Sunday, 15 November 2015

This Week in Mental Health... 15th November

This week I've been reading all sorts of articles from the world of mental health. And as usual, I am sharing the best of these with you all. Seeing the issues surrounding mental illness making headlines not only in national papers, but the growing number of people opening up and sharing the realities of mental health is inspirational. Hopefully some of these stories will inspire and educate you too.

1) Talking about mental health, Aine Hennessy

David Kerr very bravely opens about his experiences of living with depression in the farming community. Farmers in rural Ireland often find themselves isolated often both physically and emotionally, living in communities that lack resources and without support. It’s been difficult in the past number of years for charities and organisations to find voices from the farming sector to speak out about the issue, even while conversations were starting in other areas.

The Farmer’s Journal, 9th November 2015;
““Every farming family in the country has been touched by depression, either directly or indirectly,” says David Kerr.  David tells the story of his own battle with depression and says that the farming sector is “behind the curve” when it comes to talking about mental health. The dairy farmer from Co Laois spoke publicly about his illness earlier this year at the Irish Farmers Journal dairy meeting, hoping to encourage other farmers to do the same.  “Very few farmers have spoken out about depression, it’s still a stigma. It needs to be normalised like other illnesses. “Mental health is a big topic everywhere now, but nobody wants to talk in the farming sector, we’re still a little bit behind the curve,” he says.”

2) Omega 3 does not treat depression, Debra Condon

Following diagnosis with a mental illness, we often hope for an immediate cure, or failing that a successful form of treatment. But not everything that's touted as a fix works., 9th November 2015;
“"All studies contributing to our analyses were of direct relevance to our research question, but most of these studies are small and of low quality," commented the study's lead author, Dr Katherine Appleton, of Bournemouth University. She insisted that currently, ‘we just don't have enough high-quality evidence to determine the effects of omega 3 fatty acids as a treatment for major depressive disorder'. "It's important that people who suffer from depression are aware of this, so that they can make more informed choices about treatment," she added.”

3) Over one-third of students feel down every day, Jane O’Faherty

USI, the Union of Students in Ireland launched this years Chats for Change campaign this week. The annual initiative aims to get students talking about mental health across third level education institutes, but this year's findings that 1 out of 3 students feel down every day is shocking and shows just how common mental health issues are.

Irish Independent, 10th November 2015;
“More than one-third of Irish students feel down every day and most of them find ¬comfort in eating, according to new ¬figures from the Union of ¬Students in Ireland (USI). Almost as many students (36pc) said they felt down on a weekly basis, while just over 12pc experienced such feelings once a month. The representative body for students also revealed almost 43pc said feeling isolated and hopeless was the worst thing about these lows.”

4) Student ‘turned away’ by UCC health centre after suicide attempt, Joe Leogue

A letter from a student turned away by their college’s health centre was sent into the campus newspaper. It makes for heartbreaking reading, and raises questions over the demands put on mental health services in not only third level institutes but in Ireland as a whole. When over 1/3 of students are struggling with their mental health, then we need to start doing a lot more to support them.

Irish Examiner, 11th November 2015;
“The student has claimed they did not meet with anyone at the centre or receive any appointment to meet with a professional after they informed reception that they had attempted suicide. The anonymous student’s account of their experience was published yesterday evening by UCC Express, the student-run campus newspaper. The email’s author had requested that the Express run the letter as soon as possible. In the correspondence, the student recounts how they have crippling anxiety, details their suicide attempt, and outlines what happened after they sought help.”

5) I'm scared to be an older person with autism, Susan Dunne

Heard about the adult diagnosed with autism? No? That’s because more than likely they never have been.

The Guardian, 11th November 2015;
“Focus on childhood research means that many older adults with autism today may not have been diagnosed and risk having autistic symptoms mistaken for mental illness or dementia. And concurrent with a lack of research and knowledge is a lack of understanding and training in adult health and social care. This matters, as the isolation that many people on the spectrum experience due to social and communication difficulties is likely to worsen with age. When you have very limited support networks, you may become increasingly reliant on social care.”

6) Life isn’t Perfect, Kate

A beautifully honest post from the Medic Journal, a trainee doctor, who opens up for the first time about her mental illness.

