was rector of Sangre Grande (1958-66), before attending Christ’s Hospital, a boarding school in Sussex, where he met his lifelong partner, Kathy Peto.

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22 January 2020, 12:56 pm

‘No one told us Kelvin had self-harmed. If we’d known we’d have tried to help’

Kelvin Speakman killed himself in the segregation unit at HMP Hewell in 2016, following a long history of mental illness. He was 30

Speakman and his four siblings spent most of his childhood in Wigan, in and out of foster and care homes. His mental ill health was exacerbated by drug and alcohol addiction.

In 2007, he was given an indeterminate sentence, called an imprisonment for public protection order, with a recommendation to serve a minimum of two years. IPPs – introduced in 2005 and scrapped in 2012 – were sentences designed to hold prisoners deemed to be a danger to the public until the parole board decided they were no longer a risk. But, like thousands of other prisoners, Speakman was held for much longer, and, was still in jail nine years on. In 2015, he was transferred to HMP Hewell in Worcestershire.

We knew he was frustrated at his lack of progress, but he always put on a brave face for us

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22 January 2020, 7:30 am