Peterhead FC tackling suicide and depression risks

Aaron Norris talks to Fiona Stalker
Aaron Norris told BBC Scotland’s Fiona Stalker he had struggled

A Scottish football club is putting its players and officials through suicide prevention training in a project which it is hoped could be adopted by other teams around the country, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Peterhead FC hopes the sessions could help break down the stigma surrounding mental health within the game.

The club said pressures on young players in particular can be extreme.

The union for players has welcomed the initiative.

Peterhead’s Aaron Norris, 19, said he struggled after being signed for Aberdeen FC as a youngster, only to be let go as a teenager.

He told the BBC’s Timeline programme: “It was pretty devastating.

“I felt like my dreams had been crushed, especially being I would still say quite young.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, if I had to go and find a job or if I would pursue full-time football with a different team.

“It was hard, it was a really tough time.”

‘Bottle it in’

Martin Johnson, Peterhead FC’s general manager, decided to introduce the sessions.

He said of players: “They bottle it in.

“When they travelling to games they are in their own zone as it were.

“They are not the greatest at coming forward, and as an employer we need to get self-training so we can identify the problems.

“The biggest problem is the stigma of the word suicide.

“It’s good to speak.”

Football training

Iain Murray, from north east of Scotland’s Choose Life suicide prevention organisation, said: “Here we are working with Peterhead Football Club where physical excellence they are trying to achieve.

“There is a danger that mental health is neglected.

“But that is not the case with this club, they are really forward-thinking, and they do want to break down the stigma and we know that is really important for employers.

“This is absolutely pioneering work.”

‘Too much’

Peterhead manager and former Scotland player Jim McInally said: “They need to cut down the amount of kids that are getting disappointed because it’s far too much.

“It’s not even just at full-time level, it’s kids at 10, 11, 12 that are in development clubs and then you speaks to their parents and they say ‘oh he’s really disappointed, he’s been let go’, what age is he? ‘Ten’, and you should not know disappointment at that age.”

The Scottish FA said in statement: “The health and mental wellbeing of professional footballers in Scotland is of paramount importance to the Scottish FA.

“Since 2016, we have offered Support Within Sport, a project aimed at combating mental health issues in Scottish football.

“The programme provides access to a specialist support network of experienced doctors, counsellors and psychologists and is offered free of charge to clubs, players and coaches across the 42 clubs in the Scottish Professional Football League, the top two divisions in the Scottish Women’s Premier League and also to referees.”

‘Rolled out’

Michelle Evans, head of communications and wellbeing at PFA Scotland – the union for players – said: “We very much welcome and support the work Peterhead are doing with Choose Life in educating their players around the topic of mental health.

“For a number of years, we have been providing a service for players which gives them access to support and advice should they find themselves struggling mentally and we do regular club visits and communications with the players to ensure they know about the support that is available to them.

“It is really encouraging to see the lengths Peterhead as a club are prepared to go to to look after their players wellbeing and it would be great to see this project with Choose Life rolled out at other clubs.”

 

 

Link to BBC report here 

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Students hold mental health awareness day

Students taking part in an #iamwhole campaign during mental health awareness day.

Students taking part in an #iamwhole campaign during mental health awareness day.

Dedicated pupils organised a mental health awareness day at Nailsea School to show their peers what support is available if they are struggling.

The students, who are members of the patient participation group for Tyntesfield Medical Group, approached GPs at the surgery to enlist their help with the event.

Representatives from the medical group teamed up with school leaders to run the awareness day, which included talks from the school’s safeguarding team, Positive Steps, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and Wellspring.

Evidence has shown 75 per cent of all mental health problems manifest themselves by the age of 24 and one in 12 young people self-harm at some point in their lives.

Students at the school were keen to raise awareness of the issues and show what support is out there for pupils struggling with mental health issues.

Lawrie Lewis, executive manager of Tyntesfield Medical Group, said: “The determination of a small group of pupils to bring this event to life for the benefit of the whole school community demonstrates how important mental health wellbeing is to young people.

“The school has gone above and beyond to facilitate the day.”

Students were also concerned about the risks young people face by accessing inappropriate sources of information on the internet and the event was designed to help pupils find reliable, professional help.

