California is to introduce a ban on gay reparative or conversion therapy for young people aged under 18 years
In the news
California bans gay conversion therapy
ABC News 01/10/12
California is to introduce a ban on gay reparative or conversion therapy for young people aged under 18 years. The law will come into effect on 1 January 2013. Governor Jerry Brown said therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation ‘have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery’. The Human Rights Campaign advocacy group said reparative therapy ‘has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on [young people’s] wellbeing. The National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality said the bill was a ‘legislative over-reach’.
Depression affects one in 10 workers in Europe
European Depression Association 01/10/12
One in 10 workers has taken time off because of depression, a survey of 7,000 people in seven European countries has found. The survey was conducted for the European Depression Association (EDA) in Britain, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Spain and France. Overall, 20% of workers had received a diagnosis of depression at some point in their lives, ranging from 26 per cent in the UK to 12 per cent in Italy. People in Britain (58%), Denmark (60%) and Germany (61%) were most likely to take time off work because of depression; people in Turkey were least likely to do so (25%). Days off for depression ranged from 41 in Britain to 23 in Italy, and averaged 36 per episode. One in four of the workers with depression did not tell their employer, and one in three said they were worried it could put their job at risk. A third of the 792 managers surveyed said they had no formal support in place to help them deal with employees experiencing depression although in Britain the 117 managers surveyed reported good back up from their HR department.
Report warns of ‘deadly cycle’ of inactivity
Young Foundation 01/10/121
Just one in 20 adults meets the Government’s recommended minimum levels of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week, a report from the Young Foundation says. A new report, Move It!, charts the change in children’s activity levels over the past five decades. Five-to-16 year-old children and young people in Britain spend on average nearly six hours per day in front of screens. The proportion of primary school children walking to school has almost halved from 92 per cent to 49 per cent in past 50 years. Teenage boys cycle half the distance they did 20 years ago. Studies show a significant drop-off in physical activity levels and participation in sports at about the age of 10 – a critical moment in children’s development when preferences and motivations for adult behaviour begin to form. A generation of inactive kids leads to a generation of inactive adults, creating a deadly cycle and an annual cost of £8.2 billion to the NHS and the national economy as a result. Move It! says increased participation in sports and physically active play will improve health, reduce crime, improve mental health, increase educational attainment, and result in more cohesive communities.
Night-time mobile phone use linked with adolescent mental health problems
Journal of Pediatric Psychology 01/10/12
Young people who use their mobile phone after bedtime are at greater risk of suicide, mental health problems and self-harm, a Japanese study has found. The study questioned 17,920 adolescents about their self-reported mental health, sleeping patterns and mobile phone use. The results showed a significant association between use of mobile phones after bedtime and poor mental health, suicidal feelings and self-harm regardless of how much sleep the young people got and other factors in their lives. Only younger adolescents reported getting less sleep because of night-time mobile phone use. The study did not explore why the young people were using their mobile phones at night, or causation.
Healthwatch England launched
Department of Health 01/10/12
THE NHS and social care public watchdog Healthwatch England goes live this month to provide a national voice for people using health and social care services. Healthwatch replaces LINks (Local Involvement Networks) and was promised in the Government White Paper Equity and Excellence: liberating the NHS. The role of Healthwatch is to represent the views and experiences of health and social care service users. A national network of local Healthwatch groups will be launched in April 2013 and cover every local authority area in England. Local Healthwatch groups will consult with local people and use their views and experiences to help shape local service provision.
HIV treatment free to overseas visitors
Department of Health 28/09/12
People from overseas who are not normally eligible for free NHS care will not have to pay for HIV treatment, the Government has ruled. New guidance on NHS charges for overseas visitors says HIV will be treated in the same way as sexually transmitted disease and will be treated without charge on the NHS. The Government hopes this will encourage overseas visitors to seek screening and treatment if they think they are HIV positive, and so cut the risk of transmission to other people.
Age discrimination ban comes into effect
Department of Health 28/09/12
The ban on age discrimination comes into effect from 1 October 2012. The Department of Health has published brief guidance on the implications for health workers of the ban, which was introduced in the Equalities Act 2010 and is now law. The ban means it is illegal for any provider or commissioner of services in the public, private and voluntary sectors to discriminate, victimise or harass a person because of age. Any member of the public aged 18 or over who believes that they have been treated less favourably because of age will be able to take counselling organisations or individual practitioners to court and may be awarded compensation. The guidance can be downloaded free from the Department of Health website.
NICE to produce social care guidance
Department of Health 28/10/12
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, is to include social care in its remit to produce evidence-based recommendations for best practice, the Department of Health has announced. Previously NICE has only produced guidelines on health and medical care. The Department of Health has published an initial list of social care topics that NICE will start working on. They include autism in adults and children, the mental well-being of older people in residential care, transitions between health and social care, transition between children and adult services, medicines management in care homes, management of physical and mental co-morbidities of older people in community and residential care settings, and domiciliary care. NICE plans to publish the first social care standards, for autism and for the mental wellbeing of older people in residential care, in 2013/14.
Benzodiazepines linked with dementia in older people
British Medical Journal 27/09/12
Benzodiazepines carry a 50 per cent increased risk of dementia in older people, new research has found. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, come from a 15-year follow-up study of 1063 men and women in their late 70s. Over that time, 253 cases of dementia (23.8%) were confirmed: 30 (32%) in benzodiazepine users and 223 (23.0%) in non-users. People who took benzodiazepines for the first time during the study period were at greater risk of dementia. The incidence rate of dementia was 4.8 per 100 person years in those who started taking the drugs by year three of the study, compared with 3.2 per 100 person years in those who had not. Ever having used benzodiazepines was associated with an approximately 50% increase in the risk of dementia in comparison with never use. The researchers say that, given the frequency with which benzodiazepines are prescribed and the number of potential adverse effects of the drug in the general population, indiscriminate widespread use is inadvisable.
