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Volume 23
Issue 1
February 2012

 

IAPT services have reported a fall in the numbers of people moving off sick pay and benefits following treatment

  • In the news

  • IAPT reports fall in back to work rates
    Source: NHS Information Centre 13/03/12

    Nearly 5,500 people moved off sick pay and benefits in October–December 2011 following treatment from an IAPT service, the latest quarterly statistics from the NHS Information Centre show. Referrals to IAPT services rose slightly, to 218,192 – an increase of 1.9 per cent. The number of people starting treatment also rose, to 131,066 – an increase of 0.9 per cent. The number of people recorded as ‘moving to recovery’ was also up at 43.9 per cent (31,347), slightly higher than the 43 per cent recorded in the previous quarter. But the 5,488 people recorded as having moved off sick pay and benefits was 12.7 per cent down on the previous quarter.



    Views sought on children’s health
    Source: Department of Health 13/03/12

    A national consultation to identify what would most improve the health of children and young people has been launched by a Government-backed forum. The findings will inform the Government’s new Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Strategy. The Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, an independent group of health and social care experts and charities, is seeking public and health and medical professionals’ views about what they think would make most difference to children’s health, including mental health and the health of children with disabilities, and how services can best meet these needs. The forum is hosting a webchat with its co-chairs on 20 March at 2.30pm to hear ideas for inclusion in the new strategy.



    Government launches social justice strategy
    Source: Department for Work and Pensions 13/03/12

    The Government has launched a national social justice strategy to tackle social disadvantage and breakdown among the UK’s most troubled families and communities. Social Justice: Transforming Lives aims to switch the focus of Government policy and funding towards tackling the root causes of social breakdown and disadvantage and helping individuals and ‘troubled’ families turn their lives around. The Department for Work and Pensions is inviting bids to set up an Early Intervention Foundation to build the research evidence base for ‘what works’, to advise local authorities and commissioners and commission new research. An Early Intervention Consortium of children’s and other charities, including BACP, is submitting a tender to run the Foundation.



    Welsh Government to reform social services
    Source: Welsh Government 12/03/12

    The Welsh Government has announced plans for a major reform of social services to give people more say in the care they receive and increased rights to assessments of their needs. The Social Services (Wales) Bill would expand the choice of social care services available by direct payments, ensure people remain entitled to the same level of services without being re-assessed if they move house within Wales, require local authorities to provide information to carers on their rights and services available to them, and create a national adoption service. The Welsh Government is consulting on its white paper, Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action, from 12 March to 1 June 2012.



    NHS to improve access to school nurses
    Source: Department of Health 12/03/12

    Pupils should be able to make an appointment to see their school nurse by text, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said. The Department of Health has launched a new framework for local school nursing services that aims to raise the profile and expand the role of the school nurse as part of the Government’s Healthy Child Programme 5–19. The British Youth Council asked children and young people for ideas for improving school nursing services. They said they wanted easier access, without having to go through a teacher, the choice of seeing a male or female school nurse and for school nurses to attend assemblies and classrooms so pupils know who they are and where to find them.



    Mindfulness may broaden horizons
    Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 12/03/12

    Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps people with depression maintain recovery, a randomised trial has show. This may be because MBCT encourages interest in life. The study examined changes in mindfulness and decentering among 84 patients who received six to eight months of antidepressant treatment followed by an 18-month maintenance phase where they were randomly assigned either to stop taking medication and receive MBCT or to continue on antidepressants or to take a placebo. All participants reported reduced scores for rumination and increased decentering in the antidepressant phase. Only those receiving MBCT continued to show significant increases in decentering and mindfulness. But the study, which used the Experiences Questionnaire and Toronto Mindfulness Scale to measure change, also found that increased scores for curiosity and ‘wider experiences’ were associated with lower depression scores.



    Poorer breast cancer survivors ‘more depressed’
    Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical psychology 12/03/12

    Younger women and women from low-income households experience greater anxiety and depression than other women following treatment for breast cancer. The study was conducted to test the hypothesis that lesbian and bisexual breast cancer survivors were more at risk of depression and anxiety than heterosexual women. However the results disproved this, and even age and disadvantage explained only 20 per cent of the variance in survivors’ mental health. The researchers conclude that further research is needed to explore why lesbian and bisexual women make this better-than-expected recovery from breast cancer.



    Injustice affects workers’ health
    Source: Journal of Applied Psychology 03/12

    Injustice and unfairness at work can have a negative effect on employees’ health, new research shows. In a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers looked at the evidence for the effects of perceived unfairness on workers’ health and if the type of unfairness influenced this. They concluded that perceived unfairness is clearly associated with stress-related physical and mental ill health. However they also found that a worker’s psychological sense of breach of contract made it more likely that they would suffer health-related harm from being treated unfairly at work.



    ‘Battlemind’ no better than standard debriefing
    Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 12/03/12

    Standard debriefing is just as effective with UK armed forces personnel as a specialist ‘Battlemind’ programme, a randomised controlled trial has show. Battlemind is a post-deployment psycho-education programme that has had very positive results in preventing mental ill health and PTSD among US troops returning from overseas combat. The trial tested an Anglicized version of Battlemind against standard debriefing for UK military personnel and found no difference in mental health or overall alcohol use disorders between the two groups. However those who received Battlemind were less likely to report binge drinking.



