October 12, 2007

Mental Health

60% would be secretive about mental health issue
Irish Examiner (Thurs, 10 Oct 2007)
Six out of 10 people would not want anyone to know they had mental health problems, research reveals. And it is not so easy for a person with a mental health problem to find someone to talk to — one in three said they would find this difficult. The findings of the national survey of 1,000 adults were released at yesterday's launch of the Health Service Executive's mental health awareness campaign called Your Mental Health.

Mental Health Service

Question remains over central fund
Irish Medical Times (Fri, 5 Oct 2007)
It is still unclear whether there is a central fund to allow mental health services to cover the costs of High Court and Circuit Court cases in relation to involuntary detained psychiatric patients.  Last week Irish Medical Times reported that concerns were expressed about the fact that there appears to be no central fund available to finance psychiatric services when cases are taken against them by patients.  High Court cases can be taken under article 40 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, which states that a person cannot be deprived of their personal liberty unless it is in accordance with the law.

Psychotherapy should be ‘ancillary to bolster drugs’
Irish Medical News (Mon, 8 Oct 2007)
Speaking to IMN at the publication of research on living with a mental illness in Ireland in advance of World Mental Health Day (October 10), Prof Casey said, “we certainly do need to use psychologists more but unfortunately there is a huge dearth nationally and some mental health teams don’t have a psychologist. “It comes down to resources but it’s not a choice of either taking therapy or pills, it’s one assisting the other.”

‘Govt, HSE failing to act on mental health reform plan’
Irish Medical News (Mon, 8 Oct 2007)
The Government’s mental health reform strategy, A Vision for Change – which included new multidisciplinary teams – was not being resourced properly within the planned timescale, the IHCA AGM agreed.  Dr Margo Wrigley, consultant psychiatrist of old age and Clinical Director in the Mater Hospital, Connolly Hospital, and St Vincent’s Fairview, proposed a motion condemning poor pro­gress with the re­forms.  “The Government… promised funding of €25 million for each year of six years to a total of €150 million, to start in 2006, and no money has been provided,” she said.

Mental health reviews lawyers ‘adversarial’ – claim
Irish Medical News (Mon, 8 Oct 2007)
Dr Ena Lavella, a consultant psychiatrist at St Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, north Dublin, said the remit of the tribunals was to examine the appropriateness of decisions to detain patients with psychiatric disorders under 2001 legislation. But Dr Lavella told the meeting that some solicitors were taking a “purely legal approach” and that some seemed to be acting outside their remit by attaching inappropriate conditions to a patient’s detention.  Dr Freeda O’Connell, consultant in general adult psychiatry and Clinical Director in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, told the IHCA meeting that the tribunals were not the experience that had been expected.

More attacks on psychiatrists emerge
Irish Medical News (Mon, 8 Oct 2007)
Consultants have called on the HSE to take action against the growing level of violence against health service staff.  The Annual Conference of the IHCA heard of assaults on a male psychiatrist and a fe­male psychiatrist in which they were punched in the head in two recent separate incidents.  Dr Liam Watters, Acting Clinical Director, Wexford Mental Health Services, proposed a motion on the issue to the IHCA AGM, pointing out that an almost an identical motion was debated at last year’s Annual Conference.

New policy 'mothballed', psychiatrists say
Irish Health (Wed, 10 Oct 2007)
Irish psychiatrists have marked World Mental Health day by declaring their ‘frustration and disquiet’ at lack of government action on mental health issues. The Irish Psychiatric Association (IPA) says only token changes have been made in the wake of Vision for Change, the widely-welcomed report on Irish mental health policy published nearly two years ago. “Almost two years later we find only token changes: committees which operate in a vacuum, and a financial diversion of clinical resources into legal arenas,” the IPA said in a release.

Status is revoked before tribunal sits
Irish Medical Times (Fri, 5 Oct 2007)
Involuntarily detained psychiatric patients are still five times more likely to have their status revoked before a tribunal into their case sits, than having it changed by the tribunal hearing itself.  The latest figures from the Mental Health Commission show that there were 1,219 instances of consultant psychiatrists revoking the involuntary status of patients before a tribunal into their case sat.  The figure relates to the period from the beginning of November 2006, when the Mental Health Act 2001 came fully into force, until the end of August this year.

