|"Lessons on body image should be compulsory in primary and secondary schools to help children resist the ‘unattainable body ideal’ portrayed in the media and advertising, an all-party group of MPs has said" |
|"A new trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy has been shown to more than halve the trauma experienced by child victims of war, rape and sexual abuse" |
|"The families of Armed Forces personnel should be better supported to deal with the emotional and psychological impact of deployment, a report from the Centre for Mental Health says" |
|"People in the UK need to talk about death if they want their end-of-life wishes met, the Dying Matters Coalition says" |
|"Cuts in welfare benefits and housing allowances could put the mental health of low income mothers at risk, the charity Family Action has warned" |
|"People who experienced severe trauma during the Northern Ireland Troubles are still affected today, research into ageing and trauma shows" |
|"Some short news articles in brief" |
|"No matter how good their medical care, people with long-term physical illnesses also need time and space to talk"|
A mother’s experience of racism can affect her child’s early development, research shows
In the news
Racism can delay child development
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 03/07/12
A mother’s experience of racism can affect her child’s early development, research shows. The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, used data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study of 2316 ethnic minority mothers and their five-year-old children. Interpersonal racism (‘received insults’; ‘treated unfairly’; ‘disrespectful treatment by shop staff’) was not linked with any effects on key measures of child development. However racism in the family’s residential area was associated with socio-emotional difficulties and poorer spatial abilities. Verbal and non-verbal ability scores were not affected. The researchers say that early child development and ethnic health inequalities interventions should also incorporate measures to tackle racism.
MPs criticise barriers to dementia care
Source: All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia 03/07/12
Early diagnosis is key to improving the lives of people with dementia. But fewer than half of all people with dementia have a formal diagnosis and diagnosis rates vary widely across the UK, an inquiry by the All Party parliamentary Group on Dementia has found. Diagnosis rates ranged from 70 per cent in Belfast to just 40 per cent in some parts of Wales. Barriers to diagnosis highlighted in the inquiry included poor public awareness of dementia, so people don’t seek help from their GP; poor knowledge of dementia among GPs and failure to refer for assessment; poor and variable access to specialist memory services, and lack of good quality post-diagnosis support. The MPs says the Government and the NHS should act to improve early diagnosis and availability of high quality post-diagnosis support.
Government announces urgent measures to protect children in care
Source: Department for Education 03/07/12
The Government has brought forward new measures to protect children in care from sexual exploitation. Early findings from an investigation into child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups by the Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz show that a disproportionate number of groomed and sexually exploited children come from within the care system and that some residential homes are specifically targeted by abusers. Some 45 per cent of children in care are placed outside their home borough, which the Government accepts increases their risk of exploitation. In future local authorities will have to conduct better checks about child safety when placing children outside their home boroughs and improve their systems for tracing children missing from care. The Government will also carry out a review of the quality of care and safety in children’s care homes. Local authorities will also be able to tell police the locality of residential care homes so they can offer better protection.
Survey shows variations in end of life care
Source: Department of Health 03/07/12
People dying from cancer, younger people and those dying at home or in a hospice generally receive better end-of-life care than people who die in hospital, the first-ever national Government survey of bereaved relatives has found. Just over 22,000 people responded to the survey. The highest ‘outstanding’ ratings for quality of care were from relatives of patients who died in hospices (20%) or at home (19%); the lowest were for deaths in hospital (7%). Ratings for being treated with dignity and respect by staff were also highest in hospices (87% for doctors, 80% for nurses) and for primary care staff, but just 57 per cent for hospital doctors and 48 per cent for hospital nurses. Pain relief was best among patients who died in hospices and worst among those who died at home. The majority (85%) of people were said to have been involved in decisions about their care as much as they wanted. More than nine out of ten relatives said that staff dealt with them sensitively after the death.
Parents ‘afraid’ to discuss their child's weight
Source: MEND 02/07/12
More than one in three (37%) parents say they are afraid to talk to their child about weight problems in case it damages their self-esteem, a survey by (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do it!) and parent website Netmums has found. This rises to nearly two thirds (65%) among parents who say their child is overweight or obese; 72 per cent of these parents say they find it difficult to help their child to eat healthily and cut down on foods with high fat and sugar content. MEND and Netmums say parents want more support and help to discuss weight problems with their children.
CQC report highlights midwife shortages
Source: Care Quality Commission 28/06/12
The first in a new series of quarterly Market Reports published by the Care Quality Commission has revealed a growing shortfall in the ratio of midwives to live births in England. The CQC says numbers of live births have risen by 21 per cent over the past ten years, but numbers of midwives have gone up by only 15 per cent. Births have also become increasingly complex: for example, the numbers of live births among women over 40 have trebled in the past 20 years to nearly 28,000 a year. The CQC also says that 15 per cent of the 141 trusts offering midwifery services have less than the recommended ratio of midwives to live births. The Royal College of Midwives says its own figures show a far larger shortfall in staffing levels, and almost twice the vacancy rate calculated by the CQC.
People with severe mental illness at higher risk of death
Source: NHS Information Centre 28/06/12
Adults with severe mental illness have a mortality rate three times as high as that in the general population, new data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show. Roughly 13 in every 1,000 people aged 18–74 with a serious mental health condition died in 2009/10, compared with four in 1,000 in the general population. People with severe mental illness are known to have a much higher death rate but this is the first time the figures have been calculated by linking mortality rates to the Mental Health Minimum Dataset (MHMDS), which forms the official record of NHS services for people with serious mental health problems.
