June 22, 2007

Mental Health

A justifiable move
Irish Examiner (Tues, 19 June 2007)
The diminished responsibility verdict puts questions about a defendant's state of mind at the time of a killing into the hands of the jury and allows the judge to on sentencing, writes Darius Whelan

‘New defence of diminished responsibility may see medical experts playing a vital role’
Irish Medical News (Fri, 15 June 2007)
Ms Isobel Kennedy, Senior Counsel has said that is difficult to say what type of mental disorder will be covered by the definition under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act and “therefore it will be very much for the psychiatrists to opine as to whether somebody will come within the definition…”.
Ms Kennedy was speaking at the 8th Annual National Prosecutors Conference in Dublin Castle

Psychotherapy seen as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress
Irish Medical News (Fri, 15 June 2007)
Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder related to terrorism and other civil conflict, according to Dr Kate Gillespie, consultant psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation. Speaking at the national conference of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, Dr Gillespie said treatment is effective when delivered even more than 30 years following the trauma.

Mental Health Service

Dismay at mental health services
Irish Times Subscription (Thu, 21 Jun 2007)
The slow pace of the implementation of a Government plan to improve mental health services has been acknowledged by Minister for Health Mary Harney. Ms Harney said she had to express disappointment at "the slow pace" at which change was taking place since the publication in January 2006 of A Vision for Change, a report that detailed the improvements required in this area.

Mental health lobby group calls for change
Irish Health (Wed, 20 June 2007)
The Irish Mental Health Coalition (IMHC) has issued the new government with a 10-point agenda for action. Reports going back decades have revealed widespread neglect of Irish mental health services, and the need for radical reform at all levels, the Coalition says.  Chairman of the IMHC, John Saunders, said: "For too long, successive Irish governments have neglected mental health. In delivering its Programme for Government, the new government must, at last, give mental health the priority it deserves."

Network of community health services
Irish Medical Times (Fri, 15 June 2007)
The World Health Organization says that in many countries, the closing of mental hospitals is not accompanied by the development of community services. Community services are likely to have less possibilities for neglect. The World Health Organization (WHO) has signalled the urgent need for countries to provide a network of community mental health services at its Global Forum for Community Mental Health. For the first time, WHO invited people living with mental disorders to attend the Forum, sending a message to countries that it is important to give a voice to this excluded group to claim their rights and secure their participation in society.

Asylum seekers sick of language barrier of GPs
Sunday Times (Sun, 17 June 2007)
Asylum seekers in Ireland are twice as likely to be prescribed antibiotics and psychiatric medication, because language and culture barriers mean doctors cannot understand what's wrong with them, a study has found. A breakdown in communication between doctors and foreign patients means GPs are unsure how to deal with asylum seekers' more "unusual and specialised problems", the study of
two Galway city general practices has found. Asylum seekers who present with mental health problems are offered sedatives and other anti-depressants more readily than other patients, despite international evidence that encouraging integration into the wider community can be more beneficial to their mental health.

More court appeals
Irish Medical Times (Fri, June 2007)
More High Court appeals against decisions of mental health tribunals are being taken than was originally expected, it has been claimed. Dr Kate Ganter, Chairman of the Irish College of Psychiatrists, said: "People have an entitlement to go to court but I think the expectation had been that it would be less frequently than is the case". She said that as the implementation of the Mental Health Act, 2001 is being enforced for the first time, there is a "process of testing the Act".

Vision must not become mirage
Irish Medical Times (Fri, 15 June 2007)
Dr Dermot Walsh, former Inspector of Mental Hospitals, says that although conditions have improved for the mentally ill, the latest in a long line of healthcare strategies-A Vision for Change –is in danger of remaining a mirage.

Suicide Prevention

Push to reduce young suicides
Irish Health (Tue, 19 Jun 2007)
A campaign called 'Tough Times', seeks to make young people aware that their problems are often very common, and can be eased by sharing.
It has been put together by the charity and website Spunout.ie, with support from Console, a charity for those bereaved by suicide, and Turning the Tide of Suicide (3Ts), a research and help organisation. The National Office of Suicide Prevention has given funding for a series of national TV ads. involved with Spunout.

Gay youth group in network deal
Irish Examiner (Fri, 22 June 2007)
The National Office for Suicide Prevention has joined forces with the country's largest gay youth group to offer nationwide supports, it was revealed today. Young people in Galway, Limerick, Dundalk, Kildare and Waterford will all have access to safe, relaxed environments run by the BeLonG To network where they can make friends and discuss problems.

Pledge to combat suicide level
Irish Times Subscription (Thu, 21 Jun 2007)
The Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness have pledged to work on a co-ordinated strategy to counter the level of suicide.
The promise follows a spate of suicides and self-harm involving young men and teenagers in Tyrone, Armagh and in Belfast. Speaking after their first meeting yesterday with Children's Commissioner Patricia Lewsley, Mr McGuinness said it was not enough simply to sympathise with the bereaved.

Suicide and the reluctance of young men to use mental health services
Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine (
Fri, 15 June 2007)
Young men are grossly over represented in Irish suicide statistics, yet this group is the least likely to use mental health services. This paper outlines why young men are reluctant to access mental health services, framing the problem in the context of risk factors for suicide such as binge drinking and social change.

Flu drug linked to two teen suicides
Evening Herald (Mon, 18 June 2007)
A senior doctor has urged caution over the use of an anti-flu drug by children and adolescents following reports of two teenage suicides. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is in use in Ireland and Britain and other European countries. In Japan, there were two separate incidents where 14- year-old boys who were taking the drag jumped to their death.

Eating Disorders

Bodywhys Launches National Awareness Campaign
Liffey Champion (Sat, 16 June 2007)
Radio advertising campaign about eating disorders launched on Monday (llth June) by Orla Barry is aimed particularly at teenagers just finishing exams. Jacinta Hastings, CEO of Bodywhys – The National Eating Disorders Association, said that people with an eating disorder are often very driven and may be very focused during exams. "But when exams end it can be a very tough time for a person with an eating disorder as the change in structure and organisation, the lack of focus, can lead them to feel their life is out of control," she said.


Genetic variations may be linked to suicidal thoughts in depression
Irish Medical Times (Fri, 15 June 2007)
Genetic variations may help explain why some men with depression develop suicidal thoughts and behaviours after they begin taking antidepressant medications. A study included 1,447 individuals with depression who did not express suicidal thoughts at the beginning of the study. They took the antidepressant citalopram hydrobromide for up to 12 weeks.Of the 1,447 patients, 8.5 per cent reported suicidal thoughts or behaviours during at least one follow-up visit, including 10 per cent of the 539 men.