Women “more likely to have serious mental health problems than men"
That’s quite a headline. The story, in the Washington Post, says: “Women in every age group in the United States were more likely than men to have serious mental health problems, according to federal health statistics released Thursday.”
Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist and one of the authors of the report from the National Center for Health Statistics, is quoted as saying: “As I’m sure you are aware, we see this in major depression as well, but I don’t know that anyone has ever come up with a definitive answer of why that is,” she said.
Is it really true? Or does misogyny manage to infiltrate supposedly “objective” research? Is this just further perpetuation of prejudice against “the weaker sex”?
Three things to consider:
• Perhaps some symptoms that in women are seen as signs of a “serious mental health problem” are more likely to be accommodated in men with different labels: “eccentric”; “a character”; “driven”; “ruthless”; “thrill-seeking” or whatever. It’s always a good idea to look at who is being labelled—and who is the labeller. As David Pilgrim points out, the greater the difference in power between the two, the more serious the diagnosis that is likely to be given. There are figures that show, for instance, that black people of African and Caribbean heritage are six times more likely to be sectioned in the U.K. than white people. Do we conclude that the former are inherently six times more likely than the latter to have “serious mental health problems”? No, we do not. Just six times more vulnerable to abuses of power at the hands of an oppressive system. Back in the day, women who didn’t conform to a tightly-defined social stereotype were diagnosed with “hysteria.” Such prejudice lives on. If you want real hysteria, read some of the online venom directed at powerful women like presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
• To a large extent, mental ill-health is a sane response to an insane world. If you are one of the have-nots, if you find yourself on the lower rungs of the ladder of power, if you are disenfranchised, isolated, alienated, bound by economic, social and cultural chains, how could you not experience psychological distress? One simple indicator of an uneven playing field in terms of gender is the pay gap: in the U.K. women earn 21 percent less than men, and there are comparable figures in most “advanced” nations.
• We do know that women seek psychological support a lot more than men. Roughly two-thirds of clients receiving help through the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies scheme are women (62 percent in 2012/13). The gender split in secondary mental health care, for more complex issues, is less pronounced—56 percent female in 2012/2013). Perhaps these differences are no surprise given our stereotypically gendered histories. Women ask for help. Men find it harder. Boys don’t cry—but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. Men are more than three times as likely than women in the U.K. to be alcohol-dependent. And three times more likely to commit suicide.
Mental health services in Scotland get £85m funding boost
From BBC News:
Mental health services are to receive an extra £85m for improvements over the next five years, the Scottish government has announced.
Some of the fund will be used to provide more care for children and young people.
There has been a 35% increase in those starting treatment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the past two years.
Scottish labour described the funding increase as "pure spin".
Ministers previously revealed an extra £15m for mental health innovation.
The additional cash will also be used to promote better wellbeing through physical activity, improving patients' rights, to help GPs treat those suffering from mental health problems and providing services in community settings.
Heart failure patients with depression are five times more likely to die
From The Independent:
Heart failure patients who are depressed are five times more likely to die from their condition within a year, a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology says.
Those who were not depressed had an 80 per cent lower risk of mortality, causing scientists to call for counselling for those with heart failure.
Professor John Cleland, chief investigator of the study and professor of cardiology at Imperial College London and the University of Hull, said: “Our results show that depression is strongly associated with death during the year following discharge from hospital after an admission for the exacerbation of heart failure; we expect that the link persists beyond one year.”
He added: “Patients with heart failure are at high risk of recurrent hospital admissions and death. Approximately 25 per cent of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure are readmitted for a variety of reasons within one month.
“Within one year, most patients will have had one or more readmissions and almost half will have died.”
Depression is common after heart failure and affects 20 to 40 per cent of patients.
