In the News: PFA says more football players are seeking help

A growing number of players are seeking help from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) for mental health problems, according to new figures.
New data shows that 438 current and former professionals accessed therapy in 2018, 278 more than two years ago.
The union’s head of welfare, Michael Bennett, suggests more current players are coming forward now.
“Once you would never show any weakness, but they now realise it’s not weak to talk about things,” he said.
The PFA’s new figures come less than a week after Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and President of the Football Association, criticised football clubs for their attitude towards players’ mental health.
“The issues have always been there,” added former England youth international Bennett, who has run the PFA’s player welfare department since 2011.
“Dealing with injuries, transition in and out of the game, going on loan and feeling isolated, foreign players being lonely and so on, and then you have problems related to money worries or addiction.
“But they have perhaps been a little bit under the radar and too many people have suffered in silence in the past.
“Now, I hope, people realise you can ask for help and help is available.”
Several former and current high-profile players have spoken of their battles with mental health issues, including Tottenham and England full-back Danny Rose, former England winger Aaron Lennon and the now-retired striker Stan Collymore.
Gambling the ‘new challenge’
Although he admits there is more awareness among football clubs regarding mental health, Bennett highlighted that other issues, such as gambling, cause new concerns.
“It used to be betting shops and card schools but now it’s virtual casinos and gambling on your phone,” he continued.
“It’s everywhere now and it can get out of hand quite quickly. Everyone thinks young players are on £5,000 a week, so it doesn’t matter, but it’s more like £500 a week in Leagues One and Two and they can get in trouble because they are not millionaires.
“You only have to tick a box to say you’re 18 and away you go. It doesn’t seem like real money and it’s a big issue. We are doing a lot of work on this with Sporting Chance and [problem-gambling experts] EPIC.”
In December, Britain’s biggest gambling companies confirmed plans to effectively ban television betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), made up of Britain’s biggest betting companies including Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, voluntarily agreed to the ban.
Former Manchester City and Northern Ireland player Jeff Whitley, who is a member of the welfare team at the PFA, says gambling provides a “new challenge” for the sport.
Whitley, who suffered from his own drink and drug addiction during his career, said: “With gambling, you don’t have to go to the bookies; it’s a very secretive addiction. People just need their mobile phones.
“It’s different to alcohol or drugs, which you can see or smell when players come into the club.
“With gambling, people can put a mask on. It can be months before anyone would know they’re really struggling.”
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In the News: Is young people’s mental health getting worse?

