• Self-harm the 'biggest killer of people in their early 20s' in the UK
  • Mental Health Care: There is a lack of support for children
  • Southern Health Crisis-Putting patients at risk
  • New research on public complaints service 
  • Policing with depression
  • Depression to blame for 32,000 violent crimes a year
  • The BBC brings you news on matters of health and mind
  • This is not Casualty – in real life CPR is brutal and usually fails
  • Providing pro-active rather than re-active care improves health, avoids crises and saves costs.
  • The Alzheimer's Show 2016
  • MS and Miconazole
  • CRISIS Helplines-A shortlist
  •  A wealth of information at your fingertips
  • NHS Health Check
  • John Lewis support Silver Line with their latest commercial
  • IBD -Inflammaory Bowel Disease
  • IDDT- Working to keep schoolgoers safe
  • InDependent Diabetes Trust
  • Book Gp Appointments online
  • The NHS is in crisis so don't you have one!
  • Children's hospital builds Sleep App
  • My ageing parent app and first stop app
  • Suicide prevention.MH is not a problem that should bring shame. The real shame is in not recognising it and dealing with it.
  • Genetics + the contraceptive pill= crohns
  • Lillian's Law
  • End of life care
  • MIND
  • Scarlet fever
  • Elefriends

Continue to My Blog 2






Self-harm the 'biggest killer of people in their early 20s' in the UK

Self-harm the 'biggest killer of people in their early 20s' in the UK

Self-harm is the largest cause of death among 20- to 24-year-olds in the UK, followed by road injuries, the two causes together responsible for 650 deaths in 2013, according to a global report that finds that the health of young people at a critical stage in their development has been neglected for decades.

The Lancet Commission on adolescent health extends the definition of young people going through the physical, emotional, social and cultural change involved in growing to adulthood, to encompass people aged 10 to 24.

'Self-harming is behind me, but it blights many students' lives'

Students are turning to private online communities and peer-led societies to help them break the cycle of self-harm

Read more

The authors, backed by new global data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at Washington University, Seattle, say the changes in young people’s bodies, their fitness and mental development into their 20s set them on the path to good or poor mental and physical health later on. Yet, partly because young people are considered fit and healthy, this has not had the attention it deserves.

Today’s young people should be the healthiest generation ever, because of better healthcare, nutrition, education and smaller families. But troubling issues have emerged, which many societies are not helping them address.

“Global trends include those promoting unhealthy lifestyles and commodities, the crisis of youth unemployment, less family stability, environmental degradation, armed conflict and mass migration, all of which pose major threats to adolescent health and wellbeing,” they write.

Young peopleare having to deal with these issues at a time when their brains are going through a developmental surge second only to infancy in terms of the changes occurring within neural systems, says the commission, comprising academics and other experts.

Adolescents seek social engagement and interaction with their peers and they have a heightened response to emotion. The “quality, security and stability of social contexts in which younger adolescents are growing up” is important in enabling them to develop skills to deal with what they are seeing and hearing.


Young self-harm patients tell of harrowing hospital treatment – report

Orygen Youth Health research hears of self-harming youth having wounds treated without anaesthetic and of being abused by emergency workers

Read more

“It is perhaps not surprising that late childhood and early adolescence are often when the first symptoms of most mental disorders emerge,” says the Lancet report.

In the UK, 329 young people aged 20 to 24 died from self-harm in 2013, which was a fall of 47% from 626 in 1990. Road traffic accidents were the leading cause of deaths from 10 to 19, killing 313, but this is 63% lower than the 843 deaths in 1990. However, the mental health of adolescents in the UK and elsewhere in the developed world is a major issue.

Drug use killed 283 15- to 24-year-olds in 2013, which is a 36% increase on 1990. And depression and anxiety disorders were among the top five causes of ill-health for young women in all age groups in both 1990 and 2013.

Depression was the cause of the largest amount of ill health worldwide in 2013 among young people, affecting more than 10% of 10–24 year olds, according to the new data from the IHME .

The fastest-growing risk factor for ill health in young people aged from 10 to 24 years, over the past 23 years, is unsafe sex. Alcohol remains the world’s leading risk factor for ill health in young adults aged 20 to 24, responsible for 7% of the disease burden, followed by drug use accounting for 2.7%.

HIV and Aids, road traffic accidents and drowning caused a quarter of deaths in 10- to 14-year-olds globally in 2013, with diarrhoeal and intestinal infectious diseases, lower respiratory infections and malaria contributing to a further 21% of deaths.

Road traffic accidents (14.2% and 15.6%), self-harm (8.4% and 9.3%), and violence (5.5% and 6.6%) were the leading causes of death for 15- to 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-years-olds respectively. Among women, 17% of 20- to 24-year-olds and 11.5% of 11- to 19-year-olds died as a result of pregnancy or childbirth.


NHS mental health funding is still lagging behind, says report

Only half of mental health trusts have reported increases to budgets since 2012 when ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health was promised

Read more

Greater investment in young people’s mental and physical wellbeing is critical, say the authors. “This generation of young people can transform all our futures,” says the commission’s lead author Prof George Patton of the University of Melbourne, Australia.

“There is no more pressing task in global health than ensuring they have the resources to do so. This means it will be crucial to invest urgently in their health, education, livelihoods, and participation.”

The commission’s recommendations include free secondary school education for all, laws against marriage under the age of 18 and the gathering of more evidence to improve mental health and prevent violence against young people.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14

There is a lack of support for children

Mental health care 'insufficient for abused children'

Media caption'Lucy': "People try to kill themselves to speed up their referral."

Nearly all health professionals believe there are not enough mental health services for children who have suffered sexual abuse, a survey has suggested.

The NSPCC surveyed 1,256 people in the UK, including psychologists, teachers, GPs and social workers, and 96% said there was insufficient help.

Just over half blamed waiting lists, and 78% said accessing help had become more difficult in the last five years.

