May 24th, 2013
A new campaign is calling for the end of hate speech against women on social networking site Facebook.
Graphic videos, explicit images and misogynistic words have become all too common on one of the world’s largest social networking sites – Facebook. Journalist, Laura Bates hit her limit after seeing an advertisement for beauty company Dove on a Facebook page called “drop kicking sl**s in the teeth” and tweeted the company a screenshot. Dove swiftly responded to say they did not control where their ads appear and have pledged to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Bates hopes by making other companies aware of where their advertisements sometimes end up, she will gain more power behind her campaign to remove such content; one web-hosting company has already removed all of their advertisements on Facebook because of where they appear.
The journalist has recently published an open letter to Facebook asking for an end to violent misogynous content. Bates and fellow activists Soraya Chemaly and Jaclyn Friedman have asked three things from the company; firstly they want them to recognise any content and speech that trivializes or glorifies violence against women as hate speech, and to remove it from the site. Secondly they want moderators to be trained to recognise and remove such hate speech, and thirdly, they ask for moderators to be trained to understand how this type of online harassment affects women.
The team have also started a major social media campaign running 24/7 around the world asking Facebook users to get in touch with any advertisers whose ads appear on violent or misogynistic pages. Facebook does already have a policy on hate speech, but at the time the open letter was written the site had various pages trivializing violence and sexual abuse towards women.
Bates understands that the site is not pre-moderated and problematic content will always be able to be posted, she just wants the site to act quicker to remove it and to understand its implications. Facebook are yet to comment and are reportedly in the process of formulating their response.
If you have experienced any form of abuse or domestic violence, it could be helpful to seek help from a counsellor who will offer you the time and space to discuss your experience.
View and comment on the original Guardian article.
May 23rd, 2013
Despite Hollywood’s romanticization of the perfect relationship, many of us are well aware that they take work and patience if you want them to last.
Nobody’s perfect, especially when it comes to relationships; we all react in the heat of the moment at times and can say the wrong things. The key thing to remember is that in a lasting, committed relationship – resilience is crucial. Being resilient in a relationship gives us the ability to work through issues without taking the easy option of throwing up a wall of anger.
The following five qualities can help you keep your relationship in check when obstacles present themselves.
Sometimes in arguments we are right, sometimes we are dead wrong. Humility allows us to surrender the need to be right, to punish our partner or to take the moral high ground (to come across as the ‘good guy’). Humility will set the tone for empathy, listening, understanding and eventually, forgiveness.
While it is tempting to use a quick fix to make the negative feelings go away or reinstate the ‘normal’ behaviour within the relationship, these actions will be no more than a Band-Aid over a gaping wound. Be patient and allow yourselves the time and space for an issue to heal.
The depth of your commitment to one another is reflected in your willingness to hang in there during the difficult times, when your relationship may have lost its way.
Making the decision to forgive your partner after a betrayal of trust can be incredibly difficult and may take time, patience and professional guidance. Being 100% honest with yourself and your other half can help to determine whether or not you are able to forgive or if you need to move on.
When all is said and done, your resilience embodies your willingness to put your heart on the line – again and again, even when you risk hurt, rejection and disappointment. This takes immense courage and strength, which we must summon in order to self-correct, self-educate and self-improve in any relationship.
If you feel your relationship could benefit from professional guidance, speaking to a counsellor could help. For more information, please see our Relationship Issues page.
View and comment on the original Inspiyr article.
May 22nd, 2013
Hoarding is now considered an illness in its own right – but how common is it?
Richard Wallace has become one of the UK’s best known compulsive hoarders since his appearance on the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder’. The 63 year old has made great strides in his recovery, storing far less junk than he used to. His large garden now only holds 16 cars, surrounded by trolleys, chairs and walking frames, while a marquee stores 36 years worth of newspapers and magazines.
Inside the house there are multiple fridges, TV sets and milk bottles among other things. And although he can only just get into four rooms of his bungalow (the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and lavatory), he has already removed over 100 tonnes of junk from his home.
Richard’s tentative steps towards recovery have been helped by his friend, neighbour and psychiatrist Andy Honey. While Richard has made progress, it is not happening as fast as Andy would like.