    Because they’re worth it
    Source: Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy 09/02/12

    New research has been published that supports the popular catchphrase ‘because I’m worth it’. According to research published in the Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, a sense of entitlement among affluent adolescents is linked not to his or her family’s wealth but to the quality of their family relationships and friendships. The study looked at attachment between adolescents and parents in wealthy families. It found that the adolescents who reported higher levels of alienation from and lower levels of trust in their parents and peers were also more likely to demonstrate high levels of narcissistic entitlement. Less alienation from primary attachment figures and higher levels of wellbeing were associated with healthier entitlement.



    Homeless women campaign launched
    Source: St Mungo’s 08/03/12

    St Mungo’s, the national homeless charity, is to launch a new campaign to raise awareness of the support needs of homeless and vulnerable women. The 18-month Rebuilding Shattered Lives campaign will highlight issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness among woman. According to a recent survey of St Mungo’s residents, 35% became homeless because of domestic violence, 49% are mothers and more than one in 10 (12%) have been in care. ‘Homeless services are mainly designed for men,’ Charles Fraser, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, said. The campaign will begin during the St Mungo’s Action Week 18–24 June.



    Whistleblowing enshrined in NHS constitution
    Source: Department of Health 08/03/12

    Whistleblowing NHS staff will be protected by law under new clauses added to the NHS constitution. The Department of Health has published an updated version of the NHS constitution following a public consultation last year. The revised constitution includes an explicit expectation that staff will raise concerns about quality and standards of care at the earliest opportunity and a pledge that NHS organisations will support staff when they do raise concerns and enable them to do so, and it also clarifies the legal rights of staff to raise concerns without being penalised. The constitution applies to all organisations providing NHS services, the Department of Health says.

     



    Class divide in smoking rates
    Source: Office for National Statistics 08/03/12

    Smoking rates continue to fall, newly released data from the 2010 General Household Survey show. In 2010 just 20 per cent of the UK adult population smoked cigarettes, compared with 45 per cent in 1974. However cigarette smoking was highest in the manual and routine occupational groups (28 per cent) and lowest in the professional and managerial occupational groups (13 per cent). Smoking rates were also lowest among married people (14 per cent) and highest among cohabiting couples (35 per cent). There was no significant difference in smoking rates between men and women. There has been an overall decline in smoking rates among young peopled aged 16–19 from 31 per cent in 1998 to 19 per cent in 2010.



    Welfare Reform Bill becomes law
    Source: Department for Work and Pensions 08/03/12

    The Welfare Reform Bill, which will replace the current system of means-tested benefits with a single Universal Credit, has become law. The Government claims the reforms will make 2.8 million low and middle income households better off and lift 900,000 adults and children out of poverty. Universal Credit will be implemented from October 2013. Other major reforms include the introduction of a  £26,000 cap on the total net benefits received in a year by any one household, a new Personal Independence Payment to replace Disability Living Allowance and a new Social Sector Size Criteria that will mean families have to move out of social housing if their home becomes to big for their needs.

     



    SCIE publishes report on ‘Think Family’ project

    Source: SCIE 07/03/11

    SCIE, the Social Care Institute for Excellence, has published an evaluation of its Think Child, Think Parent, Think Family project that aimed to improve social services support to families where a parent has a mental illness. The report looks at the implementation of a SCIE Think Child Think Parent, Think Family guide, developed in 2009 to ensure the parenting responsibilities of people with severe mental illness and their children’s welfare needs are acknowledged by mental health and social care services. Ten implementation sites took part: five in England and five in Northern Ireland. SCIE Deputy Chief Executive Amanda Edwards said the evaluation demonstrated how much could be done locally at low cost: ‘Small changes to working practices and training can make a difference.’



    Layard calls for ‘mental health minister’
    Source: London School of Economics 06/03/12

    Lord Layard has called on the Government to appoint a cabinet minister specifically for mental health and social care. Layard, Director of the Wellbeing Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, was delivering a lecture to mark the 21st birthday of the CEP. Mental health is a social ill on a level with Beveridge’s ‘five giants’ of poverty, unemployment, poor education, bad housing and physical disease, he said. ‘Mental health should become the sixth pillar in the welfare state. All the other pillars have their own cabinet minister and we will never get mental health taken seriously enough unless it has its own cabinet minister for mental health and social care within the Department of Health.’ The CEP is currently developing a model to enable governments to gauge the relative merits of policies by their benefits for wellbeing. Citing evidence linking poor life satisfaction with mental ill health, Lord Layard said that mental wellbeing should be ‘the ultimate criterion by which we judge the state of our society’.



    Scottish Government denies CCBT move

    Source: Scottish Government 05/03/12

    The Scottish Government has moved to calm concerns that computerised CBT (CCBT) will be offered as an alternative to face-to-face talking treatments. BACP issued a press statement warning that CCBT should only be offered in conjunction with face-to-face therapy. A report in a Sunday paper said that the Scottish Government may be planning to introduce CCBT across Scotland as an alternative to face-to-face counselling, to bring down waiting lists for talking treatments. Health Minister Michael Matheson MSP subsequently told MSPs: ‘Computer-based therapies are not intended to replace face-to-face therapies but to add to the options and personal choices available to those patients for whom this type of intervention is appropriate, welcomed, likely to be effective, and safe.’ BACP says SIGN (the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) recommends CCBT only in the context of guided self-help, not as an alternative to face-to-face treatment.



