‘I can stop and breathe’: the people taking ketamine for depression

It has a reputation as a party drug, but some patients say it has transformed their lives after no other treatments helped

When depression takes hold of Helen it feels like she is drowning in a pool of water, unable to swim up to the world above. The 36-year-old former nurse has had mental health problems most of her life. No drugs, hospital stays or therapies have been able to help.

Then one day, during yet another spell in hospital, her consultant told her about a psychiatrist treating patients with ketamine. The psychiatrist in question visited her to discuss using the drug. He warned there were no guarantees, but it had helped some patients.

Related: Ketamine could help thousands with severe depression, doctors say

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Ketamine could help thousands with severe depression, doctors say

Psychiatrists hail benefits of ‘transformational’ drug, and call for more trials to explore its potential

Thousands of people with severe depression could obtain urgent relief if experimental treatment using ketamine were made more widely available, medical experts say.

The drug has been championed by doctors and psychiatrists as a potentially life-changing treatment for those with depression who are resistant to medication or suicidally depressed. Medics are calling for more specialists centres and trials to be set up to explore the drug’s potential under controlled conditions.

Related: Royals launch campaign to get Britons talking about mental health

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Disabled people’s voices needed in political debate | Letters

Letters from Phyl Meyer of the access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland), Michelle Mitchell of the MS Society, Ted Hill of the British Polio Fellowship, Clare Pelham of the Epilepsy Society and others

The article by Frances Ryan (24 May) regarding the lack of support for disabled candidates seeking election raises an important issue that the next UK government must address. Missing from the article was reference to the situation in Scotland, where the Scottish government has funded the creation of the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland). The Scottish fund recently supported 39 disabled candidates in the local authority elections, of whom 15 were elected. Unfortunately the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 prevent the Scottish government from funding a project which covers the UK general elections as these are fully reserved to Westminster, so we are unable to assist disabled candidates who have come forward in this election. If we are ever to achieve fair representation for all sections of society, the general election this month must be the last one ever to systematically exclude disabled people from equal opportunity to serve in elected office. The only way this can be achieved is reinstatement of the UK fund (allowing the Scottish fund to cover UK elections in Scotland), and the introduction of job-sharing for elected office roles (which will also open up elected office to more people with childcare responsibilities, among others).
Phyl Meyer
Project manager, Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland)

• Tomorrow the Disability Benefits Consortium will be delivering a resolute plea to party leaders, urging them to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next parliament. More than 16,500 people have backed this call in an open letter being delivered to party leaders tomorrow. As a coalition of 80 charities and organisations, we are seeing every day how years of damaging welfare reform are having a devastating impact. Across the country, thousands of disabled people are currently struggling without the support they need.

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‘I was a citizen, now I’m nothing’: disabled readers on life under austerity | Frances Ryan

Lying on the floor for hours awaiting help, unable to afford both incontinence pants and food … This is the reality of disability cuts for Stephen, Alex and Elli

When Theresa May was challenged by a disabled voter over cuts to her disability benefits and social care last month, it shone a light on the way Conservative policies post-2010 have disproportionately targeted disabled people. Recent years have seen the introduction of many cuts and changes – from the rollout of “fit to work” tests to the abolition of disability living allowance – as well as a lack of action on existing inequalities, such as inaccessible housing. It all amounts to an unprecedented assault on disabled people’s rights and living standards in Britain.

In a series of interviews over several months, the Guardian has followed three disabled readers – Stephen, Alex, and Elli – as they experience the reality of life since austerity.

To afford a wheelchair, Alex had to sell the TV, phone, plates, mugs, second-hand laptop and clothes

Related: In confronting Theresa May, Kathy has spoken up for all Britain’s disabled people | Frances Ryan

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Breaking down can be the best way to deal with despair | Letters

Hollie Brader wonders if ‘this will not break us’ is the right way to respond to the Manchester attack

Morrissey managed to articulate a feeling that I’ve often struggled to express (Suzanne Moore, G2, 25 May). I’ve always found it deeply troubling when politicians use rhetoric following a horrifying attack such as “this will not break us”. In my mind, the phrase “not breaking” is associated with remaining the same, sticking to the same principles and regime. But, is this really what we should be doing? Refusing to address the underlying causes of such atrocities?

Little wonder that the mental health of this country is in such dire straits, with millions of people grappling with anxiety and depression. If we’re forever told that we mustn’t be broken, even when we read in the news about children screaming in terror, how can we not be broken? I certainly am. My heart is broken for the families of those needlessly killed in Manchester and my spirit feels defeated when I hear about children fleeing for their lives in Syria. If we’re constantly told that we should not be broken, if we suppress these feelings of fear and despair, then what good can possibly come of that? If I had lost someone in the Manchester attack, I would be angry that politicians could believe that I’m capable of not breaking, when my whole world had been shattered.

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The great London property squeeze

As affordable housing in Britain’s capital is replaced by luxury towers, people on middle incomes are being priced out, while the poor are forced to pay extortionate rents for shocking conditions

The first time I met Ian Dick, the head of private housing at Newham council in east London, he took me on a walk to look for “beds in sheds”. It was 2011, and alongside criminal levels of overcrowding in private rental properties, there was a growing problem of people living in illegal structures in back gardens. It was not uncommon to find 10 or 20 people living in a room above a fried chicken shop, in a basement, or in ramshackle outbuildings. When we met again, five years later, he was happy to talk to me, not because these problems had disappeared, but because he was proud of the council’s private rented sector licensing regime. Introduced in 2013, it was the first such scheme in the country and had led to 800 prosecutions and 28 landlords being banned from renting property to tenants.

