People with mental health issues are being expected to “prove it” as never before. Whether, as individuals, being assessed for disability benefits or, collectively, campaigning for services and adequate welfare provision, the pressure to demonstrate genuine need, to prove that one is “really disabled”, to quote the Tory MP George Freeman, is greater than ever.
The invisible nature of mental health problems, the fact that they do not show up on an x-ray, that no blood test can diagnose depression, underlies much of the discrimination people with mental health issues face. Humans are strongly predisposed to believe in what they can see. For many people, it is hard to accept that severe anxiety, for example, might incapacitate someone from leaving their house as genuinely as if they were suffering from a physical paralysis. The fact that the problem cannot be seen makes it easier to dismiss. They could, if they really wanted to; they’re just not trying hard enough; everyone gets stressed sometimes, and so on. Of course, the help a person with...
Regulator concerned for safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm at Priory hospital, which treated stars including Amy Winehouse
A private mental healthcare clinic that treated celebrity patients such as Lily Allen, Johnny Depp and Amy Winehouse has been ordered to make improvements amid concerns for the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.
The Priory hospital is based in a Grade II-listed building in Roehampton, south-west London.
Related: Child deaths in Priory hospitals provoke calls to cancel NHS contract
Related: US-owned Acadia Healthcare buys the Priory for £1.28bnContinue reading...
Family of man with mental illness who died after being restrained in custody say situation was ‘clearly a medical crisis, not a criminal one’
The ordeal began for Thomas Orchard’s mother, Alison, as she strolled beside a river in Devon in October 2012. She took a call from her son’s social worker saying he had missed an appointment for a mental health assessment.
Related: Thomas Orchard death: police cleared of manslaughterContinue reading...
Men of my age often feel trapped between one group of people telling us to “man up” and another suggesting that our plight is less grave than that of others. Indeed, many will probably shrug when they learn that a new study suggests that a quarter of men between 18 and 24 have a gambling problem. Yet it does not take a genius to see a link between gambling and millennial males’ current place in society. We are a group lacking hope – and gambling is just one symptom.
My demographic is gambling for a number of reasons – some of them innocent – but economics and mental health are crucial. Of course, the cause of minority groups are generally more pressing than that of millennial men – we should not feel uneasy about asking not to be forgotten, while advocating other progressive issues. It is coherent to champion both.
16% of young men think that no matter how hard they try, their life will amount to nothing
Related: Revealed: the 30-year economic betrayal dragging down Generation Y’s incomeContinue...
At Suicide Crisis we build personal connections so people trust us when they need to call someone at 3am
It took just minutes for a deeply traumatic experience in March 2012 to fracture my life. I experienced such terror during those moments that I couldn’t sit with my back to a door for weeks. I was convinced that someone would come in and harm me. The event replayed constantly in my mind. I couldn’t escape. I was in the grip of severe post-traumatic stress disorder and within days I was at the point of suicide.
I called my out of hours GP and was referred to a mental health crisis and home treatment team, but I found it hard to connect with the number of different people involved in my care. Their methods were very practical. They would tell me to distract myself when I felt suicidal. But what I wanted was emotional support from a team who knew and understood me as an individual. The clinical distance of psychiatric staff left me feeling detached and alone
Related: Losing my husband inspired me to tackle farming's suicide problem
One of our clients says he carries us in his pocket. He feels that we are always with him
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Retailer to host fortnightly ‘Frazzled Cafes’ in 11 stores at which people can share their stories
Marks & Spencer is to host mental health drop-ins in its store cafes as part of an initiative designed to soothe stressed shoppers.
The Frazzled Cafe project is fronted by the comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax. The fortnightly sessions, which will be hosted by trained volunteers in restaurants that have closed for the day, will initially be held in 11 stores with more locations to be added in the coming months. The branches taking part include three in London as well as outlets in Nottingham, Leeds and Newcastle.