“Richard is looking at a five-year programme, but I’d like to think it will be under control in another 18 months. He doesn’t need to clear every single room, but I would like to see the things he needs become accessible to him and the papers stored in a way that he can get to them.”
The condition is said to affect 3% of the population and levels of relapse tend to be high. New hope for sufferers arrived over the weekend however, when the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recategorised hoarding as an illness in its own right (after previously treating it as a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder). The result of this will hopefully mean more money for research into the condition, boosting hope for a more effective treatment.
Are you a hoarder?
1. Do you fid it difficult to use your rooms because of clutter?
2. Do you find it hard to disregard, recycle or give things away other people would normally get rid of?
3. Do you collect things you can get for free, or buy more than you can afford?
4. Do you experience any emotional distress because of the clutter?
5. Is your clutter and/or inability to throw things away having an adverse effect on your social life or relationships?
If you have answered yes to these questions and think you may have an issue with hoarding, speaking to a counsellor could help you uncover the cause and work on reducing the compulsion. For more information, please see our Compulsive Hoarding page.
View and comment on the original Independent article.
May 18th, 2013
Research has begun on the teenage brain to see what occurs during puberty, why life is ‘so unfair’ for adolescents and why certain mental disorders develop at this age.
Psychiatrists at Cambridge University have started a £5 million study looking at brain activity in teenagers with the aim of identifying differences in the way it’s wired. The researchers are also keen to see whether the changes that occur as the brain develops are what cause teenagers to eventually grow out of their sometimes antisocial behaviour. In the process, it is hoped that the researchers will learn more about the way mental disorders develop in young adults.
The project will involve 300 brain scans of people aged 14-24 which will investigate the way the brain changes as it develops. Professor Ed Bullmore (one of the researchers) has said that the MRI scans will give them good pictures of how the brain’s anatomy changes as it develops. He mentions that the team are particularly interested in how the white matter, the tissue at the centre of the brain, might change as it develops.
It is thought that the white matter may change as the brain starts to control impulses caused by hormones. These brain changes are expected to be responsible for more ‘adult’ behaviour.
Dr Becky Inkster, also working on the study, has added:
“Arguably we’ve all been there and it’s a very awkward and complex and confusing time of life. So to be able to express oneself is quite difficult. So by the use of imaging and other tools we can really tap into these features of the adolescent brain and understand how they develop over time as they become a young adult.”
The researchers are also hoping to identify whether psychotic disorders could be caused by abnormal development of the brain during adolescence.
Our teenage years are a turbulent and often tough period in our lives. If you are struggling, it could help to speak to a counsellor. For more information on what issues they could help you deal with, please see our Types of Distress page.
View and comment on the original Telegraph article.
May 17th, 2013
Diagnosis rates for dementia are “shockingly low” in England, with less than half of sufferers currently being diagnosed.
The NHS have been told they need to push for dementia diagnoses to increase so that by 2015, two out of three cases will be identified. A senior advisor on public health has said that cases of dementia could be halved if more was done in regards to prevention.
The government has revealed that the current dementia diagnosis rate is just 45% in England. The issue was initially raised a year ago in the prime minister’s “challenge on dementia” which instigated a programme looking to improve care, encourage research and promote public understanding of the disease.
A recent progress report from NHS England has stated that diagnoses rates should rise by over 20% by 2015. This would bring England’s diagnoses rate in line with Northern Ireland and Scotland.
This progress report coincides with a call from Dr Charles Alessi for emphasis to be placed on dementia prevention. Dr Alessi is the chairman of the National Association of Primary Care and an adviser for Public Health England.
The amount of people in England currently suffering with dementia is estimated to be in excess of 670,000 – a figure that is set to double in the next 30 years. According to Dr Alessi, this number could be halved by focussing on prevention, including the identification of risks associated with vascular dementia.
Dr Alessi believes a simple mental agility assessment needs to be one of the range of tests routinely offered by the NHS Health Check after people turn 40.