Young people abandon education
Source: Guardian 28/06/12
The numbers of young people leaving school at age 16 have gone up for the first time since 2001, Government statistics reveal. According to official Government figures, 70.5 per cent of young people aged 16–18 were in full-time education in 2011, down from 70.6 per cent in 2010. This means some 32,000 fewer young people are staying on at school or college after the official school-leaving age. The proportion of 16– 18 year olds not in education, employment or training has gone up by eight per cent. The Government is to raise school leaving age next year so that young people will have to stay in education or training until they are 17, rising to 18 in 2015.
Cognitive therapy eases arthritis pain
Source: Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 27/06/12
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) has found that cognitive therapy can ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has already been shown to be effective in reducing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. This study, published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, sought to find out which element of CBT was more helpful. A total of 104 people with classic or definite RA were randomly assigned to receive either CBT, cognitive therapy (CT) or behavioural therapy (BT). Participants were assessed at baseline, post-treatment and at six months using measures of disease, joint function, disability and psychological functioning. At six months, the only difference in outcomes was in the measures of tender joints, which were lower among people receiving CT and CBT. The researchers say that behavioural therapy is not needed to relieve the pain.
Bullied kids may suffer poor adult health
Source: PLoS ONE 27/06/12
Unpopular kids at school may suffer poor health in adulthood, research suggests. The study followed up teenagers reported by their teachers to be socially isolated and to have difficulties building good peer relationships, using data from a 27-year Swedish cohort of school leavers. A total of 1010 were still participating in the study at age 43. The research found a clear link between teenage peer problems and poor health in adolescence as well as in adulthood. In adulthood, those with past experience of peer problems were more distressed, smoked more, had poorer diets but drank less alcohol. They also had a much higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome – an umbrella diagnosis for a range of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. The study also found that the relationship was cumulative – the greater the peer problems in adolescence, the greater the risk of illness in adulthood, regardless of psychosocial and socio-economic factors. The researchers say their findings support the growing body of evidence of the link between social problems and poor health, and say it is likely to be linked to the body’s stress mechanisms.
Most people ‘bounce back’ after natural disasters
Source: PLoS ONE 26/06/12
Most people recover quickly from natural disasters and are not at risk of long-term mental illness, a US study shows. The study followed up 658 adults two to five months after Hurricane Ike struck Galveston and Chambers counties in the US state of Texas, on September 13, 2008. Follow-up assessments were conducted at five to nine and 14 to 18 months after the hurricane to see if prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), depression and suicidality rose and persisted in the first 18 months after the hurricane. The researchers found that past-month prevalence of PTSD, due both to the hurricane and other traumatic events, was the most common psychiatric disorder two to five months post-hurricane but that there was a decrease in all mental disorders (20.6% to 10.9%) and hurricane-related PTSD (6.9% to 2.5%) over time. They say the vast majority of people exposed to the hurricane ‘bounced back’ and showed no long-term mental health consequences.
Study challenges fish diet advice
Source: PLoS ONE 19/07/12
A diet high in oily fish does not prevent depression among older people in low and middle income countries, evidence from a major international study on ageing and mental health shows. The study compared fish consumption with rates of depression in older people aged 65 years and over living in the community in China, India, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Data were available for nearly 15,000 people. Lifestyle factors, including nutrition, can influence late-life depression and n-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (n-3 LC PUFAs), commonly found in oily fish, are believed to play a key role. But, despite some variation between countries, associations between high fish consumption and levels of depression were almost entirely explained by socio-demographic, lifestyle and health characteristics, the research showed. The researchers conclude that eating fish is good for health but that there is no evidence that increasing fish consumption will prevent late life depression in this population.
Review calls for better data on antipsychotic weight gain
Source: PLoS ONE 15/06/12
Researchers who have tried to create a comprehensive guide to the weight-gain risk of every antipsychotic in current use say these data should be fully, reliably and independently researched and published. The review found that most antipsychotics were associated with weight gain but the quality of the studies varied widely and the data were not always available, so it was difficult to reliably quantify this. Many trials did not include weight gain among the reported side effects, or assessed it in different ways; most had high dropout rates. The researchers say their findings highlight the need for the development of psychotropics that are not associated with weight gain. They also say there needs to be a better understanding of the pharmacogenetics of psychotropic drug response so psychiatrists can minimise risk of weight gain by more informed and targeted prescribing. Nearly a third of the studies covered in the review were directly funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers, and many others did not declare their source of funding.
Psychiatrists fail to diagnose bipolar disorder
Source: Bipolar UK 27/06/12
People with bipolar disorder can have the symptoms for, on average, 13 years before it is formally diagnosed, a survey by Bipolar UK with Bipolar Scotland and the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found. This is longer than in previous surveys. The survey, of 706 people with a diagnosis of bipolar and relatives/carers (19% of respondents), found that for most respondents the symptoms began at age 23. Just 15 per cent were diagnosed promptly; 85% had difficulty in getting the right diagnosis and most were wrongly diagnosed with depression. Of these, 71% felt their symptoms had been made worse by being given the wrong treatments, such as antidepressants or sleeping pills. In a separate survey of mental health professionals, 43 per cent said they rarely or never spoke to a relative or carer of the person to obtain a corroborative history.
Employers urged to offer flexible working to support mental health needs
Source: Department of Health 27/06/12
The Government is urging employers to do more to help people with mental health problems stay in work. A number of major employers, including EDF Energy and EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, have signed up to a Department of Health public health Responsibility Deal pledge to support employees with mental health needs in the workplace. The Department of Health has published guidance on what organisations can do to help people living with mental ill health stay in their jobs, including offering flexible working hours, paid and unpaid leave for medical appointments, phased returns to work after periods of ill health, providing quiet spaces for breaks and agreeing to job-share arrangements. Poor mental health currently costs the economy an estimated £105 billion and is the most common reason for incapacity benefit claims.