The government says an extra £1.4bn is being spent to improve the situation.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said the situation "shames the nation" and called for better access to therapy.


The charity says abused children often have to develop chronic mental health problems, be suicidal or self-harming before services become available to them.

It found that in many cases children have to wait more than five months to get specialist support.

"There is no early intervention," said one of the professionals surveyed. "The child needs to have severe mental health problems before a service is available to them, due to the numbers and waiting lists."

Another said the range of services available was "shockingly low".

A senior clinician, responsible for the care of thousands of children, told the BBC that staff felt "desperate" about the lack of help available.

Image copyright SPL

In addition to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) - which provides access to psychologists, nurses and social workers - the survey also looked at services such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, provided by the NHS and the voluntary and private sectors.

Some 98% of the professionals polled said there was not enough of these services either.

When asked about their experience of accessing all services in the previous six months, the barriers included cuts to services, not enough places and overly-stringent criteria.

"The views of professionals in this survey speak loud and clear," said Mr Wanless.

"The government and those that commission services urgently need to increase what is currently available to support this most vulnerable group of children."

The NSPCC said victims were often referred to mental health services by GPs and councils, and while not all abused children would have a diagnosable issue, many would still need therapeutic support to help them deal with the trauma.

It said if abused children did not receive the right kind of help and support, the damage could last a lifetime and many could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.

The charity is launching a new campaign - It's Time - to raise awareness of the problems abused children face in getting help.

'Money being invested'

At first, the campaign wants to rally at least 100,000 members of the public to its cause, with supporters being asked to exert pressure on MPs to have funding prioritised.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the government had pledged further investment.

"We are investing £1.4bn into young people's mental health and are working with local areas to improve services in hospitals, schools and communities so young people get better quality mental health care as quickly as possible, a key part of which involves helping the victims of abuse," she said.


National scandal

Southern Health criticised for putting 'patients at risk'

Image copyright JusticeforLB Image caption Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, who died at Slade House, had epilepsy and experienced seizures

The NHS mental health trust which ran a care unit where a teenager drowned in a bath is "continuing to put patients at risk", inspectors have said.

Southern Health failed to adopt safe bathing guidelines for two-and-a-half years after Connor Sparrowhawk died following an epileptic seizure in 2013.

His unsupervised death led to a report into hundreds of unexplained deaths.

Trust chairman Mike Petter resigned on Thursday ahead of the publication of the Care Quality Commission's report.

He said he was stepping down "to allow new board leadership to take forward the improvements".

Image caption Mike Petter said he was leaving the trust 'with great sadness'

Patients jumped off hospital roof

The CQC's inspection in January was ordered after an investigation looked at all deaths at the trust between April 2011 and March 2015 and found hundreds had not been investigated properly.

Now the watchdog has said the trust has still not done enough to reduce "environmental risks" and condemned a low roof at a Winchester site that patients could climb onto and ligature points across its sites.

'Missed opportunities'

The report revealed there had been eight occasions where patients had climbed onto the roof between 2010 and 2015, as well as two in February - one of which involved a patient leaving the ward and then leaving the country.

Health service regulator NHS Improvement has said it would impose management changes at the trust if progress was not made to address the CQC's concerns.

Image caption Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Katrina Percy has faced repeated calls to resign after critical reports have said there were "longstanding risks to patients"

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said that, despite staff efforts, risks to patients were "not driving the senior leadership or board agenda".

He said: "It is clear that the trust had still missed opportunities to learn from adverse incidents and to take action to reduce the chance of similar events happening in the future.

"I am concerned that the leadership of this trust shows little evidence of being proactive in identifying risk to the people it cares or of taking action to address that risk."

He added that a new process to monitor serious incidents and deaths had been introduced by the trust in December, but it was too early to gauge its impact.

A leaked 2012 review found staff did not feel Slade House, an in-patient unit for people with learning difficulties in Oxford, was safe and that it was dirty and difficult to track the care of patients at the unit.

An inquest jury found in October that neglect contributed to Connor's death at the unit.

'National scandal'

Dr Sara Ryan, his mother, described seeing the 2012 report as "shocking and harrowing" and said she would be asking police to open an investigation.

She said: "It is a national scandal. It shows that certain people in our society aren't given the same healthcare treatment as other people.

"How much more failing do we have to have evidence for before the chief executive and the rest of the board are removed."

Trust Chief Executive Katrina Percy said the CQC's findings sent "a clear message to the leadership... that more improvements must be delivered and as rapidly as possible".

She added: "We will continue to share regular updates on progress publicly to demonstrate improvement and help re-build trust in our services."

Southern Health provides services in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Analysis: David Fenton, BBC South health correspondent

This will make grim reading for anyone at the top of Southern Health, not to mention the trust's thousands of patients and their carers.

It's a repeat of the same criticisms we've been hearing for months - but with the added barb that it's the leadership who are to blame.

Time and again the CQC make the point that patients could still be at risk and that senior staff and leaders at the trust just don't seem to be getting a grip on the situation.

This must have been on the mind of the chairman Mike Petter when he announced his sudden and unexpected resignation last night.

The families of patients who died in the care of Southern Health have long called for changes at the top, and that is just what has happened.

But the issue of keeping safe those patients who are often deeply disturbed and who might want to harm themselves or others is much more problematic.

This trust has more than 220 buildings, 250,000 patients and operates across a swathe of southern England, and many are now wondering whether it's just too big to cope with the tasks ahead.



To complain or not to complain??

New research on public service complaints

Just one third of people who are unhappy after using a public service actually make a complaint. The figures, released by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, back Which?'s findings that millions who found a problem with a public service stayed silent.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

'We know that often people don't complain about public services because they don't think anything will be done, but it's important that people are able to speak up to help prevent the same thing happening again.

'We’re pleased the government listened to our calls to introduce a single public services ombudsman and it must now carefully consider how to make this new body work best for all users of public services, and remove the barriers to complaining.'

