The Department of Health is inviting the public and practitioners to contribute to its Healthy Living and Social Care Red Tape Challenge to cut runnecessary regulations
In the news
Department of Health seeks to cut social care regulations
Department of Health 05/11/12
The Department of Health is inviting the public and practitioners to contribute to its Healthy Living and Social Care Red Tape Challenge to cut red tape. It is inviting people to give their views on the need for over 500 regulations covering public health, quality of care and mental health care, the NHS and professional standards. The challenge is part of a Government drive to reduce bureaucracy within the public services. The Department of Health wants to know which of the regulations could be scrapped or improved in order to boost growth in the health and social care sector, create jobs and give health professionals more time to care for patients, without weakening public health safeguards. The consultation continues until 11 December. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has also launched a Focus on Enforcement review of regulations governing adult social care homes.
Department of Health issues violence prevention guidance
Department of Health 02/11/12
Violence prevention is crucial to improving the health of the nation, new guidance from the Department of Health says. Violence affects mental health and wellbeing and quality of life, prevents people using outdoor space and public transport and undermines trust and community cohesion, the guidance says. There are 2.5 million violent incidents in England and Wales each year, resulting in 300,000 emergency department attendances and 35,000 emergency admissions to hospital. Treating the effects of violence costs the NHS some £2.9 billion every year, without counting the higher risk of substance abuse, obesity and illnesses such as cancer and heart disease in later life among children exposed to violence. The total costs of violence to society are estimated at £29.9 billion per year. Violence is also contagious, the report says: exposure to violence in childhood makes people more likely to be violent themselves in later life. People in deprived communities experience five times the rate of violence as those living in more affluent areas. The report describes a range of public health interventions, from parenting programmes and targeting high-risk youth groups to changing social norms of behaviour and reducing alcohol consumption.
Asylum seekers ‘given bad press’
British Red Cross 01/11/12
The British Red Cross says negative media reporting about refugees and asylum seekers fosters prejudice and discrimination. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by the British Red Cross of just over 2,500 people, 72 per cent of the UK public believe that newspaper reporting about these groups is negative. The words people most associate with media coverage of refugees and asylum seekers are ‘illegal immigrants’ (65%) and ‘scroungers’ (28%), the survey found. The British Red Cross wants the new press regulatory body that will emerge from the Leveson inquiry to produce new guidance banning inclusion of irrelevant details about immigration status in stories about crime and misbehaviour, as with facts about race and religion, and permitting third-party representations so that charities and campaign groups can challenge misreporting. It also says the press watchdog should actively monitor standards, instead of just following up complaints, and ban inaccurate and emotive terms such as ‘bogus’ or ‘illegal’ in the media when journalists are describing immigration status.
BACP launches commissioning guide
BACP has published a new guide to help members negotiate the new NHS commissioning structures at local level. The guide, Interpreting and Engaging with Local Change, is the first in a planned series that will be produced over the next 12 months. It explains to members how the NHS is now structured and how and where they can intervene at local level to ensure that high quality counselling and psychotherapy services are commissioned to meet need. The guidance explains how local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are structured and operate, and the opportunities for counsellors and psychotherapists to bid for contracts through the ‘Any Qualified Provider’ (AQP) system. A key section sets out the points where counsellors and psychotherapists can contribute to the commissioning process, using the opportunities provided by the key Government policy drivers of personalisation, prevention, wellbeing and equality.
Primary school children respond better with feedback
Psychotherapy Research 01/11/12
Use of systematic feedback results in better outcomes for primary school children receiving counselling, new research reveals. The study also found that CBT produced better results than other modalities. A total of 288 seven to 11 year old children at 28 primary schools in Northern Ireland received on average 12 sessions of counselling using the Partners for Change Outcome Monitoring System (PCOMS). The interventions varied, depending on the individual child’s needs and presentation. The most common problems were ‘family’ and ‘personal’ (reported by 70% of the children). Following counselling, the children showed significant reductions in levels of psychological distress and 88.7% showed clinical improvement. Children with disabilities, older children, and those whose counsellor used CBT techniques showed greatest improvement. The researchers say this might be because a more directive and focused approach like CBT works better within a limited timescale, or that it tends to be used more frequently with anxious or angry children, who might also be more likely to show improvement in short-term work. Overall, using POMS achieved twice the improvement achieved in similar studies where systematic feedback was not provided.
Too much exercise may be bad for mental health
Preventive Medicine 01/11/12
People who exercise 2.5 to 7.5 hours per week have better mental health than average. However, exercising for longer may be bad for mental health, a US study suggests. Researchers analysed data reported by some 7,600 adults who took part in the US Health Information National Trends Survey 2007 and compared the participants’ mental health to quantity of exercise. The greatest improvements in mental health were associated with two to four hours of exercise a week but beyond four hours the trend reversed. Some 65% of people with poorer mental health exercised more than four hours per week, compared to 55 percent of adults in better mental health. When people exercised for more than 7.5 hours of exercise a week, symptoms of depression and anxiety rose significantly. But the research does not suggest a direct causal link. It might be that people who are more prone to depression or anxiety are more likely to take physical exercise to control their symptoms.
