Despite the claims of various tabloid newspapers and hyperventilated talking heads on TV, deliberately killing 150 people by flying an aeroplane into the side of a mountain is not a symptom of depression. The Germanwings plane crash this week is truly horrifying, utterly tragic and devastating for the families of the victims. We will never know why, when the pilot stepped out of the cockpit for a bathroom break on Tuesday morning, the first officer left in charge of the plane, 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz, locked the door, began a descent, and took aim directly at the French Alps. No-one can disagree with all the subsequent calls for improved psychological testing, screening and monitoring of pilots, but blaming depression seems absurdly simplistic, ill-conceived and unhelpful. We will never know Lubitz’s mental state in those ghastly, desperate last few minutes. Clearly he was a deeply troubled soul.
Claims about Andreas Lubitz's mental health only serve to stigmatise depression
From The Guardian:
Whenever a major disaster occurs, it’s a perfectly understandable human reaction that we need to find a reason behind it. However, trying to make sense of a terrible situation is one thing, and falling over ourselves to jump to ridiculous conclusions is quite another. And quite frankly, the UK press should be downright ashamed of themselves today. The way in which they’ve covered the news that Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz may have had depression is abhorrent.
“Madman in cockpit” was the Sun’s effort. “Why on Earth was he allowed to fly?” asked the Daily Mail. In case you’re wondering what the link that’s trying to be made is, the Daily Mirror is here to help: “Killer pilot suffered from depression”. It’s difficult to know where to start with such breathless ignorance about mental health issues, but I’ll give it a go anyway. Again.
• Mind's response to today's front pages on the Germanwings plane crash
• Co-Pilot in Germanwings crash hid mental illness from employer, authorities say (New York Times)
Deputy Prime Minister launches mental health in sport initiative
Sports bodies are signing up to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation to help remove stigma and prejudice around mental health.
A network of major sporting bodies will stand side by side with the Deputy Prime Minister today to commit to blowing the whistle on mental health discrimination in sport.
For the first time ever, a host of sport organisations – from the Rugby Football Union to the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Football Association – will sign a charter committing to removing the stigma and prejudice around mental health from the pitch to the playground.
The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation comes from a shared desire among national governing bodies of sport and players associations to raise awareness of, and tackle issues around, mental health.
Nick Clegg has hailed this as a “momentous day” for the nation’s mental health, where the power of sport will be harnessed to bring mental health out of the shadows and help put an end to people suffering in silence.
With exercise proven to be as effective as antidepressants for those with mild clinical depression, the charter will also encourage more people to take up sport to help with their mental and physical health.
The move follows a report from leading mental health charity MIND, in October last year, which called for a national network to tackle mental health in sport following an increasing number of testimonies from high profile sports people about their own mental health struggles.
Mental health service budgets 'cut by 8%'
From BBC News:
Mental health trusts in England have seen their budgets fall by more than 8% in real terms over the course of this parliament, figures suggest.
The reduction, worth almost £600m, was revealed through research by BBC News and the online journal Community Care.
At the same time, referrals to community mental health teams, which help people avoid being admitted to hospital, have risen nearly 20%.
Care minister Norman Lamb said budgets were "not the full picture".
... Using Freedom of Information requests, annual reports and other extensive research, BBC News and Community Care compared the budgets of mental health trusts in England in 2010-11 with this year, 2014-15.
Out of 56 trusts contacted, 43 responded - but not all provided data on all areas.
Taking changes to trust structures and contracts into account, analysis suggests trusts have suffered a real terms cut of 8.25% - the equivalent of stripping £598m from their budgets.
Mental health patient detained in a police cell for almost TWO DAYS
From the Daily Mail:
A mental health patient was held in a police cell for almost two days because there were no beds available at nearby hospitals, it has emerged.
The patient is one of almost 200 people in Wiltshire held by the county's police force in the last two years because there was no suitable healthcare provision.
Meanwhile across the UK last year, 7,000 people with mental health problems ended up being held in police cells.
Of those, 236 children and young people were detained alongside criminals.
Mental health experts have branded the practice 'shameful', adding it highlights the fact there are not enough suitable crisis beds across the country.
Children's mental-health funding boost from government
From BBC News:
Groups offering mental-health support to children and young people are to receive a multi-million-pound funding boost from April, the government says.
The organisations will gain some £4.8m in top-up grants in 2015-16.
This is the first time they have been eligible for a share of the government's £25m voluntary and community sector grants.
Young Minds chief executive Sarah Brennan said the windfall would help it provide "a vital lifeline" to families.