The Medic Journal, 11th November 2015;
“I have eluded to the fact that I have been unhappy, but I have never said "I have depression". Well I'm saying it now: I have depression. And it's nothing new to me, either. Looking back retrospectively, I have been unhappy for a long time. And of course, from an obtuse perspective the thought of me, Kate, having depression seems ludicrous. I still think it's ludicrous. I have a loving family, a lovely home in the south and here at university, my friends are genuine and kind, I love the course I am studying and I am in an incredibly happy and stable relationship. The people who surround me are loving and wonderful and I am grateful for their kindness every day. And yet somehow I feel void and guilty.”

7) Use of electro-convulsive therapy in psychiatric care rises, Mark Hillard

This news story was everywhere in Ireland when it broke last Thursday. Shock was conveyed as ECT, seclusion and physical restraint all increased on patients with mental illness who could not or were unwilling to give their consent. Honestly, it feels like we’ve time travelled and Irish doctors deem it appropriate to treat those with a mental illness in an inhumane way. Where is the dignity and respect that should be afforded to all patients?

Irish Times, 12th November 2015;
“The use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), seclusion and physical restraint in the treatment of psychiatric patients have all increased for the first time in years, according to the Mental Health Commission. Data published for treatment facilities in 2013 show seclusion techniques rose for the first time in six years, by 12 per cent. The commission described the increase as “very worrying”. Physical restraint was up by 8 per cent on 2012 and ECT by 2 per cent. The latter is a treatment formally known as electroshock therapy which involves the administration of small currents to the brain in order to relieve symptoms of psychiatric illness. ECT is a divisive approach to patient care with medical professionals both in support and opposition of its use. Currently, it can be applied without the consent of a patient.”

8) 'For years I felt that I was weak as a man if I showed emotion but now I know that is the way to heal', Brent Pope

He’s one of our leading sports broadcasters, found himself a popular child and then a rugby professional. But no matter how perfect Brent Pope’s life looked from the outside, it didn’t protect him from crippling anxiety and panic attacks.

Irish Independent, 13th November 2015;
“On the outside my life always appeared to be fulfilled and successful, I guess to many people it still does. When I was young I was deemed fairly popular, good at sports and well educated. I masked things well, as people with problems often do. I was the class clown, always making everybody else laugh and the sad thing was that internally I couldn’t make myself laugh. Inside of me I possessed no self-confidence, no self-esteem in the way I looked, in the way I acted, I couldn’t enjoy my achievements, and my feelings of panic and insecurity were often terrifying and always irrational. But that is often the case with mental health difficulties, they are irrational.”


  1. It is not always easy for most people to open up about mental health and mostly due to the prejudice out there but it is nice that it is being voiced more and more in the media too, our efforts should also go to the mental health services so they can support more people in need.

    1. Totally agree Miranda, hopefully the extra media coverage can translate into additional funding x

  2. I'm glad mental health is being spoke about. I don't find it easy opening up about, I worry so much about being judged. I'll be checking out these posts. Lovely round up, thanks for sharing xx

  3. It sickens me that the poor lad was turned away after seeking help because he had attempted to commit suicide. Being brave enough to know that he needed help the campus should have given him more support instead of turning him away. Mental health is a huge stigma but it shouldn't be and like that farmer said we need to normalize it!

    1. It's a really heartbreaking piece Ana. Hopefully the student has since gotten the help they needed x

  4. It's good that you are raising these issues. So little is done to support those with mental health issues.

  5. Mental health is always something people find hard to talk about.
    I love the way you talk about it, its always insightful and I learn something new overtime without feeling overwhelmed.
    Great post hun
    Charlotte x

    1. Aww thank you Charlotte, that means a lot :) x

  6. Mental Health is a whole new issue for me and one that I am happy to see being mentioned and spoken about so openly by so many x

  7. This is such a useful post, it's so good to see someone raising more awareness of these issues. I felt very lonely and unhappy at university, I really struggled.

    C x

  8. This is not a subject I know a great deal on, but there are so many strands to mental health you never know when you will come across it. It's so important to raise awareness and make sure those struggling get the support they need. Great post Hun xx

  9. It's great you're spreading awareness about mental health issues. It does seem to be a subject that people struggle to talk about. I have suffered with anxiety in the past, and talking about it was a big step in the right direction for me xxx

    1. I'm so glad you did speak up about it in the end. xx