Craig Mawford, associate headteacher at Nailsea School, said: “Ensuring our students have the information they need to look after their mental health and wellbeing is vitally important.

“We are extremely grateful to all the professionals that have helped this event come to fruition.”

Dr Knut Schroeder, a Bristol GP and founder of Expert Self-Care Ltd, also showcased the new distrACT app, designed to give easy, quick and discreet access to general health information and advice about self-harm.

Through distrACT, young people can find reliable answers to their questions in plain language.

Expert Self Care Ltd, is a UK social enterprise certified by the NHS England Information Standard. It aims to give people access to reliable health information without the need for an internet connection.

 

 

Link to the North Summerset Times article here

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Christmas is an isolating time for people with mental health problems.

At a time of year when most people are enjoying themselves there are many who cannot join in, but despite the challenges services face, help is available.

There are many who will be unable to enjoy the festivities because of mental ill health.
             There are many who will be unable to enjoy the festivities because of mental ill health. 

Christmas is a time for joy, celebration and bringing together family and friends to share this merriment. While taking nothing away from this much needed festivity, spare a thought for those who are less advantaged – particularly those with mental health problems.

Mental illness transcends all ages and backgrounds. Almost one in four adults have a mental illness at some point in their lives, such as stress, anxiety, depression or psychosis.

An individual’s emotional health can also have a great impact on physical health, and poor mental health can lead to problems such as alcohol and drug abuse.

And so, at a time when the rest of the nation is busy celebrating, there are many who just cannot, rather than will not, be able to do so because of their mental ill health. Indeed their inability to join in on the fun can exacerbate their isolation.

The environment we live in plays a crucial role in the genesis of mental illness. Austerity is certainly not good for mental health; it affects those in lower income brackets, and those at particular risk of mental disorders, the hardest. Public spending cuts have hit some of the most vulnerable sections of society – those in receipt of social care or on pension credits, and disabled and unemployed people.

So where might someone go, if their mental health is failing? NHS commissioning for mental health services has been nothing short of a disaster and an abject failure in many places.

The Independent Mental Health Services Alliance found that high demand and mounting financial constraints has resulted in the average deficit of NHS mental health trusts increasing by 6.3% over the last two years. The King’s Fund concluded in its analysis of services across England that around 40% of mental health trusts experienced a cut in income in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

leaked report by a government taskforce uncovered the scale of the crisis in England’s mental health services..

But here’s the double whammy. In austere times, commissioners do not pump more money into the system; rather they tend to raid mental health budgets to plug the growing deficits in the acute hospital sector.

Despite the crucial importance of mental health services, they have always been the poor relation in any health system in general and the NHS in particular. These services, which are underfunded, demoralised and struggling with demand, are not to be seen and preferably not to be heard.

This may sound dramatic, but the reality is that there has been long-term neglect in addressing the many problems that most NHS mental services and their patients are faced with – access to timely appointments, access to local beds, services that are joined up and in one place like other NHS services are, and enough doctors and nurses in the system. The list goes on.

The scale of the mental health challenge has been underestimated. NHS England has set out its plan for achieving recommendations made in its Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (pdf) to improve mental healthcare by 2020-21. It has committed to transforming mental health services with an extra £1bn a year. Those at the coalface know this is yesterday’s money – demand is ever increasing, and the historic deficit in funding can only be addressed if politicians and senior managers can have frank conversations.

Back to Christmas then. Though this is a challenging time for those with mental illnesses, statutory and voluntary organisations are there to support these individuals and therefore it is vitally important to ask for help.

Despite the pressures on the system, services are there for those who need urgent help or are facing a crisis – the doors won’t close to them.

And for those with less serious issues, there are measures that can be taken without resorting to statutory and voluntary services. Family, friends and individuals can watch out for abnormal behaviour, such as panic attacks, and try to restore calmness by getting away from noisy, busy places and doing breathing exercises.Avoid having an argument, the tension will almost certainly ease.

Finding a place for shelter, a warm meal, and ensuring youngsters are protected are not impossible goals, though at times it might seem like that.

