Guardian Mental Health

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

Women across UK denied mental healthcare around childbirth, say doctors

Millions of women are losers in ‘scandalous’ postcode lottery, researchers find

Millions of women across the UK are being denied vital NHS care to help them cope with mental health problems triggered by pregnancy and childbirth, doctors say. A “scandalous” postcode lottery means that pregnant women and new mothers in a quarter of Britain cannot access any specialist support to tackle conditions that can have a devastating effect on their lives.

The lack of services is so acute that women could end up taking their own lives because they do not receive help, according to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) of medical groups and childbirth campaigners. “The lack of provision of perinatal mental health services in some parts of the UK is scandalous,” said Dr Alain Gregoire, the alliance’s chair.

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18 April 2018, 11:01 pm

Couchsurfers at greater risk of suicide and self-harm than those on street, study suggests

Couchsurfers in Brisbane twice as likely to describe their mental health as poor than those sleeping rough

Young couchsurfers report having worse mental health and greater risk of suicide and self-harm than those sleeping on the streets, a study has found.

Preliminary results from a research project involving couchsurfers in Brisbane found they were twice as likely to describe their mental health as “poor” than those sleeping rough, and reported higher rates of suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviour.

Related: ‘Straight into homelessness’: housing plight of mentally ill Australians revealed

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

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17 April 2018, 6:00 pm

The lie pictures tell: an ex-model on the truth behind her perfect photos

‘In this image, in all of them, I marvel how little of myself is left. The more pieces of myself I lose, the more men I attract’

I sit in child’s pose on the carpet, my back inches away from the heater in the wall, cradling images of the girl I used to be. I cup her many faces in my hands, like water droplets threatening to spill through laced fingers.

Related: ‘My agents told me to stop eating’ – the reality of body image in modelling

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17 April 2018, 10:00 am

Students on how they are getting a raw deal | Letters

Letters: British university students Katrina Allen and Ben Dolbear lament their loss of teaching hours as a result of the lecturers’ strike. And pupil Romy McCarthy questions the usefulness of the GCSEs she is about to sit

I am an MA student on the journalism course at Birkbeck, University of London, fighting for compensation for lectures lost due to the staff strike. We paid £3,000 last term for services that were not provided. I wrote to the master of the university, David Latchman, about this and received no reply. I then wrote to the registrar and got this back: “Your tuition fees contribute towards your entire learning experience and are not directly linked to specific contact or teaching hours. Your tuition fees also cover infrastructure such as buildings, library and IT.” How can it possibly be stated that my entire learning experience is not diminished by a lack of lectures?

The university have taken my money and banked what they have not paid the lecturers, it seems. We have been told that the strike may affect lectures for the first two weeks of next term and could be ongoing. I have just been asked to pay my fees for the summer term. I don’t intend to throw more money at the university unless I get a promise of compensation if the strike is ongoing. I wonder if I’ll be thrown off the course?
Katrina Allen

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16 April 2018, 5:18 pm

What depressed robots can teach us about mental health | Zachary Mainen

The idea of a depressed computer may seem absurd – but artificial intelligence and the human brain share a vital feature

Depression seems a uniquely human way of suffering, but surprising new ways of thinking about it are coming from the field of artificial intelligence. Worldwide, over 350 million people have depression, and rates are climbing. The success of today’s generation of AI owes much to studies of the brain. Might AI return the favour and shed light on mental illness?

The central idea of computational neuroscience is that similar issues face any intelligent agent – human or artificial – and therefore call for similar sorts of solutions. Intelligence of any form is thought to depend on building a model of the world – a map of how things work that allows its owner to make predictions, plan and take actions to achieve its goals.

Related: Brain preservation is a step closer, but how could it ever be ‘you’? | Sue Blackmore

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16 April 2018, 1:04 pm

Bradford woman admits killing her 18-month-old son

Gemma Procter pleads guilty to manslaughter after boy falls from sixth floor of block of flats

A 23-year-old woman has admitted killing her 18-month-old son, who died after he fell from the sixth floor of a block of flats.

Elliot Procter was found with fatal injuries at the bottom of the Newcastle House flats in the Barkerend area of Bradford, West Yorkshire, in October last year.

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16 April 2018, 11:11 am

Thousands of patients to get personalised NHS budgets

Around 350,000 people could soon qualify for right to select and pay for treatments through bespoke care plan

Hundreds of thousands of people with mental health conditions and physical disabilities could be given the option of a personalised NHS budget for their own care needs under government proposals.

