Help is a four-letter word: men and suicide
News comes this week that the suicide rate for middle-age men with mental health issues has risen by 73 percent since 2006. “The problem is not simply that they don’t seek help – they are already under mental health care – so we have to understand better the stresses men in this age group face,” says Louis Appleby, formerly the government’s mental health tsar and who leads the national suicide prevention strategy.
This is in keeping with a general significant rise in male suicide over the past decade—although curiously not in Scotland, which has seen a decline—while the incidence for women has remained constant. The male suicide rate is the highest since 2001. The suicide rate among men aged 45-59, 25.1 per 100,000, is the highest for this group since 1981.
So the question is why? There are plenty of economic reasons: the recession, falling income, “zero-hour” contracting, debt, unemployment.
But there is another reason. Judging by the way he tends to be represented in our culture, a “real man” is supposed to be: strong, logical, heterosexual, attractive, virile, successful, young, deep, powerful, wealthy, rugged, hard, active, white, decisive, potent, funny, brave, knowledgeable, determined, ambitious, autonomous, rational, unemotional (though anger is desirable in certain circumstances). And under no circumstances is he to ask for directions. Ever.
“Eros” dominates the female psyche, while males are governed by “Logos.” From an early age, little boys learn they must “repudiate all that is soft, vulnerable, playful, maternal and ‘feminine’ ” writes Andrew Samuels.
Many grow up to remain as little boys sequestered in grown-up bodies, destined to labour under the limitations of what Moore and Gillette call “Boy psychology.”
“Boy psychology is everywhere around us, and its marks are easy to see,” they write in King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. “Among them are abusive and violent acting-out behaviors against others, both men and women; passivity and weakness, the inability to act effectively and creatively in one’s own life and to engender life and creativity in others (both men and women).”
Men learn to keep their relationships with other men on a superficial level. Acceptable topics: sports, cars, humour, women (as sex objects); unacceptable ones: sadness, loneliness, confusion, despair, love, joy, beauty, wonder. And men’s relationships with women stereotypically revolve around conquest and control. Writes Meg Barker: “This can mean that they don’t have a close, supportive relationship with anyone.”
To be whole, we must learn to embrace all aspects of our selves, and for men that means the female archetype within, what Jung called the anima, while at the same time not diminishing the strength of our true malehood, which some of the more extreme branches of feminist philosophy would like to completely eradicate or, perhaps we might say, emasculate.
Part of being human is acknowledging your vulnerability, your suffering, your sadness, your despair. Admitting your weakness—and asking for help—paradoxically requires great strength.
The consequences of not doing so are dire: Men are more than three times as likely than women in the U.K. to commit suicide, or be alcohol-dependent. Men are 20 times more likely to be sent to prison.
Increasingly, there seems to be less of a stigma about seeking help. Almost one person in five in the U.K. has consulted a counsellor or psychotherapist. Maybe you’ve considered it but are not sure. Watch this short film written and narrated by Alain de Botton. And try it. Sometimes in life you have to take a risk.
Most of my counselling clients are men. They are all different, but they all want a richer, fuller, more meaningful, more colourful life. They want to love and be loved. It’s not always easy. But they fight for it, every day. I think of each of them as incredibly courageous.
Real men ask for help.
• If you are feeling suicidal, or if you know someone who is, please:
—talk to someone: a family member, friend, colleague and your GP:
—call the Samaritans: tel: 08457-90-90-90: www.samaritans.org;
—go to the section on suicidal feelings at Mind's website to understand more about what might be going on with you, causes and ways of coping;
—click on my Help page and find access to other immediate support.
Funding fears as mental health demand soars
Times Higher Education:
A 132 per cent rise in the number of students declaring a mental health problem has sparked fears that government funding cuts may force universities to make “increasingly tough decisions” about the support they can provide.
An analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency records found that nearly 18,000 students at English higher education providers said that they had a mental health problem in 2012-13, compared with fewer than 8,000 in 2008-09.
The research, carried out for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, says that the most selective institutions experienced a much bigger rise, averaging 157 per cent, compared with universities with lower entry requirements, where the increase was 104 per cent.
This means that 1.4 per cent of all students in England declared a mental health problem in 2012-13, with specialist and elite institutions again experiencing higher rates than less selective universities.
Pupils' mental health tops head teachers' concerns
Head teachers are more concerned with pupils' mental health than any other issue related to well-being, a survey of 1,180 school leaders suggests.
Two-thirds of head teachers polled for management support service, The Key, named mental health as the top concern.
Domestic violence and cyberbullying were the next biggest concerns, named by 58% and 55% of heads respectively.
Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL heads' union, said it was difficult for heads to obtain support for pupils.
"There certainly has been an increase in the number of pupils who are displaying different types of mental health problems," he said.
"It's often arising from difficult home backgrounds or a form of abuse or other types of mental health issues such as ADHD."
He said all of this required support, which head teachers were finding it hard to access from local child mental health services.
24 hour mental health care will cover every A&E unit
AROUND-the-clock mental health care will be provided at all accident and emergency departments within the next five years.
The move signals another victory for the Sunday Express mental health crusade, which called on the Government to broaden the range and access to acute and crisis services for those in need.
In the NHS mandate between the Government and NHS England, which sets out the ambitions for the health service, it states that access to crisis services for an individual must be “at all times as accessible, responsive and as high quality as other health emergency services”.
This includes ensuring the provision of adequate liaison psychiatry services in emergency departments.
NHS England has adopted these aims in its business plan for the next two years. This year £30million will be spent on effective models of liaison psychiatry in a greater number of acute hospitals.