Related: M&S enjoys cracking Christmas as clothing sales riseContinue reading...
Scrolling through Twitter last night, I wondered why I felt so well. Not smug, just mystified by a mental and physical glow that made me strangely impervious to the toxic aspects of social media.
Related: Warning: living in a city could seriously damage your health | Florence WilliamsContinue reading...
Sergeant and two detention officers found not guilty over death of Orchard after he was restrained at Exeter police station
Three Devon and Cornwall police staff have been cleared by a jury at Bristol crown court of the manslaughter of a man with mental health issues who collapsed while in custody after a heavy webbing belt was placed around his face.
Thomas Orchard suffered a cardiac arrest and brain damage after the belt was held across his face for more than five minutes.
Related: 'He was really really let down': Thomas Orchard's family speak outContinue reading...
The case of Marine A has highlighted how stress can affect soldiers on active duty. If you or anyone you know has been affected by PTSD or mental health issues, we’d like to hear from you. Share your experiences
In 2011 the British army were deployed in two major conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan. The intense fighting experienced by soldiers on the frontline in places like Helmand province in Afghanistan were well-documented. However the psychological impact of troops returning time and time again to the frontline is less well known.
Though Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been understood as a condition of war for a longtime, it can often go under-reported. Charities such as The Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes and Combat Stress have gone a long way towards supporting soldiers with PTSD and other mental health issues, however the condition can still carry a stigma, which may prevent those on active duty and even soldiers who have retired, from reporting it.Continue reading...
Residents of high-rise blocks tend to suffer from more stress, mental health difficulties and neurosis
Prof Colin Ellard was walking past the rows of new-build towers that dominate the west of central Toronto when he had a sudden realisation. “I was struck by how dark, sombre and sad these new urban canyons made me feel,” he says.
Ellard, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada who studies the impact of places on the brain and body, wanted to know why he felt like that – and if others felt the same.
Related: Can prefab homes solve UK's housing crisis?
Related: London's changing skyline: planned tall buildings 'almost double in two years'Continue reading...
Sarah needed medication but could not see that she was unwell. Restraint in her case was planned and not some awful mistake
People imagine mental health nurses like me as kind and gentle, as mother figures in uniform. What they don’t see is the harm we do to our patients: we lock them away, we restrain them and we take away their freedom. We do this in line with the law and we firmly believe we are doing the right thing. We are not “nice”, but when I look at my colleagues, I see strong, selfless, determined heroes.
I wish I could offer service users something better: a peaceful outdoor space, their own room, something less clinical than easy wipe armchairs. Most of them do not even agree that they are unwell and this deeply felt sense of injustice permeates the ward.
Related: End humiliating restraint of mentally ill people, say charities
Related: We need safe, compassionate mental health care | Norman LambContinue reading...
Select committee also calls for news media to stop raising awareness of methods, which puts vulnerable people at risk
Greater restrictions should be placed on the portrayal of suicide in TV dramas to prevent encouraging copycats, say MPs.
In a report on the government’s suicide prevention strategy, the House of Commons health select committee, chaired by the Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, raises fears that irresponsible media coverage has a damaging effect on vulnerable people.
Related: After my suicide crisis I set up a centre to give others a safety net | Joy HibbinsContinue reading...
Marian “Billy” Lindkvist, who has died aged 97, was a pioneer in the use of drama and movement in therapy. The method she created, known as the Sesame approach, involves the use of touch, story enactment, improvisation and non-verbal communication to help people with various cognitive and mental health conditions.
Developed by Billy in the 1960s in conjunction with sympathetic actors and health professionals, Sesame acquired its own institute in 1971, responsible over the years for training hundreds of people in its disciplines, which have been successfully taken into hospitals, day centres and community settings. Billy was for many years director of the Sesame Institute in London, as well as a teacher on its course, which evolved into the MA in drama and movement therapy currently taught at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.Continue reading...