This time we met in Forest Gate, traditionally one of the most deprived parts of Newham. “This is an area undergoing the most dramatic change – the council doesn’t use the term ‘gentrification’, they use the term ‘regeneration’,” he said as we strolled down a pleasant high street in the sunshine, looking up at Victorian facades renovated by the council. Along the road, hipster cafes and pubs were interspersed with clothing retailers, halal butchers and phone shops. To show me the reality in some of the flats above, he took me around the back, where an entire street was accessed by a badly maintained private alleyway, with a huge pile of mattresses dumped at one end.

We paused to look at the ‘to let’ signs in the newsagents. One offered a room share for four people for £160 a month

Related: Stop spending money on avocados? Good idea, I’ll have a house deposit by 2117 | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

There are more requirements to run a cattery than to rent out a home

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I was 10 when I witnessed an IRA bomb. The Manchester victims will need years of help | Louise Nevin

My friend and I were caught up in an attack in 1976 and it still affects us. It’s vital to ensure support is readily available for anyone who wants it

It is almost impossible to put into words how horrible the attack on the Manchester Arena on Monday night was. The news will terrify any parent. For anyone who’s ever been near to a terrorist attack, it will provide a reminder of the pain that such events inflicts. This morning, Tessa Jowell reminded us on the Today programme of the long-lasting effects of these atrocities on relatives and friends of the casualties. She said that support for families affected should last “10 years” at least, drawing on her experiences of coordinating the response to the 7/7 attacks. That did not surprise me at all.

Related: Manchester is suffering now – but its spirit will overcome this atrocity | Owen Jones

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Number of university dropouts due to mental health problems trebles

Data shows record 1,180 students who experienced mental ill health left courses early in 2014-15, up 210% from 2009-10

The number of students to drop out of university with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years, official figures show.

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) revealed that a record 1,180 students who experienced mental health problems left university early in 2014-15, the most recent year in which data was available. It represents a 210% increase from 380 in 2009-10.

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‘Nothing has changed!’: May as she announces social care U-turn – video

The prime minister claims nothing has changed after giving a speech that rowed back on the Conservative manifesto plan for social care, introducing the idea of a cap on costs

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Politicians have listened; now they must act on mental health | letters

The government must exploit the increased awareness surrounding this crucial issue

As chief executive of the charity that hosts Mental Health Awareness Week, I agree with the central thrust of Eva Wiseman’s argument that the increased profile of mental health must lead to change (“It’s good to talk about mental health. But is it enough?” Magazine).

This change must be personal as well as political. The central message of the week is that we all have mental health and there are steps we can all take to understand and protect it. Undoubtedly, this message is now having greater resonance than ever. On the political front, we have in the past fortnight seen all the major parties talk about mental health. The fact that more of us are talking about our mental health has played an important part in this.

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‘Isolated’ poorer students more likely to drop out, study shows

Survey finds that students from poorer backgrounds feel less well integrated

Less affluent students in higher education are significantly more likely to experience problems with socialising and integrating than their peers from well-off families, says a major new study.

Only 33% of the students from D and E socioeconomic groups said they were well integrated with the students they lived with, compared with 50% of students from A and B socioeconomic groups. Only 34% of the group said they had friends at university whom they socialised with at least twice a week, compared with 48% of AB students.

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Police investigate deaths at Essex mental health unit

The Linden Centre in Chelmsford has been the site of seven suicides by hanging since 2000 despite receiving repeated criticism for safety failures

Police have launched an inquiry into a series of deaths among patients at an NHS mental health hospital which has been regularly criticised for safety failings.

Essex and Kent police are jointly investigating an unspecified number of deaths at the Linden Centre mental health unit, which is based at Broomfield acute general hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

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Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

Related: Social media and bullying: how to keep young people safe online

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People with learning difficulties are not ill – but Theresa May’s gaffe is typical | Ian Birrell

How can we improve the lives of learning disabled people when even the prime minister muddles them up with those with mental health problems?

My daughter has learning difficulties. She was born with them 24 years ago and they will always be part of her life. Since they are at the most profound end of the spectrum and complicated by epilepsy she is unable to walk, talk or see. She needs full-time care and state support. But most importantly she is an adorable human being and a lively individual.

Since her birth I have endured mild bouts of depression along with deriving much joy, like many parents who finds their lives suddenly disrupted by birth of a child with disabilities. The temporary slumps have not been too destabilising. Other people suffer far more severe mental health problems. Thankfully, society is starting to show more appreciation of their conditions with growing support from all political parties.

Related: Looking for work with a learning disability: ‘You feel like a failure’

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‘A light went on in my head’: how charity helps veterans beat alcoholism

According to Combat Stress, 13% of military veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have significant alcohol disorders

Just over a year ago, Mike spent New Year’s Eve on his kitchen floor. He was stuck there for 15 hours, with a broken shoulder. A few months earlier, he had broken a hip. Before that, he had ended up in hospital with hypothermia.

Every time, the veteran was blind drunk. He was getting through at least a large bottle of vodka every single day.

She drew me this ridiculous picture of my liver

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