Adult DVDs may damage children’s mental health
Source: British Psychological Society 27/06/12
Media violence does have an effect on children’s behaviour, a review of research on children and violent films, television and computer games shows. The review of research over the past 18 years found that, in young children, violent imagery has short-term effects on arousal, thoughts and emotions, and increases the likelihood of aggressive or fearful behaviour. There was less evidence for older children and teenagers but some evidence that boys are more likely than girls to behave aggressively after watching violent media. The researchers highlight methodological difficulties in linking behaviour with past viewing, and found only weak evidence linking exposure to violence in the media directly to crime. But they say growing up in a violence family predisposes a child to anti-social behaviour and delinquency and makes these children more likely to act out the violent scenes they have seen on adult DVDs and computer games.
Northern Ireland renews male suicide reduction pledge
Source: Northern Ireland Executive 26/06/12
The Northern Ireland Government has extended its Protect Life suicide prevention strategy to target the higher suicide rates among young men in deprived areas. The renewed strategy will run to end of March 2014. Some 300 people a year die by suicide in Northern Ireland, but the rate doubles in deprived areas. Men are at three times greater risk of suicide than women, and the risk is highest among young men in deprived areas. The refreshed strategy and action plan includes a number of new cross-Government initiatives, including the involvement of sporting organisations in promoting mental health and wellbeing messages, arts projects to improve mental health and providing community-based health checks in rural areas.
Councils may have to sacrifice libraries to pay for social care
Source: Local Government Association 26/06/12
Councils may be forced to close libraries and leisure centres and other non-statutory services to cover the rising costs of adult social care, a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned. The LGA calculates that spending on social care will swallow up 45 per cent of council budgets by 2020. It says the rising costs of providing social care and waste services will reduce funds available for other services from £24.5 billion in 2010/11 to £8.4 billion due to a £16.5 billion funding shortfall between council funds and the amount needed to maintain services at current levels. A recent YouGov survey found that libraries and leisure facilities were the most frequently used council services; just 11 per cent of respondents had any experience of elderly care provided by social services.
Better mental health care could cut re-offending
Source: Centre for Mental Health 25/06/12
Better, ongoing access to mental health care should be available to offenders through the criminal justice system to help break the cycle of repeat offending, a report from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth University and the Centre for Mental Health says. The report is based on a research project known as COCOA (Care for Offenders: Continuity of Access), which found that offenders with mental health problems get much less care than those with addictions. It says that liaison and diversion services currently being developed across England to keep people with mental health problems out of prison should provide on-going mental health care and not just simply divert offenders to existing, ‘hard-pressed’, specialist mental health services.
Cameron sets out manifesto for welfare reforms
Source: The Guardian 25/06/12
Prime Minister David Cameron has set out a hard-line agenda for welfare reform if a Conservative Government is re-elected without its Liberal Democrat partners. In a wide-ranging speech Cameron outlined proposals to end the ‘culture of entitlement’ and close the ‘welfare gap’ between the incomes of unemployed welfare claimants and people in low-waged employment. Housing benefits could be stopped for young people under 25. People earning over a minimum level could be made to give up social housing. Benefits could be time-limited and claimants could be required to ‘work for dole’. He also criticised families with several children who are dependent on welfare benefits. One in six children in Britain is living in a workless household – one of the highest rates in Europe: ‘Quite simply, we have been encouraging working-age people to have children and not work, when we should be enabling working-age people to work and have children,’ Cameron said.
CQC review deplores standards in learning disability care homes
Source: Care Quality Commission 25/06/12
A national review of residential care homes for people with learning disabilities has revealed that nearly half do not meet minimum standards of care. The review was prompted by the BBC exposé of the independent sector Winterbourne View care home in May 2011. The CQC carried out a special inspection of 145 homes in England and Wales and found that 48 per cent failed on its standards for care and welfare and safeguarding residents from abuse. NHS homes came out best in comparison with independent sector homes and homes run by adult social care services (ASC). ASC homes had the poorest record on safeguarding residents from abuse and misuse of restraint. Some residents had been in residential care for up to 17 years, suggesting major flaws in care planning, the CQC says.
Government steps in to stem Olympic crisp binge
Source: Department of Health 22/06/12
The Government has launched a national campaign to keep the nation moving through the Olympics. Some 1,200 hours of sport will be broadcast on the television during the summer. According to a Department of Health survey, more than half the 93 per cent of the population expected to watch the TV coverage of the Olympics will snack on crisps, four in 10 adults will drink alcohol and one in five will eat a take-away meal. The Department of Health is worried about the impact on the nation’s health. The Games4Life initiative offers a free activity pack for adults and children with ideas for exercises and activities and a Fun Generator app with 100 ideas for family fitness.
Government backs parental guide on body image
Source: Media Smart 22/06/12
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has backed a new guide for parents to help them educate their children about body image and self-esteem. The pack was developed for parents of 6-11 year-olds by the not-for-profit organisation Media Smart. A pack for primary school teachers was launched last year. The pack encourages children to think about how and why media images may have been altered and the effect this can have on their own body image. It also explores how ideas about the ‘perfect’ body have changed through the ages and offers tips for parents on how to talk to their child about the subject. The Government has supported the pack as part of its Body Confidence campaign.