The prison and courts bill has its second reading in parliament tomorow. For the first time, the purpose of prisons will be enshrined in law. We support the Royal College of Psychiatrists in urging the government to ensure prisons meet the mental and physical health needs of prisoners. Almost a quarter of the prison population suffers from personality disorders, bipolar disorder or depression. Prisoners will eventually return to the community. When they are released, any untreated mental illness is released with them. Prisons must be clearly responsible for tackling the mental disorders, which if left untreated, could cause prisoners to reoffend. The prison and courts bill is an opportunity to prevent prison suicide, reduce reoffending and foster rehabilitation. We urge the government not to waste it.
Norman Lamb MP Lib Dem health lead, Richard Burgon MP Shadow secretary of state for Justice, Dan Poulter MP Former health minister (Conservative), Kate Green MP Vice-chair, all-party parliamentary group on penal affairs (Labour), Johnny Mercer MP Vice-chair, APPG on mental health (Conservative)
• There are several reasons which couldhelp the governmentto explain why England and...
As we live longer, the numbers of people needing care is also soaring. So what help can those trying to access a creaking, cash-starved system expect?
When I was 16, I spent two months in Italy with my maternal grandparents – then both 88. My grandmother had fallen over some months previously and was bedridden, but my grandfather was still active, physically and mentally; we would regularly play Scopa – an Italian card game – together. His memory rendered him unbeatable.
The family would take it in turns to attend to my grandmother; the more senior adults doing the more serious jobs such as cleaning her, with me doing the softer jobs: combing her hair, giving her a manicure, applying lip salve. When she was very sick, my young cousins and I took it in turns to do the nights. The community nurse, Sabino, visited daily, taking coffee with us in between administering medications. Thirty years later, we are still friends with him. Both grandparents died aged 89, cared for almost exclusively at home (at the very end, my grandfather went to hospital) and by the family.
Related: Paying for care at home: how to negotiate the minefield
Get cancer and your care is paid for. Get dementia...
Figures for deaths in England suggest highest risk among women is for those employed in culture, media and sport
Men working in the construction industry and women employed in culture, media and sport, healthcare and primary school teaching are at the highest risk of suicide, official figures for England suggest.
Related: Strong link between disadvantage and suicide, says SamaritansContinue reading...
Letter from finance chief Paul Baumann says contingency of £800m will be used to offset hospital overspends
Ministers have been accused of breaking their promises on mental health after £800m earmarked to improve services was diverted to shore up hospitals’ finances.
A leading mental health charity and the Labour party said redirecting the money would hit patient care and hinder the drive, backed by Theresa May, to improve care for people with serious mental health problems.Continue reading...
Almost three-quarters of prisoners in England faced delays being transferred to a mental health unit, according to official Department of Health figures
Almost 75% of prisoners are facing delays in being transferred to NHS hospitals to receive urgent treatment for serious mental health problems.
Prisoners in England who need to spend time as an inpatient in a mental health unit are meant to be taken there within 14 days of doctors admitting them. But new official figures show that barely one in four of the prisoners who received such care last year were transferred within the supposed maximum two weeks.
Related: Britain’s prison suicide crisis: ‘There’s no political will. Dead prisoners do not win votes’Continue reading...
The government’s priorities about the “really disabled” (Report 26 February) are, not untypically, ill-informed, inhuman and discriminatory. They are clearly motivated by ill-conceived economic deficit-reduction motives, as articulated by Patrick McLoughlin: “We’ve got to reduce the deficit… we’ve got to reward those people who work, and that’s what we are doing.” It also signal yet another attempt to use political brute force to overrule the judiciary, which, on this occasion, dared to recognise the disabling effects of mental ill-health.
Punishing those who are not “really” disabled who cannot presently work because of mental ill-health (or other disabling circumstances and conditions) will, in the long term, cause significant hardship and distress – not just for those who become economically disabled on top of everything else, but to the economy overall. What did Theresa May say on the steps of No 10 as she moved in? Did she “really” mean what she said about “fighting burning injustice” and “if you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand”? Can she and her colleagues be held to account on this and other matters of state?