Girls switch to contractive pill
Health and Social Care Information Centre 31/10/11
Fifteen-year-old girls attending NHS community contraceptive clinics are more likely to opt for the oral contraceptive pill rather than the male condom, according to figures for 2011 released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Some 41 per cent chose the oral contraceptive pill compared with 36 per cent who chose the male condom. In 2010–11 38 per cent opted for the pill and 42 per cent chose the male condom. This is the first time the pill has been more popular than the condom among this group of young women. A further 15 per cent chose long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including the coil, injectables such as Depo-Provera, and implants. A total of 43,000 15-year-old girls attended an NHS community contraceptive clinic in 2011/12 – around 14 per cent of the population in that age group, and a similar percentage to 2010/11. Oral contraception was also the most common method of contraception for all other age groups up to age 44.
Government cancels abortion consultation
Health Minister Anna Soubry has called off a Government consultation on abortion counselling. The consultation was promised by the Government after a proposal by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries to change current guidelines to require abortion counselling to be provided separately from abortions was defeated in the House of Commons in September 2011 by 368 votes to 118. But Anna Soubry has now announced that the Government no longer plans to conduct a separate consultation on the issue, although it will look at the recommendations on unplanned pregnancies from an inquiry currently being conducted by a cross-party group of MPs. She told MPs: ‘It is of primary importance that, when a woman is seeking a termination, there is no delay in her achieving that. That is why it is so important that, if a woman is going to have a termination, she does it as quickly and as soon as possible.’
Study highlights cultural difference in GP consultations
Counselling Psychology Quarterly 31/10/12
British Asians are more likely to describe psychological problems in physical terms when they seek help from their GP, a new study confirms. But many different reasons may explain this, the researchers say. The study compared rates of GP consultations, somatisation and mental health scores of 102 British Muslim Asians living in the UK and 44 native white British people aged 18–75. The British Asians were more likely to somatise their symptoms and a higher proportion consulted their GP more than three times in a year. Those who consulted their GP more often were also more likely to somatise their symptoms and to have poorer general mental health. But, say the researchers, this may be because of language difficulties and differences, poor education and lack of vocabulary to explain their symptoms, or simply that they were indeed experiencing their difficulties as physical symptoms. British Asians might also be using somatic language to describe their symptoms because they think GPs are only able to treat physical problems. The researchers say much greater sensitivity is needed to interpret these findings and understand the complex cultural factors that might explain them. Separating cultural factors from structural influences is not easy, they warn.
Psychodrama improves quality of life for people with HIV/AIDS
European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling 30/10/12
Psychodrama can improve the coping skills and quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS, a qualitative study shows. Seven people living with HIV/AIDS took part in 10 psychodrama sessions of six hours each that used techniques such as protagonist plays, group plays, sociodrama and vignettes with the aim to help participants gain better insight, cope better with negative feelings and problems and prejudices associated with their diagnosis. Participants were interviewed in focus groups and their physical and mental health assessed using the SF-36 scale. Participants reported that they felt more courageous about declaring their diagnoses, communicated more openly and effectively, and had a better acceptance of their diagnosis. They were also less depressed and less fearful of death. Their mental health scores improved significantly, but not any other health scores on the SF 36.
Depression affects one in ten
Health and Social Care Information Centre 30/10/12
One in ten patients registered with GPs has depression, new data on the GP Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) reveal. QOF is the GP financial reward and incentives scheme, which awards practices extra money for the quality of care they provide to patients with common chronic conditions, including depression, learning disability, obesity, epilepsy, diabetes and kidney disease. The data show that, of these six conditions for which GPs maintain age-specific registers, depression was the most prevalent at 5.1 million patients (11.7%) aged 18 and over, and that prevalence has increased from 4.9 million (11.2%) in 2011.
Search dog reduces drugs on wards
South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust 30/10/12
Paddy the drugs search springer spaniel has reduced illegal drug use by 80 per cent of the wards of St George’s Hospital in south west London. Since Paddy started searching wards in May 2010, incidents of violence against staff have dropped to their lowest level in five years, to less than half the national average for mental health trusts, and the lowest of any mental health trust in London, the trust says. Maria Huk, director of mental health nursing said: ‘Together with our highly trained nursing and security staff, Paddy’s become a valuable part of our drugs control strategy.’
Miliband pledges right to talking therapies
Labour Party 29/10/12
A Labour government would rewrite the NHS constitution to give people a legal right to talking therapies, in the same way that they have a right to medical treatment, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said. In a speech to the Royal College of Psychiatrists he said it was a false economy not to invest in psychological therapies: ‘Talking therapies can help people and can save money, so they must be an NHS priority.’ He also said a Labour government would give mental health parity with physical health in NHS services and ‘end to the artificial divide between physical and mental health services and ensure that they are properly integrated’. BACP has welcomed the Labour Party commitment to talking therapies and to preventive early intervention but said funding was needed ‘to both support those suffering from mental ill health, and to provide appropriate early intervention schemes to encourage general mental wellbeing’.