Local authorities cut care home rates
Source: Laing & Buisson 22/06/12
Independent sector care homes could close because local authorities are not paying providers enough to maintain standards of care, a report from Laing & Buisson healthcare data analysts warns. The report says that, on average, local authorities have increased the fees they pay to place an elderly person in care by just 1.6 per cent, against cost inflation of 2.5 per cent, amounting to a cumulative 4.8 per cent fall in local authority funding in real terms since 2010/11. However the survey also found that the trend among local authorities to reduce use of care homes appears to be stalling, despite government policy supporting homecare as the preferred and more cost-effective option for elderly care: 42% of councils said they did not expect any reduction in the number of people whom they support in residential or nursing care homes in 2012/13.
Department of Health sets up carers employment group
Source: Department of Health 21/06/12
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has created a new, joint government and employers working group to spearhead action to support carers so they don’t have to give up paid work because of their caring responsibilities. The group will explore how employers, statutory services and providers can work better together and what the social care system and the independent sector can do to better support informal carers so they can stay in work. Carers UK, the national carers campaign group, has warned of growing pressure on carers who are juggling both childcare and supporting older and disabled family members along side employment.
‘Green’ exercise halves risk of poor mental health
Source: Glasgow University 20/06/12
Regular exercise in a natural environment may cut the risk of mental ill health by half, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Glasgow compared the benefits of physical activity for mental health in natural and non-natural environments. Regular exercise in natural environments such as forests and parks seemed to protect against mental ill health; non-natural environments like a gym, did not. The observational study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, used data from the Scottish Health Survey 2008. Only activity in natural environments was associated with a lower risk of poor mental health. Lead researcher Professor Richard Mitchell of the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health, said he was surprised by how much better it is for mental health to exercise in a green place rather than a gym.
NHS trusts warn of rising mental health demand
Source: NHS Confederation 20/06/12
Cuts in local authority services are increasing demand for NHS mental health care, a survey by the NHS Confederation shows. In the survey of 252 NHS and independent sector healthcare organisations, three out of four said that there had been a rise in demand for mental health services because of local authority cuts, and 87 per cent said there had been an increase in demand for community services. The survey also highlighted growing fears about future healthcare services: 85 per cent expected the financial situation to worsen over the next 12 months; nearly two thirds (63%) said patient experience was likely to suffer and nearly half (49%) said waiting times would rise. However respondents were split roughly 50/50 on whether patient services would decrease because of lack of funding.
MP seeks to overturn mental illness ban on MPs
Source: www.parliament.co.uk 20/06/12
A Bill to remove longstanding legislation that prevents some people with a history of mental illness from being a company director, an MP, a school governor or from sitting on a jury was presented in Parliament on 20 June. Conservative MP Gavin Barwell MP was among the 20 MPs who came top of the ballot of MPs to win Parliamentary time to present a Private Members Bill of their choice. The Bill has been welcomed by mental health charities. Paul Jenkins, chief executive of Rethink, said: ‘It’s absurd that capable, intelligent people are being excluded from key aspects of citizenship, based purely on the fact they have an illness, irrespective of how well they may be at the time.’ Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said: ‘This is the last form of legalised discrimination. Barriers to equality such as this need to be eradicated once and for all.’
IAPT stats show small rise in numbers coming off benefits
Source: NHS Information Centre 19/06/12
The latest quarterly statistics for IAPT show that 246,945 people were referred for psychological therapies in the period January 2012 to March 2012 (Q4). This represents a 12.9 increase on the previous quarter (Q3) and an access rate of 2.5 per cent, up from 2.1 per cent in Q3. A total of 149,849 people entered treatment (an increase of 14.4 per cent since Q3) and 86,052 people completed a minimum of two treatment contacts. Of these, 75,558 were at clinical caseness at the start of their treatment and 34,492 (45.6 per cent) were ‘moving to recovery’ – a small increase from 43.6 per cent in Q3. A total of 5,669 IAPT clients moved off sick pay and benefits – an increase of three per cent over Q3.
Young Mind launches early intervention campaign
Source: Young Minds 19/06/12
Young Minds has launched a national initiative to improve early intervention services for children and young people with mental health problems and their families. The BOND (Better Outcomes, New Delivery) project is funded by Department for Education. It will test new approaches to joint working between statutory and voluntary sector services and provide intensive support, one to one coaching and action learning sets, for voluntary and community sector organisations, commissioners and schools across England. It will work in five locations across England over the next 18 months, drawing together NHS, local authority and voluntary sector organisations working with children and young people.
Government action needed to solve youth unemployment crisis
Source: Work Foundation 19/06/12
The Government must to do more to solve the growing problem of long-term youth unemployment, the Work Foundation has said in a new report. The report is as part of its Missing Million two-year programme on unemployment among the young. The Work Foundation says the Government’s response to youth unemployment is insufficient and fragmented; responsibilities for improving work opportunities for young people are split across departments with no coordination at a national level. It says there should be a dedicated national unit headed by a minister that has as its main priority long-term youth unemployment, which has more than doubled since the start of the recession and quadrupled over the past decade. Currently some 264,000 young people have been out of work for over 12 months.
PiP breast implants ‘not toxic’
Source: Department of Health 18/06/12
The PiP sub-standard breast implants do have a higher rupture rate but the gel is not toxic, the Department of Health expert group charged with reviewing the risk to women’s health says in its final report. The NHS Medical Director’s expert group says the PiP implants have twice the rupture rate of other implants but that the gel material, although sub-grade, is not carcinogenic or toxic and poses no long-term health risk. However it says women’s anxiety relating to the breast implants is itself a ‘form of health risk’ and that all providers, including NHS trusts, should contact all women who received PiP implants and offer to remove and replace them at no cost. It confirms the earlier Department of Health ruling that the NHS will remove but not replace implants carried out in the private sector if the surgeon or provider is no longer in business or refuses to do so.
