Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Articles published by guardian.co.uk Society about: Mental health

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Faith can't cure depression. But it can offer hope, as Katherine Welby found | Andrew Brown

6th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

The daughter of the archbishop of Canterbury has talked about how the Bible helps her through her dark timesKatherine Welby's remarkable blog post and interview about her depression rings true to anyone who has ever been ill in this way but it also illuminates the complex ways in which religious belief can twine round the condition, providing either a vine to tangle your feet in or a beanstalk to climb out on.The daughter of the archbishop of Canterbury herself is clear about the way in which the Bible helped her get a little clear of the awfulness:"The Bible is my ...

Strictly Bipolar by Darian Leader – review

6th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Are we close to understanding bipolar disorder? Not on this evidenceIt may seem perverse to express nostalgia for a category of mental illness, but many sufferers, as well as some psychiatrists, regret the passing of "manic depression". My brother, Archie, was diagnosed with the condition in the 1980s, the decade the American Psychiatric Association formally rebranded it "bipolar disorder", but he was not alone in disliking the newer term, even as it was adopted by his British psychiatrists. He resolutely continued to call himself a manic depressive.His was a classical case: long periods of raging highs, incarceration in locked wards, ...

Nick Baxter obituary

5th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Nick Baxter, who has died aged 65, ensured care in the community was available for people who, in the 1970s, were often left to languish, sometimes neglected and forgotten, in institutions. Cornerstone, the charity he founded with a handful of individuals in Aberdeen in 1980, was initially organised from his family's dining room. Since then it has become one of Scotland's largest charities, employing 1,700 staff and 300 volunteers in 20 local authorities, and with an annual turnover of more than £30m. It provides services for more than 2,000 adults, young people and children with learning and physical disabilities, mental ...

Lord Bragg: I would seek assisted death rather than suffer Alzheimer's

5th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Writer and broadcaster reiterates wish to end own life rather than face severe mental degeneration and calls for change in UK lawLord Bragg has vowed to kill himself rather than suffer dementia regardless of whether assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK.The veteran 73-year-old arts critic, novelist and broadcaster was deeply affected by watching Alzheimer's take its toll on his 95-year-old mother for five years until her death last year, and said assisted suicide was an issue for people his age. "It's happening to my generation – they see what happens when people get close to death, and we're saying, ...

Severe depression is hell – even if you are famous | Barbara Ellen

5th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

If celebrity bipolar suffering is beginning to trigger automatic compassion fatigue, that's bad for everyone's mental healthA new book, Strictly Bipolar by Darian Leader, in part examines the "rebranding" of depression, almost as a lifestyle term, which seems rather timely. Certainly, I've come to wonder if the term "bipolar" has become a trigger for automatic compassion fatigue.A while ago, bipolar sufferer Kerry Katona's drunken meltdown on morning television was sneered at with a viciousness that, at the time, seemed class-based, but now I wouldn't be so sure. These days, I would wonder if it were also her bipolar condition being ...

Probation privatisation plan prompts fears over mentally ill offenders

5th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Concern within ministry that private companies are not equipped to deal with offenders with complex mental health problemsGovernment plans to allow private companies to run parts of the probation service, to be unveiled on Wednesday, have sparked concerns about the future supervision of offenders with serious mental health issues.The coalition believes that most probation work should be sold off to companies such as Serco, Sodexo and G4S. From 2015, the private sector will supervise all low and medium risk offenders on community penalties or on licence from prison, with those who pose the highest risk to the public remaining within ...

Dad is slipping out of view

4th May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

My memories of Dad are getting fainter. But when I talk to Mum about my new baby – and when I was born – it brings him back for a bitAs I have a new baby on the way, I sometimes like to ask my mum about when I was born. Ostensibly, it's because I'm considering different birth options, but really it's because the comforting solipsism makes me feel about five. It also makes me feel closer to Dad. At the moment, I feel like my memories of him before his illness are getting fainter, more overlaid with the squalor ...

Amanda Bynes and the crass treatment of 'troubled starlets' | Hannah Jane Parkinson

3rd May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Those genuinely affected by mental illness are not helped by a buffet of schadenfreude about 'the latest slice of crazy'Question: when does a Mail article about a celebrity posting nude selfies on Twitter transcend from banal lechery to something truly, irresponsibly odious?Answer: when the subject of that article is somebody displaying signs of mental illness.Amanda Bynes, Disney starlet, currently being mocked across online media, gossip mags and dailies for her increasingly erratic behaviour. Attacks on journalists, bitchy tweets, impromptu haircuts, and excessive spending are all offered up in a buffet of schadenfreude. Or, as the Mail delicately puts it, "the ...

I want my mother to say sorry for neglecting me as a child

3rd May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

My father suffered from depression when I was growing up and my mother never had time to listen to me. Then as a teenager I went off the railsMy father was quite severely depressed during my childhood. I feel my mother handled things very badly when he became ill. When I tried to discuss my feelings, I was told: "Just let things wash over you." Nobody talked to me properly. I self-harmed. I skipped school. I was caught shoplifting. It was ignored.Aged 15, I took an overdose. I overheard my mum on the phone telling a friend "We had no ...

I have dementia and would sign up for a police tracking device | Norman McNamara

1st May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

The Sussex police scheme to fit people with dementia with GPS systems will help them to stay safe and live a normal lifePolice in Sussex are set to adopt a scheme where dementia patients are fitted with GPS tracking devices. The police hope to save funds otherwise spent on costly call-outs, but elderly care campaigners have criticised the proposals, calling them "inhumane".Having lived with dementia for the last five years and committed myself to making changes for the better, I can only say that I wholeheartedly agree with Sussex police's scheme. Calling these systems "tags" is putting the wrong slant ...

