In the News today: The NSPCC is calling on the Government to shift the focus of children and young people’s mental health services towards early intervention

More than 5,000 children in Derbyshire have been referred to specialist NHS mental health services in the last two years, the NSPCC has revealed.

The NSPCC obtained new figures via a Freedom of Information request to NHS Trusts in England which found the equivalent of 150 children a day from across the country were rejected for treatment between 2015 and 2017.

In Derbyshire, a total of 2,673 cases were referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) between 2015 and 2016. Of those, 497 were not accepted for treatment.

Between 2016 and 2017, 2,358 cases in Derbyshire were referred to CAMHS and 376 of these were not accepted for treatment.

However, the information obtained by the NSPCC revealed that all of the cases in Derbyshire which were rejected by CAMHS were referred to other services.

The NSPCC is calling on the Government to shift the focus of children and young people’s mental health services towards early intervention, to ensure that young people’s mental health does not have to reach crisis point before they are able to get help.

On average, children in Derbyshire are waiting around six weeks, or 32 days, to see a specialist after their referral being accepted.

The findings follow news last month that the NSPCC’s Childline delivered a record number of counselling sessions to children reporting suicidal feelings in 2016/17. Mental and emotional health is now the most common reason for a child to contact Childline, with the service carrying out 63,622 counselling sessions in 2016/17.

NSPCC chief executive, said: “It is desperately sad to see so many young people facing distress around mental health issues being forced to wait months for assessment by CAMHS, many of whom are then rejected for treatment altogether. This risks leaving them in limbo while their condition potentially reaches crisis point.

“We recognise the hard work of mental health professionals in trying to help young people get their lives back on track. However, too many children who need help are struggling access support and treatment which can help them to recover. The Government’s upcoming Green Paper on mental health must urgently evaluate the early support systems available to young people to ensure that no child is left to suffer in silence.”

Link to full article here: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/local-news/more-5000-derbyshire-children-referred-806965

From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Claire Dixon

Claire has been a specialist trainer with Harmless since November 2016. She previously coordinated and delivered healthy relationship work in secondary schools for domestic abuse prevention charity Equation.

Claire volunteered with Samaritans for five years as a listening volunteer, trainer, and coordinator for HMP Nottingham’s Listeners Scheme.

Claire’s passion for training in this sector comes through experience working with young people and schools, as well as personal experience of self harm, suicide and mental health problems. Through training, she hopes to further promote awareness and challenge stigma around self harm, mental health and suicide.

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From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Dr Alys Cole-King

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Alys Cole-King is a Consultant Liason Psychiatrist who maintains a clinical and public health role within the NHS. She works nationally with Royal Colleges, voluntary bodies, academics, and experts by experience to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm. She promotes the need for compassion, collaboration, improved governance and promotes a common language to ensure an improved and more integrated response to people at risk of suicide. A contributor to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Suicide and Self-harm Prevention, Alys is also on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Mental Health Training Advisory Group, and has contributed to their curriculum. Alys leads international campaigns via social media and works with the media to ensure a compassionate and safe approach to suicide prevention.

As Connecting with People Clinical Director, Alys led the development of Connecting with People’s Suicide Assessment Framework E-Tool (SAFETool). This approach is based on more than 20 years clinical experience, a thorough review of published evidence and a full time research project using psychological autopsy technique to investigate factors relating to episodes of self-harm or suicide attempts. Alys is a primary author of a number of papers, book chapters, webinars, podcasts, blogs and self-help resources on suicide and self-harm prevention, Alys has also contributed to the RCGP e-learning module on suicide prevention and delivered a BMJ Masterclass Webinar on suicide mitigation. Alys sits on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Compassionate Health Care, is a reviewer for several journals and sits on the international Expert Reference group advising Griffiths University academics, a WHO Collaborating Centre on responding to professionals who have experienced the suicide of a patient.

 

From Harm to Hope Conference: 

We are pleased to announce that Harmless’ third national self harm conference will be held on Thursday 1st March 2018, Self Harm Awareness Day. This year’s theme is ‘self harm: suicide prevention starts here’.