Alzheimer’s programme aims to cut antipsychotics
Source: Department of Health 18/06/12
A programme that has cut antipsychotic prescribing in care homes for people with Alzheimer’s disease by 50 per cent is to be rolled out to 150 care homes with £100,000 funding from the Department of Health and the HC-One care home group. The initiative is part of the Department of Health’s response to the ‘Dementia Challenge’ launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in May. The Focused Intervention Training and Support Programme (FITS) is an intensive 10-day training that teaches care home staff simple techniques to enhance person-centred care, including life story work and introducing hobbies and pastimes into people’s daily care. Antipsychotics are known to double the risk of death, treble the risk of stroke and can leave people with dementia unable to walk or talk. A trial of the FITS programme found that it halved antipsychotic prescribing in care homes, with no significant increase in agitated or disruptive behaviours.
Homeless women need more help
Source: St Mungo’s 18/06/12
Action is needed to stop women becoming homeless and improve homelessness support services, the national charity St Mungo’s says. St Mungo’s has launched a new campaign, Rebuilding Shattered Lives, to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by homeless women and those at risk of becoming homeless. More than one in ten people sleeping rough in London and over half those living in temporary accommodation in England are women. St Mungo’s says homeless women face greater difficulties than homeless men: over a third (34%) of St Mungo’s female clients who have slept rough say that domestic violence led directly to their homelessness; almost half of St Mungo’s residents are mothers (45%) and many have been traumatised by the loss of their children; 55% use alcohol or drugs, and 11% were brought up in care.The campaign aims to raise the profile of homeless women and find policy and practical solutions.
Report calls for cultural shift to tackle poor elder care
Source: NHS Confederation 18/06/12
A ‘major cultural shift’ is needed to drive up standards of health and social care for elderly people, a report from the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care says. The commission is a joint initiative of the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association. It says the new Equality Act will give legislative muscle to boost efforts to improve care of the elderly but that health and social care leaders must also lead a change in attitude. Public sector workers should be the ‘beacons’ for good practice and challenge age discrimination, instead of mirroring widespread negative social attitudes towards older people. It says the NHS and social care services should introduce ‘always events’ setting out basic standards of good practice that should be mandatory, such as listening to and acting on service user and carer feedback. It also urges the Government to extend protection under human rights legislation to cover self-funding older people in independent care homes, not just those placed by their local authority.
Carers’ health ‘buckling under strain’
Source: Carers Week 18/06/12
Two in five unpaid carers are putting their own health at risk by delaying medical treatment in order to care for an ill, frail or disabled person, a survey by a national alliance of carers organisations has found. In the Carers Week survey of 3,400 carers, 83 per cent said that caring had a negative impact on their physical health; 87 per cent said caring had a negative impact on their mental health; 64 per cent carers blamed their poor health on a lack of practical support and 50 per cent said they did not receive enough financial support. The Carers Week charity partners say this is further evidence of a growing care crisis and are calling for sustainable social care funding, better signposting and access to support services and for regular health checks to be offered to carers.
MPs condemn ‘scandal’ of runaway children
Source: Children’s Society 18/06/12
Hundreds of children are going missing from local authority care homes, where children and young people are three times more likely to run away than are children living at home. An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on runaway and missing children and looked-after children and carer leavers has condemned the children’s care home system as ‘not fit for purpose’. It says the numbers of children going missing is a ‘scandal… that is pretty much unnoticed’, and puts hundreds of vulnerable young people at risk of physical and sexual abuse. The MPs found that almost half of all children in homes are placed outside their home local authority despite evidence this encourages them to run away, and that police are often prevented from knowing the addresses of children’s homes so cannot offer protection from predatory sex abusers. The children’s minister Tim Loughton has accepted the findings of the report and has pledged Government action, including a review of the effectiveness of children’s homes.
Layard renews pressure to improve access to psychological therapies
Source: London School of Economics 18/06/12
A new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science has condemned as ‘shocking discrimination’ the lack of talking therapies for people with mental health problems. A group of leading professors of economics, psychology and psychiatry led by Professor Lord Layard says that mental illness now accounts for nearly half of all ill health among working age adults and is more disabling than most chronic physical disease, yet only one in four are getting any kind of treatment from the NHS. It says NHS commissioners have received £400 million to complete the national roll-out of IAPT, but many are not using the money for this purpose. The report cites evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy can lead to rapid recovery from depression or anxiety disorders in over 40% of cases and emphasises the need for continued funding to complete the six-year IAPT programme as planned, and to continue the programme for children and young people up to 2017.
Cuts in day services ‘a false economy’
Source: Unison 17/06/12
Cuts in day care services are putting lives at risk and will increase pressure on NHS services, the trade union Unison has warned. In a study conducted for Unison by the University of Birmingham's Health Services Management Centre, 57 per cent of social workers said they have seen day centres close down. Services for elderly people were hardest hit, followed by day care for people with learning and physical disabilities. Two thirds said that access to services was being restricted, and two thirds also reported increased charges for attendance, meals and transport, and cuts in trips and activities. Users are also being told to go to centres further away from home, making it difficult for them to attend. ‘For elderly people, day centres guard against loneliness. Research has revealed loneliness to be as deadly as smoking, alcohol or obesity for a person's health, so these cuts could cost lives,’ Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield warned.