Mental health users to influence policy
Irish Health (Thu, 11 Oct 2007)
A new programme with the aim of making mental health services more responsive to user needs has been launched.  The National Service User Executive’s Strategic Plan was announced to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which took place this week.  The Health Service Executive (HSE) has given the NSUE €200,000 for its first year.


uicide Prevention

Call for suicide prevention measures
Meath Chronicle (Sat, 06 Oct 2007)
It is a staggering reality that 10,000 people, half of them under 30 years of age, are treated in Irish hospitals every year having attempted to take their own lives.  And while some of these people eventually succeed in dying, a volunteer with Living Links Meath, the organisation set up to offer confidential and practical support to families or individuals who have been bereaved by a suicide death, maintains that many lives could be saved if there was a 24-hour psychological or psychiatric service available at hospitals.

'Shocking' lack of research into homophobia as cause of suicide
Sunday Independent (Sun, 7 Oct 2007)
Finian McGrath has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to initiate an urgent research project into the role of homosexuality in the suicides of young men.  McGrath claimed that new research indicates that a shocking one third of Irish teenage suicides may be linked to the problem of homophobia in Irish society.  The TD has based this statistic on studies in the US that indicate one third of American teenage suicide victims were young homosexual males.  Speaking to the Sunday Independent, McGrath said that his own work within the gay community appeared to back up this statistic.  He noted that almost all gay males said "the worst period of their lives occurred during adolescence when they were coming to terms with the realisation that they were gay".

Campaign hopes to cut suicide figures
Irish Times Subscription (Wed, 10 Oct 2007)
A new €500,000 advertising campaign aims to reduce Ireland's high suicide rate by tackling the stigma surrounding mental health problems. Nationwide advertisements, which began to air last night ahead of World Mental Health Day today, urge people to talk about their difficulties to friends, family or doctors. The campaign, to be broadcast on TV, radio, the internet and on posters in bus shelters, follows a national survey which found that 62 per cent of people would not want other people to know if they had a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.

Young people's text Helpline receives 120 appeals daily
Irish Examiner (Fri, 12 Oct 2007)
A text helpline aimed at young people with problems has been getting 120 appeals for help per day since its launch last August.  HeadsUp went on-line on August 13 to offer confidential advice to teenagers and young adults faced with a wide variety of issues.  From teen pregnancy to mental health problems, sexual abuse to drug or alcohol issues, the service can act as the first staging- post towards getting the help a young person in difficulty might need. 


Warning on anti-depressants and painkillers
Irish Health (Tue, 9 Oct 2007)
Taking antidepressants with painkillers can increase the risk of bleeding from the stomach, new research says.People using antidepressant drugs in the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) category have double the risk of bleeding from the stomach. But researchers from the University of East Anglia have found that combined with painkillers, the risk increases by a factor of six.  The researchers said that while SSRIs on their own carry only a small risk of harm, this risk becomes much more serious when they are taken in combination with painkillers.


Eating Disorders

Eating disorder problem 'increasing'
Irish Times Subscription (Mon, 8 Oct 2007)
The number of people with eating disorders is far greater than the estimated 200,000, a conference on young people and body image heard yesterday. Psychotherapist Suzanne Horgan of the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland said the number of people with eating disorders was greatly understated because people were ashamed of their condition or did not accept that they had a disor
der.  Ms Horgan said she had seen a clear increase in the number of people with eating disorders presenting to her in the past three to five years. "Eating disorders are increasing among the young, and among males," she said.  She has seen parents of children as young as eight or nine, who were worried about their child's negative body image.

Media's role in body image
Irish Examiner (Fri, 12 Oct 2007)
The celebrity-driven "size zero" phenomenon is having "serious effects" on Ireland's young people with more than 7,000 Irish teenagers now suffering from eating disorders, a leading expert will tell a conference in Cork today.  Chief executive of the Bodywhys support group, Jacinta Hastings, said the Government must take the issue more seriously.  Addressing a conference organised by the Cork Mental Health Foundation, Ms Hastings will warn that the power of magazines and televisions over young people's body image is very strong.  "To the extent that media messages like advertising and celebrity spot- lights help our culture define what is beautiful and what is good, the media's power over the development of self-esteem and body image can be incredibly strong," said Ms Hastings


All-Ireland project tackles self-harm Irish Health (Tue, 9 Oct 2007)
An all-Ireland project tackling self-harm and suicide has been launched. The pilot scheme, run by the Western Health & Social Services Board Area of Northern Ireland, will note and analyse trends in self-harm across the whole island.  The republic has had a National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm operating in all general hospitals since 2001, and the expertise gained will help with the new pilot scheme.