More bad news

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Copyright Times Newspapers – click to enlarge

Another week, another scary story in the newspaper about mental health. The statistics which lead to this headline are very worrying indeed. The high percentage of young women who suffer from a mental illness, and in particular the number of them who turn to self-harm, should be seen by all as a sign that we are failing our young people. As I mentioned last week in my post Mental Health Matters this issue does not appear to be being given the priority it deserves by the Clinical Commissioning Groups, who use the funding they are given to buy the services needed by the populations they serve. As always, they are treating mental health as being of lesser importance than physical health. Spending on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is even worse: for some reason, CAMHS services are seen as some kind of poor relation within the context of mental health services. Surely, it isn’t rocket science to understand that if our children grow up with good mental health and are well supported in this, they will take that with them through their lives, is it? This survey was carried out on behalf of the NHS by the well respected National Council for Social Research, and it is to be hoped that everyone involved will take notice and take action as a result of these findings.

Apart from the headline and the story, what interests me about this piece in The Times is the focus they have taken to create their story: the full report runs to 405 pages, not including the data tables, so presumably there is much else in there which needs to be addressed? Tucked away towards the end of the article is mention of the fact that whilst men are much less likely to suffer from a mental illness or to have suicidal ideation, they are much more successful at taking this to its tragic conclusion. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of the situation in relation to young women – far from it! – but the fact that even in a brief report such as this The Times can draw some attention to the male suicide issue says to me that there is a huge amount that needs to be done in this country and, I suspect, elsewhere. I have downloaded the full report, which is freely available here to anyone who is interested.

I make no apology for writing this brief post which is, in effect, a continuation of where I left off last week. The more information that becomes available, the more widely it is shared, the greater the awareness of one of the major issues affecting society today. In these days of Brexit, immigration, racism, choosing the least bad of two undesirable Presidential candidates, international terrorism and many other important issues, it is easy for mental health to be lost in the tide of news. I, for one, don’t accept that this should be, and will add my own small voice to those who are trying to do something about this. We can only achieve acceptance of mental health as a major issue if we can widen the debate about it – this is the only way I can do this, but I know that I’m one among many who feels this way. Lots of you tell me that in response to my posts and the fact that I have had more new followers for this small blog in the past week, when I posted three times on mental health, than at any time since I began speaks volumes to me.

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22 thoughts on “More bad news

  1. Honestly I agree. Over the past two years of my life, I’ve talked to over a thousand (mostly young) individuals who have reached out for help and have been left hanging. It’s scary to see all these people reaching out for help and all these studies and things being done, but still not much of a chance in the young adult population. (Based on my experiences.)

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    • What worries me most is the upward trend in the numbers. This survey is the fourth, it is done every seven years, and the situation is getting progressively worse for young people, especially young women. Even the government has finally recognised the problem but too many of those who commission services don’t see it as a priority. To me, that is criminal.

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  2. I keep hearing that mental health is going to be made a priority but I sure don’t see it happening. The insurance companies are paying less and less. For a 2 1/2 hour psychotherapy group that costs $80 a week, some of them have reduced their reimbursement level from $20 a week to $13.

    So much of today’s violence is due to mental health issues. We are paying a huge price for not making support and healing a priority.

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  3. Thank you for sharing these tragic news Clive. I saved the photo in my files because I one day will make a post on my own situation in that age 16-24. The article helps me to get it done someday. Which news paper did it come from?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Maria. Thanks for your kind words, and I’m sorry that you have personal experience of this. Glad the clip will help you pulling a post together. It came from The Times, or possibly The Times of London if that’s how you know it. They operate a paywall so you may not be able to access the original article. But if you’re interested it might be worth clicking the link in my piece to the actual research. This is broken down into sections as PDFs – I recommend the executive summary (9 pages) as a start, rather than the full 405 page document!

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      • I think that just adds a whole new dimension to the problem. As they said, this is the first cohort to be researched that has grown up with social media, and there are some interesting comparisons to be drawn – I’ll find them when I read the research!

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  4. Absolutely keep it up Clive! Your concerns are valid. Without reading the report yet (Moving, retiring, and buying a house and just keeping up my once a week blog are beginning to feel overwhelming) I would be interested to know what diagnoses are included in the study. In the major disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar, the incident rates are about the same. Women do have significantly higher rates of depression, but are more likely to seek help for it. In the cutting you mentioned (called derealization) there is a strong link to abuse. Serious abuse, repetitive abuse can cause disassociation…and then cutting to try to feel real. Since, in general, more women than men suffer abuse, especially for extended periods, that is thought to be part of the cause for the increased rates. (Sorry…I may have slipped into teacher mode there…but I have taught this stuff in the past, lol!) Anyway, there are interesting gender differences in personality disorders. Some of the personality disorders more associated with males, narcissism for example, tends to be more accepted as a male trait (think Trump) than dependent personality disorder for women. At any rate, looking forward to learning things from your summaries, Clive….you are doing a good service to all! Keep posting! Jo

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    • Many thanks Jo. It’s good to be writing on this for such a knowledgeable audience, it means that I know you get it too. There is loads of stuff in the report and to be honest I haven’t got past the executive summary yet, but I’ll definitely be sharing some of it. It’s interesting to see if there are differences in other countries, or whether the research results would be replicated elsewhere. We’ll see! Thanks for reading and commenting 😊

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  5. I studied Social Science a number of years ago and it was a given back then that women, in particlar young mothers in high rise blocks, were at higher risk of depression, but also what was noticeable is that men usually choose a quite violent and more likely fatal method of suicide than women who tend to use pills and so on and who therefore have a better chance of survival and receiving help. I am especially concerned about the pressures from all sides on very young people nowadays and the lack of counselling and mindfulness, yoga etc available in schools. Even primary age children show symptoms of depression and stress and those that have yoga sessions, teach relaxation and so on have been very successful in creating happier, more confident children. This is a huge area and it is completely baffling why it doesn’t receive the funds and why more wide-ranging treatments other than drugs are not made available. I imagine the vast majority of us will at some point in our lives experience symptoms of mental illness and as you say, it’s in all our interests to promote mental health. I can only imagine the ramifications later on of all the mental stress newly arrived immigrants are experiencing, is anyone addressing that too? Sorry, I could have written pages, but will hand your back your blog now! 😄

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    • Phew! I agree completely with you, I really can’t see why much more in the way of resources isn’t provided for this. The old adage of prevention being better than cure is true. I think you have the makings of a post of your own there 😉

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      • You’re very kind, but I’ve read and written too many essays on the topic in the past and loved many of the issues in one way of another, I’ll leave it to you. You are a much better writer on these matters, I get too emotional 😬

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  6. I wonder if GP’s are too quick to hand out anti-depressants, instead of getting to the root cause of the patient’s depression. Anti-depressants need to be taken with extreme caution. My mother was on them for years, and had a terrible time coming off them.

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    • That isn’t an uncommon assertion, and I’m sure it’s true in plenty of cases, particularly when a GP isn’t strong on mental health issues and treatments. Primary and secondary services both need to be involved, antidepressants alone aren’t likely to be successful. I’m sorry to hear your Mum had problems – glad to say my own experience was much better!

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