Only 7 days left to vote for The Tomorrow Project for the People’s Projects!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE TOMORROW PROJECT!

The Tomorrow Project has been shortlisted for a People’s Projects award in the Central East region. The People’s Projects is a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund, ITV, STV and The National Lottery that gives the public a say in awarding National Lottery funding to local projects across the UK. We have the chance to win a share of £150,000.

The Tomorrow Project, run by Harmless, was set up in Nottinghamshire after a high number of suicides. The project offers support to individuals in crisis and at risk of suicide, as well as supporting those bereaved through suicide. Since 2012, we have had hundreds of referrals. Many of our clients have openly told us we’ve saved their lives.

We know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally, it is the leading cause of death in 5-49 year old males, and the most at-risk group are 40-44 year olds. But, did you know that there is a peak in suicides for those aged 75 and over? The risk of suicide in older adults is phenomenally high, and we want to do more to support them. Many existing therapeutic services exclude those who are suicidal, and most deaths to suicide occur in those who have no know mental health need.

Now more than ever, we need your support to help us win a share of the funding to sustain and expand our life-saving project. We need to offer individuals who are facing issues of isolation, relationship and employment challenges and health needs a safe place. With your vote, we can do just that.

Voting opened on Monday 16th April, and closes on Monday 30th April. Visit https://www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk/projects/view/the-tomorrow-project to find our project, and look out for more information from us on our social media platforms, including stories from individuals supported through the project.

Could you write a blog for us?

Harmless would like to invite you to contribute to our blog. Our blog is important to us because it helps us convey a range of issues around self harm and suicide to the public. It helps us reach people in distress and promote better understanding about these issues among our readers.

It helps us tell you about our work, upcoming events, dispel myths and offer advice. But we also want it to challenge stigma and to offer real stories about self harm and recovery so that people reading this can feel connected to what we do and who we help.

If you would like to write a blog for us about your experiences, then you can submit this to info@harmless.org.uk with the title ‘blog post’. In your email, please tell us what name you would like us to use for you. You can say as little about your identity as you want.

The blog should be about 200 -300 words in length and shouldn’t be graphic in any way, but should offer the reader an insight into your experiences that mighty help them relate to self harm, distress, or suicide. The blog could be about what you’ve felt or experienced, what’s helped, or not helped… What needs to change, or what he stigma around these issues has been for you.

It is vital to harmless that we represent your voice and your experiences, so if you feel you can contribute to this blog, please do.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Why not spread some festive cheer with our premium quality Christmas cards, and help save lives while doing so!

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Harmless’ Christmas Cards are now on sale! Help support vital self harm and suicide prevention services by sending a festive card this holiday season! Send a card, save a life! Premium quality cards come in packs of 8 with 2 … Continue reading

Can you help?

We are in desperate need of mobile phones for our clinical team. We are in need of mobile phones with basic text and calling services, unlocked to all networks or to O2.

With our growing service and all the money we raise or receive going directly to therapeutic support, we are unable to find the funds to buy phones, so we are asking you all for help.

The phones will be used by the team whilst in service and out on community based visits, so basic text and calling is all we need.

Are you able to help?

Please give us a call at 0115 880 0280 or email info@harmless.org.uk if you can help.

In the News: Children and young people with mental health problems waiting up to 18 months before they get help, finds report.

Investigators find youngsters are facing ‘agonising waits’ for treatment.

The Government has been accused of “neglecting” children’s mental health after it emerged some youngsters are waiting more than a year to be treated.

A major review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of mental health services for young people has found that vulnerable children are facing “agonising waits” for treatment, with one young person who spoke to investigators waiting for 18 months.

During prolonged waits, children and young people are unable to access the support they need, causing their mental health to deteriorate further, with some starting to self-harm, become suicidal or drop out of school during the wait to receive support, the report found.

The findings also showed that even when children do access treatment, the services were not always adequate to respond to their needs, with more than a third (39 per cent) of specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across the UK currently requiring improvement.

There is also regional variation in the estimated prevalence of mental health problems in children and young people, with an estimated 8 per cent of children aged 5 to 16 years old in the Thames Valley area suffering from a mental health condition, compared with 11 per cent in London, investigators found.

The report has prompted calls for the Government to ring-fence mental health budgets so that money reaches front line services and to set maximum waiting times.

Responding to the findings, Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said: “This report reveals the Tory Government’s abject failure of children and young people in urgent need of mental health treatment.