Voices link to teenage suicides
Archives of General Psychiatry 29/10/12
Teenagers who have psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices are a high risk of suicide, new research published in the Archives of General psychiatry suggest. Compared with adolescents in the general popular, those with psychoses are at 10 times greater risk of suicide. Researchers interviewed two cohorts of young people aged 11 to 13 and 13 to 15 about their experience of psychotic symptoms and suicide. In both groups, presence of auditory and visual hallucinations was associated with a high suicide risk. In addition, the 13 per cent of young people who reported suicidal behaviour such as thoughts, making plans and attempting suicide were also more likely to have planned or attempted to take their own lives if they also had psychotic symptoms.
Public confidence in NHS falling
Department of Health 26/10/12
Public satisfaction with the NHS is unchanged from last year but more people think the Government reforms will make health services worse, the annual Public Perceptions of the NHS and Social Care survey for 2012 shows. Some 69% of people are satisfied with the current running of the BNHS, compared with 70% in December 2011. But 43% think the Government’s reforms will make things worse (up from 38% in 2011). Fewer people say they would feel safe in an NHS hospital if they were severely ill and that people have more choice about their treatment and care. There is a small increase (three per cent) in the numbers saying people are treated with dignity and respect when they use NHS services, and when they use social care service (one per cent). But confidence that GPs will be able to handle their commissioning role has fallen from 47%^ in 2011 to 42%, and only 73% believe GPs are best placed to understand which services their patients need, down from 83 per cent in 2011.
Percentage of successful ESA claims doubles
Department for Work and Pensions 23/10/12
The percentage of people getting unconditional support through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has more than doubled since May 2010, new figures from the Department for Work and pensions show. Overall 54% of people assessed were found to be able to do some form of work and 46% were judged eligible for the benefit. Of these, 26% were assessed as too ill or disabled to work and put in the Support Group –more than double the 10–11% figure from December 2008 to May 2010. A further 20% of people were put in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), where they are expected to take steps towards an eventual return to work.
Mental Health Act detentions rise
Health and Social Care Information Centre 24/10/12
The number of people detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act increased to 48,600 last year, a five per cent increase on 2010/11. The number of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) rose to 4,200 – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year. The latest figures on detentions also show that 2,100 people on CTOs were recalled to hospital for treatment – a 30 per cent increase – and 70 per cent of CTOs were revoked, up from 60 per cent in 2010/11. An estimated 8,700 people were taken to a police station under Section 136 – one in three of all reported Section 136 place of safety orders. A further 14,900 people were taken to hospital as a place of safety. Detentions in independent sector hospitals rose 21 per cent on 2010/11.
Exercise halts brain shrinkage
Age UK 23/10/12
Taking exercise in later life may help stop the brain shrinking and so protect against memory loss and dementia, research by scientists at the University of Edinburgh suggests. The research, published in Neurology and funded by Age UK, found that people over 70 who took regular exercise had less brain shrinkage over a three-year period than those who took little exercise. Participation in social activities or mentally stimulating activities did not have the same protective effects. Brain shrinkage is linked to problems with memory loss and deterioration in cognitive functioning. Brain scans of nearly 700 older people showed that those who were physically active had less damage to their brain’s white matter – which is responsible for transmitting messages around the brain – and more grey matter – the parts that contain nerve cell bodies – than non-active older people.
Self-harm tops young people’s concerns
Young Minds 23/10/12
Young people are more concerned about self-harm than any other issues, including bullying, gangs, drug use and binge drinking, new research by Young Minds and Cello, the private sector marketing group, has found. But nearly four out of five young people say they don’t know where to go for help and information. The report, Talking Self-harm, is based on research with nearly 2,500 young people, parents, teachers and GPs and qualitative feedback gathered in online community consultation forums. Two out of three teachers, parents and young people worry that they will say the wrong thing if someone turns to them for help. Half of the GPs, teachers and parents surveyed thought that young people who self-harm are at high risk of suicide, but the same proportion also saw self-harm as a way to manipulate other people. Parents also said they felt ashamed and over a third would not seek professional help because of this. Young people said they felt more comfortable seeking help online than going to their parents, teachers or GPs. The overwhelming majority of young people (97%) thought they should be taught about self-harm in school, and two thirds said it should be part of the PHSE curriculum
Welsh mental health strategy launched
Welsh Government 22/10/12
The Welsh Government has launched a ten-year strategy for mental health and wellbeing. Together for Mental Health is supported by a three-year initial delivery plan and aims to improve both the care and treatment of users of mental health services, their carers and their families and the wellbeing and resilience of the whole population. It reaffirms the Welsh Government’s commitment to secondary school-based counselling and continues the Mental Health First Aid programme, which helps people recognise the signs and symptoms of someone with mental health problems. The strategy has been welcomed by
MIND Cymru and BACP for its focus on improving mental health and wellbeing and not just addressing mental ill health. BACP chief executive Laurie Clark said: ‘The acknowledgement of the role of counselling in complementing and sometimes as an alternative to medical treatment is also extremely welcome.’
Computers may boost mental health in old age
PLoS ONE 17/10/12
Using computers is much better for the mental health of older people than watching television, new research suggests. The research collected data on 1425 men and 1154 women aged between 60 and 70 years in 2001 and 2007. The aim was to compare the benefits of different forms of sedentary activity for older people. Use of computers was associated with improved verbal memory and executive functioning; watching TV was associated with the obverse. The researchers also report that participants who increased their computer use by more than 30 minutes over the six years showed better performance on both verbal memory and executive functioning than did those who decreased their computer use during that period.