Anxiety more prevalent than all forms of cancer combined
From Huffington Post:
As many as 4.3 million American adults who work full-time have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed data from the 2008 to 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health's Mental Health Surveillance Study and found that nearly 3.7 percent of U.S. employees working full time may have suffered from the mental health issue, which is categorized by constant and intense worry or fear. The findings were published in a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This is the first time the organization conducted this particular report analyzing anxiety and employment, SAMHSA press officer Tamara Ward told The Huffington Post. The data also found that nearly 13 million American adults overall -- more than 5 percent of the U.S. population -- had an anxiety disorder within the past year.
To put that in perspective, the data suggests that anxiety is nearly eight times more prevalent in the U.S. than all forms of cancer.
Despite clear evidence that anxiety is common, there's still stigma attached. Only 25 percent of people who have experienced mental health problems feel that others are understanding toward them, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Research suggests that fear of judgment can prevent people with mental health disorders from seeking treatment. But experts stress that reaching out for help for anxiety can significantly reduce physical symptoms and help people get to a better place emotionally.
Serious mental health problems are declining among America's youth, according to report
From Huffington Post:
Contrary to public perception and horrific cases that make headlines, serious mental problems are declining among the nation's youth, and there has been a big rise in how many are getting help, a new study finds.
The study is mostly good news: More children and teens are taking mental health medicines than ever before, but more also are getting therapy, not just pills. The biggest rise in treatment rates has been among the most troubled kids.
"There's a concern out there that a lot of children and adolescents are receiving mental health treatments, particularly medications, that they don't need," especially for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said the study's leader, Dr. Mark Olfson, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Instead, the results suggest "that at least in some ways, we're moving in the right direction," by getting help to kids who need it most, he said.
The dark cloud: More than half of severely troubled kids get no help at all.
Former child actress Lovato is a singer, X-Factor judge and “bipolar disorder” advocate with a history of depression, self-harm and eating disorders. She is of course a blessing to big pharmaceutical companies who can co-opt her in their tireless quest to reduce the stigma of mental illness and bring joy to the world (ie. pathologise everyone and sell more drugs). From the Washington Times:
When Demi Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was actually relieved.
“Growing up, I felt very, very depressed,” she said. “Even though I was playing concerts and living out my dream, I couldn’t tell you why I was upset.”
After a family intervention, she sought treatment and learned she has a mental illness.
“I remember smiling and thinking great, OK, so there’s not anything wrong with me as a person,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s actually just a condition that I have, and I can do something to fix it. I don’t have to be like this forever.”
Ms. Lovato is sharing her story and encouraging others to do the same through “Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health,” an initiative launched Thursday by a pharmaceutical company, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other mental-health advocacy groups.
Its aim is to improve treatment options at all levels and erase the stigma around mental illnesses.
Saudi Arabia: helping drug addicts through the phone
From Arab News:
The National Center for Addiction Counseling (NCAC) currently has 15 people answering calls from members of the public who are addicted to drugs, or with family members that are afflicted.
According to a report in a local newspaper, they work for 14 hours a day and guarantee confidentiality. The advice provided includes directing people to treatment centers and hospitals, and how family members should deal with an addict.
The NCAC is one of the few centers that provide counseling over the telephone. It has been set up at the headquarters of the general secretariat of the National Commission for Drug Control on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister. Prince Mohammed is also the president of the NCDC.
The counselors explain how the law deals with drug addicts. This is to help those addicts fearing legal repercussions, to seek treatment at specialized centers around the country.
They provide families advice on how to deal quickly with addicts who have lost complete control, refuse treatment and are a danger to themselves and others.
Australia: Online chat rooms could be future of remote mental health, experts says
From ABC Online:
Online treatment programs are being flagged as a solution to the high rates of suicide in remote and rural Australia.
Mental health experts say people living in remote, regional and rural parts of Australia are more vulnerable to mental health problems because of poor socio-economic conditions and a lack of accessible services.
The Mental Health Commission's chief executive David Butt said bad housing, high unemployment and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease all add up to increased levels of psychological distress.
"Access to health services, access to employment, education, all the other things that enable you to have a contributing life are really much lower," he said.
As a result, suicide rates are 66 per cent higher out of the cities and Indigenous Australians living remotely are three times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous city dwellers.