People with learning difficulties and dementia are among around 350,000 who could have the right to select and pay for treatments that improve their health and wellbeing through a bespoke care plan agreed with medical professionals. For children and people unable to manage the money, parents or carers will be able to manage the budget.

Related: Why are personal budgets not used more in mental health?

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15 April 2018, 11:18 pm

I've been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

Dr Luke Ong was five months away from becoming a GP when he made a simple error with his application to remain in the UK

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

Related: Man living in UK for 56 years loses job over immigration papers

I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

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13 April 2018, 4:42 pm

The Home Office asylum system is so bad it drove me to attempt suicide | Anonymous

The years it took for the government to recognise my right to be in the UK exacerbated my serious mental health problems

When I was a child, my father gave me a wind-up turtle. It was a souvenir he bought back from a trip to the UK in 1979 and I loved it so much that it inspired me to come and live here. I arrived in the UK in 2008 but, unlike my father who came to perform as a musician, I came to brighten my future with study. Drunk with love for England, I could never have predicted the hardship and trauma I would face at the hands of the Home Office.

I have long suffered from depression. I reached a point where my mental health was so poor that I was no longer able to study. Despite my obvious vulnerability, an application to extend my visa on mental health grounds was denied. I was devastated.

Once on a bus I received a text message from the Home Office telling me to return to my home country immediately

Related: ‘A lottery’: asylum system is unjust, say Home Office whistleblowers

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13 April 2018, 2:30 pm

Mariah Carey describes seeking treatment for bipolar disorder

The singer-songwriter told People magazine, ‘I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted’

Mariah Carey has discussed her experiences with bipolar disorder for the first time in an interview with US celebrity magazine People. The multimillion-selling singer said that she was first diagnosed with the disorder in 2001, when she was hospitalised for a physical and mental health breakdown: “I didn’t want to believe it.”

The singer, who is in her late 40s, said that it wasn’t until recently that she sought treatment following “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through”. In 2014, Carey separated from husband Nick Cannon, the rapper and TV host with whom she has twins, Moroccan and Monroe. In January 2016, she announced her engagement to Australian billionaire James Packer, but announced in October 2016 that the engagement had ended.

I’m grateful to be sharing this part of my journey with you. @MrJessCagle @people

Related: What is bipolar disorder? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Masuma Rahim

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11 April 2018, 12:35 pm

Rementia: is it possible to reverse the symptoms of early-stage dementia?

From recalling names to relearning how to make tea, occupational therapists can help people with dementia regain functions

As we get better at living longer, the number of people living with dementia rises. Globally, an estimated 46.8 million people live with the condition.

Related: ‘The spark will ignite’: how poetry helps engage people with dementia

Related: Dementia research must study care as well as cure

Related: Could the Montessori method help people with dementia?

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11 April 2018, 9:05 am

Teachers are at breaking point. It's time to push wellbeing up the agenda

The number of teachers seeking mental health support has risen by 35% in the past 12 months. Many of them are in crisis

When secondary school teacher Victoria broke down in front of her class, she realised the stress of the job had got too much. “I became exhausted,” she says. “I stepped into my classroom and instantly knew I couldn’t be there.” She called our charity’s helpline, which offers mental health support to those working in education. She’s just one of 8,668 people to have come to us for help in the past 12 months.

Related: ‘Every lesson is a battle’: Why teachers are lining up to leave

By turning the role into an unmanageable task, we risk alienating those with the passion and skill to succeed

Related: Join us: sign up for the Guardian Teacher Network newsletter

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10 April 2018, 11:30 am

Doctors knew my son was suicidal. I should have been told before he died

Professionals denied me the chance to be there for my boy when he needed me the most

Three years back I joined a club no one wants to be a member of. I became a parent who lost their child to suicide. He was 20. I didn’t think it was possible. I trusted his doctors to take good care of him. I trusted they would tell me if there was a real risk of him dying, given I was his mother and prime carer. I thought they had the expertise to identify and address a crisis when they saw it. Suicide was not in the script.

I turn the events around his sudden death over and over in my head, and it makes no sense. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 weeks before he died. Initially his response to medication was good but then he plunged into a deep dark depression, which I thought was being managed by his GP. All this time, he lived at home with me. None of the medical staff mentioned the word “suicide” at any stage.

A father was told by the GP: ‘Now that your son’s dead, I can tell you this wasn’t his first attempt at ending his life.