Stroking may alleviate effects of prenatal stress
PLoS ONE 16/10/12
Prenatally depressed mothers who stroke their babies may be able to offset the potential damage to their infant’s healthy emotional development, new research suggests. Stress in pregnancy is thought to lead to emotional and behavioural problems in children because it reduces the activity of genes that influence stress response. Researchers at Liverpool University sought to find out if the human equivalent to the licking behaviours observed in rats can alleviate this impact. The researchers measured how often 300 mothers at high risk of depression and stress stroked their babies at five, nine and 29 weeks post-birth. Infants were assessed for heart rate response to stress, anger proneness and fear at 29 weeks. Only the babies whose mothers became more depressed over the study period and who stroked them infrequently showed poorer stress, anger and fear responses, suggesting that stroking in humans may have similar benefits to the equivalent licking in rats.
Doctors to face five-year revalidation
Department of Health 19/10/12
Doctors will have to go through revalidation every five years into order to be able to continue to practise, the Department of Health has ruled. The system will be launched in December. All doctors who are licensed with the General Medical Council (GMC) will be expected to demonstrate that they are up to date with the latest techniques, technologies and research and also in interpersonal skills such as communication and maintaining patients’ trust. Doctors will also have to undergo annual appraisals by their medical director, which will feed into the revalidation process. The GMC will be responsible for managing the process and deciding whether a doctor’s licence to practise will be renewed.
Discrimination ‘a major barrier’ to life chances
The Lancet 18/10/12
Fear and experience of discrimination may stop people seeking help for major depression, a new international survey shows. Researchers surveyed a total of 1082 people with diagnosed depression in 35 countries worldwide to assess their experience of stigma and discrimination. Of these, 79 per cent said discrimination had influenced major decisions in at least one important aspect of their life: 37 per cent had not initiated a close personal relationship, 25 per cent had not applied for jobs and 20 per cent had not applied for education or training courses. Those who had more severe depression were more likely to report discrimination. Experience of discrimination also meant people were less willing to disclose a diagnosis of depression. However 47 per cent of those who said they expected discrimination in finding or keeping a job and 45 per cent of those who expected to be rejected in an intimate relationship had not themselves experienced discrimination. The researchers say the findings suggest a need for more efforts to challenge the stigma and self-stigma linked with depression.
Weight loss surgery warning
National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death 18/10/12
People who have bariatric surgery for weight control should have more psychological support, a report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) says. Too Lean a Service? reviewed 357 cases out of 3280 patients given bariatric surgery in the NHS and private sector in 2010. In only 32% of the cases was the care of patients considered ‘good’; in 60% there was room for improvement, and 27 patients received less than satisfactory care. A third (32%) did not get adequate follow-up after surgery and only 29% had psychological counselling beforehand. Nearly one in five patients were readmitted to hospital within six months and 21 had to have a further operation. Fifty patients did not fit the NICE criteria for having the operations. Some 25 per cent of patients had self-referred to a private clinic, and nearly half had paid for the surgery themselves.
Human trafficking rising
Home Office 18/10/12
The numbers of people smuggled into the UK by human traffickers has increased. In 2011, 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – 634 females, 312 males, 712 adults and 234 children. The children were mainly aged 16–17 years. This compares with 710 referrals in 2010, of whom 524 were adults and 186 were children. The main source countries were Nigeria, China, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia. The most prevalent exploitation type for adults was sexual exploitation, although the report notes that labour exploitation and criminal exploitation is increasing. The most common type of exploitation reported for children was labour. According to the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), there could be over 2,000 potential victims of human trafficking in the UK.
Depression up by half a million
Depression has increased by 11.5 per cent in the past three years, totalling some half a million people, an analysis of NHS treatment data shows. According to the data analysts SSentif, some primary care trusts (PCTs) have seen increases of more than 40% in the number of people seeking treatment for depression in the last three years. Rises in mental illnesses and dementia are also reported. These figures suggest that almost ten per cent of the population now suffers from depression. Yorkshire & The Humber region reported the highest percentage increase in patients receiving treatment for depression – a 19.34 per cent rise in the last three years. London reported the highest increase in prevalence of mental illness at 10.63 per cent. The West Midlands reported the highest percentage increase in cases of dementia, at 17.74 per cent. The highest prevalence of depression is in the North East at 12.24%, followed by the North West, at 10.63%.
Food bank recipients increase
Trussell Trust 16/10/12
The number of people needing free emergency food aid has almost doubled in the past six months, the Trussell Trust, UK’s largest food bank organiser, says. The trust operates 172 food banks across the UK and has a further 91 banks in development. In the first six months April to September 2012 it received nearly 110,000 referrals for adults and children in need of emergency food, and expects this to increase to 200,000 by the end of the financial year. In the whole of the last financial year, it fed 128,000 people. Demand was highest in the north west and lowest in Northern Ireland. Overall, Trussell Trust food banks fed 0.17 per cent of the UK population but numbers of children were often higher.