More patients complain about their GP
Patients Association 27/09/12
Complaints about GPs are rising sharply, figures published by the Patients Association helpline show. The helpline receives some 8,000 calls a year. In the six months January to June 2012, the proportion of calls relating to GPs increased from 11 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent. The most common complaint (26%) was about communication – patients saying they hadn’t been given enough information and their treatment or the GP was unsympathetic and wouldn’t listen to them or discuss with them what they had been told. Only 60 per cent said their GP treated them with compassion. Nearly two in five (39%) rated their GP’s communication skills as five or less out of 10 and 80 per cent said they wanted to be more involved in decisions about their care. The survey also found that, when patients did raise concerns with their GP, nearly one in four felt that the response was poor and 4.4% of respondents said they had been removed from their GP’s list after making a complaint.
Child neglect drops down priority list
Community Care 27/09/12
Children suffering neglect or emotional abuse are unlikely be prioritised for help by social services, a survey by Community Care magazine and the NSPCC has found. The majority of the 242 social care professionals (59%) surveyed said that it was 'quite' or 'very' unlikely that local social services would take swift action to protect children who were being neglected. For emotional abuse, this figure rose to 72%. Half the respondent said thresholds for responding to neglect cases have risen in the past two years. Some 60 per cent said there was pressure to downgrade cases of neglect locally to ‘children in need’ rather than children in need of protection; 60 per cent also said the burden of evidence required to take neglect cases to court was too high. By contrast, 96 per cent said that timely action would be taken for physical abuse, and 94 per cent said timely action would be taken over sexual abuse. The majority (61%) of respondents said neglect featured in more than half the cases on their caseloads, and 36 per cent said it was a primary concern in more than half their cases.
Schools mental wellbeing guide launched
Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition 25/09/12
A guide to improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in schools has been launched by the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. The guide is written for headteachers and describes how they can implement a whole-school approach to promoting and safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils. It spells out the economic cost of not promoting a mentally healthy school and the cost-benefits of a range of interventions. These include commissioning school-based counselling and seeking IAPT training for teaching staff. It says that for every £1 spent on school-based counselling, £6 is saved over the child’s lifetime. It says that embedding health and wellbeing in the school culture will result in improvements in the academic attainment of pupils make their schools healthier and safer environments.
Yalom to speak at BACP summit
Source: BACP 25/09/12
US psychotherapist and writer Irvin Yalom will be guest speaker at an evening event in February organised by BACP to introduce a national ‘summit’ on counselling and psychotherapy. Yalom will speak by video link, with his son Victor, who is also a psychotherapist. The talk, on 4th February, will be followed by a one-day conference at the QE2 Conference Centre in central London to explore the elements of an effective counselling and psychotherapy service in the 21st century and the dilemmas for practitioners seeking to balance personal commitment to a set of core values in an increasingly commercialised context.
One in seven Scots on antidepressants, NHS figures show
Source: NHS Information Services 25/09/12
One in seven Scots are now taking antidepressants, new data reveal. Over 700,000 Scots (14 per cent of the population) were prescribed antidepressants in 2011–12: 483,431 women and 234,899 men. Numbers of patients taking anti-psychotic drugs totaled 817,937: 42,592 women and 35,879 men. Prescriptions for ADHD were also up, at 7,511: 6,103 males and 1,403 females. Most were prescribed to children aged 10–19 although some were aged less than four years.
JSA claimants have worse mental health
Source: Department for Work and Pensions 25/09/12
Mental health problems are nearly twice as common among people seeking work than in the general population, a study commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions reveals. Nat Cent interviewed over 2,000 people at the start of their claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in early 2011 and re-interviewed 1279 of them after three months. The study found that 14.7 per cent had severe neurotic symptoms – nearly twice the rate (8.5 per cent) in the general population. More than a fifth (22.6 per cent) had a common mental disorder (CMD) such as anxiety or depression. People with CMD were less likely to find work in the three-month study period and were more likely to have low confidence in their chances of finding work and send out fewer job applications. However their mental health status was dependent on factors almost entirely unrelated to employment, such as access to social support and traumatic experiences in their lives. Overall, two thirds of the JSA claimants believed that employment leads to better health, although those with CMD were more likely to have a negative view of work and were less optimistic about the future.
Children ‘need to reconnect with nature’
Source: National Trust 24/09/12
Parental fears are the main barrier that prevents children going outdoors to play, an inquiry by the National Trust has found. In a poll of over 400 parents of children aged under 13 years, ‘stranger danger’ was named by 37% as a barrier to their child playing outdoors, 25 per cent named ‘lack of safe nearby outdoor places to play’ and 21 per cent named ‘too much traffic’. Nearly half (45 per cent) of parents said ‘more local safe places to play’ would most encourage them to let their children get outdoors and explore more where they lived. The other two most frequently mentioned improvements were ‘more supervised play spaces’ (32%) and ‘more activities organised by schools or youth groups’ (31%). Children themselves also mentioned traffic risks, perceptions that activities such as climbing trees were too risky and anxious parents reinforcing messages that they might ‘slip and catch cold’ if they went outdoors in the rain. The National Trust says parents need help to help their children re-connect with nature.