“It is a scandal that as a result of the Tories’ neglect of child and adolescent mental health over a third of services need to improve access, with some children having to wait as long as eighteen months to be treated.

“Labour will continue to call on the Tory Government to invest in and ring-fence mental health budgets as Labour pledged at the General Election, so that money reaches the underfunded services on the front line.”

Former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb echoed her concerns, saying: “If the current Government had shown leadership in driving these changes and ensuring that funding was being spent where it was needed, we might have seen more progress.

“The Prime Minister makes all the right noises about improving mental health care, now she needs to translate these words into action. Children deserve better.”

The report comes as child mental health charities and campaigners warned that young people are not receiving adequate mental health provision.

Recent research by the Children’s Society’s found that 30,000 children were being turned away from mental health services every year and not receiving any support or treatment at all.

It also found that children missed 157,000 mental health appointments last year, with many missed appointments never followed up by health professionals to check that the children concerned were safe and well.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said in response to the CQC report: “Despite increased attention and investment, services remain fragmented and are increasingly overstretched, and too many children are suffering as a result.

 

Read the full article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mental-health-children-waiting-times-18-months-care-quality-commission-report-a8021941.html

In the media: How shame can take a toll on your emotional health

The June 2015 cover of Women’s Health magazine featured a slender Gwyneth Paltrow and the words “BIKINI BODY In 2 Weeks! Tight Butt, Lean Legs, These Abs!” with an arrow pointing to Paltrow’s washboard middle. Covers like these have drawn their share of criticism. The idiom “bikini body” suggests there is only one kind of person who can fit into a bikini. It’s an example of body shaming.

That term can be imprecise. What exactly is shame anyway? And can we cope with it?

Author and academic Jennifer Jacquet defines the concept in her book “Is Shame Necessary?”: “Shaming, which is separate from feeling ashamed, is a form of punishment, and like all punishment, it is used to enforce norms.”

Stray from society’s expectations and risk being shamed. Jacquet notes that shame differs from guilt because, in “contrast to shame, which aims to hold individuals to the group standard, guilt’s role is to hold individuals to their own standards.” Sometimes shame can be healthy. Sometimes it can be harmful. Its value is a function of the norm being enforced.

If we demean a friend, it is reasonable for us to feel ashamed—we violated the norm of decency. As psychologist Brené Brown said in a TED talk, “We’re pretty sure that the only people who don’t experience shame are people who have no capacity for connection or empathy.”

Shame becomes harmful if it’s used to enforce an unhealthy norm, and there is no shortage of unhealthy norms. Type, “I feel ashamed of my” into Google, and the search engine will autocomplete with “body,” “job,” “past,” or “sexuality.”

Brown explained that unhealthy norms tend to be gendered—to conform to female norms, she said, women must be “nice, thin, modest, and use all available resources for appearance.” For men, it’s more simple: avoid acting weak. Men are expected to control their emotions, prioritize work, and pursue status. We are prone to feeling ashamed when we stray from these norms.

Shame can be most harmful when it becomes internalized; when it shifts from being about what we’ve done to being about who we are. Psychologists refer to “toxic shame.” as the feeling that we are wholly inadequate and fundamentally unworthy of love. [Editor’s note: when I feel like this, I turn to the Self-Esteem pack. It helps.]

Toxic shame can take a huge toll on our emotional health. “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders,” Brown says. The antidote to feeling shame is a willingness to be vulnerable, Brown says. To be human is to be imperfect— to have scars and stretch marks, and to cry when sad or afraid.

Brown suggests we seek the empathy of friends and loved ones. “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment,” she explains. “If you put the same amount in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” Importantly, people also can work to change harmful norms. In a 2015 online survey, Women’s Health asked readers what words or phrases they might avoid printing on the magazine’s cover. Options included “slim,” “lean,” and “bikini body.” Respondents overwhelmingly objected to “bikini body.”

In a sense, readers chose to enforce a new norm. In their determination, the magazine should encourage health, fitness, and a positive body image. Wrote one reader, “I hate how women’s magazines emphasize being skinny or wearing bikinis as the reason to be healthy.”

In an open letter responding to the survey, editor-in-chief Amy Keller Laird said the term “bikini body” would be banned from the magazine’s cover. “Dear ‘Bikini Body,’” she wrote. “You’re actually a misnomer, not to mention an unintentional insult: You imply that a body must be a certain size in order to wear a two-piece. Any body—every body—is a bikini body.”