Group counselling better than individual coaching for parents of children with learning disabilities
Source: Psychotherapy Research online 15/06/12
Group counselling and individual coaching both help parents with disabled children cope better with the stress of their role, but group counselling is more effective because of the opportunities for peer support, new research shows. Researchers compared outcomes for 169 parents who were non-randomly assigned to receive one-to-one coaching (n=45), group counseling (n=93) or no intervention (n=31). Participants were assessed for stress and coping, perceived social support and bonding with therapist/group. Outcomes were better for parents in both intervention groups compared with the control group but parents receiving group counselling reported lower stress levels than those receiving coaching. Bonding was the key factor that explained the difference.
Rich are getting poorer
Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies 15/06/12
The gap between the richest and poorest 10 per cent of the UK population is narrowing – but only because the very rich are getting poorer, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says. An IFS analysis of the annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data shows that everyone got poorer in 2010–11 but the richest lost most. Incomes in families in the poorest 10 per cent of households in the UK fell by 1.1 per cent in 2010–11; incomes of the wealthiest 10 per cent of households fell by 5.5 per cent. The IFS says the figures show that rising prices and higher taxes had a greater impact on living standards than rising unemployment. The figures also reveal a reduction in income inequality: the ratio between the incomes of the highest and lowest 10 per cent of households fell from 4.1% to 3.9%, its lowest level since 1987.
Voluntary sector partnership fund invites applicants
Source: Department of Health 15/06/12
Applications are being invited for the 2013–14 Department of Health-funded Voluntary Sector Partnership awards. The awards are available to charities to test and develop innovative approaches to improve health and social care. Winners of last year’s awards, which totaled £6.8 million, included the Motor Neurone Disease Association’s scheme to develop a national wheelchair service, Maternity Action’s programme to support women to breastfeed on their return to work after maternity leave, and the Disabled Living Foundation’s online library of small electronic aids where users can try them out before they buy them and share feedback with other potential purchasers.
Oxfam warns of ‘perfect poverty storm’
Source: Oxfam 14/06/12
The UK could return to inequality levels not seen since Victorian times, the international aid charity Oxfam has warned. A new report, The Perfect Storm, documents how the UK Government's deficit reduction strategy is disproportionately affecting those on the lowest incomes by targeting budget cuts rather than tax increases. Oxfam says a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, including increasing unemployment, lack of secure work, rising living costs and falling incomes and cuts to welfare and public services, are having the greatest impact on the UK’s poorest citizens. It says people in work are also suffering: three in five working-age adults in poverty are from working households because employers are cutting full-time jobs and introducing temporary contracts and part-time working and more people are relying on insecure, low-paid employment. It says the Government should reverse its planned cuts to working tax credits and increase the minimum wage to help keep people out of poverty and help them back into work.
Gender inequality in the home raises mental illness risk for women
Source: PLoS One 13/06/12
Women who do more domestic work in the home are more likely to experience psychological distress if they are also in an unequal power relationship with their partner, Swedish research shows. Data from cohort of Swedish school pupils followed up over 25 years (n = 371 women, 352 men) were used to explore the links between gender inequality, domestic responsibilities and socio-economic inequality within couple relationships. The results showed that having total responsibility for domestic work was associated with higher psychological distress among women, as was unequal responsibility for domestic work combined with gender inequality in the couple relationship. The researchers say it is not just the question of whether the responsibility for domestic work is equal or not, but also the relationship context in which the responsibilities are divided between the couple that influences mental health.
App colour-codes phone message moods
Source: University of Portsmouth 12/06/12
Computer scientists at Portsmouth University have developed a mobile phone app that automatically colour codes incoming messages so people know if they’re getting good or bad news. The app uses ‘sentiment analysis’ to classify text messages and codes them red, orange or green, depending on whether they are relating good, neutral or bad news. Master’s student Lorraine Chambers and senior lecturer Mohamed Gaber say: ‘Information has an immense power. Whether we are reading a worrying social media news story or a warning email from our manager, messages can upset mood and increase stress level, just as good news and encouraging emails can cheer you up. The ultimate objective of this application is to make the user aware of the negative contents they receive so they are able to manage their stress in the best possible way.’
Reports highlights poor use of new Mental Health Act powers
Source: Mental Health Alliance 11/06/12
Introduction of the new community treatment orders, coupled with a rise in the numbers of patients detained in hospital are increasing overall use of compulsion within the mental health services, a report from the Mental Health Alliance says. The Alliance has reviewed use of new powers introduced under the Mental Health Act 2007. These include the new compulsory community treatment orders (CTOs) and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), which were designed to protect the rights of people unable to give consent to or refuse treatment. The Alliance says the right to independent mental health advocacy and new laws protecting children from being placed in adult inpatient wards have been significant changes for the better but that overall levels of compulsory treatment have increased. It also says use of DoLS varies widely across the country, suggesting it is not being applied consistently and that very vulnerable people are not receiving protection. It says action is needed to reduce compulsory treatment and that the DoLS scheme should be reviewed by Government to ensure it is implemented fully and the rights of vulnerable people are not overlooked.
Campaign challenges mental health clichés
Source: Time to Change 11/06/12
‘Pull yourself together’ has come top of the cliché chart in a national online poll commissioned by the mental health campaign charity Time to Change. Other frequently used unhelpful comments include ‘There are people out there much worse off than you’ and ‘Snap out of it’. Time to Change has launched a new campaign called ‘It’s time to talk. It’s time to change’, which includes a new viral film with tips on how to start a conversation about mental health (see http://youtu.be/FGiqn5MK1TY). People with a mental health problem say that being prepared to listen, and being open minded and non-judgmental are the three most important factors that help them talk about and cope with mental ill health.
