Category Archives: Stress

Mental illness is 2nd largest reason for time off work

“Mental illness is now the second largest reason for UK workers taking time off, a report suggests.

A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found an increasing amount of sickness leave is due to depression or stress.

Analysis of the records of 30,000 people found only muscle-related problems such as bad backs were cited as a greater cause of absenteeism.
Staff with depression were said to take an average 30 days off annually.

Those with stress were reported to be away for 21 days.

The CPID found public sector workers were more likely to take time off work because of mental illness and overall the problem was more prevalent among older staff.

Reduced hours

The CIPD said its findings will be “particularly worrying” for the government in light of a “huge” increase in the number of people with mental health problems claiming incapacity benefit.

“This research shows how important it is for managers and HR practitioners to be aware of the signs of mental ill health so that they can take action early and provide support before the individual’s condition deteriorates to the point they go off on long-term sick leave,” said Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser.

He called on the government to provide tax incentives to encourage more firms to offer occupational health services.

GPs need to work more closely with employers to identify opportunities for “phased return-to-work” for those affected with less demanding or reduced hours roles, Mr Willmott added.”
Source

Posted by: Eleanor

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Stress kills brain cells

The Journal of Neuroscience features a study which suggests that episodes of severe stress and worrying are enough to kill off new neurons in the brain .

“The researchers found that in young rats, the stress of encountering aggressive, older rats did not stop the generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.

However, it did prevent the cells from surviving – leaving fewer new neurons for processing feelings and emotions.”
This may have implications for the understanding and treatment of depression, as stress and depression are highly correlated.

Read the full BBC article here.

Posted by: Eleanor

Creating healthy environments in psychiatric wards

no straight jackets

No straight jackets? 

Here’s a cheerful feature from The Guardian about a new male psychiatric ward in South London called The Tarn.  Everyone working at the centre recognises the importance of creating a safe, responsible, stimulating and status rich environment for the severely unstable and often violent men who live there – and the article reports on their very positive results:

 “Francis Adzinku, the trust’s acute and crisis services manager, insists that he and his colleagues developed their distinctive approach in former, very rundown wards, and that it is much more about attitudes and principles.

“If you prepare an environment where you think people are going to throw things around, then they come prepared to do that,” Adzinku says. “But if you put people in an environment where they feel comfortable, where it is clean and where there are nice things to look at, the effect can be wonderful. The philosophy is to have, as much as possible, an ideal environment, and we have a very good multi-disciplinary team who have a clear idea of the philosophy they are working with.” read the article

Posted by: Eleanor

Waste in the NHS

I’m not quite sure why I haven’t noticed this before but here is an excellent video from the very beginning of this year about wasted money in the NHS, much thanks to Burning Our Money for this.

The other videos are also worth watching – but I can’t sit down to more than one at once because my anger levels rise too much to give them the concentration they deserve!

Posted by: Eleanor

The treatment of anxiety disorders/Burning Our Money

Next week I’ll be interested to watch a program on Channel 4 about several people with severe agoraphobia being treated with a “revolutionary” new treatment. See here to read an archived Human Givens Journal article about how two counsellors researched the ‘rewind technique’ for treating phobias, trauma and panic attacks (all problems stemming from anxiety), as taught on a MindFields College workshop.

Also, this blog, Burning Our Money, makes for horrifying reading but does very well at bringing to light how UK tax payers money is being spent by the Government.

Posted by: Eleanor

The UK needs more than ‘Supernannies’

A few weeks ago it emerged that the Youth Justice system in the UK has reached a crisis point – with literally only a few beds available.

In response, the Government is targeting parents with their £4 million “super nannies” scheme – which will install 80 child psychologists in high crime areas to teach parents good parenting skills.

I was speaking this week to an array of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other health workers at a MindFields workshop and they were all in agreement that, whilst the intentions of the Government may appear to be good, changing the way children are brought up cannot be done as a short-term, ‘sticking plaster’ task of the kind politicians love so much. No one in the room felt able to trust politicians’ ability to do much to change things for the better. The feeling expressed was that they are floundering on the major issues of parenting, mental health and anti-social and criminal behaviour in just the same way they are over the war in Iraq.

To really make a difference requires long-term – a project lasting decades. That requires a bigger, more ‘true’ organising idea about what makes for a good life if it were to carry the population with it. The work would involve changing the very nature of our culture and its priorities. Just sending in 80 child psychologists to deprived areas to give ‘parenting classes’ only scratches the surface and, ultimately, will fail unless the fundamental needs of people can be met in the environment in much better ways than they are at present.