The charity had been awarded £300,000 to support its helpline for parents "struggling to support their children's mental health", Ms Brennan said.
Young Minds says demand for the helpline, which depends on donations, is the highest it has ever been.
'Male victims of sexual abuse are treated as secondary'
It was supposed to be a sign that sexual violence against men was being taken seriously.
But just over a year after the Government announced a male rape support fund - with £500,000 set aside exclusively to provide counselling for men who have been affected by sexual abuse – support groups are being forced to cut back on basic services.
Though the number of men who report having suffered serious sexual abuse in London has doubled over the last five years, the only organisation which offers dedicated support for male victims in the capital is now having to turn away new clients.
“We’ve had to close our group counselling sessions, which we were running weekly,” says Michael May, a director at London-based Survivors UK. “And we can’t take on new clients because we can’t say how long we will be here for them.
“These are vulnerable people so you can’t take them on and then cut off the support.”
Psychotherapy practice uses animal magic
From Western Morning News:
Even as a little girl, Louise Rolfe recognised the calming benefits and happiness which animals can bring.
From playing with her guinea pigs in the back garden to riding horses at her local Pony Club, she understood how interacting with pets can bring immense pleasure and unlock deep and powerful emotions.
The therapeutic attributes of friendly, unquestioning creatures is something she later took into her work as a counsellor and psychotherapist, helping people to deal with a wide range of problems from bereavement and depression to anxiety and self-esteem issues.
This recognition of the value which animals bring to humans, coupled with a desire help a wide range of people and creatures in need of a new home, is behind her drive to launch a new mental health wellbeing centre in the heart of Cornwall.
Louise and her husband Steve are the driving forces behind Rolfington Rescue, a non-profit community interest company which will combine her passions of working therapeutically with animals and a love of nature and ecology. Based on a five-acre site on the outskirts of Bodmin, the centre will provide psychological therapies, basic work-skills workshops, community allotments and educational training. It will also offer holistic therapies, student and volunteer placements, tai chi and meditation classes for the local community in a 20ft eco-friendly yurt.
As well as hosting nature retreats and classes available to people from across the UK, it will also care for rescue animals.
It is an ambitious project, which was conceived by Louise and her husband just 12 months ago. But even more impressive is that after turning to crowdfunding to help fund the centre, they are within touching distance or reaching the £12,000 target by their deadline of April 2.
RELATIONS BETWEEN THE members of Blur were still in such a delicate state when they reunited in 2009 that they were compelled to seek help from a professional counsellor. Speaking in the new issue of MOJO, available on UK news stands from Tuesday March 31, guitarist Graham Coxon reveals that the problems stemmed from his dismissal from the group in 2002 in confused circumstances.
“Although we shoved it all aside when we got back together, I realised that passions were still slightly high about it all,” he says. “Y’know, in those years since [he left in 2002], I probably said a few stupid things in the press – because the circumstances of why weren’t together as a four-piece were quite unclear. We’d met a couple of times – one was some mediation thing where we had to go over stuff that was difficult… We were all raw and hurt by it, for quite a while.”
Bogus psychology doctor exposed
From the Daily Mail:
A fake psychologist was caught running a bogus counselling course after setting her students a series of increasingly bizarre tasks including climbing a tree and riding a bike in the rain.
Jacqueline Crane, 52, of of St Austell, Cornwall, pretended to be a professor of psychology and claimed she was qualified to train people to become counsellors.
She set her students bizarre tasks including scaling trees, cycling in bad weather and taking candlelit baths and would then ask for feedback on how the wacky practices made the students feel, a court was told.
But her students - who spent thousands of pounds on her courses - became suspicious because of her increasingly strange ideas and bad spelling.
Danny Dyer secret counselling ordeal: EastEnders star's mum reveals his childhood torment
He has played more hard men than most East Ender's have had jellied eels - but actor Danny Dyer is not without his sensitive side - as his MUM reveals.
The cockney actor underwent counselling as a child after his dad's secret double life was fiercely exposed, leaving him with a single mum and another new family.
Mum Christina, 59, revealed son Danny, now 37, became withdrawn after discovering his painter and decorator dad Tony had a secret mistress.
His East End mum described the painful moment she discovered Antony had a secret mistress on the other side of London in November 1986.
She told The Sun on Sunday: “A posh woman called and said, ‘I think it’s about time you knew your husband has been having an affair for a year with a woman called Andrea’.
Coronation Street's Sue Cleaver training to be a psychotherapist
From Digital Spy UK:
Coronation Street star Sue Cleaver has revealed that she is training to be a psychotherapist.