Persistent poverty affects children’s learning
Source: Centre for Longitudinal Studies 13/06/12
Living in poverty since infancy has a major impact on children’s development, new research shows. The research uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a long-term project that is following up some 8,000 children born in the UK in 2000–01. It shows that, at age seven, a child who has lived in persistent poverty since birth ranks 10 levels lower on a range of ability tests than their peers who have never been poor, even when family circumstances and parenting skills are taken into account. Poverty – especially persistent poverty – has a greater impact on cognitive development than factors such as whether or not parents read to their children, take them to the library, or help them with reading, writing and maths, the researchers say.
Report highlights risk of breast cancer return
Source: Macmillan Cancer Support 12/06/12
Nearly one in four women who have been treated for breast cancer will have a recurrence of the disease within 10 years, a study funded by Macmillan Cancer Support has found. The study, the first in the UK, found that 22.6 per cent of 1000 women who were first diagnosed between January 1999 and March 2002 had a recurrence of the disease within ten years. Half those (51%) who developed recurrent breast cancer lived for over three years disease-free and survived for up to 18 months on average after the recurrence; some (5%) survived for at least 10 years. Macmillan Cancer Support says NHS resources tend to be directed towards women with a first-time diagnosis and that the NHS should improve care for women with recurrent breast cancer.
Eating disorders rising among men and boys
Source: South West London & St George’s NHS Trust 12/06/12
Increasing numbers of boys and men are seeking help for eating disorders, specialists at South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) have warned. In 2011/12 nine per cent of patients receiving treatment from the trust’s specialist unit for eating disorders were male, up from three per cent in 2010/11. The latest NHS statistics show a 16 per cent increase in hospital admissions for men with eating disorders, more than half of whom are aged under 18 years.
Motivation ‘not a factor’ in school-based counselling outcomes
Source: Counselling and Psychotherapy Research 12/06/12
Motivation may not be an important factor in outcomes from therapy for children and young people, a study of young people attending a school-based counselling service in Glasgow suggests. Researchers asked 81 young people attending the service to complete a questionnaire asking how much they wanted to come to counselling, if it was their choice, had they ever found it helpful to talk to someone when sad, upset or worried, and if they thought counselling would be helpful. Analysis showed that, unlike adults, motivation in these young people was not related to outcomes. The researchers highlight some weaknesses in the methodology of the study but suggest that school counselling services should be wary of concentrating only on students who appear motivated or keen to attend counselling; those ‘sent’ to counselling may benefit just as much.
Public approval for NHS falls
Source: Kings Fund 12/06/12
Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen sharply in the past 12 months, from 70 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011, results from the 29th annual British Social Attitudes survey show. The 12-point fall is the largest drop in satisfaction in one year since the survey started in 1983. The survey also found a drop in public satisfaction with individual NHS services: satisfaction with GP services fell by four points to 73 per cent, and with accident and emergency services by seven points. However satisfaction with NHS dentistry service rose to 56 per cent from an all-time low of 42 per cent in 2008. Analysts say this is due to increased funding and improved access to NHS dental services. They say there is no objective evidence that quality of NHS care has fallen overall and that the drop in satisfaction may be due to a perceived deterioration in NHS services, or to more general disquiet about the national economy.
Fearful mice calmed by cannabinoids
Source: Molecular Psychiatry 12/06/12
Researchers in America have found a way to increase levels of a naturally occurring endocannabinoid chemical in the brain that may help treat people with anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), breaks down the endocannabinoids in the brain, but scientists have been able to block the action of the FAAH in mice, which made the mice less fearful. They say the effect is like that of smoking marijuana. They have also discovered that human genetic differences related to the same brain chemistry influence how well people cope with fear and stress. People with a version of the FAAH gene associated with lower enzyme function and thus with higher endocannabinoid levels showed a greater decrease in activity in the amygdala in response to pictures of threatening faces. The researchers say further studies are now needed to confirm the connections between FAAH variation and PTSD risk as well as the potential of FAAH inhibition as a treatment for fear-related disorders.
Homecare cuts ‘risk lives’
Source: British Red Cross 11/06/12
Cuts by local authorities of vital homecare services are putting the lives of elderly and vulnerable people at risk, the British Red Cross has warned. In a survey of GPs and the general public, 88 per cent of GPs said patients are being put at risk due to lack of social care support; 88 per cent of GPs and 80 per cent of the public said that lack of investment and cuts to social care services are driving down standards, and 85 per cent of GPs and 82 per cent of the public said that thresholds for local authority social care support are being raised because of lack of funding. The Red Cross says homecare can save the NHS thousands of pounds: an analysis of its own health and social care services found that home-based support can save the NHS up to £10,000 per patient per year.
Scotland’s higher suicide rates ‘due to mental illness and alcohol’
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health Online First 10/06/12
Higher levels of mental illness and alcohol misuse are the main factors behind Scotland’s high suicide rates, a comparison of national and local data reveals. Researchers compared a range of social, cultural and health-related factors at postcode and health board level in Scotland and local authority and primary care trust level in England. They found that Scotland’s suicide rate in the period 2001–2006 was 79 per cent higher than in England; younger Scottish men and women aged 15–44 years were at double the risk of suicide of their English peers. Overall, 57% of the risk in Scotland was explained by higher rates of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs (which were used as a proxy for rates of severe mental illness), alcohol and drug use, socioeconomic deprivation, social fragmentation and other health-related indices. The use of psychotropic drugs was the variable most strongly associated with differences in suicide risk, followed by alcohol misuse. These should be the main focus of any suicide preventions strategy, the researchers say.