Depression and stress can make one unnecessarily pessimistic, although simple measures such as not indulging in alcohol and drugs or spending within means can reduce the plight of those who are not in a good place.

An uplifted spirit will bring back that joy and hope, and trigger off a feelgood factor that can be the springboard to happiness. Good mental health brings with it a whole lot of goodies in Santa’s stocking, because after all, physical fitness and wealth are meaningless without it. And let’s hope Santa has something for struggling mental health services.

 

 

Link to orginal Guardian article here

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Pupils suffering from anxiety and depression to receive counselling in schools

Critics say 2019 launch of vital mental health plan is not soon enough

Sad girl on stairs
 Some children have been waiting up to 18 months for support from NHS child and adolescent mental health services. 

Children suffering from anxiety and depression will be offered counselling at school under government plans to tackle a widely reported crisis in young people’s mental health. Pupils in England will be able to attend sessions with therapists at school or college in an attempt to stop any psychological difficulties deepening into lifelong issues.

Every school will also be required to appoint a teacher to co-ordinate improved support for the fast-growing number of children who are struggling mentally, many self-harming as a result of bullying, exam stress, dissatisfaction with their body shape, troubles at home and other factors.

The plans are included in a government green paper to be launched on Sunday by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and education secretary Justine Greening.

A new guaranteed maximum four-week waiting time for children with more complex problems to access NHS child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) will be phased in. That is a response to concerns that many vulnerable under-18s, including some who may be suicidal, are being forced to wait for care or even denied help because Camhs care is overloaded.

“Around half of all mental illness starts before the age of 14 so it is vital that children get support as soon as they need it – in the classroom. If we catch mental illness early we can treat it and stop it turning into something more serious,” said Hunt.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the charity YoungMinds, welcomed the plans. “We are facing a crisis in our classrooms and far too many children are not getting the support they need. Too often we hear from young people who have started to self-harm, become suicidal or dropped out of school while waiting for the right help,” she said.

The improvements will begin in 2019 and be backed by what the government says is £300m of new funding over several years, which is on top of the £1.35bn the coalition government allocated to children’s mental health up to 2020.

The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents most primary school heads, welcomed the four-week Camhs waiting time as an “extremely important step forward”. Under-18s are currently enduring waits of as long as 18 months, the NHS regulator said recently.

Around £215m of the £300m will fund the creation of mental health support teams in schools. Ministers intend that several thousand new “children and young people’s wellness practitioners”, therapists providing mainly cognitive behaviour therapy, will undertake most of the work with pupils, but with school nurses and educational psychologists also involved. Ministers hope that this increase in early intervention will reduce the number of children who go on to struggle mentally as adults.

However, the initiatives will initially be piloted to assess their effectiveness, so the new forms of support envisaged will not be available across England until an unspecified time in the 2020s. The government’s ambition is only that they have been put in place in a fifth of the country by 2022-23.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, a children’s psychiatrist who chairs the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent faculty, said she was frustrated that more help would not be put in place sooner. While welcoming the four-week treatment pledge, she also queried where the extra mental health professionals would come from to provide speedier Camhs care. Official figures show that the number of specialist children’s psychiatrists working in the NHS in England has fallen since 2013.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, chair of the health select committee, welcomed the announcement but said she was keen to see more details. “We need to have a much greater focus on early intervention and prevention. Any money going into that is a good thing,” she said.

She welcomed better coordination between schools and the NHS, but said that some schools were already working well with the health service and others should learn the lessons from those places. “It’s often down to resourcing,” she said. “Most young people prefer to have these services delivered in a setting of school because it’s much easier to access. Children don’t necessarily want to feel stigmatised by a referral to psychiatric services.”

Catherine Roche, chief executive of the national children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said: “We welcome the commitment demonstrated by the green paper, and are heartened to see recognition of how vital it is to provide mental health support in schools. We believe that a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health is essential to build a culture of openness and understanding, with appropriately qualified mental health professionals available when needed.”

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, the coalition’s mental health minister, said: “We published the Future in Mind report in March 2015. It was a blueprint for modernising children and young people’s mental health services. They have failed to drive the implementation of that blueprint. Why should we have any expectation that this will be any different? They should have just implemented it. At its heart it was all about linking schools much more closely with mental health services. Two years on, deja vu.”