“This condition – which we thought was hopeless, and all we could offer was more dignity and respect and more treatment which is very important – can also be delayed. That is amazing. We can influence this so I think we should.”
If you are dealing with dementia, discussing your fears or frustrations with a counsellor could help you cope with your situation. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Dementia page.
View and comment on the original BBC News article.
May 16th, 2013
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is the latest edition of the influential ‘dictionary of psychiatry’ developed in the U.S., which lists all known psychiatric disorders.
Some latest additions to the list of mental health disorders include shyness in children, depression after bereavement and Internet addiction – all controversial topics now fuelling a debate over how modern society should treat mental health ‘problems’.
Some experts believe the manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, can lead to the unnecessary diagnosis of millions of people.
As writer Jon Ronson half-joked in a recent TED talk, “Is it possible that the psychiatric profession has a strong desire to label things that are essential human behaviour as a disorder?”
This begs the question – just where is the line between ‘essential human behaviour’ and psychiatric disorder? And what effect does mental health diagnosis have on those patients?
One professional body, the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP), is calling for the abandonment of psychiatric diagnosis altogether. They have released a report claiming that psychiatric diagnosis is at best a clinical judgement, or observation – not, as many believe, a statement of fact. The report claims that diagnoses such as bipolar disorder, personality disorder and schizophrenia are of ‘limited reliability and questionable validity’.
Mary Boyle, professor at the University of East London, believes this claim marks a changing attitude to mental health and a dramatic shift in the on-going debate.
Dr Lucy Johnstone of the DCP helped draw out the body’s recent statement. She says diagnoses are not only unscientific, but unhelpful too. Mental health treatment should shift its focus from the assumed biological causes of some disorders, towards the personal and social aspects of psychological distress.
Often when a person is labelled with a disorder, they start to define themselves in term of the symptoms, causes and treatments outlined by health experts. From here they start to see themselves as a patient afflicted with a disease, rather than an individual going through a unique experience. The DCP suggests a change in mental health vocabulary to help change people’s attitudes. For example, instead of asking ‘what is wrong with you?’ mental health professionals should ask ‘what happened to you?’
It is thought changes like these will help change people’s attitudes towards mental health, but they are not intended to directly influence the diagnosis of mental illness through the NHS.
Counselling focuses on the social and personal aspects of mental health treatment. To find out more about how a counsellor can help you, please visit our Types of Distress page.
View and comment on the original Guardian article.
May 13th, 2013
All it takes is 10 minutes of brisk walking every day to improve your emotional state, a report by the Mental Health Foundation has said.
Making sure physical activity is a regular part of your daily routine can at once increase your self-esteem and reduce your stress and anxiety, the report claims.
Exercise can also act as prevention and treatment for a range of mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.
According to studies, people who regularly exercise have a 20-30% lower risk of developing depression and dementia.
The report recommends people use physical activity as a way of regulating their moods throughout the day, but it also warns against doing too much. Overdoing exercise can, the report says, lead to ‘short-lived negative effects’ such as low mood and irritability. “People should choose a type of physical activity based on what they enjoy doing,” it says.
While the report makes clear the benefits of exercise, it also shows some gloomy health statistics.
According to statistics, most people in the UK do not do enough exercise to live long and happy lives. Only 40% of men manage the government recommended two and a half hours of physical activity a week, while for women that number is as low as 28%.
The NHS recommends adults partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. That amounts to about 21 minutes a day – not much in the grand scheme of things.
The report has been released in time for Mental Health Awareness Week.
If depression, anxiety or any other mental illness is something you are currently struggling with, then it is important to get help. While studies show exercise may be able to help, you should always seek guidance from a medical professional before drastically changing your routine. To find out more about how a counsellor can help, please visit our Types of Distress page.
View and comment on the original Independent article.
May 11th, 2013
Police have resorted to using Taser guns to subdue mentally ill patients in care homes and hospitals.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed an alarming amount of Taser use on patients with mental health issues over the last three years. Charities have expressed their concerns over these statistics, warning that Tasering patients could aggravate the condition of those already suffering extreme distress.
