Psychedelic drugs ‘not linked to mental health problems’
A new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found there is no connection between psychedelic drugs and mental health issues.
The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health Survey (2008-2011). The data includes over 130,000 randomly selected adults, including nearly 20,000 psychedelic drug users. The analysis showed people who use LSD or psilocybin mushrooms do not have an increased risk of mental health problems.
“In general, use of psychedelics does not appear to be particularly dangerous when compared to other activities considered to have acceptable safety," the study says.
“Over 30 million US adults have tried psychedelics and there just is not much evidence of health problems," said author and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen.
“Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances," said co-author and neuroscientist Teri Krebs.
The researchers claim it is more likely there is a link between improved mental health after using psychedelic drugs. However, they acknowledge certain people are at a higher risk for mental health problems in general and should be careful.
The study is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Open approach to mental healthcare
From The Guardian:
Last week, a report by the all-party parliamentary group on mental health said people with mental health problems receive substandard care (Report, theguardian.com, 4 March). In response, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Simon Wessely, asked to see “good words translated into good deeds”. The good news is that some of these good deeds are already happening – but at the frontline. On NHS Change Day on Wednesday nearly 500 people attended the first national conference, in London, on peer-supported “open dialogue”. They heard firsthand reports of the profound changes this approach is bringing to patients and families.
Strengthening rights for people with learning disabilities
New government consultation seeks views to strengthen rights of people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues to enable them to live independently. From Gov.uk:
Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, and Gavin Harding MBE, Co-Chair of the Transforming Care Assurance Board, announce the launch of ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored’ consultation.
The consultation ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored’ explores options on issues such as how people can:
◦ be supported to live independently, as part of a community
◦ be assured that their views will be listened to
◦ challenge decisions about them and about their care
◦ exercise control over the support they receive with a Personal Health Budget
◦ expect that different health and local services will organise themselves around their needs
◦ know that professionals are looking out for their physical health needs as well as their mental health needs
The document also seeks to explores views on a number of issues relating to the Mental Health Act which were raised during the recent consultation on the revised Mental Health Act Code of Practice.
Dreading Mother's Day? Advice from counsellors on how to cope
If you think the day is going be difficult for you, plan ahead and arrange to do something that will help you get through it. There are a variety of different self-care strategies you can use. Some involve distraction and others involve reflection. It depends on you. For example, some people find physical exercise helpful, whether it’s going to the gym, doing yoga or going out for a country walk. Others find a duvet day comforting, curled up watching a favourite film or reading a good novel. Some people find solitude helpful in giving them time to reflect on their thoughts privately, while others enjoy spending time with friends or family. Do whatever is right for you and whatever you think will help you best.
Cameron Diaz in marriage counselling?!
They’ve only been married two months but is there already trouble in paradise for Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden?! According to Star magazine, yep!
The gossip rag is claiming Diaz and Madden are both already seeing a marriage counselor. A source spills to the tabloid, “They didn’t know each other for very long before getting married, and they want to avoid any potential stumbling blocks that may pop up.”
The story goes on to say that Nicole Richie is encouraging them to go to counseling, as she told Cameron, “this is how you make a marriage work.”
Cameron is all for hashing things out in therapy. “My life would not be half as fulfilled as it is without therapy,” Diaz has mentioned. “I take care of myself. I enjoy taking care of myself. It also helps keep my head clear, and it helps me stay focused on my work and my life, and I just use it as a way of maintaining a certain standard of life.”
Mental healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and opportunities
From RAND Corporation:
The World Health Organization Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan (PDF) for 2013 to 2020 outlines targets for member countries, which include updating existing mental health policies and laws, integrating mental health care into community-based settings, and strengthening evidence-based research. One major concern of the plan is the limited research in mental health care in the sub-Saharan region. However, studies have shown that the absence of mental health treatment doesn't mean there is a lack of need.
Moreover, the stigma tied to mental disorders is also an obstacle to care. In the sub-Saharan region, this reaction is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and associations that some communities make between mental disorders and witchcraft.
Freelance photographer Robin Hammond has put a human face on mental health challenges in Africa. In his award-winning photo book “Condemned,” he documents the absence of mental health care in conflict-affected African countries. His photographs show the deplorable conditions under which the seriously mentally ill must struggle, and the absence of help or infrastructure to address their special needs. Unfortunately, governments there have used incarceration as a solution to ostensibly prevent the mentally ill from injuring themselves and also protect the public.
Despite the challenges the region faces and the constraints that many mental health professionals labor under, new efforts aimed at improving the scenario are emerging in sub-Saharan Africa.
Liberia: with new graduates, African nation now has 144 trained mental health clinicians
From The Carter Center:
The Carter Center's Mental Health Program in Liberia, in partnership with the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, congratulates the newest class of 21 clinicians who have joined the effort to continue improving access to mental health services in Liberia. With the addition of these graduates, 144 mental health clinicians are now trained, working largely in primary care clinics and hospitals across all 15 counties to provide much needed care.
Liberia is on course to reach its goal of expanding access to mental health care to 70 percent of the population within the next few years. Previously, this nation of 3.8 million had one psychiatrist to meet the needs of at least 300,000 Liberians suffering from mental illnesses.