What I’m really thinking: the burned-out businessman

‘I sailed on, hitting target after target, until one day I couldn’t do it any more’

Everyone told me to be careful. “Watch out: you’re burning the candle at both ends.” “Maybe you could do with some support?” And I would wave them away dismissively. Of course I could cope. They hadn’t seen anything yet. So I sailed on, hitting target after target, making my company more successful than it had ever been until suddenly I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t get out of bed some days, and when I did, I couldn’t stand up, walk in a straight line or talk sense. I felt physically sick in the presence of colleagues; I couldn’t make decisions, take notes or sit in meetings.

Thank goodness I had someone to support me through it all. My partner quietly gave me space to get well, encouraged me to see a psychotherapist and never judged. “Welcome to the mainstream!” said my doctor, who told me my body was simply shutting down until I could get my head straight.

Related: What I’m really thinking: the woman who is grateful for her abortion

Continue reading…

Matt Haig: ‘There is no more shame in mental illness than having tonsilitis’

In our series marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the writer says it is time to integrate mental and physical health

The problem we have with talking about mental health is that we still don’t think of it as an equal priority with physical health. This is wrong not simply because it leads to less money being spent on mental health service provision by governments, but also because it fails to see that the whole idea of mental health shouldn’t be an isolated one.

As a species, we love to divide things up. We draw a straight line in a map between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans while the water remains oblivious. We also draw a line between the mental and physical and base our entire system of healthcare on that false division.

Related: NHS bosses warn of mental health crisis with long waits for treatment

You can’t draw a line between a body and a mind any more than you can draw a line between oceans

Continue reading…

Care failings contributed to death of woman in prison, inquest finds

Concerns raised about suicide monitoring and mental health at inquest into death of Sarah Reed who took her life in Holloway

A jury at the inquest of Sarah Reed, a mentally ill prisoner at HMP Holloway who took her life at the jail last year, has identified serious shortcomings in her care.

Reed was in prison awaiting medical reports about whether she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit. The reports found she was unfit to plead, but Reed killed herself three days before they were due to be completed.

Continue reading…

I’m a paramedic who has considered suicide and I’m not getting support

Yes we do a traumatic job but what makes it worse is a harmful management culture

When I was 15, a teacher found me during lunch break and asked if she could have a word. Confused, as I was generally well behaved, I followed her to the office. I was told that a close friend of mine had been found by his parents that morning hanging in his bedroom. He was in intensive care at the local hospital but his family had been asked to prepare for the possibility that he would die shortly. Growing up, the ideas of major depressive illnesses, self-harm and suicide were almost entirely foreign to me.

People often ask whether this was what motivated me to enter healthcare at 17 and eventually land in my current position as a paramedic by 20. Frankly, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that while suicide was a foreign concept to me at 15, it certainly isn’t now.

Related: Paramedic stress: ‘We’re micro-managed by people checking response times’

Continue reading…

Call for tighter checks on private hospitals used by NHS after MRSA case

Labour MP Louise Haigh cites case of young patient who contracted infection while on mental health ward in Sheffield

Theresa May has been urged to tighten checks on private hospitals used by the NHS after a Labour MP raised the case of a young patient with an open wound who contracted MRSA on a private mental health ward.

Louise Haigh, a Labour frontbencher, called for the NHS to thoroughly investigate the quality of care before it commissions beds and treatment from private providers.

Continue reading…

Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases, report suggests

Researchers admit prevention estimate is a ‘best-case scenario’, but stress that action can be taken to reduce dementia risk

More than a third of dementia cases might be avoided by tackling aspects of lifestyle including education, exercise, blood pressure and hearing, a new report suggests.

Approximately 45 million people worldwide were thought to be living with dementia in 2015, at an estimated cost of $818bn.

Related: Drop in dementia rates suggests disease can be prevented, researchers say

Related: Hearing loss could pose greater risk of potential dementia in later life – study

Continue reading…

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

IPPR thinktank says permanently excluded children in England face significant disadvantage because of ‘broken system’

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

Related: Can a new technique stem England’s rising tide of school exclusions?

Continue reading…

Thousands of mental health patients spend years on secure wards

Critics condemn ‘Victorian approach’ to treatment after NHS watchdog reveals 3,500 patients are kept locked in

Thousands of mental health patients are being kept in secure wards for years at a time when they should be being rehabilitated and preparing to leave hospital, a NHS watchdog has revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised both NHS and for-profit mental health providers for forcing such a large number of patients to endure what it called “outdated and sometimes institutionalised care”, often miles from home. The practice leaves already vulnerable patients feeling isolated and less likely to recover, the CQC warned.