    CBT as effective as EDMR for PTSD
    Source: British Journal of Psychiatry March 2012

    Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) are equally effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research confirms. The study compared 140 patients with PTSD who were randomly assigned to receive either brief eclectic psychotherapy or EMDR. The patients were assessed at every session for self-reported and clinician-rated PTSD, anxiety and depression. Both treatments were equally effective in reducing severity of PTSD symptoms, but EMDR acted more quickly on symptoms, resulting in a faster recovery. The authors say that patients should be offered a choice as some prefer psychotherapy because of its emphasis on telling the trauma story and exploring its meaning for their lives.



    Young carer’s mental health toolkit launched
    Source: Princess Royal Trust for Carers 02/03/12

    A toolkit to support the mental health of young carers in Scotland has been published by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The toolkit was funded by the Scottish Government and produced with the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance. The toolkit contains activities and exercises designed to boost resiliency in young carers dealing with the stress of their caring role and family illness, disability or substance misuse. It is available free from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers website.



    Reports highlight gaps in Northern Ireland rural mental health services
    Source: Northern Ireland Executive 01/03/12

    The Northern Ireland Executive has launched two reports highlighting poor access to mental health care in rural Northern Ireland and long waits for talking treatments. The reports were produced by the voluntary sector Niamh Louise Foundation.  Northern Ireland has very high suicide rates, particularly among young and middle-aged men. There were 313 suicide deaths recorded in 2010. The reports highlight problems accessing specialist mental health treatment and a lack of inpatient facilities for young people in particular. Waiting times of six to nine months for talking treatments were also reported. The reports cite stigma and poor mental health awareness in rural communities as barriers to help-seeking. Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill said her department would ‘work closely with the Niamh Louise Foundation in the coming months to look at how we raise the profile of addressing mental health in rural communities and ensure that people do not have to suffer in silence anymore’.



    Online CBT treats chronic fatigue syndrome
    Source: The Lancet Early Online Publication 01/03/12

    Treatment using an online psychotherapy programme is more effective than standard therapy for treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome in young people, a Dutch study has shown. In a randomised controlled trial, 135 adolescents were assigned either to use the Fitnet online cognitive behavioural therapy, which includes email access to an experienced therapist, or standard individual/group psychotherapy and exercise therapy. After six months 85% of the young people in the Fitnet group no longer reported fatigue, compared with 27% of the standard treatment group.  Three quarters of the Fitnet group had returned to school full time, compared with 16% of those receiving standard treatment. The results remained unchanged at one year post-treatment. The young people in the Fitnet group logged onto the programme an average of 255 times and emailed the therapists on average 90 times – a higher rate of treatment intensity than standard care.



    Creative people tell better lies
    Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology March 2012

    Creative people are much better at making up lies, which makes them inherently more dishonest, new research suggests. In a series of studies reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that participants with creative personalities tend to cheat more than less creative individuals; that creativity is a better predictor of unethical behaviour than intelligence; that participants who are primed to think creatively are more likely to behave dishonestly than those in a control condition, and that it is this greater ability to justify their dishonest behaviour that explains the link between creativity and increased dishonesty.



    Attachment-based family therapy helps suicidal gay children
    Source: Psychotherapy March 2012

    Attachment-based family therapy (ABFT) can help suicidal lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young people, a pilot study shows. Ten suicidal LGB adolescents were offered 12 weeks of adapted, LGB-sensitive ABFT. Their levels of suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms and maternal attachment-related anxiety and avoidance were measured pre-treatment, at six weeks and at 12 weeks (post treatment). The adapted ABFT included more time working individually with parents to help them process their feelings and be more aware of their responses to their LGB children. The adapted therapy resulted ion significant decreases in suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms and maternal attachment-related anxiety and avoidance.


    Are you sitting comfortably?
    Source: Psychotherapy March 2012

    Therapists who offer treatment in clients’ own homes work more effectively if they feel safe and comfortable – but they are less likely to feel this way in the homes of people on low incomes living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The findings emerged from a study to test the validity of measures of therapist comfort and therapeutic alliance.  Data were taken from a longitudinal evaluation of 185 families treated by 51 therapists using Multisystemic Therapy (MST). The study also found that reported levels of alliance were related to how comfortable the therapist felt in the client’s home. Together the results suggest that low-income families treated in home and community settings are less likely to reap the benefits of a good therapeutic relationship, which research shows is key to positive outcomes.


    Offenders’ children at higher risk of antisocial behaviour
    Psychological Bulletin March 2012

    Children of offenders sentenced to prison are at higher risk of antisocial behaviour than their peers, a systematic review has show. Families and children of offenders are exposed to multiple risk factors, including traumatic separation, loneliness, stigma, unstable childcare arrangements, strained parenting, reduced income, and multiple moves of home, school, and neighbourhood. A review of 40 studies involving 7,374 children with parents in prison and 37,325 comparison children found a ten per cent higher risk of antisocial behavior among offenders’ children, but no association with mental health problems, drug use or poor educational performance.


    Survey highlights internet addiction
    Source: PRWeb 29/02/12

    Nearly one in two respondents to an online survey admitted that they feel depressed or irritable if they can’t access the internet. Counselling Directory, the UK online database for people seeking a counsellor or psychotherapists, surveyed visitors to the site about their internet use. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents said they used the internet daily for leisure, and 82% said they stayed online longer than they intended. Almost a third said they got a lot of satisfaction from using the internet, 65% said they used the internet as a way of escaping from day-to-day problems or for relieving negative emotions, and nearly half said they felt depressed, moody or irritable if they couldn’t access the internet.