Police defend plan to use GPS locators to find missing people with dementia

1st May 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Sussex force criticised after buying six devices in attempt to save money and time spent on searching for missing patientsPolice have defended their decision to buy GPS locating devices to trace people with dementia patients amid calls from for their withdrawal.Sussex police have bought six battery-powered locators as part of a attempt to save money and time spent on searching for missing dementia patients.The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) described the introduction of the devices as "barbaric" and suggested sufferers could be stigmatised and made to feel like criminals.But Sergeant Suzie Mitchell said: "The scheme is only costing Sussex police a ...

Sheffield charity helps female prisoners feel confident on the outside

30th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

A charity in Sheffield is empowering female offenders to enable them to cope with life after prisonPrison for 62-year-old Molly came unexpectedly. Despite being convicted of theft, at court her solicitor assured her that she would not be going to jail. "She said to me, 'It's your first offence. Listen carefully when the sentence is passed, you'll be told it will be suspended.' It wasn't. I got 14 months. Afterwards my solicitor came to the cells before they took me away and said cheerily, 'It'll be OK – you'll be like a mother figure to the other women.' I didn't want to be ...

Running shows the mind who's boss | Clare Allan

30th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Your mental health benefits as much as your body when you put on your running shoesThe horror of the Boston Marathon bombings in which three people lost their lives, and many more sustained life-changing injuries, has focused attention on why anyone would choose to target so innocuous an event. It is certainly important to try to understand what motivates such behaviour. But important, too, not to overlook the immense motivational achievement completing a marathon represents for the thousands of individuals taking part.Last month, 35,000 runners set off to run more than 26 miles to complete the London Marathon. It was ...

Austerity kills, economists warn

29th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

New book points to devastating effects on health in Europe and US of government cutsGeorge Osborne, look away now: a new book claims it is seriously bad for our health, and that cutbacks have already had a devastating effect across Europe and North America. Pointing to soaring suicide rates, rising HIV infections and even a malaria outbreak, researchers argue that governments' austerity drives are costing lives.In research that will be seized on by opposition politicians demanding the UK's coalition government waver in its relentless austerity push, the political economist David Stuckler and the physician-epidemiologist Sanjay Basu say they have shown ...

I'm still confused by the court of protection

27th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

We've had to deal again with the secretive court that advocates on behalf of people unable to make decisions about their welfare – it's a peculiar businessIf you have a relative with dementia, there is a good chance you will have had dealings with the court of protection. It advocates on behalf of people deemed to lack the capacity to make decisions about their own welfare, property or finances. It performs a vital function, but is nonetheless, perhaps necessarily, a shadowy institution, and has been described as "Britain's most secretive court".From behind closed doors, the court (separate arrangements exist in ...

Welfare policies are cruel, but it's dangerous to draw a link with suicides | Ellie Mae O'Hagan

25th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Focusing on those who take their own lives after benefits are withdrawn may increase the possibility of others following suitHailing from Wales as I do, I am frequently updated with the goings on of my homeland via weekly calls from my parents, who habitually give me a rundown of who's marrying who, and – more broadly – what the latest is from our country's news stations. A few years ago my mother relayed a peculiar story to me about the county of Bridgend experiencing a sudden upsurge in its suicide rate. Between 2007 and 2009 25 people between the ages ...

Crime is falling. Now let's reduce fear of crime | Ally Fogg

24th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Despite the evidence, people don't believe Britain is becoming safer. Accepting the truth isn't easy, but would benefit the nationIn early February, I wrote here about the continuing and dramatic decline in violence and crime in the UK. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common responses below the line was incredulity. Several readers suggested the figures were declining because nobody bothered to report crime any more, not realising that the statistics were based on extensive crime survey research and not police figures. Some suggested that the national statistics must be masking concentrations of problems on deprived housing estates, where life gets ...

Police officers charged with misconduct after death of schizophrenic man

24th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Two Kent constables accused of misconduct in public office after Colin Holt, detained under Mental Health Act, died in custodyTwo police officers allowed a mentally ill man to die in front of them after neglecting their duty while detaining him, a court has heard.PCs Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery of Kent police pleaded not guilty to misconduct in public office over the death of Colin Holt, who had paranoid schizophrenia.Holt, 52, died from positional asphyxia at his flat in Gillingham, Kent, on 30 August 2010 after officers were called to return him to hospital, as he was subject to a ...

It's time to talk about mental health

24th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Angela McNab, chief executive of one of England's larger mental health trusts, explains how listening to patients has led to improvementsIn government, as in society, attitudes tend to change gradually, so health minister Norman Lamb's commitment to "prioritising mental health like never before, making sure that it sits on par with physical health" has come as a welcome step change to mental health professionals.Although one in four people in the UK will have mental health problems at some point in their lives, mental health services suffer institutional disadvantage compared to physical health services; press coverage of mental health is scant; ...

A breakdown of nervous breakdowns | Dean Burnett

24th April 2013

Society: Mental health | guardian.co.uk

Many people suffer from a "nervous breakdown" at some point in their lives. But despite its widespread use, the term is not one that is medically valid as it is used to describe a wide range of conditionsThere's a lot in the world to get stressed about lately. This last week alone we've seen bombings and city-wide gunfights in Boston, massive explosions in Texas, on-going violence in the Middle East, emotions raised over Thatcher's funeral, increasing measles cases in Swansea, continuing savage benefit cuts and maybe an alien invasion or two that got lost amongst the onslaught of bad news. ...