Our research found that 5.3 million people who had a problem with a public service didn’t go on to complain. Of those who did not complain 35% said it was because they felt nothing would be done about the problem and 35% felt it would not be worth the effort. One in five didn’t know who to complain to.

Read the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman's report, What do people think of complaining?



Policing with depression is ‘horrendous'


Cases of UK police officers and staff taking long-term sick leave for psychological reasons have risen by 35% over the last five years, according to statistics obtained by BBC Radio 5 live.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show cases rose from 4,544 in 2010-11 to 6,129 in 2014-15 despite police workforces shrinking.

Ed Simpson who is a sergeant with North Yorkshire Police withdrew from frontline policing in 2012 after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I was so depressed that the thought of going to work and trying to survive another shift.. I would rather have been dead,” said Mr Simpson.

Depression to blame for 32,000 violent crimes a year, says Oxford University

Depressed people are three times more likely to commit violent crimes than the general population, researchers have found

Depression is to blame for 32,000 violent crimes in Britain each year including murder, sexual assaults and robbery, scientists have found.

A huge study by Oxford University found that depressed people are three times more likely to commit a violent offence than the general population.

Overall they found that depressed people were likely to be linked to 46,000 violent crimes, but when other factors were taken into account, the illness itself was responsible for around 32,000.

The scientists said doctors should question patients about their risk of violence in the same way they currently ask about thoughts of suicide.

The study looked at 47,000 people who were diagnosed with depression in Sweden and compared them with people who were not suffering from the mental illness.

To read the full article, please go to:

The BBC brings you news on matters of health and mind

This is not Casualty – in real life CPR is brutal and usually fails

 Another really intrestesting article by The Guardian.Below is information relating to Coordinate My Care for those wishing to record their wishes with regards to how they are cared for.

Please visit Coordinate my Care at

Coordinate My Care is a clinical service sharing information between your healthcare providers, coordinating care, and recording wishes of how you would like to be cared for. Further information can also be obtained from the CMC leaflet. (link below)

Providing pro-active rather than re-active care improves health, avoids crises and saves costs.

The Alzheimer's Show 2016


Whether you are a carer, a healthcare professional, a person with dementia or simply want to find out more, The Alzheimer’s Show website aims to inform, explain and educate. It offers practical tips as well as advice on seeking the best treatment for friends or loved ones affected. It is also a useful resource for those who simply want to understand or learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia.I went last year and I will be going again this year. It was really useful.

when & where

Opening Times

 Friday 10th June 2016 • 9.30am to 5.00pm
Saturday 11th June 2016 • 9.30am to 4.30pm

 The Venue

 Olympia Central, Hammersmith Road,
Kensington, London W14 8UX

Click here to view map


Adult £12.00 £18.00
Adult - 2 day ticket £18.00 £24.00
Concession* £9.00 £15.00
Group Bookings (10 or more) £8.00 N/A


Please note that a £1 booking fee is applicable on all online bookings
Children under 14 enter free when accompanied by an adult
*(Unemployed, in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, registered disabled, students)


MS and miconazole

"Two common drugs – one used for treating athlete's foot and another for alleviating eczema – may be useful therapies for multiple sclerosis," BBC News reports. The drugs have shown promise in lab and animal studies.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition caused by damage to myelin. Myelin is a protein that acts as a protective layer to individual nerve fibres.

In this study researchers screened a number of drugs used for other conditions in the lab to see if any could produce mature cells to help replace damaged myelin.

One of the chemicals they identified as promising in their screen was miconazole, which is the active ingredient in some types of antifungal creams used to treat athlete’s foot. They found that it increased the number of mature myelin-producing cells in the brains of baby mice. It also helped repair damaged myelin in a mouse model of MS, and this made the mice’s symptoms less severe.

Clobetasol, a steroid cream used to treat psoriasis and eczema, also showed promise.

This is an early-stage study, and researchers hope they can eventually go on to test the drugs, or similar chemicals, in people with MS. Researchers will need to establish how safe this drug is if taken orally, and what effect it has in humans with the condition.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and other research centres in the US. The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, New York Stem Cell Foundation, Myelin Repair Foundation, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the CWRU Council to Advance Human Health and philanthropic support from individual families. The authors declared that they did not have competing financial interests.

The study was published as a letter in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature.

BBC News gives a good, balanced report of this study, noting the early stage of the findings, and warning of the potential risks of people self-medicating.

The Daily Telegraph reports the study reasonably well, but refers to the drug as a possible "cure", when it is too early to talk about the drug in these terms.

What kind of research was this?

This was laboratory and animal research that aimed to identify known human drugs that can prompt immature oligodendrocytes (called progenitor cells) to mature. Mature oligodendrocytes are the cells that "insulate" nerves with myelin. This myelin sheath helps nerves to send messages, and damage to the myelin sheath causes conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS). One way to repair this damage might be to prompt the body to make more oligodendrocytes.

This type of screening of large amounts of chemicals at once is a quick way to find promising chemicals. These drugs need to be shown to be effective and safe in animal models before they can be used in humans. If a drug is already licensed for another condition in humans this can make progress to human trials quicker if it is going to be given at a similar dose and in the same way. However, if dose or how the drug is given are likely to differ for the new condition, safety would still need to be established in animals first.

What did the research involve?

The researchers tested more than 700 drugs on mouse oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the lab. These immature cells are derived from stem cells, and the researchers singled out the drugs that caused them to develop into mature oligodendrocytes. They then tested their effects in brain tissue and in mice, including mouse models of MS, as well as on human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the lab.

In human MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own myelin. The researchers used two different mouse models of the disease. In one "immune driven" model the mice’s immune system is actively attacking the myelin, and mimics the relapsing remitting form of MS. In the second model the immune system is not as active, and it is has more chronic progressive loss of myelin.