    New funding for children’s psychological therapies
    Source: Department of Health 29/02/12

    The Department of Health has announced an additional £22 million for the children and young people’s IAPT programme. The extra investment, on top of the £32 million already allocated up to 2015, will be invested in expanding provision of talking treatments for children and young people, new services to support families and treat mental health problems affecting adolescents, such as eating disorders, depression, self-harm and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and training in talking therapies to extend the skills of existing NHS staff and for people who work outside the NHS with young people such as teachers, social workers, youth workers and counsellors.


     Disabled people at higher risk of violence
    Source: The Lancet Online First 28/02/12

    People with disabilities are at much higher risk of violence than non-disabled people, a systematic review and meta-analysis of international studies shows. The study, published in the Lancet, found that three per cent of people with any sort of disability had experienced violence in the previous 12 months. This rose to six per cent for people with learning disabilities, and 24 per cent among people with a mental illness. People with a mental illness were almost four times more likely to be victims of violence as non-disabled people, and people with learning disabilities just over one and a half times more at risk.


    Work-focused CBT speeds return to work
    Source: Journal of Occupational Health Psychology online 27/02/12

    People off sick with mental health problems return to work much sooner if offered work-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, a Dutch study shows. A group of 168 people (60 per cent female) off work with anxiety, adjustment disorder and minor depression were assigned either to receive standard CBT or CBT that also focused on helping them plan their return to work from an early stage in treatment. Both groups received 12 sessions of therapy over six months. The work-focused group returned to work full-time on average 65 days earlier than those in the standard CBT group, and they started a gradual return to work 12 days earlier. Almost all participants – 99 per cent – had returned to work at least partially at one-year follow-up. All participants reported a reduction in symptoms. The savings to employers are estimated at $5,275 per employee.


    Survey reveals secret self-harm
    Source: Youthnet.org 27/02/12

    Many young people who have self-harmed have never told anyone about it, research by ChildLine, Selfharm.co.uk, YouthNet and YoungMinds shows. An online survey hosted on ChildLine, SelfHarm.co.uk and TheSite.org in January 2012 drew 1,392 responses from young people aged nine to 18 years old, 86 per cent of whom had ever self-harmed. The survey was published on 1 March to mark National Self-Harm Awareness Day. More than half of those who had self-harmed did so on a daily basis or a few times a week and 41 per cent had not told anybody about it. Those who did were most likely to tell friends first but most felt that this hadn't helped and continued to harm themselves. Reasons for self-harm included depression, feeling lonely and family problems.


    Why people do themselves down
    Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 27/02/12

    People want to be respected, but they don’t always want high-rank status, a new study shows. The study aimed to explore why some people opt for lower status positions in organisations, even though this would put them at a disadvantage. The answer, say researchers, is that people prefer a lower rank status where they believe they provide less value to the organisation, and this is driven by their beliefs about other people’s opinions of their relative worth. In studies, individuals who believe they provide little value to their group infer that others expect them to occupy a lower status position and so they conform to these expectations.


    MHRA issues herbal slimming drugs warning
    Source: MHRA 24/02/12

    The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued safety warnings on several unlicensed herbal products for slimming and erectile dysfunction available to buy online. The products contain prescription-only medications banned in the UK.
The banned medications in the slimming products are phenolphthalein and sibutramine.
The prescription-only ingredients in the erectile dysfunction drugs include tadalafil and sildenafil and should only be prescribed by a doctor. Authorised herbal products carry a Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) symbol or the product licence number.


    More young people seeking counselling
    Source: Relate 23/02/12

    Relate counsellors say that they are seeing an increase in referrals of young people needing help for mental health problems. In a survey of 143 counsellors, 64 per cent said they were seeing more young people with mental health problems/depression, 41 per cent said they were seeing more problems with family break-up, 23 per cent reported a rise in young people needing help because of parents with mental health problems (23%) and 21 per cent reported an increase in need for help with pressures of social media (21%). In a separate survey of more than 1,000 young people aged 13-18, 74% said they had felt stressed at least sometimes in the past month and 31 per cent said they felt stressed often or all the time. Girls were more likely than boys to report feeling stressed (37% v 24%).


    Government fails to deliver on mental health
    Source: The Guardian 23/02/12

    The government is failing to deliver on all five key determinants of good mental health, as outlined in its 2011 Mental Health Strategy, the mental health service user organisation NSUN says. In an article published in the Guardian, NSUN accuses the government of ‘wreaking its own strategy’ by implementing policies that negatively affect employment, education, housing, community cohesion and physical health, which are all linked to mental health and wellbeing.


    Website to ban blogs ‘glorifying’ self-harm
    Source: http://www.scoop.it/t/mental-wellbeing 23/02/12

    Tumblr, the microblogging platform and social networking website, is to ban content that promotes self-harm. The website is consulting its users on a proposed change to its Content Policy to block blogs that encourage anorexia, bulimia, self-harm and suicide. Tumblr is proposing instead to sponsor public service ads for help and support organisations and telephone helplines that will appear alongside search results for self-harm terms such as anorexia, anorexic, bulimia, bulimic, thinspiration, thinspo, proana, purge and purging.