As in previous years, the conference will be shaped around the following five strategic areas:

Collaborative partnership
Service user representation
Effective practice
Driving change
Overcoming stigma and discrimination

Our conference gathers together leading academics and experts in the fields of self harm and suicide.

BOOK NOW

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: The counsellors on the frontline of the student mental health crisis

I am walking through Nottingham’s Arboretum park on a bright cold afternoon with 10 other people, all of us in complete silence. At first I find the whole thing so awkward I have to suppress an embarrassed laugh. But as we make our wordless way through the dappled shade, I feel an atmosphere of calm and thoughtfulness envelop us like a protective cloak.

The others in my group are undergraduate students, chaplains and other staff of Nottingham Trent University (NTU), all taking part in a mindfulness walk, intended to bring some space and quiet reflection into students’ hectic lives. Guided by the chaplains (who speak occasionally), we pause as a group to consider questions in the booklets we have been handed: “who am I?”, “where am I going in my life?” and “what brings me a sense of excitement?” Left to our silence, we note down our answers. Stopping by a rubbish bin, we ask, “What rubbish am I carrying with me in my life?” We tear off our answers and throw them in the bin. It sounds silly, but weeks later I still feel lighter for casting off that scribble on a scrap of paper.

Back in the bustling City Campus of NTU, students and staff weave their way around each other, a mass of hoodies and headscarves, skullcaps and backwards caps, hipster beards and hi-tops. Posters advertise a programme of free yoga, craft classes and eating-disorder information sessions: my visit coincides with Wellbeing Week, designed to raise awareness of mental health and encourage students who need help to seek it. This is just one part of NTU’s strategy to meet a dramatic rise in the need for support.

Last month, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a reportrevealing that nationally, the number of first-year students who disclose a mental health problem has risen fivefold in the past decade. A record number of students with mental health problems dropped out of university in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available. In the same year, 134 students killed themselves, the highest number on record. Similarly, the number of UK students seeking counselling has rocketed by 50% in the past five years, to more than 37,000, according to figures obtained by the Guardian. This trend is reflected at NTU: wellbeing services received 38% more referrals last year than in 2014/15.

There are many reasons mental health problems may arise at university. It is a time of transition: people are no longer living in the family home, but not yet fully independent either. Added to this, some might experience the big fish – small pond effect, where teenagers who are used to being recognised for their achievements find themselves in a more competitive yet more anonymous environment. Difficulties that have been repressed throughout school can bubble up when students leave their support network behind. As Glenn Baptiste, a mental health adviser at NTU says, “Sometimes it might look like it’s a problem that’s occurred within university, but that’s not always the case. If students come here with ongoing issues that they’ve not discussed, the university environment can make life difficult.”

Student Services manager Alison Bromberg says the most common mental health problems reported by NTU students are anxiety and depression. Bromberg can see how the challenges young people face today play their part in this rise – the burden of student debt, economic uncertainty, global political upheaval, apocalyptic climate change – “but,” she says, “I also think that a lot of work has happened and is still happening to reduce the stigma around discussing mental health and emotional needs. I think it’s making it more possible for people to come forward and ask for that support.”, global political upheaval, economic uncertainty, student debt

 

Rosie Tressler, CEO of student mental health charity Student Minds, tells me, “The 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey provided strong evidence that [undergraduates] have lower levels of wellbeing than the rest of the population, with roughly one-third reporting psychological distress, and we know that the median age of higher education students overlaps the peak age of onset for mental health difficulties.” In other words, evidence suggests many people with mental health disorders first experience symptoms between the ages of 18 and 25.

 

When I asked students around the country about their experiences of mental health, they talked about stressful deadlines, difficulties forming new relationships, balancing a job with studies, financial worries and social pressures. They also painted a picture of patchy provision: while some received prompt and effective help, others described underfunded services, excruciatingly long waiting times and dismissive attitudes. One student talked about desperately trying to get a counselling appointment when booking opened at 9am, only to find that all the slots had gone when she got through at 9.03am. A final-year student at another university wrote that she is experiencing increasing anxiety and can’t get help: “A good counsellor I saw in my first year has left, and they are not recruiting any more, so there are lots of students chasing very few appointments. They refer you on or offer leaflets. It seems very inadequate.”