What were the basic results?

The research identified 22 drugs that prompted the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the lab to mature. They then picked the two drugs that were the best at getting the precursor cells to mature in brain tissue from young mice in the lab. These drugs were miconazole, which is currently used in antifungal creams, and clobetasol, which is a steroid used in creams (topical corticosteroid) for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. They also found that drugs prompted human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells to mature in the lab. Of the two drugs, miconazole had the greater effect.

They found that giving the drugs to baby mice increased the number of myelin-producing cells in their brains. They also helped repair damaged myelin in the spinal cords of mice treated with a myelin-damaging chemical.

In the "immune driven" mouse model of MS, injections of clobetasol – but not miconazole – dampened down the immune response and reduced the severity of the mice’s symptoms. Steroids are known to affect the immune system, so the researchers had expected this. In the chronic mouse MS model, which has hind-leg paralysis, both clobetasol and miconazole injections helped to re-myelinate damaged nerves in the spinal cord and improved the mice’s movements.

Most existing MS drugs act by affecting the immune system, but miconazole did not appear to do this. Therefore the researchers felt this showed more promise as a new way to treat the disease. To show that their results were correct they had another lab confirm their miconazole results in the chronic MS mouse model.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that their screening system allowed them to rapidly identify drugs that have potential for re-myelination. This allowed them to identify two existing human drugs – miconazole and clobetasol – which increase re-myelination of nerves and "significantly reduce disease severity in mouse models of MS". They say that this "raises the exciting possibility that these drugs, or modified derivatives, could advance into clinical trials for the currently untreatable chronic progressive phase of MS".


This laboratory and mouse study has identified two drugs currently used for skin conditions – miconazole and clobetasol – that showed promise for treatment of conditions caused by myelin damage, such as MS.

If a drug is already licensed for another condition in humans, this can make progress to human trials quicker if it is going to be given at a similar dose and in the same way. However, as the researchers point out, these two drugs are licensed for use on the skin – not to be taken orally or injected into the system. This means more work will be needed to ensure the drugs are safe enough to be used in this way in humans. The drugs' chemical structures may need to be modified to make them work efficiently and reduce side effects.

Existing MS treatments act by dampening down the immune system, which attacks the myelin, so drugs that act in a different way, by repairing the myelin damage, could bring additional benefit. As yet, research into these drugs for MS is at an early stage, but many people will await with interest to see whether this early promise translates into better treatments.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.

Analysis by

Edited by NHS Choices

The Alzheimer's Show 2016

Meningitis B vaccine

The jab can be given to infants from the age of two months

"All newborn babies in England and Scotland are to be offered a vaccine to combat meningitis B from September," BBC News reports. This will be the world’s first publicly funded vaccination programme for the potentially fatal disease.

What is meningitis B?

Meningitis B is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis that infects the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is very serious and should be treated as a medical emergency. If the infection is left untreated, it can cause severe brain damage and infect the blood (septicaemia). In some cases, bacterial meningitis can be fatal.

How common is meningitis B?

The charity Meningitis Now estimates that there are 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK. Meningitis B is most common in children under five years old, particularly in babies under the age of one.

Initial signs and symptoms of meningitis B in babies include:

  • a high temperature with cold hands and feet
  • they may feel agitated, but not want to be touched
  • they may cry continuously
  • some children are very sleepy and it may be difficult to wake them up
  • they may appear confused and unresponsive
  • they may develop a blotchy red rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it

For more information, read about the signs and symptoms of serious illness in babies.

Why is this meningitis B vaccine in the news?

The development of a safe and effective meningitis B vaccine is the culmination of more than 20 years of research and represents a significant breakthrough in disease prevention.

While the vaccine has been available for some time on a private basis, this is the first time it has been made available free of charge.

What do we know about the vaccine?

The vaccine, Bexsero, is thought to provide 73% protection against meningitis B, which should significantly reduce the number of cases. The vaccine can be administered to infants aged two months or older either by itself, or in combination with other childhood vaccines.

The vaccine has been tested in clinical trials involving more than 8,000 people.

In infants, it was found to have similar levels of safety and tolerability as other routine childhood vaccines. The most commonly reported side effects were:

  • redness and swelling at the site of the injection
  • irritability
  • fever

Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on TwitterJoin the Healthy Evidence forum.

Edited by NHS Choices

CRISIS Helplines-A shortlist


Crisis Helplines

Samaritans Tel: 08457 90 90 90 This emergency helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The Samaritans can also assist you with emotional support via e-mail. Samaritans listen in total confidence and without judgment, whatever your situation.


SANEline offers emotional and crisis support and information for people affected by mental health problems. The helpline provides information and support to anyone affected by a mental health problem. Translation service available.

Calm Free, anonymous helpline for young men who are depressed or suicidal. It is staffed by trained counsellors who offer advice, guidance and information. Translation facilities are available on request.


HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41

National Confidential Young Suicide Prevention Advice for young people who are at risk of suicide or anyone who is worried about a young person.

Support and Information

Befrienders Worldwide

This site provides information for anyone feeling low, depressed or suicidal, or worried about a friend or relative; information about befriending; and a comprehensive directory of crisis helplines.

Bipolar UK

Helps people with bipolar, their relatives, friends and others who care, and educates the public and caring professions about bipolar.

Depression Alliance 

Depression Alliance is a leading UK charity for people affected by depression. In their experience, depression need not be feared. The Alliance provides publications, a written advisory service offering support and understanding, self-help groups across the UK, a newsletter, as well as workshops and conferences.

The Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is a leading UK charity working in mental health and learning disabilities (it incorporates the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities). Here you will find the latest news and events on mental health issues, as well as information on problems, treatments and strategies for living with mental distress.


MIND is a leading mental health charity in the UK. The website has information about mental health conditions and support available in many different languages. Call the info line for practical information and advice. Translation service and facilities for deaf or hearing impaired available.