Gingko biloba ‘ineffective’ against memory loss
Source: University of Hertfordshire 24/09/12
Taking Gingko Biloba supplements does not improve memory, attention or problem solving in healthy individuals, a study by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire has found. The meta-analysis of 13 randomised controlled trials examined the effects of Gingko Biloba on more than 1000 healthy people of all ages. It found no evidence of impact on cognitive functions, regardless of the person’s age, dose taken or the length of time of taking the supplements. Gingko Biloba has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years. It is one of the most widely used plant-based products available without prescription in Europe and North America, where is it marketed as a dietary supplement to treat blood disorders and to enhance memory in healthy individuals and to ward off Alzheimer's disease. The researchers conclude that taking the supplement to help failing memory ‘may be a waste of time and money’.
Psychologists urge Americans to turn to psychotherapy
Source: American Psychological Association 24/09/12
The American Psychological Association has launched a national media campaign to encourage more people to try psychotherapy as an alternative to antidepressant drugs. An estimated one in ten Americans have depression and mental ill health is one of the top three reasons why Americans seek medical treatment. The number of prescriptions for antidepressants more than doubled between 1996 and 2008, from 55.9 million to 154.7 million. The APA is broadcasting an animated video series about a fictional miracle drug called Fixitol. The videos are a parody of the adverts used by the pharmaceutical industry to market antidepressants directly to the public. . The APA is backing the media campaign with information resources on depression, how psychotherapy works and how to talk to your doctor about a referral to a psychotherapist.
Met launches review into mental health custody deaths
Source: Metropolitan Police Service 24/09/12
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has commissioned an independent review into how it responds to people with mental health conditions. The review will look at cases in the last five years when someone with a mental health condition has either died or been seriously injured after contact with the police. The review will be chaired by Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of the social enterprise Turning Point. It follows a number of deaths of people in police custody with a mental illness, including Olaseni Lewis, who died in 2010 after being restrained by the police, and Sean Rigg, who died at Brixton police station in 2008. The review team is inviting the families of people who have died or been seriously injured following contact with the police to contribute their experience. The findings will be published early in 2013.
Social workers highlight mental health stigma
Source: College of Social Work 24/09/12
Most social workers think that mental health problems have a lower status than physical health conditions, a survey by the College of Social Work has found. More than 90 per cent of the specialist mental health social workers who responded to the survey said that the stigma of mental health is still a barrier to people accessing support. Seventy-two per cent said that services for mental health conditions are not as comprehensive as those for physical health conditions and that better provision is needed in preventive services, early intervention, choice of personalised care,
residential accommodation, supported employment and therapeutic services, as well as improved primary care support. More than 58 per cent agreed that people with mental health conditions feel excluded and discouraged from seeking help and that not enough is being done within service provision to challenge stigma around mental health.
Peer support ‘threatened’ by professionalism
Source: Together: Working for Wellbeing 24/09/12
Good practice guidelines are needed to protect the principles of true peer support and preserve its grassroots, user-led ethos, says a new report by the national mental health charity Together. The Freedom to Be; the Chance to Dream warns that the role could lose its distinct identity if mental health trusts directly employ peer supporters they may be viewed as ‘cheap labour’ to replace qualified nursing staff and have to comply with NHS policies and procedures such as control and restraint and risk assessments. Mutuality and trust are essential to effective peer support and a framework is needed that supports its grassroots ethos and preserves its user-led heritage, Together says.
Poor children ‘shamed’ by free school meals
Source: Institute for Social and Economic Research 23/09/12
Children from deprived families are taking packed lunches to school rather than face the stigma of a free school meal (FSM), new research has found. The study, funded by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, explored the reasons for the low take-up of free schools meals in the UK. FSMs are worth some £400 a year to deprived families and also trigger the Pupil Premium, which pays schools £600 per child. More than 1.1 million children are entitled to FSMs but nearly a third (300,000) are not making use of the benefit. The research used data from a Scottish Government experiment to introduce universal entitlement to FSMS in areas of high deprivation and anonymised payment schemes in other areas. A ten per cent increase in peer-group take-up reduced non-participation by almost a quarter, the research shows. Researcher Angus Holford said that ensuring all children eat together removes the stigma of requiring FSM recipients to eat their lunch apart from other children and sends a message that schools meals are good quality.
Views sought on ‘compassionate’ nursing
Source: Department of Health 21/09/12
The Department of health is seeking the public’s views on how to ensure the NHS and social services deliver ‘compassionate care’. It has published a draft ‘vision’ for nursing, midwifery and care-giving that sets out a set of proposed values for compassionate care and asks how they can be applied across the health and social care services. The vision asks how NHS and social care services can recruit people with the right qualities, how top promote better public health, how public services can ensure nurses feel able to challenge poor practice, and how can new technologies assist care-givers to improve their care and communicate better without compromising these values. Members of the public are invited to contribute their views online.
Government launches ‘talk about it’ dementia campaign
Source: Department of Health 21/09/12
The Department of Health has launched a three-month campaign in England to encourage people to talk to loved ones showing signs of dementia. The campaign is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, which is providing advice on how to introduce the topic to a family member showing signs of dementia. The campaign aims raise awareness of the condition and of its early signs and symptoms and how to seek help. It includes television and print advertising.