The health service watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has stated that Tasers should only be used as a last resort; however, the Freedom of Information requests have revealed that English and Welsh police authorised the use of Tasers on 52 occasions in the last three years.
The reported instances typically occurred during transportation or during treatment and included occasions where police restrained a man wielding a knife and to stop a patient threatening to self-harm.
The national total of 52 instances is almost sure to underestimate the actual total due to the fact that many larger forces (including the Metropolitan Police) did not respond to the Freedom of Information requests.
The CQC has said of the findings:
“It is of great concern a Taser was used within hospital premises in this way. It may be that the use of a Taser can never be ruled out in this context, but any incidence of its use should trigger a thorough consideration of whether the staffing of the hospital unit is adequate to maintain safety, both in terms of staff numbers and staff training.”
The police maintain that Tasers are one of the more safe ways to restrain a patient and that they have a duty to help when called upon to assist with a violent patient.
If you are suffering from any mental health issues, speaking to a counsellor could help prevent the need for hospitalisation. For more information, please see our Mental Health page.
View and comment on the original Independent article.
May 10th, 2013
Giving sufferers of bipolar disorder access to information about their condition online may help to prevent relapse.
Michael, 29, from Cheshire was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager due to his noticeable mood swings. It wasn’t until he experienced severe highs when travelling that his diagnosis was reconsidered. A spell in hospital led to the confirmation of bipolar disorder, which was followed by a year of face-to-face therapy sessions.
These sessions helped Michael manage the impact his moods had on his life. Since his treatment, research into web therapy has begun at Lancaster University which may hold the key to ensuring he doesn’t relapse.
What is bipolar disorder?
Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder causes severe mood swings that can last several months. These moods can include:
- Low moods – feelings of intense depression and despair.
- High or ‘manic’ moods – feelings of over-activity, extreme joy and a loss of inhibitions.
- Mixed moods – feeling depressed with a low mood combined with the restlessness of a manic mood.
Prof Steve Jones led the study into web therapy in a bid to provide bipolar sufferers with an alternative to face-to-face sessions, which few people actually access.
The trial consisted of 100 people with the disorder, half of whom were asked to use the interactive web tool. This tool provided participants with information about the disorder, including strategies to help improve their mood and live with the disorder, day to day. The results revealed a significant increase in participants’ self-reported recovery, with many people saying they felt more optimistic and positive.
Michael said having access to this kind of information has been invaluable as he is able to tailor it to his own needs. He has also passed this information on to his family so they better understand his daily battle with his moods.
If you are suffering from bipolar disorder, having an initial consultation with a counsellor could help you come to terms with your condition and may help you devise ways to manage your condition from home. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression page.
View and comment on the original BBC News article.
May 9th, 2013
According to the schools watchdog over a third of schools in England are not providing pupils with sex education appropriate to their age.
Not enough teachers have the right expertise to talk about delicate subjects like sexuality and domestic violence and this, Ofsted inspectors claim, could leave some children in a vulnerable position.
The Ofsted warning comes after unions raised concerns about the effects of sexualisation in popular culture, media and wider society on school children.
Over the Easter holidays, unions gathered to share concerns about the negative impact of pornography and celebrity culture on young people’s body confidence. They called for better training to help teachers deal with these issues.
In a report looking at the standard of teaching in personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), Ofsted found that it required improvement in 40% of schools across the country.
Too much emphasis was placed on friendships and relationships at primary school level, leaving children ill-prepared for the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty. In secondary schools it’s thought too much emphasis is placed on the ‘mechanics’ of reproduction, and not enough on the emotional and health sides of sex.
The report also mentions the increasing concerns surrounding the use of pornography.
“The failure to include discussion of pornography is concerning as research shows that children as young as nine are increasingly accessing pornographic internet sites, and ChildLine counsellors have confirmed an increase to more than 50 calls a month from teenagers upset by pornography,” the report says.
The report also calls for better training in sensitive issues such as domestic violence.
If young people don’t have access to the support they need at school, then they may be left in a vulnerable position in the home.
To find out how counselling can help with these issues, please visit our Types of Distress page and browse topics.
View and comment on the original BBC article.