Rethink (formerly The National Schizophrenia Fellowship)

Rethink is a leading mental health charity that works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life. Call their advice line for practical information about treatment, money, the law and rights. Their website provides information about mental illness and many other topics for service users and carers. Links to support groups throughout the UK.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists


Publishes factsheets, leaflets and books for the general public (including children and young people) on common mental health problems, psychiatric treatments and stigma. Some of these are also available in other languages.

Together UK


The UK’s oldest community mental health charity working to help people deal with the personal and practical impacts of mental health issues




Children and Young people

Big White Wall

A peer-support network that encourages free expression of feelings. The website was developed for young people in association with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.


The UK’s only national charity committed to improving the mental health and emotional well-being of all children and young people. The website offers information for young people, parents and professionals.


Bullying UK

This service is part of the charity Family lives that offers information, advice and a helpline (both telephone and web chat) for parents and young people who are being bullied.


The Cybersmile Foundation

The charity for people who are being cyber bullied.




Depression – decision-making aid

A decision aid from the NHS to assist people in making decisions about treatment options for depression.


An internet-based therapy program designed to prevent depression in young people although people who are older may find it helpful. It includes assessments of anxiety and depression, thought patterns, life-event stress, parental relationships, and pleasant event scheduling.


College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists

National specialist charity for sexual and relationship therapy. Provides information about availability of help and therapy for sexual difficulties. Previously known as the British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

The Sexual Advice Association

Answers questions on all aspects of impotence and can give lists of local specialist practitioners. Factsheets on impotence and related problems are available. Please send a large SAE when writing for information. Formerly the Sexual Dysfunction Association.


Relate offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support face-to-face, by phone and through this website.


British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) For a list of BACP accredited counsellors in your area.

Counselling Directory

Online resource to search for local counsellors and practitioners of a range of different therapies.

UK Council for Psychotherapy

National umbrella organisation for all the psychotherapies; publishes the National Register of Psychotherapists, listing over 5,000 therapists



My Christmas Present to you: A wealth of information at your fingertips

Find out how the Ambulance Service is performing, what services are available to you and how your local hopsitals are rated. It's all here so stay informed. This is the place to obtain information on CQC ratings for GP practices and all other NHS Services.



Understanding addiction

According to the Independant Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD):


Addiction: a life long illness not lifestyle choice


Addiction is a major health problem that costs as much as all other mental illnesses combined (about £40 billion per year) and about as much as cancer and cardiovascular disorders also.

At its core addiction is a state of altered brain function that leads to fundamental changes in behavior that are manifest by repeated use of alcohol or other drugs or engaging in activities such as gambling.  These are usually resisted, albeit unsuccessfully, by the addict.  The key features of addiction is therefore a state of habitual behaviour such as drug taking or gambling that is initially enjoyable but which eventually becomes self-sustaining or habitual. The urge to engage in the behaviour becomes so powerful that it interferes with normal life often to the point of overtaking work, personal relationships and family activities. At this point the person can be said to be addicted: the addict’s every thought and action is directed to their addiction and everything else suffers. 

If the addictive behaviour is not possible e.g. because they don’t have enough money then feelings of intense distress emerge. These can lead to dangerously impulsive and sometimes aggressive actions.  In the case of drug/alcohol addiction the situation is compounded by the occurrence of withdrawal reactions which cause further distress and motivate desperate attempts to find more of the addictive agent. This urge to get the drug may be so overpowering that addicts will commit seemingly random crimes to get the resources to buy more drug. It has been estimated that about 70% of all acquisitive crime is associated with drug and alcohol use.

Addiction is driven by a complex set of internal and external factors.  The external factors are well understood:  the more access to the desired drug or behaviour e.g. gambling the more addiction there is. 

The internal factors are less clear. Although most addiction is to alcohol and other drugs, addiction to gambling and other behaviours such as sex or shopping can occur. These tell us that the brain can develop hard-to-control urges independent of changing its chemistry with drugs.  All addictions share a common thread in that they are initially pleasurable activities, often extremely enjoyable. This results in these behaviours hijacking the brain’s normal pleasure systems so that naturally enjoyable activities such as family life, work, exercise become devalued and the more excessive addiction behaviours take over. 

However, not everyone who engages in drug use or gambling becomes addicted to them so clearly other factors are important. These are not yet understood but are now being actively studied. Some people may be particularly sensitive to the pleasurable effects of alcohol, drugs or gambling, perhaps because of coming from deprived backgrounds. In others, addiction may occur because of an inability to adopt coping strategies.  Others may have an underlying predisposition to develop compulsive behaviour patterns. Some unfortunate people may have several of these vulnerability factors and there are also genetic predispositions to some of them.

Also a significant amount of drug use is for self-medication, examples include  cannabis for insomnia, alcohol to reduce anxiety, opioids for pain control etc. This therapeutic use can escalate into addiction in some people though by no means all. Not all drugs which are used for recreational purposes are addictive. LSD and magic mushrooms seem not addictive at all, and some have a low risk of addiction (MDMA/ecstasy; cannabis). The most addictive drugs are nicotine, heroin and crack cocaine plus metamfetamine (crystal meth) although this is not much used in the UK.

Just because some people – including leading politicians – have used drugs but stopped before they became addicted does not mean that anyone can stop that easily.  Starting to use drugs may be a lifestyle choice but once addiction sets in, choosing to stop is very much more difficult if not impossible.

We are beginning to understand how addictions start in the brain. The pleasurable or rewarding effects of addictions are mediated in the brain through the release of chemicals such as dopamine [by cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine] or endorphins [heroin] or both [alcohol].  The pleasures are then laid down as deep-seated memories, probably through changes in other neurotransmitters such as glutamate and GABA that make memories. These memories link the location, persons and experiences of the addiction with the emotional effects. These memories are often the most powerfully positive ones the person may ever experience, which explains why addicts put so much effort into getting them again.  When the memories re-occur, which is common when people are still using drugs or gambling, as well as when in recovery/abstinence, they are experienced as cravings.  These can be so strong and urgent that they lead to relapse.