The actress, who plays Eileen Grimshaw in the ITV soap, revealed that she has psychotherapy once a week and is currently doing a course which will leave her fully qualified to give the therapy herself.
Speaking to Soaplife, she said: "I have it constantly - once a week. I've learned so much about myself by doing it, and it really has changed my life.
"It has given me complete understanding of certain behaviour - why we react in the way we do. It can't help but affect every relationship in your life. I get excited about having therapy each week. It's a bit like going to the gym, but for your mind.
"I've always been fascinated by the good it can do. Personally, I think it should be mandatory. It's a great confidence builder. I am qualified to take clients and have another 18 months to go before I can finish my four-year course in Analysis Psychotherapy at the Manchester Institute for Psychotherapy. It's hard work fitting it in with Corrie, but I love it."
Trauma for One Direction fans
From ITV News:
Counselling service ChildLine have warned that young people may be feeling "very distressed" after hearing the news that Zayn Malik has left boyband One Direction, and urged adults not to "undermine" these feelings.
Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, said: "There are young people who are going to feel seriously distressed at the news, and people are going to have to get their head around the fact that for some this will be very distressing and not to undermine it, even if they don't quite understand it."
She added: "Lots of people have pop stars or celebrities or actors who they hold in high esteem, and there is a lot of sadness and impact for people when something happens to any of them."
A report from USC News on an initiative to “measure” empathy and thus turn the art of creative, in-the-moment psychotherapy into a numerical science, such that in the future therapists (or robots) can robotically provide highly-rated expressions of empathy at computer-determined optimal moments. Isn’t this the very antithesis of genuine, authentic, human presence and connection which lie at the heart of true empathy? This is empathy for engineers:
According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, about 10 million Americans undergo psychotherapy treatment each year.
For USC Viterbi School of Engineering Professor Shrikanth Narayanan, this prompts the question, “How do we know how well psychotherapy works? What works and what doesn’t?”
Narayanan is part of an interdisciplinary team developing a new way to evaluate psychotherapy and therapists, relying on the science of signal processing to measure empathic processes. This includes automatically detecting “empathetic opportunities,” as well as characterizing “expressions of empathy.” Eventually, this system could lead to better matches — and better outcomes — between patients and therapists.
... Narayanan’s current research on empathy only evaluates vocal behavior—speech, language and non-verbal cues such as laughter. Computers analyze audio recordings of therapist-patient interactions — the system may eventually analyze visual behavior, such as gestures and facial expressions.
“In our experiment, we have accomplished a prototype system that is able to assess therapist empathy from audio recordings and give quantitative scores of empathy in a human, interpretable way,” said Bo Xiao, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering who has worked on the project since 2011.
Although the experiment is in the early stage, a recent test demonstrated that the system is over 80 percent accurate in its rating ability, Xiao said. The system analyzes audio recordings from therapist sessions, identifying empathetic opportunities hidden within conversations.
... “Empathetic opportunities” is not a new term within the medical field. Physicians often struggle to identify and respond to empathetic opportunities. A 2008 study suggested that, on average, general physicians miss 90 percent of empathetic opportunities, according to The New York Times.
Popular club drug assists therapy for the terminally ill
MDMA is widely used both on and off festival grounds. But the drug is quietly making a comeback as a therapeutic aid. Last week, the DEA approved a clinical trial that will use a combination of the psychedelic drug and psychotherapy to treat anxiety associated with terminal illnesses. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has initiated the study as part of their on-going efforts to validate the effectiveness of MDMA in a scientific setting. This isn't the first time it's been used to assist psychotherapy. But if the study is successful, it will introduce a new use for the drug.
The California-based association has been studying the effects of psychedelics on patients with PTSD since 2001. They've been approved for all studies before, but the latest nod seems indicative of a shift in the DEA's stand on the dangers of the drug.
Pure MDMA, manufactured legally in a lab for research, is different from the adulterated concoctions (Molly, ecstasy, etc.) available on the streets. What makes MDMA one of the most sought-after drugs is that it brings on a bunch of ecstatic feelings –– stimulated senses, empathy and a strong urge to hug the nearest neon-clad raver. In effect, MDMA lowers anxiety, which explains its use in the upcoming trial. But in some cases, the come down from the drug can include anxiety and depression, which seems counterintuitive. According to Brad Burge, director of communications at MAPS, that anxiety is temporary. It fades as MDMA wears off.
Tormented refugees receive counseling in Chad
THOUSANDS of refugees that have fled the Boko Haram crisis to Chad will receive psychological support and mental healthcare amid the strain and deplorable living conditions in the neighbouring country.