    Irish fear counselling stigma
    Source: The Journal 23/02/12

    Older people are much less likely to seek help for emotional and personal problems, a survey by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has found. Older people were much less likely to say they would talk about their problems to friends or family: 49 per cent compared with 70 per cent of adults overall. Just one in seven people over 65 have had counselling or psychotherapy; the overall figure for adults is one in four. The survey also found that nearly one in four Irish people would be embarrassed to tell friends and family they were having counselling or psychotherapy. Men were much more likely to feel self-conscious about seeking help for personal problems than women, and just 19 per cent had seen a counsellor or psychotherapist, compared with 30 per cent of women.


    Review criticises CQC
    Source: Department of Health 23/02/12

    Cynthia Bowers, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, has resigned following publication by the Department of Health of a highly critical review. The CQC was created in 2009 from the two national regulatory organisations concerned with standards of health and social care and the Mental Health Act Commission. The review says that the CQC and the DH failed to recognise the scale of the task. It says the CQC has ‘made significant improvements’ in recent months but says it needs to continue to prioritise its core duties to register and inspect healthcare providers. Recent years have seen a number of high-profile incidents where vulnerable patients have been abused and have died in the care of NHS and social care organisations, prompting criticism of the CQC. Care home providers, residents and relatives have also complained that the CQC is not enforcing basic inspection standards.


    BACP raises concerns over CCBT
    Source: BACP 23/02/12

    BACP has said that computerised CBT (CCBT) should not be used as an alternative to face-to-face therapy. BACP has raised its concerns following reports in the media that NHS Scotland is to roll out CCBT across Scotland as an alternative to face-to-face CBT. BACP warns that, while there is evidence to support the effectiveness of CCBT in conjunction with face-to-face therapy, and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) guidelines suggest CCBT can be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety within the context of guided self-help, SIGN does not recommend CCBT as an alternative to face-to-face therapy or medication.


    Department of Health commissions confidentiality review
    Source: Department of Health 23/02/12

    The Department of Health has commissioned an independent review of patient confidentiality and information sharing in health and social care, to be led by Dame Fiona Caldicott. The aim is to try to balance the need to protect patient confidentiality with sharing information to improve client and patient care. Dame Fiona will head up an expert panel of clinical, social care, research and other professionals, as well as patients and service users. She said: ‘There is sometimes a lack of understanding about the rules and this can act as a barrier to exchanging information that would benefit the patient… We need to examine when and how to seek and record consent, to support the flow of information to enhance patient and citizen care.’


     Sign language talking therapies extended
    Source: SignHealth 22/02/12

    Deaf people in the north west of England will be able to receive IAPT psychological therapies services in British Sign Language (BSL). SignHealth, the national deaf charity, has been commissioned to provide the first BSL psychological therapy services for the deaf community in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. It will also be piloted in the south central region, including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire. Deaf people can self-refer to the BSL Healthy Minds service, or ask to be referred by their GP.  Anxiety and depression are more common among deaf people – 40% will be affected at some point in their lives, compared with 20% of the hearing population.


      Department of Health seeks Honours nominees
    Source: Department of Health 22/02/12

    The Department of health is asking all NHS and primary care trust chief executives and directors of social services to nominate staff for the 2012 New Years Honours list. Una O’Brien, permanent secretary, says the honours are an ‘important public recognition of the achievements of ordinary people who do extraordinary things’. She specifically asks them to put forward names for frontline and volunteer staff, not just leading clinicians, and people from black and minority ethnic communities and women. The closing date for nominations is 28 March.


    Welsh Government to review mental health services for veterans
    Source: National Assembly for Wales 22/02/12

    The Welsh Government is to carry out a comprehensive review of support services for service personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Welsh Assembly members heard that mental health services for veterans in Wales are ‘patchy’ and that there is a lack of housing and social services support and no veteran-specific residential care. The minister for health and social services Lesley Griffiths said that a dedicated e-learning module will shortly be available to all GPs and other front-line workers to help them identify those at risk and refer them to specialist care services.


    Apps for PTSD to be offered on prescription
    Source: Department of Health 22/02/12

    GPs may soon be able to prescribe apps to patients for a wide range of conditions, including post traumatic stress. The Department of Health recently invited suggestions for new ideas and existing smartphone apps that help people and doctors better manage care. Of nearly 500 entries, the most popular were apps to help manage long-term conditions such as such as diabetes, to help deal with post-traumatic stress, to track and monitor chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, to guide people to NHS services and to provide practical information about keeping fit and eating healthily. Health secretary Andrew Lansley said apps will be part of an new NHS information strategy to be published this spring.


     ‘Buddy’ app trialled for psychosis and depression
    Source: Sidekick Studios 21/02/12

    A digital app to support mental health service users is being trialed in several mental health services in London, Essex and the North West. The ‘Buddy’ digital service uses text messaging to help service users keep a daily diary of what they are doing and how they are feeling to help them identify and reinforce what helps their journey to recovery. The services are piloting the system with patients receiving psychological therapies for depression and anxiety, people being treated for first episode psychosis and with military veterans with mental health needs. The Buddy system was developed with South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust (SLaM) and can be used instead of the traditional ‘mood diary’ used to help people identify and change patterns of behaviour that hinder recovery.


