Mental Health Forum 2012

Mental Health Forum 2012

  What’s new in Mental Health?  

July/August 2013


`Worrying increases’ in alcohol-related mortality among younger women must be acted on, according to researchers who studied patterns of alcohol-related deaths in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool.  The researchers found that although generally there has been a decrease in alcohol-related deaths, the exception to this was deaths among women born between 1970 and 1979. They say it is `imperative that this early warning sign is acted upon’.  Shipton D et al, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2013, Online First, July 18 2013.


More than half of service users taking medication for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder do not adhere to their medication treatment regimes, a study has confirmed. The study asked service users why this was, and the responses suggested that `managing their illness and living well requires balancing side effects and symptoms, and this in many cases means at least occasionally departing from treatment recommendations’. It recommends that service users should be offered `non-judgemental information, support and advice’ and interventions should be developed to help service users understand and manage the risks. BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13: 135.


May/June 2013


Computer-based 'avatar' therapy promising for persecutory auditory hallucinations. A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry has reported symptom reductions among patients hearing voices, who developed computerised 'avatars' of the voices and then engaged in dialogue with them. When compared with treatment as usual during a randomised trial,  the therapy group showed mean reductions in scores for auditory hallucinations and for the omnipotence and malevolence of the voices.  The researchers conclude: 'Patients who are able to sustain a dialogue with their persecutor feel much more in control.' BJP June 2013, 202:428-433
Controversy accompanies publication of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  UK charities and clinicians have criticised the American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of the DSM, saying that it encourages medicalisation of normal behaviour and promotes a diagnostic process that lacks evidence regarding better outcomes. The Mental Health Foundation said it was `concerned that the new publication should not encourage psychiatrists to medicalise anger and sorrow’. Meanwhile Dr Sami Timimi, child and adolescent psychiatrist from Lincolnshire writing in the BMJ, commented that psychiatric diagnoses `remain unreliable’ and are associated with `rapidly growing numbers receiving a diagnosis without accompanying evidence that such a process leads to better long-term outcomes’. See  `DSM-5: a fatal diagnosis?’ and accompanying responses BMJ 2013; 346: f3256


April 2013


Mental health service users experienced a significant overall reduction in the discrimination they experienced between 2008 and 2011, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The evaluation of the Time to Change (TTC) programme in England 2007-2011 says that these results are in clear contrast to the lack of improvement in public attitudes in the last 10-15 years. The researchers say they were unable to determine the exact contribution of TTC to the changes reported, but that it is possible to be fairly confident that changes seen after its anti-stigma campaign were due to the programme. See


The Royal College of General Practitioners has appointed a clinical champion for youth mental health, Dr Jane Roberts. Dr Roberts is a salaried GP and a senior lecturer in general practice at the University of Sunderland. She is chair of the RCGP Adolescent Health Group, the RCGP representative on the Children and Young People Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme expert reference group, and a NICE guideline development group member on social anxiety disorder. She has worked on developing a clinical service for 5-19 year olds with emotional or behavioural difficulties in general practice.


March 2013


Dementia care is not meeting needs Care for people with dementia is not meeting their needs as services are struggling to cope, according to the Care Quality Commission’s latest Care Update. The findings show people living in a care home and suffering from dementia are more likely to go to hospital with avoidable conditions such as urinary infections. Once there, they are more likely to stay longer, be readmitted or die than those without dementia.


Colleagues pay tribute to Prof Helen Lester Colleagues from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP) have paid tribute to the panel’s co-founder, Professor Helen Lester, who died in March after a short illness. Prof Lester was a GP in Birmingham and professor of primary care at the University of Birmingham, and, the JCP says, `ensured that clear thinking, plain speaking and practical change were at the heart of all the JCP’s work’.


February 2013


People with mental health disability are at greater risk of being victims of violence Research published in the journal PLOS ONE has found that compared to those without any disability, the odds of being a victim of violence in the past year were three-fold higher for those with mental illness-related disability, and two-fold higher for those with physical disability. Study author Dr Paul Moran, from King’s Institute of Psychiatry, commented: `Our study highlights that contrary to popular opinion, people with mental health problems are much more likely to be victims of violence as opposed to perpetrators of violence’.