A great deal of research has been conducted into the role of dopamine in addiction and we now know that the number of dopamine receptors seems to predispose to excessive pleasure responses from stimulant use. This excessive response is thought to initially occur in the reward centre of the brain – [the nucleus accumbens] – but then move into other areas where habits are laid down.  This shift from voluntary (choice use) to involuntary (habit-use) explains a common complaint of addicts that they don’t want to continue with their addictions, and even that they don’t enjoy them anymore, but cant stop themselves.  In this sense addiction can be seen as a loss-of-control over what starts out as a voluntary behavior.  Thus addiction is not, as some like to suggest, simply a “lifestyle” choice. It is a serious, often lethal, disease caused by an enduring (probably permanent) change in brain function.

We know that personality traits especially impulsivity, predict excess stimulant use and in animals this can be shown to correlate with low dopamine and high opioid receptor levels.  Similarly in humans low dopamine and high opioid receptor levels in brain predict drug use and craving.  These observations give new approaches to treatment, both psychological interventions such as behavioural control, and anti-impulse drugs such as those used for ADHD e.g. atomoxetine and modafinil, are being tested. 

For some addictions, especially heroin, the risk to the addict (life expectancy less than that from many cancers) and to society (from crime and infections), is so high that the prescription of substitute opioid drugs or even heroin itself saves lives and reduces crime. These substitute drugs are methadone and buprenorphine [Subutex]. As well as reducing crime and social costs by removing the need for addicts to commit offences to feed their habit, they also protect from accidental overdose and reduce risk of infections such as HIV and hepatitis.  Similar substitute pharmacological approaches exist for other addictions e.g. gammahydroxybutyrate (Alcover) and baclofen for alcohol addiction, and varenicline (Champix) for nicotine dependence.

Another major reason for relapse in addiction is stress. This may work through increasing dopamine release in brain so priming this addiction pathway or by interactions with other neurotransmitters such as the peptide substance P. As antagonists of these neurotransmitters are now available they are being tested in human addictions and may offer an alternative to substitution treatments.
Further reading

Nutt DJ  King LA Phillips LD (2010) Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis  Lancet 376: 1558-66

Nutt DJ Lingford-Hughes A (2008) Addiction the clinical interface Brit J Pharmacology 1-9

Nutt DJ, Law FD (2008) Pharmacological and Psychological aspects of drug abuse. New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry 2nd edition

Robbins TR, Everitt B,  Nutt DJ (2010) The Neurobiology of Addiction – New Vistas.   OUP

Please visit the article at

NHS Health Check

What is an NHS Health Check?


The NHS Health Check is a sophisticated check of your heart health. Aimed at adults in England aged 40 to 74, it checks your vascular or circulatory health and works out your risk of developing some of the most disabling – but preventable – illnesses.

Think of your NHS Health Check as being your "midlife MOT". It checks that some of your body's most important systems are all running smoothly. Among other things, your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI will all be checked and your results given to you. 

Crucially, your NHS Health Check can detect potential problems before they do real damage. Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented.

Your NHS Health Check will assess your risk of developing these health problems and give you personalised advice on how to reduce it.

It's free of charge, including any follow-up tests or appointments.

Why the NHS Health Check is important

Thousands of people have already had an NHS Health Check. They are now armed with information and support to reduce their risk of developing heart and vascular problems. Why not join them?

Together, the vascular conditions identified by the NHS Health Check are the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK, affecting more than 4 million people.

Every year, the NHS Health Check is expected to help:

  • save 650 lives
  • prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes
  • prevent 4,000 people from developing type 2 diabetes
  • detect at least 20,000 cases of type 2 diabetes or kidney disease earlier

If you want to avoid being a statistic, it's worth making an appointment for an NHS Health Check as soon as you get your invitation.

Find out more about why you should have an NHS Health Check.

How to get an NHS Health Check

You'll be invited for an NHS Health Check every five years if you are between 40 and 74 years old, as long as you don't have an existing vascular condition.

You'll usually get your NHS Health Check at a GP practice or local pharmacy, but it could happen at other convenient places in your neighbourhood, depending on where you live. Find out more about ways to get the NHS Health Check

Even if you don't qualify yet for an NHS Health Check, there are plenty of other ways to build up a picture of your health.

Start by taking the online heart age test now to see how healthy your heart is. 

What happens at the NHS Health Check

At the check, you'll be asked some questions about your lifestyle and family medical history. You'll also have some routine tests. From these, your healthcare professional will be able to give you an idea of your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. As well as a breakdown of your results, you'll get an overall score giving your risk of getting heart disease or stroke. If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia, and you'll be made aware of memory services nearby.

After your results have been explained, you’ll be offered personalised advice and support to help stay healthy, and lower your risk if any of your results need improving. This advice could include suggestions on small changes to your diet or how much exercise you should take if your risk is low or moderate.

If you are at higher risk, your healthcare professional might want to discuss whether you should be taking medicines to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, along with help to take action such as losing weight, becoming more active or stopping smoking.

By having a routine NHS Health Check for these conditions every five years, you can take action early and greatly improve your chance of a longer, healthier and happier life. You may be surprised how some small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference.

How the NHS Health Check will help

Once you've had your NHS Health Check, you'll have a good idea of what your risk is of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. There are some risk factors for these diseases that can't be changed; for example, your risk increases with age. But there's a lot you can do to reduce your risk. You can:

Your NHS Health Check will give you information and support to help you reach your health goals and enjoy a better quality of life. By acting to reduce your risk, you'll have more chance of dodging the debilitating and potentially disabling effects of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.

For more details, read FAQs about the NHS Health Check.