More people dying at home
Department of Health 16/10/12
More people are dying at home or in the care home where they have been living, the Fourth Annual Report on the Government’s End of Life Care (EOLC) Strategy reports. Some 42 per cent of deaths in 2011/12 took place in the person’s usual residence – 21.8 per cent at home, and 19.4 per cent in a care home – up from 37 per cent in 07/08. The total percentage of deaths in hospital was 51%, down from 54 per cent in 2010. The report also includes findings from the national VOICES survey, which asked some 22,300 bereaved people about the end of life care of their loved one. Some 43 per cent rated the person’s care in their last three months of life as excellent and 33 per cent said it was good. People who died of cancer and those aged under 65 received the best care. Hospices were rated highest for standards of care, dignity and respect. Hospital staff rated lowest.
Report calls for more parenting programmes
Centre for Mental Health 15/10/2012
Parenting interventions can dramatically improve children’s futures but they must be made more widely available, delivered properly and targeted at the children who need them most, a report from Centre for Mental Health says. One child in 20 has a severe behavioural problem and 15 per cent have moderate behavioural problems. Behavioural problems in childhood can greatly increase the risk of suicide, poor health, unemployment and crime in adult life. The report, A Chance to Change, reviews the implementation of parenting programmes to date. It says in many areas provision of parenting programmes is not sufficient to meet need and many parents can’t get help when they ask for it. A Government-led national campaign to raise public and professional awareness of childhood conduct problems and more funding for well-implemented and evidence-based early interventions is needed, the report says.
Gingerbread launches single parent employment campaign
Children in single parent families are growing up in poverty because their parent can’t get a job, a new report from the one-parent family charity Gingerbread says. Gingerbread has launched a three-year campaign to help single parents escape unemployment and working poverty. It says 1.16 million children in the UK are growing up in single parent families where no one at home works and more than 300,000 children in working single parent families live below the poverty line. More than half (59%) of the UK’s single parents do work but the rate is well below the European average of 71 per cent. Research for Gingerbread’s Make it Work report found that long-term unemployment among single parents with children aged over 12 is double that of other social groups and that 22 per cent of single parents who manage to find a job are out of work again within a year. Gingerbread is calling on the Government and businesses to make work a guaranteed route out of poverty for single parents and get 250,000 more single parents into work by 2020.
Intensive care 'has lasting impact on mental health'
Critical Care Journal 15/10/12
More than half the people who survive after being admitted to intensive care go on to develop psychological problems, research has found. A study of 157 patients at University College Hospital in London found that 55 per cent had depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder three months after discharge: 27% had post-traumatic stress disorder, 46% had depression and 44% had anxiety. Risk of mental health problems was linked to several factors, including medication. Risk of PTSD increased with length of sedation. Patients given benzodiazepines were at higher risk of depression; those given inotrope and vasopressor drugs (to boost heart rate) were at high risk of anxiety. But the strongest risk factors were the patients’ symptoms of mental distress while in intensive care and their psychological history. The researchers say more research is needed to investigate the effects of drug treatments and that patients’ psychological needs should be better addressed on intensive care wards.
Happier people live longer
English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 15/10/12
Older people who are happier live longer, the fifth biennial report from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) reveals. The nine-year study, conducted at University College London, also shows that future disability and poor health can be predicted from a person’s state of mind, regardless of age, gender and income. Researchers have followed up 10,000 people aged 50–100 years between 2002 and 2011. Those who reported highest enjoyment of life at first interview were more likely to still be alive nine or 10 years later: 9.9 per cent of people in the 33 per cent of participants reporting the most enjoyment in life had died, compared with 28.8 per cent of the 33 per cent reporting least enjoyment. The researchers say social involvement may be a key factor. One in six people in the survey were socially isolated, with the poorest at double the risk in comparison with wealthier people. Mobility problems and loss of access to transport were associated with greater social isolation.
University launches free mental health app
Reading University 12/10/12
Psychologists at the University of Reading have launched a free iPhone app that tells people with depression if they need to seek treatment. Developed as part of a PhD research project, the Mood Mate allows people to monitor their own mood. If the app identifies that the person is becoming depressed or anxious and could benefit from help, it directs them to local IAPT services, where they can self-refer without having to go through their GP. The app is being used to collect data for a randomised controlled trial funded by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council to see if monitoring mood over time encourages people to seek treatment. Mood Mate can be downloaded free from iTunes.
Eating disorder hospital admissions rise
Health and Social Care Information Centre 11/10/12
Hospitals admissions for eating disorders have risen by 16 per cent in the past year, new data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show. In the period June 2011 to July 2012, there were 2,288 admissions to hospital for treatment for an eating disorder, compared with1,973 in the previous year. The majority (74%) were for anorexia, seven per cent were for bulimia and 19 per cent were for other eating disorders. Most patients (91%) were female; in 2010–10 the ratio was 88 per cent female to 12 per cent male. Highest numbers of admissions were among girls aged 15 (one in 10). A quarter of admissions were discharged the same day but 11 per cent spent between three and six months in hospital, and five per cent spent at least six months as an inpatient. The highest rates of admissions were reported in the north east of England.
