Same-sex marriage has been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014.
A significant proportion of humanity is gay—the U.K. government puts the estimate at 5-7 percent of the population—and there’s no reason to suppose this hasn’t been so since time immemorial. Yet for centuries, it was illegal. As long ago as 1290 homosexuality was mentioned in English common law as a punishable offence. It wasn’t decriminalized until 1967.
The world of psychotherapy has been no more enlightened—it perhaps has even been somewhat reactionary, lagging behind society and clinging to the old social “norms" for as long as possible. Homosexuality was long seen as aberrant, a pathology, a mental illness. It was only removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as recently 1973, and even made a brief reappearance—“ego-dystonic homosexuality”—in 1980. Beliefs in “conversion therapy” persist today, though there’s a rising chorus of complaints—and lawsuits—against it.
Common sense will prevail. But there’s a long way to go. It’s still illegal to be gay in 75 countries and still punishable by death in 10. In the civilized west, meanwhile, plenty of countries don’t yet allow same sex marriage—including Northern Ireland—and homophobia is hardly a thing of the past. This all has a profound effect on mental health. Studies show for instance a greater prevalence of psychiatric complaints among gay people in states where same-sex marriage was banned compared to those in states where it wasn’t. This should not be a surprise—it’s hardly a revelation that oppression is not great for psychological well-being.
We all deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” as one of the 5 “yes” judges, Justice Anthony Kennedy, put it in his closing argument. We all deserve the opportunity “not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”
There are hundreds of millions of people on this earth who are attracted to the opposite sex, and hundreds of millions who are attracted to the same sex. This simple fact of life is so basic, so incontrovertable, so banal, that you wonder what all the fuss is about. Can’t we all just live and let live?
Supreme Court decision really good for health
From Huffington Post:
The Supreme Court of the United States made a historic ruling on same-sex marriage on Friday, voting 5 to 4 in favor of legalizing all unions. Not only does this allow everyone to marry the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation, but it's also a step forward for mental health in a community that's often stigmatized.
The SCOTUS decision is a leap in the right direction -- especially when it comes to boosting the mental health of LGBT individuals.
According to the American Psychological Association, marriage boosts psychosocial and mental health due to the moral, social and even economic support extended to married couples in our society -- and denial of those rights may impose certain risks when it comes to well-being. A 2012 University of California, Los Angeles study found that psychological distress is lower among gay, lesbian and bisexual couples who are allowed to be legally married, compared with those in unions that are not legally recognized.
In other words, science suggests that letting people marry who they want boosts mental and maybe even physical health.
The UCLA study isn't the only evidence that champions legalized same-sex marriage for this reason. Around 2004, when state bans on same-sex marriage started to peak, the National Institutes of Mental Health conducted a survey that examined respondents' mental health. Results showed gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals who lived in states where their unions were banned experienced a notable increase in psychiatric disorders, NPR reported, including mood disorders and alcohol-use disorder.
Black and minority ethnic people are shortchanged by mental health services
From The Guardian:
Ramone is in his mid-20s and with his family emigrated to the UK around 10 years ago from eastern Europe. He developed a severe mental illness that requires long-term care, but is not eligible for treatment. This means that when he becomes extremely ill, he is sectioned (usually by the police) and admitted to a mental health unit where he is medicated to a point where he can be released, with no care afterwards. This pattern has repeated itself for six years.
People from some black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are more likely to use crisis mental health care. Racism, poor mental health services and stigma are often cited as the reasons for this inequality. However, once in crisis care, many people like Ramone find the care they are offered does not work for them. His was one of dozens of stories we collected at the Race Equality Foundation to show the experiences of BME people, and was used as evidence by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in their review of mental health crisis care.
What we found mirrored much of the CQC’s findings. People had generally had bad experiences in a crisis system that left them feeling disempowered. They often didn’t believe staff would be caring and compassionate. When asked whether they had complained, they normally responded that they felt nothing would change as a result.
