April 2013

The Time To Change Legacy

Just a little bit more about the success of the campaigning which has led to a reduction in mental health discrimination within the UK.

The Time to Change project has successfully challenged people's perceptions about mental health issues Earlier as outlined in our Study Shows Fall in Mental Health Discrimination post last week.

A study by The British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that people who had seen the Time to Change campaign were more likely to have better knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems than those who had not.

The research uncovered significant changes among this group concerning their perception of the common social stigmas surrounding mental illness and you can read it for free on The British Journal of Psychiatry website.

Time to Change is now in its 2nd phase with funding from the Department of Health and Comic Relief with the current programme reflecting much of the findings presented by the in these results.

This includes implementing a strategic focus on the media, the extension of social contact alongside social marketing and a pilot project with primary care staff.

To find out more about the programme as a whole please read Sharing the learning from England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma and discrimination programme on the Time to Change website.

Blogging Helps To End Mental Health Social Stigma

Following our last post about how campaigning has led to a fall in the levels of mental health discrimination - we thought we'd showcase how blogging has been part of the project to tackle this social stigma.

Earlier this week we wrote in our Study Shows Fall in Mental Health Discrimination post about how the Time to Change has successfully challenged people's perceptions about mental health issues.

The findings provide the first evidence that it's possible to change the way the people think about mental health problems which are more common than most people think.

A quarter of us are affected by such conditions during our lifetimes and being able to talk about mental health is something which should be important for all of us.

This is why encouraging people to talk about their experiences of mental health forms a central part of the Time to Change strategy to discourage discrimination.

Most people find it difficult to talk about mental health problems - mainly through fear or awkwardness - which is why Time to Change has asked people to blog about their thoughts on mental illness and help spread via social media.

A few small words - whether spoken or written - can make a big difference and you - and all you've got to do is look at the Blogs & Stories section on the Time to Change website to see how this is definitely the case.

The campaign offers tips to encourage people to talk to someone about their mental health problems while its blog section provide an avenue where people can put forward their thoughts in writing.

If you'd like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues for the Time to Change Wales website please email info@timetochangewales.org.uk.

Study Shows Fall in Mental Health Discrimination

A new study has shown how campaigning has led to a real reduction in the average levels of discrimination received by people living with mental health issues.

Research by the British Journal of Psychiatry of England's Time to Change anti-stigma programme has revealed an 11.5% reduction in average levels of discrimination.

The findings provide the first evidence that it is possible to change the way the public treat people with mental health problems but that a long term focus is needed to ensure that discrimination is removed from all areas of people’s lives.

There has been a significant reduction in discrimination from friends (14% reduction), family (9%), and in social life (11%) while the campaign target audience has also seen a significant increase in willingness to live with someone with a mental health problem in the future (15%).

This suggests that change is happening within personal relationships, and these are all areas which the programme has specifically targeted.

The evaluation covered the first phase of Time to Change, which ran between 2007 and 2011and was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief

For further information please read the Landmark study shows drop in discrimination against people with mental health problems on the Time to Change website.

Alzheimer's Society Early Diagnosis Campaign

There are currently 800,000 people in the UK with dementia and there will be over a million people with dementia by 2021.  

Of the estimated 44,598 people currently living with dementia in Wales only 38.5% have received a formal diagnosis compared to 44% in England, 63% in Northern Ireland and 64% in Scotland*.  

Well-informed GPs and healthcare professionals are crucial to both diagnosing dementia and supporting people to live well and a diagnosis of dementia can offer a lot of help including:

  • Providing people with an understanding of what is happening to them
  • Opening doors to information
  • Providing support services and medication which can make a real difference
  • Helping people to live well with dementia and allowing time to plan for the future

The Alzheimer’s Society runs a variety of services in your local area and we can send you information on what is available and to talk to you and your staff about the support available for people living with dementia and their families.

The services it provides include dementia cafés, ‘Singing for the Brain’ groups, advocacy and befriending services.

The Society also has a Dementia Support Workers team who can provide home visits offering emotional and practical support and signposting people to other available services.

We've also developed tools in conjunction with the Society to help GPs diagnose and manage dementia including an online training module - developed in partnership with the BMJ - with further information available on our Free Dementia Training page.