Football programme helps family relationships
Northumbria University 11/10/12
Taking part in football-inspired activity and learning programmes has major benefits for family health and relationships, a study by Northumbria University has found. An evaluation of the social impact of Sunderland Football Club’s Foundation of Light family learning programmes found that those taking part learned new skills, gained qualifications and became less socially isolated and more active in their local community. Participants also reported increased levels of confidence and self-esteem, which resulted in improvements in both physical and mental health and, in turn, led to better parent–child relationships and improved relationships with other families, schools and the wider community. Participation also brought parents and children closer together, participants said, and fostered friendships. Children who took part reported working harder at school and said they now enjoyed more leisure time activities with their families.
Bad news for women
PLoS ONE 10/10/12
Women are much more affected than men by bad news in the media, research shows. In a randomised controlled trial, 30 men and 30 women were assigned to read either 24 neutral news excerpts or 24 negative excerpts for 10 minutes, and were then given a simulation stress test. Stress levels were measured through cortisol saliva tests. Reading negative news did not of itself have any effect on participants’ stress levels. However, the women who read the negative news stories did have higher cortisol levels following the stress test, and also had better recall of these stories than the men. The researchers say it is important to understand the impact on stress levels in societies where people are exposed to news coverage 24 hours a day.
Counselling helps eating disorder parents cope better
British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 09/10/12
Counselling can help parents cope better with their daughter’s eating disorder, an evaluation of a family support intervention shows. The parent(s) in 87 families where a daughter had an eating disorder were given eight one-hour weekly sessions of individual counselling with a therapist with specialist skills in working with eating disorders. The aim of the counselling was to help them understand and empathise with their daughter’s illness and improve their relationship with their child and their ability to cope with her illness. More than half (54%) of the parents had poor coping skills before the counselling. Following the counselling, 43.7 per cent were found to have improved significantly on measures of family functioning, and 47.1 per cent had achieved some improvement. More (56.1%) of those with good coping skills had improved than those with poor coping skills (31.3%).
Creative link to mental illness
Journal of Psychiatric Research 09/10/12
Authors are at higher risk of severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse, and are twice as likely to take their own lives as other people. Dancers and photographers are more likely to have bipolar disorder, a study of some 1.1 million people shows. But creative professionals are no more likely overall to suffer from psychiatric disorders than people who work in other occupations, the study found. The researchers used data from longitudinal Swedish population registers that enabled them to match data on the mental health of creative professionals with those of people from other occupations. They also found that creatives were more likely to have a close family member with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or anorexia nervosa and to have a sibling with autism. The researchers say the findings might suggest a different approach to treatment, where a patient might decide with their doctor what they were prepared to endure for their art.
Falling absence rates hide increased stress and presenteeism
Average employee absence has fallen in the past year from 7.7 days to 6.8 per employee per year, according to this year’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey. But almost a third of employers report an increase in the number of people coming into work ill. Organisations that are expecting to make redundancies in the next six months are more likely to report an increase in presenteeism than those where there are no plans to cut jobs. The survey also found an increase in stress-related absence, with two-fifths of employers (40%) reporting a rise over the past year and only one in 10 reporting a decrease. Stress was the most common cause of long-term absence for the second year running. Reported mental health problems among employees is also increased: 44 per cent of employers reported an increase in employees with mental health problems in 2012, compared with 39 per cent in 2011 and 21 per cent in 2009.
Exam stress ‘good for results’
British Journal of Psychology 12/10/12
Pre-test anxiety only has a negative effect on exam results if the young person also has a poor memory, a study published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychology shows. If the young person’s memory is good, highest pre-test anxiety produces better marks, the study found. Researchers asked 96 school students aged 12–14 at several different schools to complete computer tests to measures of anxiety and working memory. The students were then tested for cognitive ability and maths performance. When the student’s working memory was poor, increased anxiety was associated with low test scores. When their working memory was good, anxiety was associated with higher test results. Between 10 per cent and 40 per cent of children are affected by exam anxiety and the researchers say their findings could help schools target those most likely to benefit from help.
BACP challenges Government to fund counselling research
BACP has challenged the Government to produce match funding to support research into effective talking therapies. In a statement to mark World Mental Health Day, BACP chief executive Laurie Clarke said BACP would match any additional funding provided by the Government for research to identify the most effective talking treatments. ‘We urge the Government to recognise the importance of counselling and psychotherapy within the NHS by making more funds available to support research into the efficacy of talking therapies. BACP is dedicated to providing matched funding to support investment in this area. By showing a similar commitment the Government would be making a valuable contribution to the mental health of the nation, which could in turn have significant long-term benefits for the economy and society as a whole,’ he said.
Report calls for national gardening leave
new economics foundation 10/10/12
Employers should offer all new recruits the choice to work a four-day week and encourage staff to establish a collective garden at work, a report from the new economics foundation (nef) says. Nef says that everyone in the UK would be better off if they spent less time at the office and took National Gardening Leave on the fifth day. It says a shorter week would leave people happier and healthier, would make the economy more resilient too, and would also make communities stronger and friendlier places to live. It says examples in other countries demonstrate the benefits. Nef is also proposing that all workplaces establish ‘growing areas’ on roofs, sections of the car park or just along window sills: ‘Shared endeavours, like gardening in the work place, have all the benefits outlined above and in particular can reduce stress and increase a sense of joint enterprise, co-operation and shared endeavour,’ it says.