    Self-harm rises with recession
    Source: PLoS One 20/02/12

    Self-harm rates rose significantly among men when the Irish economy went into recession, figures from Ireland’s national registry of self-harm show. The Irish National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm has monitored deliberate self-harm (DSH) since 2003 by monitoring presentations to all 40 hospital emergency departments in the country. Between 2003 and 2009 the Registry recorded 75,119 DSH presentations involving 48,206 individuals. The total incidence rate fell from 209 per 100,000 in 2003 to 184 per 100,000 in 2006 and increased again to 209 per 100,000 in 2009. The male rate increased by 10 per cent successively in 2008 and 2009, coinciding with the start of the recession in Ireland. The highest rates were among women aged 15–19 (620 per 100,000), and men aged 20–24 (427 per 100,000). The researchers say more needs to be done to help people who repeatedly self-harm.


    Bibliotherapy helps depression
    Source: Medical Humanities Online First 18/02/12

    Reading groups can help reduce symptoms of depression, an evaluation of reading groups set up under the national Get into Reading initiative suggests. Researchers evaluated quantitative and qualitative outcomes from two weekly reading groups for people with moderate depression: one in a GP surgery and one in a mental health drop-in centre. All participants were scored as having moderate depression and all were in regular contact with their GP or mental health service and taking at least one medication. After 12 months, there was some evidence of a reduction in the severity of depressive symptoms among the eight out of 18 participants for whom healthcare use and depression scores data were available, although no reduction in mean numbers of GP or hospital contacts or medications over time. The researchers say the results are promising, despite the small number of participants.


    CBT helps hot flushes
    Source: The Lancet Oncology 15/02/12

    CBT can help women cope with hot flushes and night sweats, a study of women recovering from breast cancer shows. The study, conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, compared outcomes for 96 women who experienced early menopause following treatment for breast cancer. Half received usual treatment and half attended weekly 90-minute group CBT sessions for six weeks where they were encouraged to talk about their symptoms and given advice on how to manage the side effects, including CBT techniques and breathing exercises. At nine weeks, those who attended the CBT sessions reported much greater reduction in symptom severity than those who received usual treatment: from 6.5 to 3.1 on a scale of 0 to 10, compared with 6.1 to 5.0.


    12,000 sign up against DSM-V
    Source:  The Society for Humanistic Psychology 17/02/12

    Nearly 12,000 people have signed a petition against the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is used worldwide by psychiatrists to diagnose mental disorders. Critics say the new edition, DSM-V, due to be published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, would medicalise behaviours that most people would regard as normal and relies too heavily on biological explanations for mental ill health. The petition was launched by the Society for Humanistic Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association, in October 2011 and currently has 11,800 signatories. The campaign is supported by the British Psychological Association. In an open letter to the DSM-V Task Force, the campaigners call for more acknowledgement of the influence of social and environmental factors on mental health. The petition is at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dsm5/


    Love Parks Week launch
    Source: GreenSpace 14/02/12

    National Love Parks Week takes place this year from Saturday 21st July to Sunday 29th July, the week leading up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The week is organised by the voluntary organisation GreenSpace to highlight the health benefits of green spaces. Last year one million people took part in 1200 events UK-wide. This year local communities are being asked to give their local parks a ‘health check’. GreenSpace is concerned that local authorities are cutting back on funding for parks, despite their known physical and mental health benefits.


    Gay men at higher risk of body image anxiety
    Source: Psychology of Men & Masculinity 13/02/12

    Most men don’t experience body image anxiety when presented with media images of macho men. But gay men do, research published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity shows. In a controlled trial, 140 gay and heterosexual men were shown either images that idealise male muscularity or photos of animals, landscapes and objects. The results showed no difference in attitudes to body image between the two groups. However, when the data for gay men were analysed separately, there was a statistically significant effect: the gay men reported more body dissatisfaction, body surveillance and social physique anxiety than did the heterosexual men.


    Cognitive evolutionary therapy helps personality disorder symptoms
    Source: Psychology and Psychotherapy 20/02/12

    A short-term trial of cognitive evolutionary therapy shows it can be effective in reducing symptoms and relapse risk in people with a range of personality disorders. In a study of 51 patients in a residential unit, CET was delivered in a 20-hour weekly programme of two individual sessions and a number of group modules. Patients were assessed at admission, discharge and three months later. Measures included self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, general symptoms, number and duration of inpatient admissions after the programme, and continued engagement in an outpatient treatment programme. Participants showed an overall improvement in general psychopathology after discharge and in follow-up sessions, a decrease in the number of further hospital admissions, and an increased level of attendance of outpatient therapy.


    Mind condemns coercive work placements
    Source: Mind 20/02/12

    Mental health charity Mind has condemned mandatory ‘workfare’ schemes where unemployed people are required to work without pay under the Department for Work and Pensions welfare to work programme. Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said that Mind believes volunteering is ‘exactly that: something you choose willingly to give up your time to do’. Volunteers contribute hugely to Mind’s 122 high street charity shops and 160+ local Mind Associations, Farmer said. He said national Mind was not aware that the organisation or any of the local Mind Associations were accepting ‘coercive placements’ and pledged that if any came to light ‘they will be brought to an end.’