Poor mental health among children and young people has been described as an epidemic and an “escalating crisis”.
The number of children seeking help from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) in England, has more than doubled over the past two years.
But establishing how much of this represents an actual rise in young people experiencing problems, and how much is down to better awareness of symptoms and diagnosis, is difficult.
Staying with England for now, our best shot is to look at a representative sample of the whole population, not just those who have come in contact with mental health services.
An NHS survey of young people in England, selected from GP records, did just this.
It found a small but genuine rise in diagnosable emotional disorders like depression and anxiety, especially among girls.
This was based on full psychiatric assessments of roughly 10,000 young people – meaning it could pick up existing problems even if someone had never sought help.
Researchers found the proportion of under-16s experiencing any mental disorder had risen from 11.4% to 13.6% between 1999 and 2017.
That total includes things like anxiety and depression as well as behavioural disorders and hyperactivity.
“It was smaller than we thought,” says Prof Tamsin Ford, a child psychiatrist and researcher who developed the survey.
“It’s not huge, not the epidemic you see reported.”
Older teenagers were included in the survey for the first time in 2017 and it suggested that young women aged 17-19 were two-thirds more likely than younger girls, and twice as likely as their male peers, to experience poor mental health.
There is a big gap between the rise in the number of children found to have diagnosable mental disorders over almost two decades, and the rise in referrals to Camhs in just two years. And that suggests a good proportion of the rise is down to more people seeking help, not entirely to more people being unwell.
That doesn’t mean all those people will get help, though.
There has also been a rise in the number of young people saying themselves that they have a mental disorder, according to national surveys conducted each year around Britain. Self-reported conditions among young people increased six-fold in England, doubled in Scotland and went up by more than half in Wales between 1999 and 2014.
Again, that’s despite the fact that researchers couldn’t find an equivalent rise in the numbers showing signs of psychological distress when given a formal psychiatric assessment.
This is likely to be because children – and their parents – are better able to recognise difficulties, leading to a “narrowing of the gap between problems that exist and problems that are reported,” according to Prof Ford’s research.
It’s also possible some children are identifying distressing emotions as disorders even though they don’t have a diagnosable condition.
And methods of diagnosis of mental illness are not perfect either since they are trying to draw a clear line [between having a condition and not] in something that is anything but clear: where ordinary feelings of anxiety become an anxiety disorder, or where feeling low due to circumstances crosses over into clinical depression.
Hospital admissions
It’s not just that young people are more likely to say they have difficulties with their mental health, though. In England, there has also been an almost doubling of hospital admissions for self-harm among girls since 1997 (although there’s been no corresponding rise among boys).
An NHS Digital spokesman said the disparity between the sexes meant the rise was unlikely to be just down to improvements in recording.
But even when it comes to symptoms this severe, hospital records aren’t necessarily a perfect measure of more people harming themselves.
A better understanding by professionals has led to more cases being recorded as self-harm, Prof Ford says, whereas previously people may have been treated for their wounds without the self-inflicted nature being picked up.
This may also be down to a reduction in stigma – most self-harm is concealed and so more people presenting at hospital doesn’t necessarily mean more self-harm is actually taking place.
A “surprising number of people” harm themselves quite severely yet never go to hospital, she explains.
Although the evidence for whether children and young people’s mental health is getting worse is contradictory, according to Lorraine Khan at the Centre for Mental Health, there are “some tentative signs of a decline in young women’s wellbeing”, backed up by the latest NHS figures, which need investigation.
Original blog:

In the News: Green space during childhood may improve adult mental health

According to Aarhus University, Denmark, it’s time to emphasise the need for designing green and healthy cities, not just for a sustainable future but for adult mental health.
Did you know that children who grow up with greener surroundings have up to 55% less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life? Adult mental health is widespread – and such research calls for greener and healthier cities for the future.
Green space + children = positive adult mental health
According to WHO estimates, more than 450 million of the global human population suffer from a mental disorder. And this is a number that is expected to increase.
Now, based on satellite data from 1985 to 2013, researchers from Aarhus University have mapped the presence of green space around the childhood homes of almost one million Danes and compared this data with the risk of developing one of 16 different mental disorders later in life.
The study, published in the American Journal PNAS, shows that children surrounded by the high amounts of green space in childhood have up to a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder – even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as socio-economic status, urbanisation, and the family history of mental disorders.
What actually leads to adult mental health?
Kristine Engemann from department of bioscience and the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus University explains: “Our data is unique. We have had the opportunity to use a massive amount of data from Danish registers of, among other things, residential location and disease diagnoses and compare it with satellite images revealing the extent of green space surrounding each individual when growing up.”
It is already known that noise, air pollution, infections and poor socio-economic conditions increase the risk of developing a mental disorder.
Conversely, other studies have shown that more green space in the local area creates greater social cohesion and increases people’s physical activity level and that it can improve children’s cognitive development, green space can also reduce heart disease. These are all factors that may have an impact on people’s mental health.
“With our dataset, we show that the risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10. Green space throughout childhood is therefore extremely important,” Kristine Engemann explains.
The relationship between greenspace and mental disorders
Kristine Engemann adds: “There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought. Our study is important in giving us a better understanding of its importance across the broader population.”
This knowledge has important implications for sustainable urban planning. Not least because a larger and larger proportion of the world’s population lives in cities.
Co-author Professor Jens-Christian Svenning from the Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, concludes: “The coupling between mental health and access to green space in your local area is something that should be considered even more in urban planning to ensure greener and healthier cities and improve mental health of urban residents in the future.”
Link to original blog:

In the News: Health secretary says mental health nurses may plug gaps in psychiatric care