Charities launch user campaign guide
A guide that provides practical advice for people with mental health problems and their families on how to make their voices heard in the mental health system and hold services to account has been launched by four national mental health charities. The guide, No Decision About Us, Without Us, explains the Government’s mental health strategy and its implementation framework, describes the decision-making structures that govern mental health services, identifies points where people can get involved in the planning and delivery of mental health services and suggests ways to influence local decisions about mental health services and to campaign for change. It also signposts other sources of information and gives practical examples where service users have successfully influencing decision-making locally. The guide was produced by the charities Rethink Mental Illness, Afiya Trust, Mind and NSUN (the national survivor user network) to mark World Mental Health Day.
Department of Health signs anti-stigma pledge
Department of Health 10/10/12
The Department of Health has become the first government department to sign the Time to Change pledge to tackle mental health discrimination at work. Care and Support Services Minister Norman Lamb formally signed the pledge on World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Time to Change is a national, government-funded programme that aims to reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems. The pledge commits organisations to taking positive action to challenge stigma and discrimination at work.
Mental Health charities launch mental health guides
Centre for Mental Health 10/10/12
A partnership of mental health charities has published a series of six guides to brief commissioners, local authorities and other statutory bodies on how to improve local mental health services. The guides are written for Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities, Directors of Public Health, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Local Healthwatch and Health and Wellbeing Boards. They set out the steps that local authorities and NHS commissioning groups can take, based on the implementation framework for the Government's mental health strategy, to improve mental health care, treatment and support and promote community mental health and wellbeing.
Report maps voluntary sector IAPT funding share
NHS Confederation 10/10/12
Just over a quarter of IAPT funding in England went to voluntary and independent sector providers, a report commissioned by the Department of Health from the NHS Confederation reveals. In 2010–11 PCTs spent 26% of IAPT funds (£44 million) with non-statutory providers nationally and 73 per cent (£123 million) with statutory providers. However the proportions varied between health areas: PCTs in the North East Strategic Health Authority (SHA) spent more than half their IAPT funding (53%) on non-statutory provision; in the East Midlands and Yorkshire regions over 30% of investment in IAPT services was with non-statutory providers; the lowest percentage investment in the non-statutory sector (17%) was in NHS South East Coast. Only PCTs in NHS South West spent IAPT funds (£900,000) on local authority provision. The total spend on adult and older people’s mental health services was £7.19 billion, of which 77% went to statutory providers, 22% to non-statutory providers and one per cent to local authorities.
School breakfasts don’t improve learning
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 06/10/12
Free school breakfasts stop children feeling hungry but have no effect on their learning, a New Zealand study has found. A randomised controlled trial of 424 children aged seven to 11 years in 14 New Zealand schools in areas of high disadvantage found no t difference in either children's school attendance or academic achievement when they were having free school breakfasts and when they were not. The only difference was that the children reported feeling less hungry. But the researchers say the outcomes are likely to be influenced by the low take-up of the free breakfasts (children’s attendance ranged from four to 38 per cent of days), and that the children who accepted the free breakfasts were probably those that least needed them. They say a proper trial of the intervention would require regular attendance to conclusively test its benefits.
Classroom CBT ‘worsens depression’
British Medical Journal 05/10/12
Whole class CBT programmes may exacerbate symptoms of de[pression in vulnerable young people, a UK randomised controlled trial in the UK has found. The Resourceful Adolescent programme is a universal depression preventionintervention that has been found to be effective in Australian and New Zealand. The UK trial comparted outcomes from 1064 young people aged 12–16 in eight schools: 392 received classroom-based CBT, 374 received a placebo attention control intervention, and 298 received their usual PHSE lessons. Depression was assessed at 12 months among those identified in the study participants as at high risk. The trial found no difference in depression levels between the three groups: two thirds of those at high risk continued to be at risk of depression. The modest improvements were likely to be due to natural recovery. However the young people in the classroom CBT group had higher rates of depression. The researchers say Universal classroom-based CBT programmes should not be used without further reseach.
‘Too few staff’ to care for older patients with dementia
University of Nottingham 05/10/12
Hospitals are struggling to care adequately for older patients with acute mental health needs because they lack enough staff and are having to meet unrealistic performance targets, a study says. Two thirds of beds in an average general hospital will be occupied by older people; half will have confusion, 40 per cent will have dementia, nearly 30 per cent will have delirium and 20 per cent will have both. A report from the University of Nottingham says a complete overhaul of training and the organisation of inpatient medical care is needed to address the growing problem. Researchers observed 11 wards and interviewed patients with mental health problems, staff, carers and relatives and fellow patients. Staff told researchers they were often unable to provide good care for older people with dementia and delirium partly because of inadequate training, partly through lack of confidence and partly because of inflexible and unrealistic targets and too few staff.