Middle-aged men at suicide risk
Source: Samaritans 20/09/12
Middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are higher risk of suicide than men from higher socio-economic backgrounds, the helpline charity Samaritans says. In a new report on Men and Suicide: why it’s a social issue, Samaritans says some 3,000 middle-aged men take their own lives each year and men from low socio-economic backgrounds living in deprived areas are ten times more likely to die by suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas. It says men in this age group are vulnerable to a number of powerful social pressures. They tend to compare themselves against a ‘gold standard’ that prizes power, control and invincibility and feel shame if they feel they can’t match up. The changing nature of the labour market over the last 60 years has also meant that working class men have lost their pride and identity along with their jobs in the traditional manufacturing industries. Samaritans also argue that that men in mid-life are mostly dependent on a female partner for emotional support but today they are more likely to live alone and lack the social or emotional skills to fall back on. They are calling on the Government to acknowledge the gender and socio-economic inequalities in suicide risk.
Australia targets children of parents with depression
Source: Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) 19/09/12
The Australian Government is funding a national programme to prevent mental illness in the children of parents with depression and/or anxiety. The Family Focus programme is based on an intervention pioneered in the US that achieved a 40 per cent reduction in mental illness in children in families where a parent has depression. The programme will be rolled out nationally by the mental health charity Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI), which will train 50,000 mental health workers nationally to use the approach. An estimated one million Australian children have a parent with depression and/or anxiety, who are at a higher risk of developing learning difficulties, relationship problems, substance abuse and/or low self-esteem in addition to depression and/or anxiety themselves. Family Focus builds child and family resilience by offering a shared family perspective, acceptance and understanding of the parent’s illness. The training will be followed up by a public awareness campaign early next year, with the support of the national defeat depression campaign beyondblue.
Intensive treatment improves eating disorders outcomes
Source: Psychotherapy Research 18/09/12
Higher intensity day hospital treatment can dramatically improve outcomes for patients receiving treatment for eating disorders, a US study shows. The study compared outcomes from just over 800 female patients of a US day hospital who received four or five days-per-week treatment for anorexia nervosa, bulimia or other eating disorder over varying lengths of time. More of the women on the five-day-per-week programme stopped bingeing and vomiting and more reported improved mood and less body dissatisfaction. However weight gain rates and improvement in other psychological functions were similar for both programmes – between 50 and 60% of underweight patients were discharged at a healthy weight, and nearly 80 per cent were above the threshold for a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa by the end of treatment. The five-day programme was also, therefore, much more cost-effective at $36,500 per patient, compared with $59,230 per patient on the four-day programme.
Early ambitions offer clues to resilience
Source: Centre for Longitudinal Studies 14/09/12
Children’s ambitions may offer clues to their emotional state, new research from the Institute for Education shows. The study analysed the career aspirations of over 11,000 children taking part in the UK-wide Millennium Cohort Study. It found that the more ambitious seven year old children from poor backgrounds were less likely to have behaviour problems than their equally disadvantaged peer with lower career aspirations. The researchers say that a child’s early aspirations may be a good indicator of the presence or absence of characteristics associated with resilience, such as self-perception of competence or a feeling of hopelessness. The study also found that children in families below the poverty line are more likely to aspire to work in the public sector than those growing up in more advantaged circumstances. The 12 most popular occupations with seven-year-olds were teacher, scientist, hairdresser, sports player, fire fighter, police officer, artist, actor/entertainer, animal carer, vet, doctor and builder.
Domestic violence to include emotional abuse
Source: Cabinet Office 19/09/12
The official definition of domestic violence is to be extended to include non-physical control and abuse, the Government has announced. From March 2013, the legal definition of domestic violence will include ‘coercive control’. This recognises that victims are often subjected to ongoing patterns of intimidating behaviour and control, not just single acts of physical violence. Young people aged 16 and 17 will also be able to seek police protection from violent partners. Previously only people aged 18 and older were protected by law. The Government says it hopes this will increase awareness that young people are victims of domestic abuse and encourage more of them to come forward seek help. The British Crime Survey 2009/10 found that 12.7 per cent of women and 6.2 per cent of men in the 16–19 age group suffer abuse, compared with seven per cent of women and five per cent of men in older groups. A new NSPCC young people’s panel has been established to help inform the Government’s work on tackling domestic violence.
Painkillers can make headaches worse
Source: NICE 19/09/12
Taking painkillers over a prolonged period of time to relieve headaches can make symptoms worse, new guidelines from NICE warn. More than 10 million people in the UK experience headaches frequently and regularly. Many treat them with over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, aspirin or triptans. But up to one in 50 may be having headaches because of the medication they take, NICE says in its first clinical guideline advising doctors on how best to treat patients with persistent headache. NICE says GPs and other healthcare professionals should consider ‘medication overuse headaches’ as a possible cause for worsening symptoms among patients who have been taking such drugs for three months or more.
Complaints about doctors reach record high
Source: General Medical Council 18/09/12
Complaints about doctors have hit a record high. The number of complaints to the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors practising in the UK, increased by 23 per cent from 7,153 in 2010 to 8,781 in 2011. Rates have been steadily rising since 2007. The figures are revealed in the GMC’s second annual report on The State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK. Most complaints were from members of the public. There was a significant rise (69 per cent) specifically in concerns about doctors’ communication skills and complaints about lack of respect also rose markedly, by 45 per cent. Actual numbers of doctors whose practice fell below standard were small: the GMC took action in some 500 cases and gave advice in a further 700; 65 doctors were removed from the medical register, and a further 93 were suspended. GPs, psychiatrists and surgeons attracted the highest rates of complaints. Male doctors, and in particular older male doctors and older male doctors who had trained overseas, were also far more likely to be the subject of complaints than were women doctors.