And it really must be seen as long-term endeavour. The brains of some children are already so damaged by their upbringing that they will remain a burden on the rest of us until they die. To stop this sad state of affairs getting worse will require an almost superhuman effort driven from a clear vision that guides the work over decades.

Until all agencies, education, health, government, media, work in tune with nature – the ‘human givens’ – and start to create a healthier culture by pushing for the kind of changes needed, there will be no meaningful improvements made.

The group I was talking to were unanimous that current government policies, by encouraging the infantilising of the population instead of helping it mature, are incapable of working because the laws and systems are too complex and hopelessly unrealistic. If this is a true reflection of the world we are now living in it’s not surprising then that many children are not growing up to fulfil in healthy ways what they might otherwise be capable of.

However hard parents try, many can’t help the fact that they are bringing up their children in a deeply uninspiring, criminally inclined environment that is culturally shallow. They live in a world where greedy, selfish behaviour is encouraged by strong exhortations to emotional expression that are constantly demonstrated and encouraged through the media (strong emotions, happy or sad, keep us ‘stupid’ and easy to condition) and families are collapsing.

When can we trust politicians?

We talk to a large number of people in the caring professions and education, thousands every year, and it is clear that there is a breakdown of trust between these people and politicians. No one expects politicians to do what is needed any more, yet they all expect politicians to interfere and make things worse. Despite this, changing our corrupting environment does require political leadership of intelligence and perspicacity. Even if only some of the taxpayer’s money that is wasted each year by government (£83 billion pounds according to the European Central Bank) was spent more wisely, much could be done to achieve what is actually needed, as required by the reality of the situation, instead of political ideology.

But on the present showing there seem to be no politicians interested in creating a healthier culture, or, if they do exist, they are so bogged down in power struggles and autistic bureaucratic political and civil service systems that they can’t operate. Whatever the reason, until politicians start to sincerely seek help from people who know how to facilitate making it easier for the innate needs of children and adults to be met more healthily in this country, and back them with money, the situation will deteriorate further. Children will continue to get their innate needs met but do so in ways that diminish them and society at large, as when a child’s need to connect up to larger groups and have status is satisfied by becoming part of the local delinquent criminal gang because they have no alternative.

Working with the givens of human nature should be the touchstone of any Government policy.

Posted by: Ivan

The Times: Parents demand prozac for high achieving children/anxiety “masks” depression?

Two articles about depression in The Times today came to my attention.

Firstly, Lucy Bannerman reports on research which shows that 36% of medical professionals feel “bullied” by parents into prescribing dangerous anti-depressant drugs as a “quick-fix cure” for children who are under pressure to do well in exams. What is even more alarming is that six out of ten GP’s feel obliged to prescribe prozac because they rated local, more “holistic” treatment health services as “poor” or “very poor”.

This lack of knowledge about how depression occurs and how to effectively treat it must be fought. There is a dramatic need to improve access to health services that treat depression quickly without drugs.

Secondly, an article by Thomas Stuttaford, the Times resident Doctor, discusses anxiety with relation to the cricketeer Marcus Trescothicks recent withdrawal from the Ashes cricket team and begins:

“Those who suffer from depressive illness, such as Marcus Trescothick, often also exhibit symptoms of stress, which can mask the true problem.”

Stuttaford then stumbles through the relationship between anxiety, stress and depression (sometimes implying that they are same ‘disorder’) and describes in depth the symptoms of each – without reaching any firm conclusion.He correctly identifies that anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but what he is missing is that anxiety eventually causes depression

“There is a close interrelationship between depression and anxiety. When I was a junior hospital doctor in a psychiatric team, one of my chief’s oft-repeated observations was that depressed patients also showed signs of anxiety, and in all anxious patients there was evidence of depression. It was therefore easy to miss the true diagnosis.”

The need for increased REM sleep (to dearouse unresolved anxiety) leads to waking up feeling exhausted with lowered motivation. Stuttaford touches on the connection between depression and poor sleep..

“The sleep pattern is altered — often the small hours are spent restlessly as despondent thoughts go round and round. All energy seeps away, as the patient complains of being tired and suffering an unnatural fatigue.”

..but the idea that worrying increases REM sleep and causes depression is not mentioned.

This connection is a fundamental development in our understanding of depression that needs to be far more widely recognised by the NHS and health professionals so that it can be treated more effectively.

See here for more information on the importance of dreaming and its relationship with depression.

Posted by: Eleanor