John Lewis support Silver Line with their latest commercial

This advert has helped raise awareness of loneliness.It doesn't discriminate and it could happen to any one of us. Dame Esther Ranzen, who founded the Silver Line, told the Independent:  

I'm thrilled that this very moving commercial has had such an impact and raised awareness of the hugely important issue of loneliness and isolation among older people – particularly at Christmas (John Lewis Christmas advert inspires thousands to volunteer to help the elderly, 13th November 2015) . Indeed, The Silver Line has also felt the effect with an increase in the number of daily calls and over 500 volunteer enquiries since the ad launched.

Last year our phone-line handled more than twice the number of calls over the days around Christmas than they do on the average day; and based on current projections it is anticipated we will be handling twice that again this year.  Last year Esther spoke to a caller on Christmas Day and when she spoke to then again on New Year’s Day they had not spoken to anyone since that Christmas Day call.

However, it is important to remember that loneliness is not just for Christmas – indeed, it can be the only time when those that are alone for the rest of the year find themselves surrounded by family and friends, which in some ways serves to exacerbate their plight.

The Silver Line provides a vital service 24/7 every single day and night including Christmas and New Year. For some callers, The Silver Line may be the only people at all that know they can speak to regularly, and many have even called it a lifeline.

Kind regards

Dame Esther Rantzen, DBE

Founder of The Silver Line

So remember:

The Silver Line Helpline – 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only national confidential and free helpline for older people open every day and night of the year.

  • No question too big
  • No problem too small
  • No need to be alone

IBD -Inflammaory Bowel Disease

IBD Passport

About IBD Passport

IBD passport has been developed by Kay Greveson, IBD nurse working at the Royal Free hospital in London. It is the first non-profit website dedicated to providing information for patients travelling with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim is to provide evidence-based information gathered from national & international guidelines, published research, government publications and patient organisations to provide straightforward information regarding travel and inflammatory bowel disease. The source of information on our site can be found at the foot of each page. The content of this site is updated yearly to ensure accuracy.


Please visit


IDDT- Working to keep schoolgoers safe

The InDependent Diabetes Trust are not just empowering people to be safe in Hospitals and Residential Homes, they are now doing it for the Children too. Keep your Child safe at school when you can't be there by educating school staff on how to manage the difficulties that can arise from Diabetes.

 Launching our new Parents Passport for Schools

IDDT is a charity that actively listens to its members and is all too well aware of the difficulties that children with diabetes and their parents and families face in everyday life when managing the condition. One area that proves particularly problematic is managing the condition at school. With this in mind, IDDT has produced a new, free booklet, a Parents Passport for Schools.

The passport has been designed to provide a means by which parents can formally let schools know how to manage their child’s diabetes and in turn support schools to comply with SEN regulations, as well as informing teachers about the condition IDDT has produced similar documents for use in hospitals and also in care settings, such as residential care which have been very well received and proved very popular. As with all our leaflets, the passport is FREE.

 The passport contains a wide range of information on how a child’s diabetes is managed, including:

  • Dealing with high and low blood sugar levels.
  • Food and mealtimes.
  • Insulin administration and blood testing.

 IDDT hopes that the passport will prove to be a valuable tool for families with a child with diabetes, teachers with a child with diabetes in their charge, school nurse and SEND co-ordinators. To get your FREE copy call IDDT on 01604 622837, write to IDDT at PO Box 294, Northampton NN1 4XS or email


InDependent Diabetes Trust

Introducing IDDT

We are an organisation for people living with diabetes run by people living with diabetes. We recognise that when one person in a family lives with diabetes, this affects other family members and we offer support to partners and parents. We raise awareness of important issues for people with diabetes and provide information in non-medical language.

A charity based in the UK listening to people with diabetes and their carers and supporting their needs. The Trust is run entirely by voluntary donations and we do not accept funding from the pharmaceutical industry in order to remain uninfluenced and independent.

The Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) is a registered charity and was formed in 1994. We are concerned with listening to the needs of people who live with diabetes, understanding those needs and doing our utmost to offer help and support. We not only want to help those who actually have diabetes but also their carers – the husbands, wives, partners and parents, indeed, all of us who ‘live with diabetes’. We recognise that when one person in a family has diabetes, all other family members are affected to a greater or lesser extent and they all have views and needs which may be different from the person with diabetes, but nevertheless are important.

The Trust was set up to look at some of the day to day difficulties of living with diabetes, the worries, fears and concerns that perhaps we don’t talk about at the hospital clinic- the ones that many of us experience and understand because we actually live with diabetes. As a charity, IDDT has a Board of Trustees and all our Trustees either have diabetes or have family members with diabetes. So we all know first hand that while diabetes doesn’t rule our lives, it is an important part of them. It needs care and attention, it can be a nuisance and it is not without its problems!



Postal Address:

InDependent Diabetes Trust
PO Box 294

Tel: 01604 622837

Book GP appointments online

Almost every patient in England can now book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions or access their medical records online, data reveals. 

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show some 97% of patients - about 55 million in total - now have the option to do it online. 

It is a big increase on the 3% able to do so a year ago and is part of the government's drive to improve services. 

Patients can still contact their GP by phone or in person. 

But since March 2015, GPs have been contractually required to offer these online services.

 Have a look and see if your GP offers this service at




The NHS is in crisis so don't you have one!

The crisis in children’s mental health services: an NHS insider speaks

The NHS is key to this election, with big promises from all sides and mental health singled out for attention. The reality is that deep cuts have decimated services for the most vulnerable young people – as one frontline clinician reveals

Adult mental health is faring little better, with our local adult psychotherapy service reporting long waiting lists. One local colleague tells me that he has no idea how the six-session model he was trained in is going to treat the client group he meets – chronic depression, long-term drug and alcohol use, multi-generational trauma and dislocation – but there is nowhere else to go. The charityYoung Minds rightly raises concerns about poor transitions and communication between child and adult services. But what if there is no appropriate service to talk with or move to?