Guardianship powers fall out of use
Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre 18/09/12
Use of guardianship powers has fallen in England for the seventh consecutive year. Guardianship is a safeguard under the Mental Health Act that allows a local social services authority or named individual to take some decisions on behalf of a person with a mental disorder being cared for in the community, to protect their welfare or the welfare of others. In 2011/12, 331 new cases were opened; a five per cent fall on the previous year (347) and a 31 per cent fall on 2002/03 (477). Just over a quarter (27 per cent) of new cases in England were in the North West. The lowest number and rate was in the East Midlands. Guardianship under the Mental Health Act 1983, England, 2012 also reports a three per cent fall in continuing cases at the end of 2011/12, from 703 to 682, and a 26 per cent fall from 2002/03 (923). The HSCIC says the drop in use may be due to the introduction of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), which have been available to health professionals since November 2008 and April 2009 respectively.
Public increasingly unhappy with NHS
Source: NatCen 17/09/12
People are much less satisfied with the NHS than they were in 2010, when the Labour Government was in power, the latest, 29th British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey reveals. In 2010, 70 per cent of respondents were either very or quite satisfied with the NHS. In 2011, rates had fallen to 58 per cent – the same level as in 2008. Satisfaction with GPs fell from 77 to 73 per cent, with inpatient services from 59 to 55 per cent, with outpatients from 67 to 61 per cent and with Accident and Emergency services from 61 to 54 per cent. Satisfaction with dentistry increased, from 51 to 56 per cent, thanks to increased funding and improved access to NHS treatment. The percentage who believe the NHS has improved also fell, from 40 per cent to 31 per cent, and the proportion who believe that the standard of health care has got worse increased by 11 percentage points to 27 per cent. The BSA says the decline in overall satisfaction with the NHS is explained mainly by anxieties about the government’s reforms and worries about underfunding. Asked what the Government’s priority should be for public spending, the majority of people put health top, just above education.
Employers’ fear aging workforce will take toll on business
Source: Aviva 17/09/12
Many employers think the removal of the default retirement age and the consequent older workforce will have a negative effect on their business, research by the health insurer Aviva shows. Aviva’s annual Health of the Workplace survey of 1,000 UK employers and 1,000 employees found that, although half (50 per cent) of employers believe there are positive benefits for individuals working past the traditional retirement age, nearly two fifths (38 per cent) expect the ageing workforce to have more severe health problems. A quarter (24 per cent) say an increase in the numbers of older employees will increase sickness absence rates. A similar proportion (26 per cent) are concerned that older employees will have more serious health conditions than their younger colleagues and nearly three quarters (70 per cent) believe that health issues in the workplace will increase because older employees suffer from different medical complications to younger employees. A quarter (23 per cent) said they would need training to help spot signs of serious illness, such as dementia.
Numbers of B&B families rise
Source: National Housing Federation 17/09/12
The number of homeless families living in temporary bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation has risen by almost half in the first few months of 2012. Overall numbers of homeless have also risen by 26 per cent in two years. Research by the National Housing Federation has found that the numbers of families placed in B&Bs rose from 2,750 in the period January to March 2011 to 3,960 in the same period in 2012 – an increase of 44 per cent. The Federation is also warning that use of temporary short-term private rented accommodation by local authorities to house some 26,000 homeless families nationwide may be affected by the new universal benefit cap, which could make this better alternative to B&B accommodation unaffordable to low income families.
Government backs mental health discrimination bill
Source: Cabinet Office 14/09/12
The Government has formally announced its support for a Private Members Bill to repeal legislation that prevents people with mental health problems from serving as MPs or on juries. The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill was first introduced in April 2011 by Lord Stevenson of Coddenham but ran out of Parliamentary time. It was brought back as a Private Members Bill in June 2012 by Gavin Barwell MP and received its second reading on 14th September. It will now go to the Committee stage for further scrutiny and debate. The Bill will repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 under which an MP automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months, amend the Juries Act 1974 to remove the blanket ban on ‘mentally disordered persons’ undertaking jury service, and amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 that allows someone to be removed as a director of a public or private company ‘by reason of their mental health’.
Job strain link to heart attacks
Source: The Lancet 14/09/12
Having a high-demand job with little control over it increases the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease, a new study confirms. An international team of researchers analysed findings from 13 European cohort studies of men and women who were in work but had no history of coronary heart disease at the time of the study. Of the 197,473 participants, 30,214 (15 per cent) reported job strain. These were followed up for seven and a half years, by which time 2,358 had reported some form of coronary heart disease. The researchers say workers suffering job strain are at 23 per cent higher risk of heart attack and that action to prevent workplace stress could decrease incidence of heart disease by 3.4 per cent. However they also say the risk to the heart from job strain is much smaller than the risks from smoking or not exercising and that reducing smoking in the population could cut heart attacks by 36 per cent.
Meningitis Trust to launch guide for families
Source: Meningitis Trust 14/09/12
The Meningitis Trust is to publish a new resource to help young people and their families cope with the after-effects of contracting viral and bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia. The Yellow Book, which will be produced with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will be given to parents on their child’s discharge from hospital. It will provide information and advice about health issues and where to find further help and information, and will have space to log follow-up appointments and doctor’s details and record of any changes to their child’s health or wellbeing. Some 1,700 children a year in the UK contract viral or bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia and one in seven of those who survive have a permanent disability such as deafness, brain damage or loss of limbs.