Speaking after NHS Tayside’s annual review at Ninewells Hospital, Ms Freeman said a global shortage of consultant psychiatrists is making it harder for health boards to fill vacancies.
She said ensuring nurses are properly trained could help alleviate strain on the system.
An independent review into mental health services in Tayside is currently under way following a campaign by people who blame care standards at the Carseview Psychiatric Centre for a series of suicides and other incidents.
The review, headed by Gavin Strang, is collating evidence it collected from members of the public and staff involved in mental health services in Tayside.
Although the independent inquiry will not report back for several months, NHS Tayside has created a Mental Health Alliance in order to improve services.
Ms Freeman said she is optimistic NHS Tayside is committed to making improvements campaigners demand.
She said: “We have the Gavin Strang review which is very important and will report later in the year.
“But what I thought chief executive Grant Archibald said about the Mental Heath Alliance, was very interesting.
“It is is exactly what we’ve been talking about: bringing in those clinicians, medics, nurses and others to say ‘what more do we need to do to improve?’.”
Ms Freeman added: “Some of that is about upskilling our psychiatric nurse cohort to operate at the top of their licence
“The problem with recruiting consultants is a global problem.
“So while we will continue to try to recruit we have to look at what can we do with the staff cohort we have just now rather than sitting and saying’nothing can get better until we fill these vacancies’.
“That’s what Grant described as his Mental Helath Alliance will start to look at doing and I’ll be keen to know if there’s anything I can do to help with that.”
Last week councillor Ken Lynn, vice-chairman of the Dundee Heath and Social Care Partnership pledged his “total commitment” to creating a 24-hour mental health crisis centre in Dundee.
Mr Lynn said he believes the centre should operate in the city centre.
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Harmless and The Tomorrow Project – One Day Closure

Today is self harm awareness day.

For harmless this is a significant date in our annual calendar.

Self harm awareness day is an opportunity for us to come together to promote dialogue about self harm, about stress and suffering, about psychological needs and about overcoming suicide.

Today we are holding our national conference From Harm to Hope. The conference will bring people together from across the UK to talk about the issue of self harm, of suicide prevention and how we can work together to overcome what can often be very painful difficulties that people face.

Our team have been working tirelessly to make this event a success. It is a day where we can start new conversations. It is a day where we can talk to our peers, to the people that we help and to our colleagues and to start a different conversation – one that hopefully and collectively will save lives.

Our service will be closed for the day and we will re-open Monday 04/03/2019, thank you for your understanding.

 If you need immediate support over the next couple of weeks, please call Hope Line on 0800 068 41 41 or the Samaritans on 116 123.

Self Harm Awareness Day 2019

Today is the 1st of March, International Self Harm Awareness Day (known also as Self Injury Awareness Day, SIAD). To mark the occasion, we are holding our annual national conference, From Harm to Hope.
SIAD occurs on 1st March every year, and has done so for at least sixteen years. SIAD is an international event that is recognised across the globe.
The conference brings together people from across the UK to focus on how we can collaboratively work with those who self harm.
Today we welcome you all to a day of discussion, presentations and workshops. We will hear from Dr. Anna Lavis, Dr. Sarah Cassidy, Professor Nav Kapur, Keith Waters, Professor Siobhan O’Neil, Dr. Alys Cole-King, Rachel Winter, Jo Lockwood, Marie Armstrong, Sophie Beer, and Georgie Brearley.
We will also hear from members of the Harmless team, those with lived experience, and service providers in a day that aims to promote improved practice.
The number of children and young people self-harming has risen dramatically in the past 10 years, and so this year’s conference is focusing on our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.
Why not tune in throughout the day to our twitter handle #HarmtoHope to hear updates from the day.
A huge thank you to our sponsors for your support of this conference and our life saving work. Nottingham City Transport MSS Steel Services LTD and Ginger Root.
#JoinTheConversation and together #LetsSaveLives #EarlyIntervention

From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Nav Kapur
Professor of Psychiatry and Population Health Biography
Nav Kapur is Professor of Psychiatry and Population Health at the University of Manchester, UK, and an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. He is Head of Research at the Centre for Mental Health and Safety in the University of Manchester and leads the suicide work programme of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide which collects data on all suicide deaths among people in contact with health services in the UK. He was Chair of the Guideline Development Group for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) self-harm guidelines (longer term management) and also chaired the Quality Standards for self-harm.
He is currently chairing the NICE guidelines for depression in adults and is topic expert on the NICE guidelines for suicide prevention in the community. He also chairs the Health Education England/Royal College of Psychiatrists group developing core competencies for clinical staff in the assessment of self-harm and suicidal ideas.
He is a member of the Department of Health’s (England) National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group. He has published extensively on suicide and self-harm with much of his research focussing on how health services might best contribute to suicide prevention.
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.
This years theme is: Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.