However, by 2020 it is expected that all acute trusts will have liaison mental health services in place for all ages “appropriate to the size, acuity and specialty of the hospital.”
Doctor brands NHS 'appalling' after her mother left mental health unit and burned herself to death
A doctor has blasted the “appalling” NHS after her mother was allowed to walk out of a mental health unit and burn herself to death.
Tragic Angela Rich, 61, was left to stroll from the centre in Tamworth, Staffs, in 2013 despite repeatedly telling staff that she planned to set herself ablaze.
Angela was later found on fire under a railway bridge by a dog walker.
She was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham but had suffered extensive burns across her entire body and died later that day from her severe injuries.
Dr Naomi Rich, 43, said: “As a doctor myself, a carer for my mother and also as a patient at the same mental health trust as my mother, I have seen psychiatric care from several angles and have witnessed appalling care which I believe needs to change radically from within the NHS.”
What to do during a mental health crisis
U.S. News & World Report:
All American youngsters know the rules: Don't take candy from strangers, play nice in the sandbox and call 911 during an emergency.
But what if the emergency is related to mental health?
More than 4 million people visited the emergency room due to a mental health condition from 2009 to 2010, according to the latest data from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same year, Americans made 63.3 million visits to doctors offices, hospitals and emergency rooms for what were eventually diagnosed as mental disorders, the CDC also found. "The reality is, a mental health crisis is a common occurrence," says Paolo del Vecchio, who directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Mental Health Services.
Portugal wants women seeking abortion to get counseling
A new legislative bill in Portugal could require women to get counseling before abortions and cover part of the expense themselves.
In 2007, Portugal passed an abortion law that allowed women to have a state-funded abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy. But under the new amendment proposed Wednesday by center-right lawmakers, women would be charged the equivalent of up to a $55 to have an abortion. They also would be required to get psychological and social counseling and attend family planning sessions before ending their pregnancies. The legislation still needs a final presidential approval.
Canada: Time spent on social networking sites linked to mental health problems in teens
A new study indicates that adolescents who use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more than 2 hours each day are more likely to report poor mental health, high psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, and an unmet need for mental health support. These findings send an important message to parents and suggest an opportunity to increase mental health support service offerings on these sites, as described in an article in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers (http://www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2015.0055) website until August 22, 2015.
Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, MD and Rosamund Lewis, MD, Ottawa Public Health (Ottawa, Canada) analyzed data on students in grades 7-12 from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. About 25% of students reported using social networking sites for more than 2 hours daily.
One in five relationships suffering problems relating to porn viewing, says Relationships Australia
ONE in five Australian couples battle with intimacy problems triggered by internet porn, according to research from Relationships Australia.
The national counselling service has found readily accessible online porn is leading to a breakdown of trust and an erosion of intimacy in about 21 per cent of all relationships.
Pornography consumption is also increasingly being cited as a reason for marriage breakdowns.
Depression didn't kill 5 servicemen in Chattanooga
Scott Greer in the Daily Caller:
He was depressed.
He drank too much.
He was going through a rough patch.
Those are the current talking points for explaining what led Muhammad Abdulazeez to take the lives of five American servicemen in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week. In spite of the substantial evidence that points to Islamic extremism as Abdulazeez’s inspiration, the young man’s supposed mental health problems has received far more attention in recent days.
As the Associated Press reports, Abdulazeez’s family says there is no explanation for his horrific crime, except that their son was feeling sad. For evidence of the young man’s substance problem and mental instability, they said his trip to Jordan last year was taken to get his life back in order.
And as we all know, most depressed people with drinking problems don’t seek counseling, they fly over to a region with a strong element of religious extremism to get help.
While it is appropriate to report the family’s side of the terror attack, it is incredible for the media to serve as the Muslim family’s public relations agency and to report the parents’ side as the likely truth.
Dementia 101: Therapy can help
Kyrié Sue Carpenter in Huffington Post:
Choosing to participate in psychotherapy can be a difficult decision. It's easy to make a list of excuses to put it off -- it costs too much, I don't want to pay someone to listen to me, my problems aren't that big. Besides, what do they know about me that I don't already know? And what will my friends and family think? Adding a diagnosis of dementia does not make these common doubts go away, it may even intensify them. However, therapy CAN be helpful, even to someone who does not remember it.
Psychotherapy creates a container through which understanding can be reached, meaning can be made, and personal development actualized. All of this is also possible for someone with a diagnosis of dementia. Sarah Robinson, in her doctoral dissertation Alzheimer's the Difficult Transition, broke down which types of therapy have proved most effective with different stages of dementia. (For more in-depth information and resources I highly recommend reading her dissertation in it's entirety.) These broad categories can give those diagnosed with dementia, and those caring for them, a starting place to seek support.
The power of transforming your story in psychotherapy
Dr. Gary Trosclair in Huffington Post:
Whether we're aware of it or not, we live our lives based on certain fundamental stories we tell ourselves: stories about how we came to be who we are, stories about what life and people are like, and stories about the best way to live. Some of these stories work well for us, others don't. Part of our work in therapy is to connect the dots between the different aspects of our lives to determine the patterns and themes that have evolved so that we are aware of the stories we live by -- and so that we can create better ones if we need to.
Here's what I mean by connecting the dots: Notice the similarities between the events you discuss each week in your sessions, the experiences you have in your sessions, and the stories that emerge in your dreams. As you connect the dots the bigger picture will begin to emerge. If you can identify two or three themes that have the most impact on you, that will help you to connect your work in session with life outside of session.