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At last, the edifice of drugs prohibition is starting to crumble | Amanda Feilding

14th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

We are seeing a dramatic shift in favour of drug decriminalisation and unlocking the therapeutic potential of psychedelicsThe past two months have been an incredibly busy and productive time for global drug policy reform and scientific research into psychedelic drugs. Never in my 15 years as director of the Beckley Foundation have I seen such rapid progress in these complementary fields.Earlier this week, Imperial College and the foundation hosted a forum on psychedelic drugs research, which discussed the breakthroughs that have been made by our organisations' research programme and heard presentations from scientists from around the world. And in April, ...

Comment of the week: whether men should cry

13th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

This week, Ally Fogg explains why he chose a moving comment from DorianHawksmoon about being a man who cries 'too much'In a new series, Comment is free writers and editors want to highlight some of the best comments on the site. Each week, either an editor or the author of a recent piece will pick a comment that they think contributes to the debate. We'll get in touch with the commenter and ask them to expand a little on their post, as well as tell us some more about themselves. Hopefully, it will give staff and readers an opportunity to ...

Carers don't know where to turn for help and advice

13th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

I had no support during my first 12 years as a carer to my wifeI'm in my 23rd year as a full-time carer for my wife. I had to resign my job overnight to look after her and had no idea what I was letting myself in for. There was no training manual, I have no medical knowledge, there was no helpline or support of any kind.My wife has a mental health condition, arthritis and emphysema and she requires 24-hour care. Being a full-time carer is not a job I would recommend to anyone. Every day brings new challenges that ...

Men's Health Week: facing up to male mental health problems

13th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

We find it hard to think of men as vulnerable, and their psychological suffering is often overlookedOver the past 30 years three to four times more men have taken their own lives than women, and at no point during this period has the rate of suicide in women been higher than that of men. This raises questions about why we haven't been thinking about the psychological needs of men and boys sooner.Men's Health Week aims to raise awareness of this and other mental health problems that men face. Traditionally, men are reluctant to seek help, have high levels of isolation, ...

The lessons Japan has for the UK on dementia

11th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

As the UK population ages, our politicians are looking at the policies of a country where one in four people is over 65Jeremy Hunt's recent visit to Japan passed almost unnoticed in Britain. Yet the issues he discussed with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, and the health minister, Norihisa Tamura, touched on a problem that is likely to dominate social policy in the next decade: dementia care. One in four of the Japanese population is over 65. By 2050, the proportion will be 40%. There are already 4.6 million people with dementia in Japan. Britain, with 10 million people over 65, ...

Stephen Fry opens a window on to male depression – we must let boys cry | Ally Fogg

11th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

The comedian has been outspoken about his battle with depression. But many men struggle to talk due to childhood messages to toughen upLast week Stephen Fry spoke movingly, not for the first time, about his experience of bipolar depression and suicidal impulses. When the interview aroused the usual smattering of ill-informed comments, Alastair Campbell tweeted rather brilliantly: "To those asking what @stephenfry has to be depressed about, would you ask what someone has to be cancerous, diabetic or asthmatic about?"Monday marked the beginning of Men's Health Week, and the theme this year is challenging the stigma of mental health. In speaking frankly and honestly about ...

Stabbing: a moment of madness

8th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

The voices in Sean Clifton's head told him to seek out 'the prettiest girl in the mall' and stab her. Julie Bouvier was that girl. In a unique film, they each tell their side of the storyIt was an early October evening when 22-year-old Julie Bouvier and her friend Lynn decided to pop to their local shopping centre. Julie had forgotten Lynn's birthday, so wanted to take her out for a coffee. And Lynn had just had a baby and wanted to pick up some nappies. They parked and were walking towards the door of the store when Bouvier noticed a man behaving strangely."I saw ...

Stephen Fry reveals suicide attempt in 2012 - video

6th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Stephen Fry tells Richard Herring how he attempted to kill himself last year, and was found unconscious in a hotel room by his producerRichard Herring

One in four people have a mental illness – let's get organised | Ruby Wax

6th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Everyone who suffers any type of mental anguish should have a place to meet – a walk-in centre similar to Alcoholics AnonymousIn the midst of doing publicity for my book Sane New World, I'm endlessly asked about my depression, even though it is not particularly about mental illness but rather how all of our minds/brains work and how, with practice, we can drive them rather than be driven by them. Many of us find ourselves in a frenzied state of busy-ness, fuelled by our own critical voices with absolutely no instructions on how to brake until we break (Gandhi said ...

Stephen Fry reveals details of recent attempted suicide

5th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry, who is also the president of Mind, said his latest attempt was a 'close-run thing'Stephen Fry has revealed that he attempted suicide last year but was saved by his producer, who found him unconscious in a hotel room.The actor, writer and presenter, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has previously spoken of earlier suicide attempts, including the first when he was 17, but told an audience in London on Monday night that he had never spoken about the latest incident, which occurred when he was filming abroad.Fry, who is president of the mental health charity ...