Harm to Hope conference

Last chance to buy tickets for our Harm to Hope conference, Friday 1st March. Tickets are selling fast and the event is just round the corner!
Purchase tickets soon to avoid missing out on an incredible CPD accredited conference, with a wealth of expertise and practical skills.
This years theme is: Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.
Friday 1st March 2019
£150 per delegate place*
2 delegate places for £200*
The theme of our conference is Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.
Harmless recognises that self harm affects a broad range of individuals, facing many diverse experiences; reducing the number of individuals that self harm requires contributions from across society and includes education, prevention, intervention and postvention work.
This exciting new event will bring together private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations, individuals with lived experience of self harm and practitioners & academics in the field of self harm in an ethos of joint working and shared experience.
Our conference is themed around five strategic areas:
· Collaborative partnership,
· Service user representation,
· Effective practice,
· Driving change &
· Overcoming stigma and discrimination.
Delegates can expect to take away from the conference a range of knowledge, inspiration and practical applications for the implementation in real life personal and professional situations. Learning from some of the leaders in the field, delegates will have access to interactive sessions that can drive change in the field of self harm.
Prof. Nav Kapur
Dr Alys Cole-King
Prof. Siobhan O’Neill
Dr Sarah Cassidy
The conference will be held at the specialist conference venue in the heart of Nottingham, The Nottingham Conference Centre.
Where can I find more information?
If you would like more information about the forthcoming conference, then please email
Or speak directly to a member of our team on: 0115 880 0280
Tickets available here

From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Keith Waters, Director of the Centre for Self-harm and Suicide Prevention Research, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Keith Waters has over 25 years of clinical experience in Liaison psychiatry over 30 years with self-harm and suicide prevention an area of special interest and approaching 40 years of NHS working. Was awarded an Honorary Research Fellowship by Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust in 2013, is joint lead for the Derby site of the Multicentre Study of self-harm in England, Clinical director for self-harm and suicide prevention for the Trust and has a seat on the National Suicide Prevention Alliance steering group.

He has been the Regional Suicide Prevention manager then Clinical Advisor for Suicide Prevention with the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network. He is also an experienced trainer, facilitator and presenter, including as consultant trainer for STORM Skills Training, having helped develop and deliver the SAPT (Suicide Awareness Partnership Training) program across the East Midlands; and as a Primary Trainer for Connecting with People. Keith is joint author on numerous published research works, chapters in clinical text books on self-harm and suicide prevention and has contributed to policy and practice guidance.
Almost from Harmlessness’ inception Keith has maintained a close, active and supportive contact with Harmless and holds in great admiration what they have and are achieving. Keith would like to add that chair today is a privilege for him and would like to extend thanks to harmless for the invitation and would also like to thank the delegates, workshop facilitators and speakers for devoting time for today.


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.

This years theme is: Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.

From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Dr Alys Cole-King
Dr Alys Cole-King is the first person from the UK to be awarded the Ringel Service Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention. She was named one of the most influential women in medicine by the Medical Women’s Journal and has been profiled in the Guardian, Lancet and the Psychiatrist in recognition of work with policy makers, medical royal colleges, people with lived experience, voluntary bodies and academics. Alys Cole-King is a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist who maintains a clinical and public health role within the NHS. 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 has led the development of the Connecting with People Programme and the Suicide Assessment Framework E-Tool (SAFETool). This approach is based on more than 25 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 in patients under the care of mental health teams. Alys led the development of, 4Mental Health’s innovative free digital solution to share compassion, hope and equip people to make a Safety Plan.
Alys is a primary author of a numerous 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, is updating the BMJ Best Practice module on suicide and delivered a BMJ Masterclass Webinar on suicide mitigation. Alys 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. Alys works with the media (film, radio and newspapers) to ensure a safe and compassionate public health message of suicide prevention.
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.
This years theme is: Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.