Alex, 21, was a student at a Midlands university when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety and severe depression. She says services are able to deal only with the most seriously distressed students: “Because of the strain on the service, if you weren’t suicidal at the current time, you weren’t helped. You had to be five minutes from death or you had to wait weeks. You had to be at your worst.”

The counselling she was eventually offered was helpful, but she felt the eight-week wait was too long and the six weeks it lasted too short. For long-term therapy on the NHS, she was told she needed to wait a year, by which time she would have graduated and moved home. “So it’s kind of pointless,” she says. For others, such as George Watkins, 21, who is at Cardiff and has had anxiety and depression for eight years, the experience has been more positive: “It is since coming to university that I have made the most progress. I came off the crippling medication, came through suicidal patches and have now come more or less out the other side.” After having a breakdown around the time of his GCSEs, Watkins didn’t leave his house for six months, and then didn’t leave his small town in Dorset for three years.

At NTU, Alison Bromberg still thinks there is cause to feel optimistic about the future. “I do. I actually do. It feels as if we’re embracing a much more holistic framework across the sector.” She cites proposed changes to the university curriculum, such as creating course content for all students on subjects such as coping with change and understanding stress and anxiety. “We’ve got to make sure mental health becomes everybody’s business. That’s the journey we’re on. And I think we’ve come a long way.” 

Click here for link to the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/28/campus-confidential-counsellors-student-mental-health-crisis

 

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

 

From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Caroline Harroe, CEO, Harmless

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Caroline is Harmless’ CEO and one of its co-founders, launching the service in 2007 with fellow Director Amy, and ensuring the service has gone from strength to award winning strength.

Caroline has over 15 years’ experience in the field of self harm and mental health. A practicing psychotherapist and a tireless campaigner for equality for those experiencing mental health difficulties. Caroline is currently completing her PhD, is an elected member of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance and is involved in many local and national suicide prevention strategy and research projects.

Leading with experience, Caroline overcame her personal experience of self harm and mental health problems and after a long battle to overcome these difficulties, she now hopes to inspire hope in others by sharing her recovery.

From Harm to Hope Conference: 

We are pleased to announce that Harmless’ third national self harm conference will be held on Thursday 1st March 2018, Self Harm Awareness Day. This year’s theme is ‘self harm: suicide prevention starts here’.

As in previous years, the conference will be shaped around the following five strategic areas:

Collaborative partnership
Service user representation
Effective practice
Driving change
Overcoming stigma and discrimination

Our conference gathers together leading academics and experts in the fields of self harm and suicide.

BOOK NOW

Running out of time to submit a proposal to our conference…

Self Harm Conference: From Harm to Hope – Now inviting submissions for speakers and workshops
Self Harm Conference:

From Harm to Hope
Thursday 1st March 2018

Nottingham Conference Centre
We are holding our third annual national self harm conference and are currently in the process of putting together a strong programme.
We are inviting submissions for session proposals to be considered for inclusion in the afternoon workshop conference programme, and also for speakers during the plenary sections of the conference. Contributions should align with at least one of our 5 themes:
Collaborative Partnership,

Service User Representation,

Effective Practice,

Driving Change,

Overcoming Stigma & Discrimination.

Please see below for details of how to be a part of this day.

We are now inviting submissions for both session proposals to be considered for inclusion in the workshop programme, and for speakers during the plenary sections of the conference (All workshops will be an hour in length and plenary sessions will be 20-30 mins in length).
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for our conference, please register your interest at admin@harmless.org.uk, or by calling us on 0115 880 0280.
Event details:
The overarching theme of this year’s conference is ‘self harm and suicide prevention starts here’. This event will bring together private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations, individuals with lived experience of self harm, professionals and practitioners in self harm prevention.
Guidance for session proposals:
The conference is themed around five key areas; Collaborative partnership, service user representation, effective practice, driving change & overcoming stigma and discrimination. Proposals put forward must relate to at least one of these areas. Subjects for each area are noted but proposals do not need to be limited to these subjects. Sessions can include presentations of services, projects or activities, presentations of academic research or hosted discussions.
Additional Information:
All proposals received will be reviewed by a panel of Harmless members which will agree on the final programme of sessions. As there are only a limited number of slots available, we regret that it may not be possible to accommodate all proposals received.