Children prefer to tell their problems to friends
Source: British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 13/09/12
Young people don’t seek help from school counselling services because they don’t want other pupils to find out and they don’t want to talk to a stranger about personal problems, new research shows. The study used previously collected data from 1346 young people (51.1 per cent males, 46.3 per cent females aged 11 to 17) attending Belfast and Glasgow secondary and grammar schools between 2004 and 2008. Most (69 per cent) were white; 12 per cent were from black and minority ethnic communities. Asked why they might not want to talk to a school-based counsellor if they had a problem, the most common answer was that they were worried that other pupils might find out what was said to the counsellor. Second most commonly mentioned was ‘Feeling that there are other people you could talk to’; third was ‘Worrying that other pupils might find out that you are going;’ fourth was ‘Not wanting to talk to a stranger’. Qualitative analysis of focus groups reflected these main themes: most commonly, the young people said they would talk to other people (36.6 per cent) and they didn’t want to talk to a stranger (13.6 per cent). But nine per cent said they didn’t know what a counselling service was or did. Female participants were more likely to be deterred by diffidence and self-reliance; male participants were more likely to be worried about being seen as weak.
Mental health services still overlooking physical health needs
Source: Care Quality Commission 13/09/12
Community mental health services are still ignoring the physical health of their clients, a survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows. Mental health services are also falling short on helping the most vulnerable of their clients find work and housing and deal with financial issues. The survey of 61 NHS mental health trusts found improvements in some aspects of crisis care, with 60 per cent of service users respondents saying they had the number of someone to call in their local NHS mental health service outside office hours, up from 58 per cent in 2011. But nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of those who called this number said that they didn’t get the help they needed and three per cent couldn’t get through to anyone. Over a third (36 per cent) of respondents who needed support with getting help for their physical health needs said that they had not received it and would have liked it, up from 31 per cent in 2011. Of the 42 per cent of respondents who were on the Care Programme Approach (CPA), over a third (34 per cent) said they had not received support with finding or keeping work, and would have liked this; 27 per cent said they had received no support with finding or keeping their accommodation but would have liked this, and 26 per cent said they had not been given any support with getting help with financial advice or benefits but would have liked it.
Personal budgets can aid recovery
Source: Centre for Mental Health 12/09/12
Personal health and social care budgets are a key element in helping people with a mental health condition to get their lives back on track, emerging research shows. A briefing on Recovery, Personalisation and Personal Budgets, published by the Centre for Mental Health, sets out the benefits of having greater control over their care and the freedom to buy in what they find most helpful. The briefing reports early findings from a pilot project in Northamptonshire where Personal Health Budgets in mental health are being trialled. It also sets out the shared philosophy and objectives of recovery and personalisation and outlines eight core features that need to be in place if personal health budgets in the NHS and personal budgets in social care are to be used effectively and cost-effectively to promote recovery.
Mind announces media award shortlist
Source: Mind 12/09/12
A documentary hosted by cricketer Freddie Flintoff, a TV drama about the social worker who was mass-murderer Fred West’s appropriate adult, BBC Radio 5 Live Men’s Hour, Gok Wan’s Channel 4 TV programme for young people and Piers Morgan’s Life stories of the very rich and famous are among the television, radio and print media products shortlisted for this year’s Mind Media Awards. The awards are held every year by the mental health charity to celebrate the best in mental health media coverage. The winners will be announced by actor and tv presenter Stephen Fry on 19 November at a ceremony in London.
WHO launches new health policy framework for Europe
Source: WHO Europe 12/09/12
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new health policy framework for the European region that explicitly recognises the role of resilience in individual and community wellbeing. Health 2020 has as its aims to improve health and wellbeing, reduce health inequalities, strengthen public health and ensure universal and equitable access to high quality health services across all member states. The framework identifies four priority areas for action, including the creation of supportive environments and resilient communities. This explicitly recognises the influence of the environment on health and wellbeing and emphasises the need to give children a healthy start in life so they can learn and fulfil their potential, as well as the role of resilience in the lives of individuals and communities.
Users have more say in social care services
Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre 12/09/12
Users of adult social care services are having more say in their care, statistics from the national adult social care outcomes framework for England reveal. Nearly two thirds of users (63 per cent) were satisfied with the service they received in 2011–12, unchanged from 2010–11. However slightly more (13.7 per cent) were paying for and organising their own care through direct payments (11.7 per cent in 2010–2011), and 43% overall (including those on direct payments and those whose care was paid for directly by their local authority) were arranging their own support. Local authorities’ success at preventing older people from needing hospital admission and enabling them to return and stay well at home was broadly unchanged: 83 per cent of older people discharged from hospital were still managing at home 91 days later (a one per cent rise from the previous year).
Hospital admissions for stress rise
Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre 11/09/12
Hospitals in England have reported a seven per cent rise in the past year in admissions for treatment for stress, provisional figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show. Admissions rose to 6,370 in the 12 months to May 2012 from 5,960 in the previous 12-month period. Admission rates were highest among working-age people. The North West had the highest admission rate for stress; the South West had the lowest. Men accounted for slightly more admissions (54 per cent) than women. However admissions for anxiety fell by almost three per cent, from 8,810 to 8,590. Admissions for anxiety were highest among the elderly. Women accounted for nearly two thirds of all anxiety admissions (nearly 63 per cent) and admission rates were higher for females across all age groups. The highest rate of admissions for anxiety (nearly 24 per 100,000 population) was in the North East; the lowest (nearly 11 per 100,000) in the South Central region.
Manualised treatment gets better results
Source: Psychotherapy 11/09/12
Clients achieve better outcomes if the therapist uses research-specific procedures during treatment, a meta-analysis of psychodynamic psychotherapy outcomes suggests. The aim of the study was to see if the use of specific procedures for research purposes (audio/video recording, use of treatment manuals and fidelity checks) in psychodynamic psychotherapy has any effect on outcomes. A meta-analysis was conducted on 46 randomised controlled trials involving 1615 patients. There was no difference in client outcomes in the outcomes of studies that used research-specific procedures and those that did not in the immediate post-treatment period. However, the use of treatment manuals and fidelity checks were significantly associated with improved client outcomes over the follow-up period.