Dr Simon Gibbs
Tory MP George Freeman, who is director of Theresa May’s policy unit, is under fire for his comments on BBC 5 Live regarding proposed reforms to personal independence payments (PIPs). “We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it,” he said, explaining how reforms are needed to stop the government being responsible for a deficit of over £3.6bn. Those who don’t need it, apparently, are “people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”, labelling tribunal decisions that the Department for Work and Pensions should expand the reach of PIP as “bizarre”.
Related: Welfare funds must serve 'really disabled' people, says MP
Anxiety is a symptom (or rather, a vast collection thereof) of almost every kind of mental health problem
Related: PIP is a disaster for disabled people. At last the full horror is emerging | Frances RyanContinue reading...
Proposed funding cuts to supported housing in the community show a damaging lack of joined-up thinking on health and social care
Imagine this. You’ve suffered a debilitating mental illness, you’re admitted to hospital and, after weeks or months of treatment, you’re finally deemed stable enough to go home. Only, you can’t – the home you need in the community is not available.
As a psychiatrist, this is a situation I and many others around the country encounter almost daily. Even when patients are ready to leave hospital, a notable number don’t have the specialist supported housing they need to take that step.
Money can be spent more efficiently when people are in the right setting for their level of needContinue reading...
Refusing to discuss why colleagues go off sick exacerbates the stigma and stops people opening up
It’s a surreal experience when a colleague takes time off due to mental illness. It’s like some clichéd sci-fi episode where one by one those around you start to vanish and only you can remember them. The key difference being that in those shows, the issue seems to end up resolved. In reality, any attempt to even discuss the problem is met with, in my experience and seemingly that of others too, a wall of silence akin to people sticking their fingers in their ears and humming loudly.
In the past, the first time I’ve become aware that a colleague is unwell is when management gives myself and other colleagues part of their former role – with no explanation as to why. This is when the peculiar and vague language kicks in. My attempts to discuss such situations have been met with phrases like “I think they were feeling a little overwhelmed” and “struggling to cope”, alongside an almost-smile of feigned compassion.
Related: I can never get university HR teams to take mental health seriously
Related: Dark thoughts: why mental illness is on the rise in academiaContinue...
When a woman or girl is admitted to a mental health unit, her expectation should be of a caring, supportive environment where she can get the treatment she needs to get better. Unfortunately, we now know from Agenda’s latest research on restraint that many are instead in an environment where physical force has become shockingly routine.
Agenda is an alliance of more than 70 organisations campaigning on behalf of women and girls at risk. We decided to ask for data about the use of restraint because previous research we carried out on mental health trusts’ strategies and policies – as part of our Women in Mind campaign – showed that most were failing to take into account women’s specific needs.
Being physically held down and having your clothes pulled out of place can be an extremely humiliating experienceContinue reading...
A new poll shows a quarter of young men have self-harmed or drunk heavily to cope with stress. Share your experiences
A quarter of young men self-harm to cope with depression, stress and anxiety, according to a survey by YouGov.
Related: A quarter of young men self-harm to cope with depression, says surveyContinue reading...
‘Traumatising’ practice is more likely to be used on women and girls
Mental health charities have called for an immediate end to the face-down restraint of patients, which is being used disproportionately on women and girls.
Organisations including Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, YoungMinds and Agenda say the practice is “frightening and humiliating” and “re-traumatises” female victims of violence and sexual abuse.
Related: Physical restraint in mental health units is traumatising women all over again| Katharine Sacks-JonesContinue reading...
Dear Jeremy Hunt
New figures released by Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, have highlighted the routine use of physical and face-down restraint against women and girls in mental health settings. Although government guidance is clear that physical restraint should only be used as a last resort, this research shows that in many trusts it is widespread.Continue reading...