The following links also provide resources for both mental health care professionals and newly diagnised dementia sufferers and their carers:

If you'd like further information about dementia services across Wales please download the following booklets and use the contact details they contain to get in touch with your local office : 

If you have any other questions please contact us via email at lhills@rcgp.org.uk or on 029 2050 4516.

* Tesco, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland (2012) Mapping the Dementia Gap - study produced by Tesco, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland

More Mental Health Stories From The News

Here are a couple more stories which have been pointed out to us and raise some interesting points about the state of modern mental health care across the UK.

From the Express website comes a claim by the President of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) that patients are being failed by the NHS because GPs don't have enough time, training or resources to provide proper care.

Dr Clare Gerada was interviewed by the website for its We GPs can’t help mental health victims in 10 mins story where she said waiting lists, poor investment and red tape were preventing people getting the services they need.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Health Correspondent Nick Triggle explains how the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said that the standard of care provided for people with dementia is "patchy".

The warning came as the organisation unveiled new standards for dementia care covering issues such as housing and access to leisure services. For further information please read his Dementia care "patchy" on the BBC's website. 

If you have a mental health news story or event you would like us to highlight on this blog please contact us via email at lhills@rcgp.org.uk or on 029 2050 4516.

Mental Health Stories From The News

Here are a couple of mental health news stories which caught our eye this weekend and we thought you might find interesting.

Both come from the Guardian website's Science section the first deals with the issue of the legal restraints imposed by UK law on dealing with depression and the second looks at the problems surrounding our current way of diagnosing certain mental conditions.

The first story is entitled Magic mushrooms' psychedelic ingredient could help treat people with severe depression and was penned by the website's Science Editor Robin McKie.

The story looks at how drugs derived from magic mushrooms - which contain could psilocybin - could help treat people with severe depression but according to Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London the UK's strict drugs laws are preventing research into this area.

Professor Nutt - who was sacked as the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in 2009 after clashing with government ministers on the dangers and classification of illicit drugs - has found that psilocybin appears to stop patients suffering from depression from dwelling on themselves and their own perceived inadequacies and makes them feel happier just weeks after taking the drug.

However, his ongoing researach into this area is encounterating difficulties as magic mushrooms - and therefore psilocybin - are rated as a class-A drug and the active chemical ingredient cannot be manufactured unless a special licence is granted.

The second news was covered by the regular Guardian columnist Vaughan Bell who is visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.

In his weekend column called News from the borders of mental illness he discusses new research which is challenging the polarised views of how best to define, diagnose and treat conditions such as schizophrenia.

He discusses the issues surrounding the classification of "mental illness" and whether this is fundamentally flawed and the key issue of whether different diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar or depression represent distinct disorders have specific causes or are just convenient ways of dividing up these conditions for the purposes of treatment.

If you have a mental health news story or event you would like us to highlight on this blog please contact us via email at lhills@rcgp.org.uk or on 029 2050 4516.

Practical Guide to Social Media for Doctors Launched

Our parent organisation has helped launch the first practical guide to help GPs navigate their way around the ethical dilemmas of using social media.

The new Social Media Highway Code was launched in the middle of March and has been described as "a practical and encouraging guide for doctors and other healthcare professionals who use social media".

Published by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) - in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk and LimeGreen Media - it has been drawn up to ensure doctors make the most of their online communications whilst meeting their professional obligations and protecting their patients' confidentiality at the same time.

The document is a collection of practical and supportive advice based around a 10-point plan created by a range of people with an interest in social media including doctors, nurses, journalists, lawyers, students and patients.

It is intended to help and encourage healthcare professionals to communicate effectively using various social media channels whilst adhering to the conventions that their patients, their colleagues and the public might reasonably expect.

Since its launch healthcare professionals from all over the world have been providing feedback through Twitter, Facebook and the online forums on Doctors.net.uk.

This feedback has now been incorporated into the Code and there has been interest in adapting the content for education and other professionals.

For further information please visit the Doctors in the fast lane on social media guidance page on the RCGP website or download a copy of the Social Media Highway Code from the following Social Media page on the same website.