Session proposals will be assessed against the following criteria

Proposals must:
Demonstrate some evidence-base and where appropriate, show that services, models of working or projects have undergone an evaluation.

Demonstrate good practice,

Set out ways in which other individuals or organisations can potentially adapt or learn from your work or set out how learning from your work can benefit others and their service users,

Demonstrate collaborative working.

Sessions should interactive wherever possible.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for our conference, please register your interest at admin@harmless.org.uk, or by calling us on 0115 880 0280.

How easy do you find it to switch off? Science says it may depend on your age group.

According to market research conducted in 2015 by Mintel, young adults aged between 16 to 34 are the ‘most stressed’ age group, and experts are pointing the blame directly at this group’s high levels of social media exposure. The average UK home now owns 7.4 devices which are connected to the internet. When broken down, that’s an average of 1.7 smartphones, 1.3 laptops and 1.2 tablets, one games console, 0.6 desktop computers and 0.5 connected TVs per household. These high levels of connectivity are making it harder for us to disengage.

Technology has transformed our 9 to 5, giving us better opportunities and communication tools, but it’s also made it harder to unwind. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to enhance your downtime and reduce stress.

  1. Retrain your brain. When bored or stressed, it’s easy to crave a quick fix in the form of clicks and likes, but breaking this habit will mean your happiness isn’t dependent on the number of shares your latest tweet received. If you crave social interaction, spending time (in person) with family and friends will give you a long-term boost, and get you away from the screen.
  2. Take a walk – and leave your phone in your pocket. Research by the University of Essex has found that exercising in pleasant surroundings has a greater effect in reducing blood pressure than hitting the gym and plugging into another screen. Green spaces and fresh air, ideally close to water, were shown to significantly improve self-esteem and enable participants to relax more effectively in the evening.
  3. Treat your commute as ‘me-time’ not an opportunity to work remotely. Professor Mark Cropley, author of The Off-Switch, advises: “The shortest route to changing your thought pattern is to find a task that is the total opposite to your work and completely absorbs the mind. For an accountant who looks as a screen for ten hours a day, for example, cycling home – a physical activity where you have to be aware of traffic around you – is ideal.”
  4. Practise mindfulness. Limit distractions such as the TV, radio or flicking between apps and take the time to focus on your food, notice your surroundings and tune into how you are feeling. Identifying feelings of stress and when and why they occur will enable you to take control of them. If you feel stressed, meditating on an object, taking in its texture, appearance and smell can help you remain calm.
  5. Read a book in bed – not your tablet. Oxford scientists have declared that we now get up to two hours’ less sleep than we did 60 years ago, and this could be due to our use of bright screens at bedtime, which prevent our brains from releasing melatonin, the hormone that tells our bodies it’s night time. Turning off your tablet an hour before bedtime, can help keep our body clock in check. “Make sure you read with traditional lighting, so called ‘warm’ light with more energy in the red end of the spectrum,” adds psychologist Lynn D. Johnson.“That convinces the brain it is sundown and time to quiet down.”
  6. To aid sleep further, take a bath. Not only does soaking in the bath encourage you to put down your smartphone, but the hot water will raise your body temperature slightly so that when you get out the quick cooldown mimics the natural temperature drop triggered by the brain before sleep. To get the most out of your bath, practise meditation, read a good book or listen to music rather than switching on Netflix. Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus are also renowned for their calming, therapeutic effects. Focus on your breathing, and cherish the opportunity to have time and space all to yourself.

For the full article https://uk.lush.com/article/how-pull-plug-stress