Related: My colleague’s suicide showed how vulnerable medical professionals can be

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10 April 2018, 8:46 am

Men who fail to equal parents' achievements 'suffer mental distress'

Failing to match educational accomplishments causes distress similar to a divorce, says study

Men who fail to match or exceed their parents’ educational achievements suffer levels of psychological distress similar to the impact of divorce, while women are largely unaffected, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Oxford analysed data from more than 50,000 people across the UK and 27 other mainly European countries to compare their psychological states with their educational achievements.

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9 April 2018, 11:01 pm

Mum has dementia and now Dad’s dead she will have to sell her home. Why? | Anne Penketh

Britain operates a cruel health lottery that discriminates against dementia patients. Struggling families need social care

When my father died suddenly in January at the age of 91, family and friends gave him a great send-off. We had a private cremation, an uplifting memorial service at church, and rounded off the day with a buffet at the golf club. The next day, Mum couldn’t remember anything about it. She kept asking whether Dad had died, how he had died, and obsessed about having to organise the funeral.

About 10 years ago Mum was diagnosed with dementia, the creeping and cruel illness that has stolen her short-term memory although not – yet – her vibrant personality. Thanks to round-the-clock care by my father, her memory problems worsened only gradually until his death. But in grief, her confusion has deepened significantly.

Related: Shops, cafes and round-the-clock care: life in a ‘dementia village’

Related: ‘The spark will ignite’: how poetry helps engage people with dementia

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9 April 2018, 9:00 am

About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny

In an excerpt from a speech about his new book The Shepherd’s Hut, the author says it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the race, the game, the fight
• Winton on writing ‘with my heart in my mouth’ – podcast

I don’t have any grand theory about masculinity. But I know a bit about boys. Partly because I’m at the beach and in the water a lot.

As a surfer you spend a lot of time bobbing about, waiting for something to happen. So eventually, you get talking. Or you listen to others talking. And I spend my work days alone, in a room with people who don’t exist, so these maritime conversations make up the bulk of my social life. And most of the people in the water are younger than me, some by 50 years or more.

Related: Tim Winton on men, boys and writing ‘with my heart in my mouth’ – Behind the Lines podcast

There’s a constant pressure to pull on the uniform of misogyny and join the Shithead Army

A man in manacles doesn’t fully understand the threat he poses to others

Related: Almost all violent extremists share one thing: their gender

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9 April 2018, 2:15 am

I never took my mental health for granted – now I’m reaping the rewards

Because of our history, there has never been a stigma in my family about seeking help from an expert, including a psychotherapist, a life coach and a hypnotherapist

The word “antidepressants” was part of my vocabulary before I was 10. A number of adults in my family, including my mum, were long-term takers. From a young age, I knew what Prozac was and remember playing with the boxes of St John’s Wort tablets that were stacked by the telephone. An elderly aunt had been sectioned in Ireland decades earlier – and remained incarcerated until her death – for what, these days, would probably be diagnosed as bipolar disorder and treated far more sensitively.

“All the females in our family are crazy,” my father has always tenderly joked, even telling my serious boyfriends when I brought them home. It would have been funnier if there wasn’t a lot of truth in the statement. It’s an interesting situation when you grow up with the knowledge that mental illness runs in your family – especially the women. Wondering if every down day, every rough patch could be something else entirely – the beginning of your psychological inheritance.

I must have been eight or nine when I remember first becoming obsessed with certain repetitive habits

I now have the power to reframe any negative situation and see the positives

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8 April 2018, 5:00 am

The cycling club helping homeless women regain independence

Two Sustrans staff members explain how offering residents of a women’s hostel the freedom of cycling is helping to improve their mental wellbeing

A cycling session at Queen Mary homeless women’s hostel in London starts with some reflection in the tea room. Eleven women discuss how they’re doing this week, how the cycling went for them last week and what they’re hoping to build on in today’s session. Then they push their bikes to a local basketball court to practise in the safety of an off-road environment. Supported by instructors from Westminster council’s training team, they practise riding by themselves; pushing off, cycling in a straight line, looking over one shoulder, turning, keeping going.

Related: Bike safety consultation shows someone in government might understand cycling

Related: ‘The feeling of freedom’: empowering Berlin’s refugee women through cycling

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6 April 2018, 6:15 am

NHS bodies told to boost mental health funds or face sanctions

Commissioning groups in England must answer to officials if they miss investment standard

NHS bodies that put too little money into improving mental health care have been threatened with sanctions in a crackdown intended to ensure more cash reaches the frontline.

NHS England has written to all 207 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to warn that they must deliver on a key NHS-wide funding pledge in order to meet the rising demand for help.

Related: Jeremy Corbyn accuses May of breaking mental health promise

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4 April 2018, 3:39 pm