Honestly think we’ll look back on the mental health long term out-of-area problem as an early 21st century version of the Victorian approach

Continue reading…

Prison crisis causing violence and death | Letters

Prof Pamela Taylor on mental health problems and Prof Mike Stein on the tough-on-crime youth policy

Our prison system is in crisis and is causing suffering (Editorial, 19 July). Suicide, other deaths, self-harm and violence in prisons are rising; even purpose-designed protective procedures are failing, according to the HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ report. This affects prison staff and wider society as well as prisoners. Mental disorder is common among prisoners, but even experienced clinicians cannot deliver services when, as this report highlights, they cannot reach prisoners. Some have told us they chose to leave posts rather than offer inadequate treatment. Our last government’s prisons and courts bill, to improve prison safety and effectiveness, was dropped after this year’s snap election. What is this government’s alternative?

Prison numbers – the highest in western Europe – must be reduced. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires courts to obtain and consider a medical report on a defendant who appears to be mentally disordered before passing a custodial sentence. But court disposals under mental health legislation are falling and the number of offenders who received a community sentence with a mental health treatment requirement has halved since 2007. Community resources must be sufficient to support optimal sentencing.
Professor Pamela Taylor
Chair of the forensic psychiatry faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Continue reading…

Jessica Davies obituary

From its start in 1990 until last year, Jessica Davies, who has died of cancer aged 65, was the manager of the Cherry Tree Nursery, a commercial plant nursery in Dorset set up to give a meaningful occupation to people with mental health problems.

She helped take a derelict four-acre site near Christchurch and create a community and place of safety, where growing plants brought some happiness to volunteers and helped restore their dignity. The Cherry Tree Nursery has inspired many similar projects.

Continue reading…

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

All-party inquiry demonstrates benefits to health and wellbeing of the arts, leading to fall in hospital admissions

GPs prescribing arts activities to some patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence gathering.

The report, published on Wednesday, includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can promote health and wellbeing.

Continue reading…

Hearing voices: the science of auditory verbal hallucinations – Science Weekly podcast

What can advances in neuroscience and psychology reveal about this age-old phenomenon? And how might digital avatars help patients answer back?

Subscribe & Review on iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud & Acast, and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

Once thought to originate from the realm of the supernatural, auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) have a well-documented history, with more recent times often seeing them linked to mental health issues. But with recent surveys suggesting that up to 10% of the population report hearing voices that nobody else can hear, could these hallucinations reveal the way our brains distinguish voices? And if so, how might we use this knowledge to answer back?

Continue reading…

From Gypsy to The Sopranos, what do real psychotherapists think of TV shrinks?

The Sopranos put a mobster through analysis. Now Gypsy is making a psychotherapist the star of the show. Does TV get it right – or is gross malpractice just dramatically inevitable?

This is the age of the fictional psych, instantly canonised in the person of Tony Soprano’s analyst, Jennifer Melfi, beautifully developed by Gabriel Byrne with In Treatment, and given a shonky Netflix-over by Naomi Watts in Gypsy.

When The Sopranos came out, the richness of the territory was astonishing; I sometimes wondered not why it hadn’t much been done before, but why all TV series didn’t do it, why President Josiah Bartlet wasn’t also in therapy, and The Wire’s Stringer Bell, and Breaking Bad’s Walter White. It was such a stunningly obvious way to zoom in and out of character, develop metaphor – it was as if someone had invented a new kind of camera.

I think there is a powerful archetype – and this is where I get Jungian – of the Wounded Healer

Related: Mothers on the naughty step: the growth of the parenting advice industry

Continue reading…

Rise in children seeking mental health support after terror attacks

Royal College of Psychiatrists says number being treated in Manchester and London has spiked since recent attacks

The number of children and young people seeking help from mental health services has spiked in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in England, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP).

Hospitals across the Manchester region have seen an estimated 10% increase in children seeking help since a bomb ripped through the Manchester Arena on 22 May, killing 22 people, according to the RCP. Mental health experts in Greater Manchester hospitals received hundreds more patients from June to July compared with previous months.

Continue reading…

Music and poetry aren’t luxuries: they literally saved my life | Sam Walker

Doctors and healthcare professionals need to listen to young people and open up to the health and wellbeing benefits that the arts can bring

I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression since the age of 20. I tried again and again with many approaches to fight back against mental illness: therapy and exercise; cognitive behavioural therapy; medication; trying to be more open with the people closest to me. All of these things helped in different ways but they didn’t completely fix me.

Towards the end of my 20s I couldn’t cope. On numerous occasions I fantasised about taking my own life. I was in a lot of pain but it was a pain that nobody else could see, so it didn’t feel justifiable to me. It didn’t feel like it should have been there.

Related: ‘Just go for a run’: testing everyday advice for my depression | Martha Mills

Related: A moment that changed me: listening to, rather than trying to fix, my suicidal wife | Mark Lukach

Continue reading…