Link to full blog: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/11/02/shame-emotional-health/

In the news: The rise of mental health in hip-hop lyrics

Hip-hop is having a watershed moment for mental health. In the last two years, some of the biggest rappers have peeled back the curtain on their personal lives to shine a light on their struggles with mental health issues.

Take Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo”, where he mentions both seeing a psychiatrist and taking Lexapro, an antidepressant used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. Or Kid Cudi, who publicly announced he’d checked into rehab for depression and suicidal urges, writing that “anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it.” Even rap veteran Jay-Z has advocated the importance of therapy in recent months.

In the midst of hip-hop’s dive into mental health awareness, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many mainstream artists have also opened up about practicing meditation. Big Sean, Vic Mensa, Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, J. Cole, and Drake, to name a few, have credited meditation as impacting areas of their lives and creative output. And, of course, Def Jam Recordings label founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons attribute much of their success to meditation.

“[T]he person I am was shaped by the experience of the years of meditation,” says Rubin, who produced albums for everyone from Beastie Boys to Kanye. “I feel like I can see deeply into things in a way that many of the people around me don’t, or can’t.”

“Meditation is a guaranteed way to not only dip into, but stay connected with, your creative spirit,” echoes Simmons. “People have this misconception that meditation will chill you out and make you soft, but the opposite is true. I meditate every morning when I wake up and almost the second my session is over I’m eager to tackle whatever is on my plate for that day.”

But perhaps the rap game’s biggest meditation advocate is one that currently holds the title as Greatest Rapper Alive: Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick has plugged meditation on four (!) of his tracks. Take these lyrics from “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013”:

Meditation is a must, it don’t hurt if you try
See you thinking too much, plus you too full of yourself
Worried about your career, you ever think of your health?

In a 2016 interview for GQ Style, Kendrick elaborates on his meditation routine:

“I have to have at least 30 minutes to myself,” he says. “If it’s not on the daily, every other day, to just sit back, close my eyes, and absorb what’s going on. You know, the space that I’m in [and] how I’m feeling at the moment.”

Kendrick cites the frenetic busyness of his career as a motivator to practice being more present. “When you in music—and everybody knows this—the years are always cut in half, because you always have something to do,” he says. “It just goes and then you miss out on your moment because you’re so in the moment you didn’t know the moment was going on.”

After realizing that music was consuming his thoughts and attention, Kendrick turned to meditation for time and space away from his work: “That 30 minutes helps me to totally zone out and not think about my next lyric. You know? It gives me a re-start, a jump start, a refresh. It lets me know why I’m here, doing what I’m doing.”

Competition is ingrained in hip-hop’s DNA; there’s tremendous pressure to claim the “best rapper alive” throne by breaking the mold on verbal gymnastics, pushing artistic boundaries, and resonating with audiences through culture and emotion. Slap on deadlines from record labels, plus scrutiny and sensationalism from the public eye—it’s a paralyzing weight for anyone to endure.

“There’s a great deal of bullshit that people think about when they make music, things that don’t matter,” Rubin says. “[Meditation] kind of wipes that away, and you focus on the real job at hand, as opposed to thinking about what the management wants, or what the record company’s saying, or what somebody at a radio station might think.”

While the dusty notion that hip-hop is all about cars, money, and clothes may still ring true for certain acts, there’s no denying that the genre has evolved. By unmasking both the stigmas attached to mental health issues and stereotypes about meditation, the rap game is well set up for a healthier and happier road ahead—for artists and fans alike.

Link to full blog here: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/10/13/mental-health-hip-hop/

In the news: Police receive new powers to search people with mental health needs

Guidance issued to police will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11. Police will now be expected to “keep” individuals at a ‘place of safety’ (including, potentially, their home) rather than move them to hospitals or police station, which what has typically happened to date. 

Police are to receive new powers next month to search people with mental health needs. The new search power allows police officers to search people in distress when section 135 or 136 (‘sectioning’) orders are imposed. Mental Health Today were first last week to reveal 1,000 people vulnerable people were detained in police cells last year. New guidance released by the Department of Health reveals police will now be given the powers to carry out searches for “their own safety”. 