New suicide prevention strategy launched
Source: Department of Health 10/09/12
The Department of Health has launched a new Suicide Prevention Strategy with a focus on supporting bereaved families and preventing suicide among at-risk groups. The Government has also pledged £1.5 million for new research into preventing suicide in high-risk groups. The most recent figures (for 2008–10) show that the group at highest risk has changed from younger men to middle-aged men, at 20.8 per 100,000 population. The suicide strategy also explicitly recognises that economic problems can affect mental health and are linked with a rise in suicides. Other high-risk groups identified in the strategy include people with mental health problems and those with a history of self-harm. Strategies to reduce the risk of suicide include reducing access to suicide-related internet sites for children and reducing the opportunity for suicide for people in prisons and mental health units. The government has also promised better information and support for those bereaved or affected by suicide.
Study highlights children’s capacity to self-heal
Source: British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 10/09/12
Young people have a capacity to self-heal when they don’t get counselling support, a small-scale qualitative study reveals. The study interviewed 14 young people aged 14–15 years old on a wait list for school-based counselling in a randomised controlled trial of school-based humanistic counselling. Eleven were female and three were male. All reported significant changes in their lives that had affected their need for counselling, mostly (32 out of 35 changes) positive. All 14 participants experienced at least one positive change and the majority (10) reported at least two. Some were still experiencing ongoing problems but only two mentioned changes for the worse. The most frequently mentioned changes were emotional (mentioned by eight); interpersonal (mentioned by seven) and behavioural (six); more rarely, they mentioned academic (school performance), confidence, attitudinal, circumstantial and physical. The changes were motivated predominantly (18 changes) by self (realising the need for change or realising there was something they could do), self with support of family and friends (19 changes). The researchers say young people have a natural ‘self-righting process’ ad that supporting this natural capacity may be an important element of therapeutic work.
School-based counselling can improve school achievement
Source: British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 06/09/12
School-based counselling is perceived by young people as helpful to their academic achievement. In a small-scale study, 21 young people aged 12–17 who either had received or were still receiving school-based counselling were asked if their problems and the counselling had affected their capacity to study and learn. The majority (81 per cent) said their difficulties had affected their concentration (81 per cent) and reduced their motivation to do school work (43 per cent) and attend classes (38 per cent). Some (24 per cent) reported behavioural problems in class. The overwhelming majority (95 per cent) said the counselling had improved their concentration, and two thirds (67 per cent) said it had improved their relationship with their teachers. Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) said it had increased their motivation to do schoolwork and had increased the amount of schoolwork they did. Over half (52 per cent) reported better performance in tests and exams, and 38% said it had improved their school attendance. The researchers say the link between counselling and improved academic achievement appears to be indirect and dependent on several interdependent factors.
Health ministers reshuffled
Source: www.parliament.uk 04/09/12
Andrew Lansley has been replaced as Health Secretary by Jeremy Hunt. Hunt, previously Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was shadow Minister for Disabled People in the last Parliament. Liberal Democrat care services minister Paul Burstow has also been replaced, by fellow Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, whose brief includes mental health. David Cameron has also appointed two new parliamentary under secretaries of state. Daniel Poulter, a doctor and Conservative MP, will be responsible for nursing, health visiting, health education and training, patient safety and NHS procurement. Anna Soubry (also Conservative) is the new public health minister. Her responsibilities also include NHS Blood and Transplant, genetics and biotechnology, complementary and alternative medicine and reducing red tape.
Save the Children launches UK poverty campaign
Source: Save the Children 05/09/12
Save the Children, the international child poverty charity, has launched its first ever campaign to raise money to support disadvantaged children in the UK. A new report, Child Poverty 2012: It Shouldn't Happen Here, highlights findings from a survey of 1500 children and 5000 parents about the effects of the recession on their lives. More than half the poorest children said their parents were unhappy or stressed because of lack of money and nearly one in four of the poorest parents said they were arguing more or snapping at their children because of worries about money. One in seven of the poorest children said they had to go without a warm winter coat and new shoes and almost one in five said they missed out on school trips because their parents couldn’t afford the cost. Four out of five parents said they were having to borrow more money for essentials such as food and clothes.
Benefits test linked to suicides
Source: Rethink Mental Illness 04/09/12
More than eight out of ten GPs say (84 per cent) patients have developed stress, anxiety or depression as a result of having to undergo, or the fear of undergoing the controversial Work Capability Assessment, a survey by Rethink Mental Illness has found. The WCA determines eligibility for Employment Support Allowance, which is paid to people with long-term illness or disability who are unable to work. Rethink asked more than 1,000 GPs for their views about the impact on patients’ mental health of the WCA. Three quarters said patients have needed extra support because of the WCA. One in five (21 per cent) said patients have had suicidal thoughts, 14 per cent said patients have self-harmed and six per cent knew of patients who have attempted suicide or taken their own life because of the WCA. Over two thirds said the WCA assessors should seek information directly from GPs if patients with mental health problems are too unwell or vulnerable to arrange this themselves and 61 per cent said assessors did not make enough use of GPs’ knowledge of their patients’ conditions.