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister for mental health, said that the plans left “many unanswered questions”, including over funding and whether every school would be able to help every pupil who needed it. “The Tories’ record on children and young people’s mental health has been shocking, with a postcode lottery of provision across child and adolescent mental health services and many long waits for treatment,” she said.

 

 

Link to original Guardian article here

 

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Lengthy wait for psychiatric services in Fife

one patient faced a wait of 335 days

A Fife patient has waited almost a year to see a consultant psychiatrist, new figures have revealed.

According to a Freedom of Information request by The Courier there are 647 people on the waiting list for an appointment.

The longest wait to be seen is just sunder of a year, with one patient waiting 335 days – although Fife health and social care partnership divisional general manager Julie Paterson said data for 2016/17 showed there was an average wait was 64 days.

The problem is exacerbated by vacancies – six of the 31 posts are unfilled.

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: “People with poor mental issue in Fife are being failed to a degree that is difficult to comprehend.”

Meanwhile Labour MSP Claire Baker said it was time the SNP stopped dragging its heels as the growing mental health problem in Scotland is a scandal which has to be addressed by the Scottish Government.

Both politicians compared the delays in getting help with that of a physical injury.

“If I had a broken leg I would be treated by the NHS within hours,” Mr Rennie said.

“If I had to wait for a year not only would I be in agony but I would also suffer permanent disfigurement and would need many more visits to the NHS to put right the damage to my leg.

“Yet because it is mental health, we can’t see the injury and the stigma associated with the condition it seems to be accepted that people should wait for a year. This has got to change.”

Mrs Baker added: “The level of vacancies doesn’t help waiting times, but even at full complement there will still be too many patients waiting for vital care in Fife.”

Ms Paterson said mental health services are being redesigned and the partnership is “committed to ensuring that the needs of individuals are matched to the level of care they require whilst ensuring a responsive and accessible service”.

There is an urgent care assessment team which provides a response on a 24-hour basis to those in critical need and urgent referrals usually have an appointment within one week.

For all other referrals the average wait was 64 days.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our vision is of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma.”

Trainee recruitment into core roles had increased and 82% of posts have been filled, with a rise in the number of psychiatry consultant roles across Scotland of 21.2%.

He added the Government was committed to a £150 million investment over five years in improving mental health, with additional funding reaching £35m by 2022 for 800 additional mental health workers in key settings.

 

 

Link to Courier article here 

 

 

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Controversial restraining method used once a week on local mental health patients

The Carseview Centre 

A controversial restraint technique has been used on patients in NHS Tayside psychiatric hospitals almost once a week.

In the first 10 months of 2017, 53 patients were subjected to “floor — face-down” restraints in psychiatric institutes across the region.

The practice can be dangerous as a person is restrained, face down, with the weight of one or more people on top of them, which can lead to the person’s breathing being restricted.

The technique is generally carried out when a person is acting as a danger to themselves or others.

In the 2016, it was used 39 times across Tayside’s mental health facilities.

Research by the mental health charity Mind found that some mental health trusts across the UK no longer use face-down restraint because it is considered “too dangerous and traumatic” and the charity previously called for a ban.

Calum Irving, director of See Me — which tackles mental health stigma and discrimination — said: “When people are struggling with their mental health they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination of any kind.

“This is especially true in health and social care settings, therefore restraint should always be a last resort and every effort made to avoid it.”

Colin McKay, chief executive of The Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) for Scotland, which protects and promotes the human rights of people with mental illness, said: “Any form of restraint must be legally justified, and be the minimum which is reasonably necessary, for the minimum possible time.”

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership said: “In some instances, it is necessary for staff to use a reasonable level of force to restrict a person’s movement to avoid a greater harm occurring.

“The ‘floor – face down’ restraint is a response to a high level of physical risk from a patient and is used only when all other options have failed. It is generally considered to be the last resort and is used for the shortest-possible time to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

“All physical interventions are taught from the perspective of being the last resort for the shortest period of time using the lowest level of force/restriction and the smallest number of staff.”

Link to Evening Telegraph article here 

 

 

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