Male matters: 'Psychologists should lead the way on male mental health'
A group of Britain's most senior psychologists are so concerned about the unique – and increasingly fatal – problems facing modern men, they are urgently calling for a dedicated Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society.
Although there has been a women's section of the BPS since 1988, there is no male equivalent, even though “vast public health issues” face men, including the fact they are three to four times more likely to commit suicide.
Today, eminent psychologists and keynote speakers will gather at the second annual Male Psychology Conference at University College London to address this pressing matter.
To meet criteria, a mere one per cent of BPS members – around 500 signatures – must vote for it. As 300 have already done so, that means a mere 200 further signatures are needed to make their dream a reality.
Mental health problems rise among teenagers
From The Times:
Teenagers are suffering growing problems with mental health, reporting difficulties with sleep, anxiety and eating disorders, according to two studies.
One study found that more than a third of older teenagers had suffered sleeplessness in recent months as they wrestled with anxious thoughts and stress. A second found that eating disorder admissions in under-19s had almost tripled in ten years.
Could brain scans help guide treatment for OCD?
Psychotherapy can help some people avoid the disruptive behaviors linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and a new study suggests that brain scans can help spot those patients for whom the therapy will be most effective.
The treatment is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It works by placing patients in controlled situations where they are exposed to anxiety-causing stimuli, so that they gradually learn to deal better with these situations.
"Cognitive behavioral therapy is in many cases very effective, at least in the short term," said Dr. Jamie Feusner, an associate professor of psychiatry at University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Semel Institute's Adult OCD Program.
However, the treatment is "costly, time-consuming, difficult for patients and, in many areas, not available," Feusner noted in a UCLA news release. So, "if someone will end up having their symptoms return [after treatment], it would be useful to know before they get treatment," he reasoned.
“A victory for love”
Schopenhauer said all truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
One such supposedly controversial truth is the idea that regardless of gender, two consenting adults should be allowed to marry each other. This hardly earth-shattering concept took a massive step towards becoming self-evident when America’s Supreme Court declared on Friday that same-sex marriages are now legal in all 50 states, with 5 of the 9 court judges ruling that any attempt to ban them is now unconstitutional. The narrow majority was hailed as a “victory for love.”
From The Guardian:
It’s Saturday night in downtown Long Beach, California, and laughter can be heard from the streets below. Sarah Smith is sprawled on her bed, diligently peeling through sociology notes, preparing for her impending exams. An acoustic guitar rests against her bed, and a colorful gay-pride flag is pinned next to her bookshelf.
At first glance, Sarah comes across as a typical college student – but her serious blue eyes sometimes betray a history of violence, abandonment and emotional trauma.
...Horses make great companions for psychotherapy because they can mirror and respond to human behavior. Being herding animals, they rely on an acute stream of sensory data to sense safety or danger; they can also hear the human heartbeat within four feet, and research on heart-rate variability indicates that horses have a profound ability to synchronize their own heartbeat with that of human beings. When people are introduced to the herd environment for therapy, horses respond within the same spectrum of physical and emotional responses that govern their own behavior, allowing therapists an insight into the inner psychology of the client.
Clouds hung dramatically low above the stables of Ortega Equestrian Centre in San Juan Capistrano and in the main arena, a herd of three mares donated by the nonprofit Otra Mas were awaiting Sarah’s arrival.
The program director, Carol Caddes, is a horse lover and licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 years of experience. Sarah, for her part, had very little experience with horses and had never undergone any form of emotional treatment outside of medication and traditional office-based talk-therapy.
South Africa: Counselling on wheels in Khayelitsha
"It will be like an emotional ambulance." This is the vision of 28-year-old Banetsi Mphunga: a mobile psychology clinic in Khayelitsha which will see kids in the township receive free help dealing with psychological trauma.
"I grew up in Khayelitsha. I am a registered counsellor by profession. The idea of the mobile clinic started after realising the need for psychological services here in the township. I realised this from the kids that I worked with in a previous programme; it was an after school care programme. I was a programme manager for psycho-social skills, high school level, which is the group that is most vulnerable when it comes to substance abuse and gangsterism."