Jeremy Hunt appointed Health Secretary
Source: BBC News 04/09/12
Jeremy Hunt has been appointed Secretary of State for Health in an autumn Cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister David Cameron has replaced Andrew Lansley with Hunt, who is promoted from his previous post as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services, has also lost his job. He is replaced by fellow Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb. Lamb, formerly Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, was Liberal Democrat health spokesman before the 2010 election.
E-therapy better than online self-help
Source: Counselling Psychology Quarterly 01/09/12
Support from a therapist adds an extra, special dimension to cognitive behavioural therapy that self-help online CBT lacks, a new study shows. Researchers asked a sample of college students what they found helpful and hindering in therapist-delivered and online CBT treatments for depression. Eighty students were randomly assigned either to eight sessions of therapist-delivered asynchronous e-mail CBT counselling or a computerised, self-administered CBT for depression programme. Participants in both groups reported many helpful elements in common. But only the therapist group also described feeling supported and validated through the acknowledgement/listening, advice and guidance and compassion provided by the email contact with the therapist. Unhelpful events such as burden of work, time and pace, difficulties with the content and delivery and technical problems that led to frustration, confusion, irritation, disappointment, anxiety and self-criticism were reported by both groups, but more often by those in the self-administered CBT group.
Benzodiazepine risk for dementia
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 01/09/12
Benzodiazepines are linked with a higher risk of dementia in old age, a follow-up study of older men suggests. Researchers assessed 1134 men at five points over 22 years and recorded full medication histories, repeat measures of cognitive function and a clinical diagnosis of dementia. Of the 1,134 with full data, 103 (9.1 per cent) had been taking benzodiazepines regularly at one or more periods in their life. These men showed a marked increased incidence of dementia, regardless of psychological distress and other variables. Those who took benzodiazepines at a young age were at greater risk.
Exercise helps older people with depression
Source: British Journal of Psychiatry 01/09/12
Structured exercise programmes can help reduce symptoms of depression in older people, a systematic review of clinical outcomes shows. The review and meta-analysis of random controlled trials found that exercise was associated with a statistically significant 20 per cent reduction in symptoms of depression, equivalent to the outcomes of antidepressant and psychotherapy studies. A mixed programme of strength and endurance training was more effective than more generalised movement training such as Tai Chi.
Remploy offers free in-work support
Source: Remploy 30/08/12
Remploy, the specialist employment services provider for people with disabilities, has won the contract from the Department for Work and Pensions to provide mental health support to people in employment in England, Wales and Scotland. The contract is part of the DWP’s Access to Work programme. Remploy will provide a free in-work mental health support service for up to six months to any employees experiencing mental health problems. The package will include individual counselling, mediation and tailored mental health support. They will also work with the employer to identify ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace that will help the employee manage their work and stay in their job. Anyone in work whose job may be at risk because of their mental health problems can ask for support, with or without their employer’s knowledge.
Complaints against primary care services rise
Source: HSCIC 29/08/12
More than 3000 written complaints a week were made against the NHS in 2011–12, data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show – a total of just over 162,100 for the year. But the eight per cent rise over the previous year is explained by the inclusion of data from 23 NHS foundation trusts that weren’t submitted in 2010–11, the HSCIC says. Numbers of complaints rose by one per cent when only the data from the 350 NHS trusts and 151 Primary Care Trusts who reported data for both years is compared (from 148,900 to 150,900). There was a two per cent decrease in complaints against NHS hospital and community health services (from 98,200 to 96,000). Of these, 49,300 complaints (just under 46 per cent) were about doctors and 23,300 (22 per cent) about nurses, midwives and health visitors. There was an eight per cent rise in complaints against family health services (50,700), of which 54 per cent were about medical care, and 19,300 (just over 36 per cent) about clinical care.
Computer use may protect against dementia
Source: PLoS ONE 28/08/12
Older men who use computers are at lower risk of dementia, an Australian research study shows. The study followed up over 5,500 older men aged 69–87 for up to 8.5 years. Participants were asked how often they used a computer, and also to report their use of email, internet, word processors, games or other computer activities. Just over a third of the men (33.7 per cent) reported using computers and 347 (6.3 per cent) received a diagnosis of dementia during the follow-up period. The risk of getting dementia was lower among those who used a computer, regardless of age, education, social networks and mental health. Moreover, the more often they used a computer, the less likely they were to develop dementia. The researchers say further, randomised trials are needed to establish if the link is causal.
Psychotherapy can help people cope with skin diseases
Source: British Journal of Dermatology 27/08/12
Psychological therapies can help people cope with the symptoms of skin diseases, new research shows. Researchers at the University of Sheffield carried out a systematic review of outcomes from psychological interventions designed to lessen the effects of and help adults cope with skin conditions such as acne, vitiligo, eczema and psoriasis. The review found that psychological interventions were effective, both in reducing the severity of the condition and psychosocial outcomes and, more strongly, on helping people control their itch/scratch reactions. The researchers say more research is needed to extend the range of evidence-based psychological treatments available and to follow up long-term outcomes.
Antidepressant antenatal risk
Source: PLoS ONE 24/08/12
Psychotropic medications pose a high risk in pregnancy, a study has confirmed. The study also shows the risk is related to the medication, not to the mother’s mental health. The researchers identified all pregnancies and their outcomes between 1990 and 2009 from a database of primary care patients in the UK. Of the 331,414 pregnant women on the database, those who had taken anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication during pregnancy were at greatest risk of miscarriage, perinatal death or pregnancy termination, in comparison with those with no history of depression or anxiety. Women with a history of mental illness who were not currently taking medication were also at raised risk of a non-live birth. The researchers say avoiding or reducing use of psychotropics during early pregnancy ‘may be advisable’.