Fewer young people need drug treatment
National Treatment Agency 04/10/12
The number of young adults needing treatment for heroin or crack fell to the lowest recorded level last year, figures released by the National Treatment Agency (NTA) show. Overall, nearly 30,000 people successfully completed drug treatment in 2011–12, up from 27,969 in 2010–11 and almost three times more than seven years ago (11,208). The number of young adults needing treatment for heroin or crack fell from 11,309 in 2005–06 to 4,268; the over-40s now make up almost a third of the whole treatment population and are the only group in treatment whose numbers are increasing. The number of new heroin addicts starting treatment for the first time has also fallen sharply, to 9,249 in 2011–12 from 47,709 in 2005–06. Overall, heroin remains the biggest problem: of the total 197,110 adults in treatment, 96,343 were receiving help for heroin dependency and a further 63,199 for heroin and crack; cannabis accounted for 8% (15,194) and powder cocaine for 5% (9,640).
Low paid workers may lose benefits under new credit system
Resolution Foundation 04/10/12
Nearly 1.2 million low-paid workers currently receiving benefits under the working tax credit system will lose their entitlement when the new Universal Credit is introduced, the Resolution Foundation thinktank has warned. Universal Credit combines benefits and tax credits into a unified payment and will introduce new conditions for claimants who are in employment but earn less than the weekly equivalent of the minimum wage – £212.80 for a single person. They will have to demonstrate that they are making efforts to increase their earnings above the minimum wage by finding better-paid work, increasing their hours or taking on an extra job or risk losing benefits. Currently 1.4 million people are working part-time because they are unable to find full-time work, compared with 0.5 million in 2004.
Work Programme ‘failing to deliver’ on contracts
Seven out of 10 charities sub-contracted to the Government’s Work Programme to help the long-term unemployed back into jobs say their contracts are at risk of failure. A survey by the national voluntary sector umbrella group NCVO found that 47 per cent of charities providing specialist, intensive back to work support under contract to Work Programme prime contractors expected their contracts to fail within the next six months and 26 per cent said they would fail before the end of the contract term, due to lack of referrals and financial shortfalls. Nearly half (48%) were subsidising the delivery of the programme from their own financial reserves. A third of the 98 charities responding to the survey had received no referrals at all to date from their prime contractor; half of those with some referrals said they were getting fewer than expected. A third rated their relationship with their prime contractors as ‘not at all satisfied’. One in five complained that they had not been paid for referrals, or had been underpaid, and 28 per cent said they had yet to receive even a formal contract from the prime contractor.
Mindfulness effective with all depressions
British Journal of Psychiatry 01/10/12
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an effective first-episode treatment for depression, a randomised controlled trial has confirmed. NICE recommends MBCT only for people with three or more prior episodes of depression. In the trial, non-depressed adults with depressive symptoms and a history of less than two or three episodes of depression were randomly assigned either to received eight weeks of MBCT in addition to usual treatment or continue usual treatment. Those receiving MBCT reported a 30–35 per cent reduction in depressive symptoms, compared with just 10 per cent reported by the control group. There was no difference between those with more or less than three previous episodes.
Parenting programmes should also target the child
British Journal of Psychiatry 01/10/12
Parenting interventions should target the child as well as the parent simultaneously, a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests. The study examined the causal relationship between harsh parenting add parents’ negative feelings towards their child and the impact on parents of their child’s behaviour, using data from a monozygotic twin study. The children’s behaviour was rated by the parents at ages 3, 4, 7 and 9. `Children who were subjected to harsh parental discipline and whose parents reported frequent feelings of anger and frustration with their child were more likely to show challenging behaviours such as tantrums, inattention/hyperactivity and inability to focus on tasks and see them through. However it also found that parents’ anger and frustration were sparked by their child’s behaviour, suggesting parenting programmes should include both parent(s) and child to achieve maximum benefit.
Telephone CBT as effective as face-to-face treatment
PLoS ONE 28/09/12
Cognitive therapy over the phone is as effective as face-to-face therapy, a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE reports. Researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed data from 39,000 patients in seven IAPT services in the East of England to compare outcomes from telephone CBT and face-to-face treatment. For all but those with more severe depression, the telephone therapy was as effective as face-to-face therapy and cost 36.2% less per session. The researchers say that telephone therapy both increases access to psychological therapies and potentially saves the NHS money.
Low self-esteem link to depression in divorcees
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 01/11/12
Self-esteem is a major cause of depression among separated and divorced women, a study shows. The study used data on over 6000 women from a US national survey of families and households. It found that women who either never married or were no longer in their first marriage were at higher risk of depression, but that causes of depression varied according to their subsequent marital status. Separated/divorced, widowed and never-married women were at less risk of depression if they had a higher household income and had a strong social network. Remarried and cohabiting women were at higher risk of depression if they had low self-esteem. Low self-esteem also explained the poorer mental health of separated/divorced women in comparison with women still in their first marriage.
Poor health link to school drop-out
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 01/11/12
Young people with poor health are more likely to drop out of school and go on to claim welfare benefits, a Norwegian follow-up study has found. The study followed up over 8500 adolescents over 10 years. Of these, 17 per cent dropped out of secondary school, and 21 per cent subsequently claimed benefits. The school drop-outs were more likely to claim benefits than were those who completed their secondary education (44% vs 16%). Students who had poor health were more likely to drop out of secondary school than those in good health (27% vs 16%) and also more likely to go on to claim benefits (33% vs 20%).