Stéphanie Giandonato, Medecins Sans Frontiers'/Doctors Without Borders' (MSF's) Head of Mission in Chad, said such support would be a key component of MSF's medical activities in response to this situation.
In the coming days, MSF psychologists will begin providing mental health care through individual and group sessions in Dar as Salam refugee camp, in Bagasola and Ngouboua.
MSF will also provide psychological support and medical assistance to victims of sexual violence.
"People are extremely fearful after experiencing the trauma of the attacks first in Nigeria and then in Chad," said Giandonato.
"Many have lost family members, they are anxious, and they do not know what the future holds for them."
Ghana: mainstreaming mental health
Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been urged to mainstream Mental Health Issues into Medium Term Development Plans to help address mental health challenges.
Members of the Upper East Regional Alliance for Mental Health and Development, who made the call during its first quarterly meeting held in Bolgatanga on Friday, stressed that, per the Mental Health Act, the MMDAs were expected to play a key role in providing resources to help address issues relating to mental health.
Whilst commending the efforts of some few MMDAs for mainstreaming mental issues into their Medium Term Development Plan, they stressed the need for them to ensure effective implementation to achieve good results.
The Alliance also lamented that mental health and epilepsy patients have not been benefiting from the Disability Common Fund, and that, they were supposed to benefit from it to enable them to address their needs including the purchasing of drugs and to undertake advocacy programmes.
Among some of the success chalked by the Alliance, include the holding of the World Mental Health Day, sensitization programmes on radio and an engagement with the Media, among others.
India: prisoners to enjoy 'magical' counselling
From Times of India:
Undergoing counselling sessions is nothing new to prison inmates. But on Tuesday, the inmates of Poojapura Central Jail will get to undergo an off beat session in the form of illusions and magic. The innovative programme has been designed by popular magician Gopinath Muthukad and psychologist L R Madhoojan. The act has been titled Psycho Magic Transformation.
Home minister Ramesh Chennithala will inaugurate the programme at 3pm on Tuesday at Poojapura Central Jail.
According to Muthukad, the programme aims to transform prison inmates into better citizens by reaching out to them and understanding their problems through magic and psychology. While magic helps to open up a doorway into prisoners' minds, psychology helps in understanding their problems. Once this is achieved, it is easy to give the prisoners directions and tips for leading a better life.
Singapore: 24-hour help via webchat for problem gamblers
An online counselling service for gamblers is now available round the clock after a three-month test run ended last year.
During the trial from September to December, 360 chat logs were registered.
Most of these users were deemed to require face-to-face counselling thereafter, said a spokesman for the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
Set up by the NCPG and the National Addictions Management Service, the webchat allows problem gamblers to chat online with paracounsellors who offer a listening ear but are not certified to provide professional counselling.
"The webchat caters to those who feel more comfortable seeking help online for problem gambling issues," said the spokesman.
He declined to comment on the profile of the users or the nature of the calls, noting that the helpline was fairly new.
Though it is not known how many of the users who needed face-to-face counselling eventually sought it, counsellors say the webchat is a good platform to serve as their first entry point in getting support.
China: mental health issues triggering insomnia in youths
Saturday is World Sleep Day, and this year’s theme in China is on mental health. A recent report from the Chinese Sleep Research Society has revealed that nearly 40 percent of adults in the country suffer from insomnia. Our reporter Hu Chao visited a local hospital and found out that more and more young people are now having sleeping problems, and they're frequently caused by mental-health issues.
Sixteen-year-old Ren Jian has been suffering from insomnia for a few months. Since he went to a boarding high-school, he’s been having difficulty falling asleep and often wakes too early in the morning. It makes him tired during the day and even causes headaches.
"Maybe I haven’t gotten used to living in the dorm. I fall asleep quite late every night. And I feel very tired in the morning," said Ren Jian, student from Taiyuan, Shanxi Province.
According to the hospital, Ren Jian is among many young people who are having sleeping problems. And mental health issues are a major cause.
"As the development of society accelerates, an increasing number of young people are suffering from insomnia. Many students say they feel academic and employment pressure, while many young adults say they feel stressed at work and in relationships," said Zheng Rong, chief physician of Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital.
Doctor Zeng says about two thirds of her patients with insomnia suffer from depression and anxiety. Psychologist Wang Jie also has similar patients.
"In fact, most of my patients suffering from depression, anxiety or emotional problems often have sleeping problems at the same time," said Wang Jie, psychologist, Shanxi Psychology Society.