    ASIST training helps save lives
    Source: Mind 20/02/12

    Suicide intervention training helps frontline staff identify people at risk of suicide and may prevent deaths, an evaluation of a training scheme in Wales shows. An interim evaluation of training in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) run by Mind Cymru as part of a five-year Positive Choices programme resulted in an increase to 97% in the number of participants prepared to help a person at risk of suicide. At up to 18 months later, 73% of the people who responded to a follow-up questionnaire said they had already used the skills to help someone at risk of suicide. The majority of participants were health and social care staff, who are seen as having a key role in identifying and intervening with those at suicide risk.


    Time to Change launches in Wales
    Source: Mind 21/02/12

    The Time to Change anti-stigma campaign has been formally launched in Wales. Time to Change Wales is funded for three years by Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Welsh Government, and is modelled on the Time to Change campaign in England. It will be delivered by the Welsh mental health charities Gofal, Hafal and Mind Cymru. The campaign aims to achieve a five per cent reduction in reported stigma and discrimination over the three years through social marketing campaign to improve public knowledge and attitudes to mental illness, and community campaigns led by local mental health activists and trainers with personal experience of mental health problems.


    Suicides highest among Scottish men  
    Source: British Journal of Psychiatry 09/02/2012

    Suicides among younger men and deaths by hanging have contributed to a widening gap between Scotland and England and Wales, according to a new statistical analysis for the years 1960–2008. The analysis shows that suicide rates in Scotland were lower in the 1960s but overtook England and Wales in 1968 and are now some 80% higher, particularly among men aged 25–54. The suicide rate among women remained almost unchanged over the same period. The researchers say a public campaign to challenge the belief that hanging is painless would help reduce suicides by this method.


    Peers vote for mental health
    Source: BBC News 08/02/2012
    Source: Centre for Mental Health 09/02/2012

    Mental health will be given equal importance to physical health in NHS policy, planning and funding, under an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill carried by a narrow majority in the House of Lords.  Peers voted by 244 to 240 for the amendment, proposed by cross-bench peer Lord Patel, which calls for ‘parity of esteem between mental and physical health services’. Mental health charities have welcomed the amendment, pointing out that mental ill health accounts for nearly 25% of the burden of illness in the UK yet receives just 11% of the NHS budget. A new report from the Centre for Mental Health and the King’s Fund calculates that £1 in every £8 spent on long-term physical conditions goes to treating mental health factors, equating to £8–13 billion of NHS spending each year.


    Looked-after young people shun mental health services
    Source: YoungMinds 10/02/2012

    Looked-after young people are more likely to talk to families, carers and participation workers than they are to seek help from mental health services, says a new report from the charity Young Minds. The report highlights fear of stigma and misconceptions about mental health among looked-after young people. Many of the 50 young people surveyed said that mental health services were only for ‘mad’ and ‘mental’ people who are very unwell. Young Minds says young people who have been abused may be very distrustful of all adults. Art, play, drama and music may be helpful in establishing communication. ‘They may have learned that it is safer not to trust adults and may be rejecting of the therapist for much longer than other than young people and creative ways of developing trust and building relationships may be necessary in order for the therapeutic process to begin.’


    Study links cortisol to heart attacks
    Source: PloS One 11/02/2012

    Cortisol produced in response to mental stress is directly linked to raised heart attack risk, new research shows. A study published on PLoS One found that psychosocial stress caused raised cortisol levels, which in turn were associated with increased risk of coronary artery calcification.



    CofE condemns assisted suicide
    Source: Daily Telegraph 07/02/12

    The Church of England General Synod has criticised the recent Commission on Assisted Dying as lacking independence and failing to protect vulnerable and disabled people. Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, told Synod that a legal ‘right to die’ would put vulnerable people and doctors at risk and that changing the law would create circumstances in which life could be ‘legally declared to be not worth living’. He also drew parallels with abortion, warning that a legal right to die would ‘change the default position on the sanctity of life’.


    Charity warning on carer support
    Source: BBC News 27/01/12

    Nearly half of all family carers of people with cancer are receiving no statutory support, a survey for Macmillan Cancer Support shows. Just five per cent have received a carers assessment by their local authority. All carers are entitled by law to receive an assessment by their local authority social services department in their own right. Almost half reported mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression and one in eight (13%) had physical health problems, such as sleep and digestive problems. One in seven (15%) were facing financial difficulties due to spending more on travel to hospital or because they had to give up work.


    New test for drug counselling
    Source: thejournal.ie  24/01/12

    A new test developed by a team of psychologists at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth could help predict outcomes of drug addiction counselling. The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) is a computerised programme that asks participants to respond very quickly to simple questions about the benefits of drug use. In trials, those selecting the ‘true’ option more often than the ‘false’ option are less likely to engage with treatment and less likely to give up drug use. The researchers say having to respond very quickly means the answers are a more accurate reflection of participants’ unconscious beliefs. The same test is now being researched with people with obsessive compulsive disorder and those who self-harm.


    Gender effects of child abuse
    Source: British Journal of Psychiatry 08/12/2012

    Clear differences exist between male and female responses in adulthood to childhood abuse, new research confirms. The study sought to identify links between the different forms of childhood abuse and specific psychiatric disorders. No links were found; rather, childhood abuse appears to create a general vulnerability to mental ill health in adulthood. However the study did find that physical abuse was associated only with externalising disorders (ie behavioural) in men and only with internalising disorders (ie depression, anxiety) in women. No link was found between neglect and risk of mental disorder.


