Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Feeling on the edge

Last week whilst driving to see my Mum I heard a short but powerful piece on Radio 4 Woman's Hour about the growing incidence of self-harm amongst younger people.

You can listen to the piece at this BBC website here.

"Feeling on the edge, helping you get through it", is a leaflet produced by the Royal College of Psychiatrists which provides information to people who are self-harming and their carers. It describes what happens to people who are provided specialist mental health support, and gives contact details for other agencies such as The Samaritans, Papyrus and The National Self-Harm Network. And many more too.

You can link to the online leaflet here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

"Happiness survey" out today

So, how happy is Powys? Not quite as happy as the neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Shropshire, it seems, but nearly. Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to find out how happy we all are, and this Office of National Statistics' survey got round to asking 200,000 people this time.

The question is, have Powys residents become slightly unhappier over the last 4 years? I recall a different survey done in 2008, (by the universities of Manchester and Sheffield), which announced that Powys was the happiest place to live in the UK. 

But only 500 people were surveyed that time round…  maybe just the happy ones… statistics are funny things after all. But, the important thing about today’s survey, I think, is that it is part of the UK Government’s “wellbeing agenda”.  Each local authority can consider the results, compare and contrast, and perhaps look at policy accordingly. That’s the idea anyway. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Coming Soon ...Channel 4 Goes Mad season!!

The Channel 4 Goes Mad season challenges mental health stigma

Some of these jobseekers have experienced serious mental health issues. But can an employment panel identify them? A radical Channel 4 series aims to change negative assumptions about mental illness.  Starts Wednesday 25th July 2012 at 10 pm.

The job candidates line up for ­Channel 4’s World’s ­Maddest Job Interview, part of its 4 Goes Mad season. Photograph: Channel 4

Monday, 16 July 2012

The language of mental health

So often the language around mental health is put into medical terms. As a worker I am relatively new to the field of mental health (three years ago), and still sometimes have to stop myself using this language. Terms such as “disorder”, “mental illness” and the “need for a cure” are commonly found in articles in the media about mental health. Friends and family refer to mental “illnesses” as a matter of course, many of them being unfamiliar with alternative terms.

Yet since working in the field of mental health (Powys Agency for Mental Health in fact) I have become acutely aware that many people experiencing mental distress are not at all comfortable with this medical language.

So, perhaps wellbeing is a better word to use than health. Or is it? The more I think about it the more I feel I need clarity. So I checked out some definitions:

Health – the condition of the body and the degree to which it is free from illness, or the state of being well.

Wellbeing - the state of feeling healthy and happy.

(both definitions courtesy of the Cambridge Dictionary online). So, one is “being well”, and the others is…. “wellbeing…”
Before I tie myself completely in knots writing about language, I would like to share an essay about the subject on another blog – which was recently brought to my attention. The essay is by “psychiatric survivor” David Oaks, and is called “Let’s stop saying mental illness.” You can find the link here on Mind Freedom’s site.

Let us know what you think.

There is another relevant article by Clare Allen, The Guardian writer on mental health matters, here, followed by some thought-provoking comments by readers. 

Actually, Clare’s column is well worth a regular read.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review into the use of antidepressants

Platform 51 research shows that 33% of all women have taken antidepressants and more than half were not offered any alternative to drugs at the time of prescription. 24% currently taking antidepressants have been on them for 10 years or more and 24% have not had a review of their treatment for a year or more at some point. Antidepressants have a role to play in treating poor mental health but they are not the whole solution.

We call on the Department of Health to commission a review into the use of antidepressants. It should investigate the rate at which antidepressants are prescribed as the only option for mild to moderate mental health problems, and the frequency at which people taking them have their treatment reviewed.

The review should include health experts, mental health charities, GP representatives and organisations such as Platform 51 who work with thousands of people affected by mental health problems.

Click to sign the petition or to learn more about women and mental health and read briefing.

Healing Homes: An Alternative, Swedish Model for Healing Psychosis

Healing Homes, a feature-length documentary film directed by Daniel Mackler, chronicles the work of the Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden -- a program which, in this era of multi-drug cocktails and psychiatric diagnoses-for-life, helps people recover from psychosis without medication. 

For more information see:  http://www.iraresoul.com/dvd2.html

Mass psychosis in the US - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Mass psychosis in the US - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

How Big Pharma got Americans hooked on anti-psychotic drugs.

Heart vs Mind: What Makes Us Human?

Really interesting programme on BBC4 last night about whether the heart is where the emotions live or whether it is just a pump. You can watch Heart vs Mind: What Makes Us Human? on BBC iPlayer

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

25th July Implementing Recovery Lunchtime Webinar

The Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change project supports mental health providers in focusing their services around the principles of recovery.  You can access their Recovery Colleges webinar at 12:30 on 25 July. 

Book your place here http://www.nhsconfed.org/Events/Pages/RecoveryColleges.aspx

I will be accessing the Webinar (I hope - it will be my first time trying this) along with colleagues from the North Wales and North Powys Recovery Network.  I'll let you know how it goes ...

Mood Disorder Centre

Many years ago I was a student at Exeter University down in Devon. I still receive the regular Alumnae magazine, and last week one of the main articles was all about the Mood Disorder Centre at the University. I was amazed at the amount of research currently taking place.

You can read all about the Centre here.

There are options for people to take part in numerous studies, including, for example, looking at online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for women experiencing post-natal depression; a study about the relationship between exercise and bipolar disorder; and work considering how people view depression.

You can also download a podcast from the Centre's webpages in which Professor Dave Richards talks about depression and the work of the Mood Disorder Centre.

And there is a useful page of resources for those experiencing depression here.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Mental Health: The Myth of the Chemical Cure

Last week my colleague Glynis Luke attended a really interesting event organised by Lewes Skeptics down in East Sussex. She was very lucky to get a ticket at all, as they sold out in 24 hours! Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Senior Clinical Lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, spoke to a packed audience at The Elephant & Castle pub in Lewes. As it said in the publicity blurb:
"Joanna Moncrieff challenges the view that drugs like ‘antidepressants’ and ‘anti psychotics’ remedy mental disorders in the same way that medical drugs treat asthma or diabetes. She argues that psychiatric drugs cause rather than cure chemical imbalances, and change the way we normally think and feel."
Glynis felt that Dr Moncrieff spoke with real passion and knowledge about her subject, and asked me to share a podcast of the event with a wider audience. The podcast concludes with a very robust question and answer session.

You can link to the podcast on the Lewes Skeptics blog page.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A mental health project with Mid and West Wales FRS

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have worked with Hywel Dda Health Board on an innovative new project.

BBC Radio 4 - All in the Mind

One of my favourite radio programmes is Radio 4's All in the Mind. The programme "explores the limits and potentials of the human mind", and is usually presented by Claudia Hammond. 
The trouble is,  I'm not always in when the programmes are broadcast.... Sometimes I might even be at work for Powys Agency for Mental Health! So... the ideal solution for me is BBC iPlayer. 
Claudia Hammond
The latest programme (26 June edition) features Richard Mabey on depressive illness, ecotherapy, and the evidence for 'green therapy'. 

There are currently 96 programmes available to listen to here. The only question now is.... which one to listen to first?

Safety warning over Britain’s most common antidepressant

The Sunday Telegraph today published an article relating the results of a study into the effects of a widely prescribed antidepressant, Citalopram.
You can find out more here.