Neurofeedback may help treat depression
Source: Cardiff University 08/06/12
People with depression can be trained to use neurofeedback to control the part of the brain associated with low mood, researchers at Cardiff University claim. The researchers conducted a trial using MRI scanners to show people with depression how their brains reacted when they looked at positive images. After four sessions of treatment, the eight people in the trial all reported significantly improved mood. A control group of eight people also with depression who were instructed simply to think positive thoughts reported no improvement in mood. The researchers say the MRI scans allowed participants to work out for themselves the kinds of images that were most effective for improving their mood, giving them a sense of control over their own brain activity. The team has now launched a larger randomised controlled trial, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), to evaluate the potential therapeutic effects of this technique on depression.
Care Quality Commission appoints new chief executive
Source: Department of Health 08/06/12
David Behan CBE, current Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships at the Department of Health, has been appointed Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The previous Chief Executive Cynthia Bower announced her resignation from the post in February. The CQC has been criticised for failing to carry out adequate inspections to protect vulnerable people in care homes. David Behan has led work to reform adult social care and to deliver the reforms in the Health and Social Care Act 2011. He was the first Chief Inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection and was awarded a CBE in 2004 for services to social care. He will take up his new role in July.
London shops offer safety to bullied teenagers
Source: Citizens UK 07/06/12
The London CitySafe campaign, part of the Citizens UK community action network, is to establish 300 ‘safe havens’ for victims of bullying throughout the capital for 100 days, during the period of the Olympic Games. The charity has persuaded 300 businesses across 19 London boroughs to put up a CitySafe sign to show young people and other victims of crime that they can seek refuge there. It echoes the ancient tradition of declaring a truce 50 days before the start of the Olympic Games. A trial safe zone in north Liverpool led to a 29 per cent reduction in violent crime within 50 metres of the safe haven.
Government increases investment in public service ‘enterprise’
Source: Department of Health 07/06/12
The Department of Health and Cabinet Office have increased financial support for frontline health and other public sector staff who want to set up their services as a social enterprise. The Department of Health has added a further £19 million to the £100 million paid out to public sector social entrepreneurs over the past five years, and the Cabinet Office has established a new £10 million ‘Mutuals Support Programme’ to help future public sector worker-run services. Some 600 social enterprises have so far been set up by former NHS staff to provide services to the public under the Government-backed scheme. Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said the extra funding ‘ will help roll out more of these services across the health service and shift power and control to frontline workers’.
Campaign seeks to raise awareness of childhood abuse
Source: Clarifi Consulting 07/06/12
A childhood sexual abuse (CSA) training consultancy is calling for a national campaign to raise awareness of its lifelong effects. Clarifi Consulting works with abuse survivors and runs specialist training workshops for counsellors, social workers and frontline health professionals. They say that people who are still suffering the effects of childhood sexual abuse in adulthood find it hard to disclose their history and, without help and treatment, the damage can affect their own families and future generations. They want to launch a national childhood sexual abuse survivor week in 2013, which they believe will help combat the stigma and enable people to seek help for CSA. An estimated one in four women and one in six men will have experienced childhood sexual abuse, leading to significant health and social problems. Clarifi Consulting are calling on all charities and organisations working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse to contact them and work together to launch the week.
MoD launches Army anti-stigma campaign
Source: British Army 06/06/12
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched the second phase of its ‘Don’t bottle It Up’ campaign aimed at tackling stigma associated with mental illness in the Army. The campaign is designed to challenge the assumption that all mental health problems in the Army relate to combat stress. Concerns over money and employment, fears about job cuts and changes in Army structures and domestic troubles are among the main contributors to anxiety-related mental health disorders, and the Army wants to encourage soldiers and their families to seek help for these difficulties. Phase two of the Don't Bottle It Up mental health stigma campaign features on a new page on the Army website (http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/23386.aspx) offering help and advice to soldiers and family members. The site will be updated regularly with case studies and personal experiences of soldiers and officers to challenge the stigma of admitting to having mental health problems.
Premature birth linked to mental illness
Source: Archives of General Psychiatry online first 01/06/12
Premature birth increases the risk of serious mental illnesses in later life, an analysis of population health records shows. Researchers analysed data from 1.3 million people born in Sweden between 1973 and 1985. Of 10,523 people admitted to hospital for treatment for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, 580 had been born prematurely. Full-term children had a two in 1,000 chance of psychiatric hospital treatment. For premature babies born before 36 weeks, the risk was four in 1,000 and this rose to six in 1,000 for those born before 32 weeks.
No clinical evidence for menopausal anxiety
Source: Journal of Affective Disorders 01/07/12
There is no hard evidence of a link between menopause, hot flushes and increased anxiety that would justify a formal psychiatric diagnosis, researchers say. A systematic review of studies published between 1960 and 2011 found nine on the relationship between menopause and anxiety, two on menopause and panic disorder, and eight on anxiety and hot flushes. Overall, anxiety symptom levels reported in the studies were low throughout the menopausal transition but, say the researchers, all the studies were marred by poor measurement of both menopausal status and anxiety symptoms and relied heavily on the use of brief, often non-validated measures of anxiety symptoms. Psychosocial factors such as attitude to menopause and overall attitude to life or changes in family life were important predictors of hot flush severity.