Children's hospital builds Sleep App

A free app to improve children's sleep has been launched by doctors at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London.

The Evelina Children’s Hospital has developed a free app that gives personalised advice to parents of newborns to sixteen year-olds on how  to tackle the different sleeping problems that materialise at those different ages.

Initial advice starts after entering details about bedtimes, where the child falls asleep, how much screen time they have, and caffeinated drinks consumption. It has a sleep friendly colour scheme which is non- disruptive for use at night as well as personalised sleep tips for your child’s age group.

After five days of recording a child's sleep habits, such as night-waking and bedtimes, the full personalised service kicks in.

The Evelina Children’s Sleep Medicine Department is a nationally renowned centre of excellence for the investigation and treatment of sleep disorders.

The app is called KIDS SLEEP DOCTOR and is available free at I tunes.

For more information on useful apps, please see my blog.

  • My ageing parent

    Check out my blog for news on some very useful websites.

  • First Stop

    Keep updated on the discoveries I make by checking out my blog. First Stop is a great resource for older people and their families worried about housing issues.

Suicide prevention.MH is not a problem that should bring shame. The real shame is in not recognising it and dealing with it.

From the website:"The All Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide Prevention and Self Harm recently reported on how varied local suicide prevention activity can be. It found that around a third of local authorities do not collect information about suicide, do not have a suicide prevention action plan, or a multi-agency suicide prevention group. This is an issue which needs to be urgently addressed in the context of rising rates.”

Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group  in England said:

 “Men are more at risk of suicide because they are more likely to drink heavily, use self-harm methods that are more often fatal and are reluctant to seek help. Fifteen years ago the rates among men under 35 were brought down sharply by tackling these problems and we need to use this success to address the problems of the new highest risk group, middle aged men.

“We need to make it easier for men to find help without shame or stigma.”

Samaritans answered  5.23m calls for help in 2013, our highest number ever. Our volunteers are there round the clock every day of the year, to support people when they are struggling. We have 201 branches and 21,200 volunteers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. To contact Samaritans,  call 08457 90 90 90, email  or find the details for your local branch at

For interview requests please contact Sue Royal, Senior Press Officer at Samaritans on 0208 394 8348.

Samaritans' media guidelines can be found here.

  •  Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 08457 90 90 90 (UK) 1850 60 90 90 (ROI), email, or visit to find details of the nearest branch


Latest News

16. Mar, 2015

Genetics + the contraceptive pill= crohns

Women on the Pill face increased risk of Crohn's disease
New study of 230,000 women suggests women may be three times as likely to develop the bowel condition if they are on the Pill and have high-risk genetics.
“It’s a combination of oral contraceptive use among individuals with a strong genetic predisposition to Crohn’s.”

Dr Khalili, who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US, added that he expected women with genes which put them at a high risk of developing the bowel condition would soon be warned to avoid the oral contraceptive.
Crohn’s causes the sufferer difficulty in digesting food, and can also lead to fatigue, diarrhoea and anaemia.

It affects at least 115,000 sufferers in Britain and can develop at any time, although most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 30.

The disease is known to be aggravated by smoking.

Crohn’s causes the sufferer difficulty in digesting food, and can also lead to fatigue, diarrhoea and anaemia.

The disease is known to be aggravated by smoking.

There is no cure and current treatment involves reducing inflammation and treating other symptoms. (The Telegraph)

15. Mar, 2015

Lillian's Law

The new legislation that makes driving under the influence of drugs a criminal offence comes into force, following a long campaign after a 14 year old girl, Lillian Groves was mowed down outside her house by a drug driver,her family tiresly led the anti-drug driving campaign ‘Lillian’s Law’, which calls for zero-tolerance of drug-driving, tougher sentences and the introduction of roadside testing devices.
Lillian's death will undoubtebly save many lives.
(original source: Daily Mail)

For more information, please visit :


15. Mar, 2015

End of Life Care

Last year, the Department of Health set five key priorities for end-of-life care, with importance placed on the wishes of the dying person and the people close to them, and clear and sensitive communication from health professionals.

In their report, MPs said such care was “unlikely to improve unless clinicians feel confident to identify people who may be near the end of life and to start conversations with their patients about their wishes. Too often, however, staff feel they lack the confidence, skills and training needed to raise end-of-life issues with patients,” the report said.

Around 500,000 people die in England every year; four in five are over 65, a third are over 85.

The committee said that too few of those dying received specialist care, which should be “more equitably available” to people with a condition other than cancer, the very old, and those with dementia.

Simon Chapman, at the National Council for Palliative Care, said: “The NHS was set up to care for people from cradle to grave, but as the Health Committee’s very thoughtful and thorough report finds, despite some excellent care which we should rightly be proud of, the system is still too often failing people as they reach the end of their lives.

“At the very time when we are at our most vulnerable and need to be able to count on high-quality care and support, it’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that so many people’s needs are still not being met.

“We only have one chance to get care right for people who are dying, which is why taking forward the recommendations in this report and changing the nation’s approach to end-of-life care must be a priority for whoever is in government after May’s election.” (taken from The Independent, Sun 15th March 2015)
To see the whole article, please visit:

15. Mar, 2015

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet-fever cases double in England

Cases of scarlet fever reported in England since the start of the current season, in September, have more than doubled compared with the same period last year, health officials have warned. Public Health England said this was the second year in a row of “exceptional activity”, after last year saw the highest levels of the illness since the late 1960s. Since this season began, 5,746 cases have been reported. (The Independent, Sun 15 March 2015)

15. Mar, 2015


Show your support for people who work in the emergency services - spread the word on social media using the hashtag #mybluelight and don’t forget to include a link to this page ( to help your friends find out more.

15. Mar, 2015


Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes, but now there’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard.
Whether you're feeling good right now, or really low, it's a safe place to share experiences and listen to others.