Mphunga said while working with children he found that some had problems that needed psychological interventions. "They always manifested in front of other children and I had to constantly intervene.”
...Mphunga said he was familiar with the kinds of problems that today's youth face especially when it comes to substance abuse. "I also experimented with drugs while growing up, I started smoking weed and then from there I did mandrax, but luckily I managed to stop before I became an addict and before my family found out. But these days, kids are not that lucky."
Mphunga bought a green Volkswagen Microbus popularly known as iCaraCara, in May. He has already used it for a study group consisting of four kids. "A Combi is more or less the same size of the rooms that I have viewed that I would be using and running the practise from.”
Yoga can cure India's rising mental health issues
Leading mental health experts have advocated Yoga as an efficacious tool for managing rising mental health issues in India, a statement said ahead of the International Yoga Day.
Crediting Yoga as an effective tool in holistic maintenance of health, Sunil Mittal, a senior psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Science (CIMBS), New Delhi, said Yoga is beneficial as an "adjunct to mainline treatment".
"Yoga can be an effective preventive tool in fighting stress and other mental health concerns, and while Yoga may not be an alternate to medical intervention, it can be beneficial as an adjunct to mainline treatment," he said.
Sharing the experience of his team at CIMBS, Mittal added: "Yoga and medical intervention can compliment each other well." "By combining the two, we have seen positive outcomes in the over-all well-being of our patients," he said.
Do I need therapy? How do I find a good therapist?
From Judith S. Beck PhD in the Huffington Post:
You may not need therapy if you are weathering the trials and tribulations life throws at you pretty well. If you are basically emotionally healthy, have good problem-solving skills and call on a support network when you need help, you are probably already dealing with your challenges effectively.
You certainly should consider therapy if you have psychological problems, psychiatric symptoms, a medical condition with psychological components, difficulty implementing a health care plan, disturbances in your relationships or your functioning or other pressing difficulties you can't resolve on your own or within your social network.
You may find therapy desirable, however, to improve your life: to identify your core values, set goals, reduce stress, function more effectively, get unstuck, gain a different perspective, solve or cope better with a problem, accept an unmodifiable situation, make an important decision, improve your mood or get you started in making lifestyle or relationship changes -- that is, if you (even with the help of family and friends) don't seem to be able to bring about or sustain the changes you want to make. Or if you're uncertain about what changes you should make.
Schwarzenegger, 67, opened up to Howard Stern about the collapse of his marriage — and the counselling that didn’t help.
“This was without any doubt the biggest setback and the biggest failure,” the former governor said of his split with Maria Shriver. “. . . You really feel like: ‘I’m to blame for it. It was me that screwed up.’ You can’t point the finger at anyone else.”
Stern said that when he was divorced in 2001 — from a wife he paid tribute to in the 1997 film “Howard Stern: Private Parts” — he saw a psychiatrist. “Did you seek out therapy?” he asked Schwarzenegger.
“Yes,” Schwarzenegger said. “. . . It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made because that guy was so full of s---.”
Schwarzenegger said Shriver talked him into counselling, but he was met with “nonsense talk” that was “counterproductive to our future relationship.”
“Maria talked me into it,” Schwarzenegger said. “I went and I felt instinctively maybe I shouldn’t go because I know I screwed up. I don’t have to go to anyone to have him explain to me anything. I apologized to Maria. I apologized to the kids and then tried to move forward.”
Schwarzenegger made it clear that this was not a Tom Cruise-like rant against psychiatry.
“I think people should get help when they need help,” he said. “. . . I’m not against that, but in my particular case it was not helpful.”
Schwarzenegger said his family is now in a much better place, recounting a story in which he was met with balloons and gifts from his four children by Shriver and Shriver herself at a premiere of the new “Terminator” film.
“That is the relationship I was really looking forward to after this complicated bump,” he said.
Stern said he was moved “almost to tears” by Schwarzenegger’s success in repairing his relationship with his family.