Guidance issued to police today will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11 onwards:

• section 136 powers may now be exercised anywhere other than in a private
dwelling

• it is now unlawful to use a police station as a place of safety for anyone under the age of 18 in any circumstances

• a police station can now only be used as a place of safety for adults in specific circumstances, which are set out in regulations

• the previous maximum detention period of up to 72 hours has been reduced to 24 hours (unless a doctor certifies that an extension of up to 12 hours is necessary)

• before exercising a section 136 power police officers must, where practicable, consult one of the health professionals listed in section 136(1C), or in regulations made under that provision

• a person subject to section 135 or 136 can be kept at, as well as removed to, a place of safety. Therefore, where a section 135 warrant has been executed, a person may be kept at their home (if it is a place of safety) for the purposes of an assessment rather than being removed to another place of safety

• a new search power allows police officers to search persons subject to section 135 or 136 powers for protective purposes.

Link to full blog here: https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/breaking-police-receive-new-powers-to-search-people-with-mental-health-needs

 

 

In the news: Recognising that mind and body are not separate opens door for new treatments

Descartes’s notion of dualism – that the mind and body are separate entities – is wrong, but has proved surprisingly persistent, and until recently dominated attempts to understand mental illness. When the brain stopped working properly, a psychological origin was sought. Undoubtedly, life’s experiences and our personalities shape the way our brains function. But there is now a compelling body of evidence that brain disorders can also originate from things going awry in our basic biology. Particularly intriguing is the discovery that the brain, once thought to be separated from the immune system by the blood-brain barrier, is powerfully influenced by immune activity.

The latest trial, focused on schizophrenia, is backed by converging evidence from several fields that immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play at least some role in this disease. Prof Oliver Howes, the psychiatrist leading the work, discovered that these cells appear to go into overdrive in the early stages of schizophrenia. Genetics studies have linked changes in immune system genes to increased risk for schizophrenia and anecdotal evidence, including a recent case report of a patient who developed schizophrenia after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a sibling with the illness, also triangulates on to the immune system. “It’s all challenging the idea that the brain is this separate privileged organ,”said Howes.

Schizophrenia is not a special case. Scientists are showing that immune activity may play a role in a broad spectrum of mental disorders, ranging from depression to dementia.

People with diabetes, an auto-immune disease, are 65% more likely to develop dementia, according to a 2015 study. Other research has found that Alzheimer’s patients who suffered regular infections, such as coughs and colds, had a fourfold greater decline in memory tests during a six-month period compared with patients with the lowest infection levels. And there is tentative evidence that some patients with treatment resistant depression may benefit from antibody treatments. Perhaps most striking has been the discovery of an entire network of vessels beneath the skull, linking the brain and the immune system, that had surprisingly been overlooked until very recently.

“It has been a fundamental problem that the brain and mind have been seen as somehow separate entities, and that physical and mental healthcare are separate,” said Belinda Lennox, senior clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Oxford. “It has denied the psychological factors that play a vital part in all medical disorders, just as much as it has denied the importance of the biological factors in mental illness.”

Whether the latest trial will yield a successful treatment is difficult to predict and the psychiatry’s record warns against premature optimism. However, recognising that biological factors, such as the immune system, can have a powerful influence on the brain and sometimes explain why things go wrong, will be essential to finding new and better treatments.

Link to full blog here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/03/recognising-that-mind-and-body-are-not-separate-opens-door-for-new-treatments-schizophrenia

 

Could you write a blog for us?

Harmless would like to invite you to contribute to our blog. Our blog is important to us because it helps us convey a range of issues around self harm and suicide to the public. It helps us reach people in distress and promote better understanding about these issues amongst our readers.

It helps us tell you about our work, upcoming events, dispel myths and offer advice. But we also want it to challenge stigma and to offer real stories about self harm and recovery so that people reading this can feel connected to what we do and who we help.

If you would like to write a blog for us about your experiences, then you can submit this to info@harmless.org.uk with the title ‘blog post’. In your email, please tell us what name you would like us to use for you. You can say as little about your identity as you want.

The blog should be about 200 -300 words in length and shouldn’t be graphic in any way, but should offer the reader an insight into your experiences that mighty help them relate to self harm, distress, or suicide. The blog could be about what you’ve felt or experienced, what’s helped, or not helped… What needs to change, or what he stigma around these issues has been for you.

It is vital to harmless that we represent your voice and your experiences, so if you feel you can contribute to this blog, please do.

We look forward to hearing from you.