Glenn Close says sorry for her portrayal of mental illness in Fatal Attraction

5th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

The actor considers her bunny-boiler role to have been insensitiveAge: 66.Appearance: Regal glamour; occasional outbursts of bowler-hatter androgyny.Another Fatal Attraction star in the news this week? Oh God, does this mean ... No, you're safe. She hasn't suddenly revealed that she caught anything from oral sex. This is a cunnilingus-free zone. But she does want to apologise.For Fatal Attraction? Good, justice for that poor rabbit is long overdue. This has nothing to do with bunny boiling.Then why is she apologising? Is it her gigantic perm? Oh, be quiet, it was the 80s. We all looked like that back then. No, ...

Talking about mental health destigmatises it | Clare Allan

4th June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

In my experience, speaking out helps people with mental health problems to reveal themselves as individuals rather than categoriesIt's often said that one of the best ways to tackle prejudice against those with mental health problems is for people to speak openly about their mental health. I think this is true and it works because while prejudice sees people as types, or even not quite as people, when an individual talks about their own experience, you can hardly fail to recognise a fellow human being.But there are very good reasons for people choosing not to speak out. And chief among ...

Back to bedlam: abandoned American asylums – in pictures

3rd June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Jeremy Harris's photographs of desolate, shadowy asylums are a reminder of the treatment once meted out to people with psychological disorders

Mary Myers obituary

2nd June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Psychiatrist who was one of the great early advocates for people with learning disabilitiesMary Myers, who has died aged 82, often recounted how, as a "mental handicap" psychiatrist in the early 1980s, she went to visit a hostel for people with learning disabilities and was greeted at the door by a voluble young man with Down's syndrome. Although it was the middle of the afternoon, he was dressed in his pyjamas and he buttonholed Mary in the entrance hall, interrogating her loudly about who exactly she was, why she was visiting and whether she was going to help him. In ...

The Ministry of Thin by Emma Woolf – review

1st June 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Emma Woolf's study of our obsession with being thin should serve as a wake-up call to all womenWriter and TV presenter Emma Woolf's The Ministry of Thin is about "how the modern obsession with weight loss, youth, beauty and perfection got out of control". Woolf sets her stall out with brio."Welcome to the Ministry of Thin. All members are welcome and there's no charge – in fact you're signed up automatically at birth." While Woolf is not advocating obesity, she points out that "thin rules" are no longer the sole preserve of people with food disorders (Woolf detailed her own 10-year battle ...

Dementia risk may be higher for older people who have general anaesthetics

31st May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Study of 9,000 patients suggests general anaesthetics may affect brains as a result of postoperative cognitive dysfunctionOlder people who have a general anaesthetic while undergoing surgery are 35% more likely to develop dementia years afterwards as a result, according to new research.The study has reopened the question of whether anaesthetic agents may potentially affect the brains of children or elderly patients, as some evidence suggests.Research from France being presented on Sunday at a conference of anaesthetists identifies postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD), a common delirium-like complication of major surgery in older people, as a likely cause of dementia that develops some ...

Suicide and the unspoken side of welfare 'reform' | Wayne Blackburn

31st May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

I personally know how cuts can push someone to thoughts of suicide, but there are people and organisations who can helpIt has always been difficult for everyone, regardless of their experiences or expertise, to be able to discuss publicly the motivations or reasons for a person to decide to take their own life. It is, somewhat understandably, a cultural taboo, a subject that even today is hard to broach.Earlier this month, Stephanie Bottrill, a 53-year-old grandmother from Solihull, West Midlands, took her own life . In a letter she left to her son, she blamed the government, as she was ...

Almost half of people shot dead by Australian police were mentally ill

30th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Report says 44 out of 105 fatal shootings in the past 22 years were of people with mental illnessClose to half the people shot dead by police over the past 22 years had some form of mental illness, latest figures show. According to a new report from the Australian Institute of Criminology, there were 105 fatal police shootings between 1989-90 and 2010-11 and 44 of those people had a mental illness, with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia being the most common.Drugs and alcohol are also overrepresented, with postmortem toxicology results showing in 51% of fatal shootings the victim was intoxicated.The ...

Amanda Bynes' public meltdown says more about us than her | Jill Filipovic

29th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

What does it show about society when we commodify a pretty female celebrity's meltdown? We certainly don't do that to menBeautiful women who fall apart serve a necessary cultural purpose: they're a warning against over-indulgence and narcissism. They also attract the peddlers of celebrity gossip in a way that few other stories do. Today, it's Amanda Bynes. In recent memory it's been Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paula Abdul, Anna Nicole Smith and Courtney Love. The storyline is more or less the same every time: a celebrity whose career is ebbing does something erratic; the media takes notice; the celebrity realizes ...

New hope to treat schizophrenia with therapist-controlled avatars

29th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Pilot project for programme in which patients design 3D images of faces they associate with auditory hallucinationsScientists are examining whether computer-generated avatars can help patients with schizophrenia.The avatars are designed by patients to give a form to voices they may be hearing, then controlled by therapists who encourage patients to oppose the voices and gradually teach them to take control of any hallucination.A new study has been launched to assess the effectiveness of using the technology. Researchers, who have been given a £1.3m grant from the Wellcome Trust, hope that the system could provide "quick and effective therapy" to help ...