    Autism link with learning disability
    Source: www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/autism11 31/01/2012

    People with learning disabilities are at a much higher risk of autism, new data from the NHS Information Centre suggest. Analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2007 shows a prevalence of autism of one per 100 adults in the general population, but 35% among adults with severe learning disabilities in private households and 31% among adults with mild or severe learning disabilities in community care homes. Rates of autism increase with increasing severity of learning disability and lower verbal IQ, the data also show.


    Drug addiction linked to brain structure
    Source: Science Vol. 335 no. 6068 pp. 601-604 DOI: 10.1126/science.1214463 03/02/2012

    Drug addiction may be a disorder of the brain, new research suggests. Researchers at Cambridge University scanned and compared the brains of 50 people addicted to cocaine or crack with those of a sibling who had never used drugs. Both siblings had the same abnormalities in the fronto-striatal part of the brain that controls behaviour. The researchers say this proves that drug addiction is not a lifestyle choice.  Further research is need to rule out environmental effects (nature versus nurture) and to explore what makes the unaddicted siblings resilient to the addiction risk.


    Pro-suicide internet warning
    Source: PAPYRUS 07/02/2012

    Pro-suicide websites should be banned by law in the UK, PAPYRUS, the youth suicide prevention charity, has said. It wants the Government to extend the remit of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to protect young people from ‘suicide predators’. A recent YouGov survey shows that 69% of people think that UK law should enable prosecution of people who assist others to take their own lives through websites, online chat rooms and forums and social networking sites. PAPYRUS says under current UK law it is ‘illegal to groom a child for sex but not for death’.


    Cyberbullies blight children’s lives
    Source: Beat Bullying 07/02/12

    One in 13 children have experienced persistent and deliberate cyberbullying, sometimes lasting over a year or more, a new report, Virtual Violence II, published by Beat Bullying, says. One in five victims said that fear of cyberbullies made them reluctant to go to school, one in five experienced reduced confidence and self-esteem and 14% feared for their own safety. Five per cent resorted to self-harm and three per cent attempted suicide. The worst sites are Facebook (identified by 52% of young people) and MSN, with 45% of children saying they did not feel these websites offer enough protection from virtual violence.


    Teenage depression treatment plea
    Source: The Lancet 22/02/12

    Therapies to treat young people with depression should be more widely available in non-specialist settings, a paper published in the Lancet says. Untreated, teenage depression increases risk of suicide, substance abuse and obesity, and can lead to social and educational problems and lifelong physical ill health. There are effective treatments, such as interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, but they are not routinely available in non-mental health settings, such as schools, communities and primary healthcare.  The review highlights the effectiveness of interpersonal therapy delivered by trained community workers to teenage survivors of war and displacement in Uganda.


    Home environment affects children’s learning
    Source: Institute of Education, University of London 07/02/12

    Children exposed to multiple disadvantage at home are at high risk of learning difficulties, a study by London University’s Institute of Education and the University of Sussex has found. The study analysed the intellectual development of 18,000 children aged nine months to five years in relations to ten key risk factors identified by the research, including overcrowded housing; having a teenage mother; having one or more parents with depression, a physical disability, or low basic skills; substance or alcohol misuse, and living in a family experiencing financial stress, worklessness or domestic violence. Over a quarter of the children (28%) came from families facing two or more of these risks. These children had significantly reduced vocabulary or more severe behaviour problems than their less disadvantaged peers. One disadvantage (affecting 30% in the study) did not affect the child’s learning


    Combined treatments more effective for PTSD
    Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 06/02/12

    Combined exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring is more effective than exposure therapy alone in the treatment of PTSD, particularly for men. A study comparing the two approaches found that short-term gains were similar for both sexes, but at six-month follow up men in the exposure therapy alone group had significantly more severe PTSD symptoms than the women in the same group, and than men and women in the combined treatment group. The findings support other research showing that women recall emotional memories and retain extinction memories more strongly than men, which may help emotional processing of trauma and long-term benefits from treatment, the researchers say.


    Gender threats prompt male risk-taking
    Source: Journal of Men & Masculinity 06/02/12

    Men take more risks if they feel that their manhood is questioned or threatened, research suggests. In one gambling game study, men placed bigger bets after a gender threat than did those who were not exposed to gender threat. In another study, men subjected to gender threat sought immediate financial gain rather than waiting for interest to accrue, but only if the decision was public. The study concludes that gender threats may prompt men to take more risky and short-sighted decisions, which may be relevant to explaining the current crisis in the financial sector.


    Benefits cuts fuel disability abuse

    Source: The Guardian 05/02/12

    People with disabilities are experiencing increased abuse and accusations of ‘scrounging’, disability charities say. Six of the UK’s biggest disability charities say media coverage is stirring up public resentment that people are faking their disability needs. Two thirds of people surveyed by Scope said they had experienced taunts and hostility, compared with 41% four months earlier.


    Overwork leads to depression
    Source: PLoS One January 2012 issue 1 e30719

    People working more than 11 hours a day are at raised risk of major depression, a major follow-up study shows. The study tracked over 7000 UK civil servants to assess risk factors for depression over an average six years. Those working more than 11 hours a day were at 2.43 times greater risk of a major depressive episode than those working 7–8 hours a day, regardless of socio-demographic factors such as physical ill health, alcohol use, smoking, job strain and work-related social support.

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