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

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 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

 

Harmless appear in national news

Harmless have appeared in numerous news stories surrounding the sharp rise in recent reported cases of self harm in young girls aged 13-16.

A few of our clients and our CEO, Caroline Harroe, have taken part in various national news stories around this recent statistic.

Yesterday we filmed a piece for Sky News which has featured on the Sky News channel and online at various times throughout today.

You can watch this news story at this link: http://news.sky.com/video/girls-self-harming-more-due-to-social-media-11087600

We have also been filming today for ITV national news which was broadcast on today’s lunchtime news bulletin. This story will also feature on ITV Central News at 6pm this evening. Make sure you tune in!

In the News: Police dealing with record level of phone calls on mental health

Britain’s biggest police force received a phone call relating to mental health every five minutes last year, an escalating level of demand caused by NHS services struggling to cope.

The number of calls handled by the Metropolitan police in which someone was concerned about a person’s mental health hit a record 115,000 in the last year: on average 315 a day, or about 13 an hour.

Volumes have grown by nearly a third since 2011-12, according to data released under freedom of information legislation, and officers fear the demand for help from the public will continue to increase.

One senior police officer told the Guardian a reduction in the ability to cope of NHS mental health services was a key factor in the rise in mental health calls to the police, and it was a national trend.

Insp Michael Brown, mental health coordinator for the College of Policing, said police had become better at recording such calls but this could not account for the big rise.

“We know there is more demand on NHS mental health services and their funding has been cut,” he said.

Commander Richard Smith, head of safeguarding at the Met, said: “Based on current trends, section 136 demand is set to double in London in the next 10 years as it’s increasing by approximately 10% each year.”

Smith added: “The issues we deal with include those with mental ill health who are involved in crime as victims or suspects as well as people who are in crisis in their home or in a public place.”

Nationally, police believe a significant number of those about whom they get calls are already under the care of NHS mental health services, or have been, which is beginning to have an effect on policing.

In West Yorkshire, mental health nurses are being employed in two custody suites to help with people brought in by officers. The force says the mental health incidents it deals with every month have risen to 1,300, up from 850 two years ago.

Brown added that so called “street triage projects” across Britain, where calls are attended by a mental health expert and a police officer, showed that in the majority of cases, police were not needed to resolve the problem.

In Lincolnshire, mental health nurses will now work in the police control room to give clinical advice to police dealing with callers.

The Met figures were obtained by the Labour party under freedom of information legislation. The full figures show that in the 12 months up to 20 July 2017, the Met received 115,000 calls flagged up on its systems as regarding mental health, up 33% on the volume of calls received in 2011-12.

Louise Haigh, the shadow police minister, said: “The dismantling of vital early intervention services forces those with mental health issues on to lengthy waiting lists.

“In desperation or in crisis, they will turn to the police, who are acting as the service of last resort, a role they are wholly unequipped for.

“While facing a savage cut in numbers, the police are increasingly being asked to pick up the pieces of a scandalous lack of mental health provision. Incidents involving mental health are at record highs as police resilience reaches rock bottom.

“The result is genuinely frightening and these figures should act as a wake-up call for the government.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Everyone should be able to access the mental health support they need. We have made major improvements in recent years, including setting up the first ever access and waiting standards for mental health and increasing mental health spending year on year to a record £11.6 billion in 2016/17.

For the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/28/police-phone-calls-mental-health-nhs

In the News: We need to talk about graduate depression

One in four undergraduates experience mental health issues during their studies according to YouGov, but there is little said of the awful feeling post-graduation that leaves students feeling anxious, upset and confused.

This silent problem is taking over the lives of recent graduates, and while conversations around mental health in general have been getting louder, this is an area that is still relatively quiet.

Finishing university is supposed to be a special moment when your life can finally start. Watch out world, here you come, all bright eyed and bushy tailed – but sadly, this isn’t always the case.

After years of being in full-time education, it is now time to start fiercely competing with others in the same situation as you for that much talked about dream job.

Leaving university is a shock to the system.

It’s no longer about making sure you’ve done the extra reading and taking part in seminars, but about being expected to land a job, have a plan and start saving for things like a mortgage.

And when we take a step back and realise that we are leaving a way of life we’ve been in since we were 3-years-old, it is easy to see why graduates are feeling this way.

Education is a well-structured system, and the loss of this leaves many graduates feeling as though they are drifting, often too afraid to commit to one solid career field, fearing that it may be the wrong one.

Those on the hunt for jobs are placed in an impossible situation; they are either under qualified for a role relevant to their studies, or find themselves over qualified for a temporary job to get them by.

Studying for a degree brings its own stresses, and students should not be disheartened or discouraged by anyone who devalues what they are doing; it should be acknowledged that help is within reach if the post-university prospects do not exceed or live up to expectations that students may have for their futures.

In the few months, or weeks in some cases, between exam period to graduation date, and graduation ceremony to ‘real world’, a lot is expected to change in a short period of time, and the transition is not always an easy one. There needs to be more focus from the authorities on the transition from university to employment.

The BACP gives the following advice for anyone who is concerned they are experiencing post-university depression. Primarily, ‘it’s good to talk’, so the first step is to open up to friends, colleagues, family members or a partner. By telling someone how the movement from university to real world is making you feel, often a positive result can be reached.

If this does not help, then you are advised to seek professional help. In a safe, confidential place, anyone suffering from post-university depression can talk with their GP.

Full link to articles: http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/17/why-is-no-one-talking-about-post-graduate-depression-6760769/

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/health/graduate-blues-why-we-need-to-talk-about-post-university-depression-8729522.html

In the News: How to support a depressed partner while maintaining your own mental health

here is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self; just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems – in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression – is complicated.

Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed – the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.

I didn’t know what questions to ask. And Rob struggled to articulate how bad it was. He wanted to be “normal” so he expended a lot of energy trying to pretend he was OK when he wasn’t. In 2015, Rob took his life. The reasons are complex, but I believe it was a mix of depression and an addiction to the opiates he used to self-medicate.

Although I am painfully aware of how Rob’s battle ended, I am often asked about how I dealt with it when he was alive. Hindsight is always bittersweet, but I did learn a lot – especially about taking care of my own mental health.

Look after yourself

Feeling that you have to handle everything is natural, but you have to look after yourself or you won’t be any use to your partner. “That pressure to keep it all going can feel too much,” says Dr Monica Cain, counselling psychologist at Nightingale hospital in London. She advises “taking that pressure seriously. It’s something that is very difficult to manage even at the best of times.”

Remember that depression isn’t just a mental illness

It used to drive me mad that Rob wouldn’t get out of bed. It took a while to realise that he “couldn’t” rather than “wouldn’t”. I was so sure he would feel better if he came out for a walk or met his friends, but depression is a physical illness, too. As Dr Cain says: “Physically, depression impacts energy levels. People sometimes feel very tired and want to stay in bed all the time.”

Don’t stop doing the things you love

When your partner can’t get out of bed or come to social engagements with you, there can be anger and frustration. Jayne Hardy, founder of the Blurt Foundation, which helps those affected by depression, says the “feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness” depressed people may have mean they often “place loved ones on a pedestal”. She says their skewed perspective means they can “struggle to see what they have to offer you”.

On more than one occasion, Rob said to me: “I feel like I’m ruining your life.” I stopped doing the things I loved and, because I stayed at home with him, it made him feel guilty that I was missing out.

Take charge of admin and finance

People with depression find even mundane tasks, such as opening the post or going to the shops, impossible. Often, they keep their finances hidden, says Dr Cain. “It can feel quite shameful for them to say: ‘I’m finding it difficult to stay on top of it.’” This can be stressful for their partners. As Dr Antonis Kousoulis, a clinician and an assistant director at the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Being the main source of support for a partner with depression can add a lot of pressure.” But it is still better than not knowing what’s happening with your partner’s finances or admin. So, to maintain your own mental health and avoid unnecessary stress, it may be easier to have an agreement with your partner that, when they are ill, you will be in the admin driving seat. And when they feel able, they will sort it out.

Talk to your friends and family

You may fear that friends and family won’t understand. But trying to maintain appearances while supporting your partner is exhausting. “Opening up conversations to friends and families, and getting them involved usually makes a big difference in tackling the stigma and building a circle of support,” says Dr Kousoulis. Hardy adds: “All the advice we would give to someone who is unwell with depression also applies to loved ones who support us: make sure you are supported, reach out for help in understanding more about the illness, keep the channels of communication open; don’t be afraid to ask questions, and prioritise self-care.”

Don’t take it personally

There is the person you fell in love with, who makes you laugh until it hurts – and then there are the bad days, when you are dealing with a stranger who won’t let you in. “Depression can magnify or alter emotions,” says Dr Kousoulis. “A person can have emotional highs and lows in equal degrees, so it is important not to take changes personally.”

This can be easier said than done. I found my own coping mechanisms – therapy, exercise and lowering my expectations of what I needed and wanted from Rob when he was feeling bad. I knew that somewhere inside this person was my husband, so from time to time, I’d leave him postcards telling him how much I loved him. He didn’t react in an effusive way but I know it got through because he kept every one in a memory box.

Above all, hold on to your love. “You won’t always feel as though you are making any progress,” says Hardy. “You, too, may feel helpless at times. But your patience, kindness and understanding make such a difference.”

You can read the full article at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/10/how-to-support-a-depressed-partner-while-maintaining-your-own-mental-health?CMP=fb_gu

In the News: Have men been let down over mental health?

“He was the life and soul of the party, but inside he was battling serious demons. He was a 25-year-old man who looked to have everything going for him, but he couldn’t vocalise his problems.” That is how Rowland Bennett describes his best friend Charlie Berry, who took his own life a year ago.

Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 49 in the UK, and men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. According to campaigners, most men thinking about suicide never talk to anyone about the problems that have brought them to crisis point.

After his friend’s death, Bennett, a booker and promoter in the music industry, became involved with the male suicide awareness charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), organising its 10th anniversary fundraiser night in London. “Since I’ve been involved, I’ve heard more and more people say ‘I lost a friend’ or ‘My mate, the party guy, killed himself’ – everyone has got those stories,” he says. “Men don’t want to be that guy talking about depression. They want to be the character people think they are.”

Male suicide research by the charity Samaritans suggests men often compare themselves against a “gold standard” of masculinity which is often incredibly difficult to live up to. The charity has highlighted the issue for middle-aged men, who have the highest rate of suicide of any age group. Research manager Elizabeth Scowcroft says that is probably down to a combination of factors, including relationship breakdown and financial pressures. “We need to think about ways we can engage with those who are most at risk, targeting the right people, encouraging them to seek help,” she says. “It’s about talking to people earlier rather than once they are at crisis point and feel they want to take their own lives.”

Calm’s chief executive, Jane Powell, says rather than focusing on particular risk groups, society needs to see suicide as an “every man” issue. “What’s frustrating is there is an overwhelming sexism when it comes to looking at this. At what point are we going to look at why more men – regardless of age – take their own lives than women?”

Click the following link to read the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/may/18/men-suicide-mental-health?CMP=share_btn_tw

In the News: Facebook and Twitter ‘harm young people’s mental health’

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.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

 

To read the full article, please click the following link:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health