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In these tumultuous political and cultural times, it’s easy to presume the future is bleak. However, after attending a conference centered around medicine, public health, and medical science innovation, replete with remarkable stories of human perseverance, resilience, and courage, I felt humbled, inspired, and hopeful. In that order. Who cannot be awed listening to the […]

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When a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension, physicians don’t merely suggest medications to lower blood sugar or blood pressure – they insist that patients take medications to protect their health. However, the recommendation to get an annual influenza (flu) shot to prevent flu is often not as emphatic. Research […]

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Despite the fact that most people will have had the misfortune of visiting the emergency department (ED) at some point in their life, I find that many folks do not really understand what happens in the ED. 1. Emergency medicine is a specialty. Yes, we actually did residency training to learn how to work in […]

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Doctors, you need to improve the patient experience. Your intentions are there, but patients are starving for more. Office visits offer definitive evidence that patients need to change. Tests results provide real data to make patients aware of health concerns. This is a clear and obvious starting point. But after this information is gathered, the […]

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Eat what you kill. Sounds like a mantra from a survival reality show, right? Akin to “eat or be eaten,” “kill or be killed.” It’s also a common reference to the prevailing business model in our American scarcity-minded, competition-driven, fee-for-service health care culture. How ironic, the application of these words to this profession. It was […]

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“Breathe in slowly, deeply, giving fresh energy to your body. Breathe out, releasing any tension from your day. In … 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … Out … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 …” I try to follow the yoga instructor, but in my post-call fog, I struggle to let go […]

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Mine was an unusually long hiatus from residency for research training. And in the rough readjustment to clinical environments and work processes, one forgotten element seemed glaringly problematic: “Have a plan,” said one attending, “If you don’t know, just guess.” And another, in a teaching session, “Just guess, even if you’re wrong.” From a chief […]

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The MPs Helen Whately (Conservative), Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat) and Luciana Berger (Labour) call on the health service not to abandon its promise

Mental health care is not a luxury. For too long it has been the “Cinderella service”, always forgotten when resources are being handed out and the first to be cut when times are hard. In recent years, with cross-party momentum behind it, finally mental health is beginning to get the attention it deserves.

Earlier this month Simon Stevens suggested the promised expansion of mental health care might be under threat if there was no new money for the NHS. Following the budget, we call on him to give a guarantee to the million additional people promised mental health treatment that they will not be abandoned. We are around two years into a five-year plan for mental health and it is vital that work continues. You would not stop helping a patient midway through their treatment and you must not stop the process of improving mental health care just because other parts of the NHS are under pressure.

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My husband, John King, who has died aged 68 of a stroke, worked for Newcastle social services for 30 years, first with children and then leading a team of mental health social workers in the west end of the city.

By 1994 John had realised that homeless people frequently suffered from mental illness but rarely received useful treatment, because NHS systems require an address. Without that address, homeless people remained on the outside, treated at A&E but without joined-up care plans. He therefore based a mental health social worker at Hill Court in Pitt Street, where the old brewery flats intended for night-shift workers were being used to house homeless people.

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A new 12-strong team at Highgate primary has reduced exclusions and referrals to mental health services to zero, for just £8,500 a year

Statistics show that one in 10 children – or an average of three children in every classroom – has a diagnosable mental health problem, and 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health issues have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early stage.

It is against this backdrop – and the school funding crisis – that Highgate primary school has transformed the usual pastoral care function with an innovative new grassroots model that has achieved incredible results and made it the winner in the health and wellbeing category of the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards.

Related: How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

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A new scheme trains teachers to help vulnerable schoolchildren and their families, and is easing the burden on local social services

Primary school staff in Swansea are being trained to provide early support to pupils and families. As well as helping people turn their lives around, they’re also reducing the number of preventable referrals to social services.

One mother, a single parent under enormous stress, tackling benefit and employment problems, says the Team Around the Family in Schools (TIS) initiative has been her “lifeline”, adding: “Someone cared – and I feel very fortunate.”

Related: How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

Related: Many disciplines, one goal: a new way to care for children and families

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Compared with married couples, single people have a 42% elevated risk of dementia, and those who have been widowed a 20% increase, researchers find

Being married could help stave off dementia, a new study has suggested.

Levels of social interaction could explain the finding, experts have said, after the research showed that people who are single or widowed are more likely to develop the disease.

Related: Is marriage good for your health? It depends who you’re married to

Related: Dementia is greater risk for single people in later life, study finds

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It perpetuates ugly stereotypes and distracts us from the dearth of care – most US citizens with a mental health condition don’t receive the treatment they need

Attempts to blame mass shootings in the US, like the recent one in a Texas church that killed at least 26 people, on mental illness casually propagates wrong-headed connections between extreme violence and mental illness. This has a tendency to drown out the voices of those who correctly point out that people with mental health problems are far more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetrate it. It also cements ugly stereotypes, perpetuates the stigma that people with serious mental health problems frequently encounter and serves as a distraction from the dearth of care and treatment for people who need it most.

People with mental health problems have long borne the brunt of America’s deficient healthcare system. In Britain, meanwhile, the consequences of long-term underfunding and lack of parity with physical health in the NHS continues to take a huge toll. Even after reforms ushered in by Obamacare with the Affordable Care Act and expansion of the federal insurance programme Medicaid, which finally made it...

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Report by Justice suggests introduction of specialist prosecutors and a change to the defence of insanity

Specialist prosecutors should review all decisions to charge suspects with mental health vulnerabilities and the defence of insanity should be amended, a law reform charity has said.

Related: Rise in prisoners moved to mental health hospitals

Related: I’ve been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. A review won’t fix the crisis | Clare Allan

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Children’s charity releases data showing 60% of young people referred for specialist care by GP not receiving treatment

Sixty per cent of children and young people referred for specialist care by their GP are not receiving treatment, figures reveal.

Data from 32 NHS Trusts in England showed about 60% of under-18s who are referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by their GP are not receiving treatment, according to figures obtained by Spurgeons children’s charity.

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Brutal pressure at work is causing depression in many chefs. In one survey, more than half said they took painkillers or drink to get through shifts. What is happening behind the kitchen doors?

In October last year Andrew Clarke, head chef of the much-admired Brunswick House restaurant in Vauxhall, London, posted a picture of himself to Instagram. It’s in black and white. He is sitting at a table against a wall of distressed plaster, his straggly hair unsuccessfully tucked away beneath a ragged beanie hat, tattooed arms on show. In his hand is a teacup and before him, a bottle of spirits, the implication being that the contents of one are filling the other. It could have been the moody cover to one of the albums Clarke thought he would release when he was pursuing his first love, music.

The long message below tells another story. “This was me 10 months ago,” it says. “Inside I was suffering from a pain so extreme that I could barely cope … I hated who I was and wanted to kill myself every time I came home from work … I never believed in depression and only ever saw the world in a positive light. But it’s not until you experience it, that you realise just how real it is.” The...

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Survey for Grandparents Plus charity shows that unsupervised meetings can harm young people’s mental health

Children brought up by extended family members should not always have contact with their parents as it could harm their mental health, according to new research.

Interviews carried out for the charity Grandparents Plus examined the effects of parental contact on the increasing number of children being cared for by relatives other than their parents .

Related: How to stop record numbers of children going into care? Help their mothers | Louise Tickle

Related: Family courts are a revolving door for too many parents | Paul Burstow

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I was extremely lucky to have found a wonderful doctor who understood me and who I couldn’t outsmart

A rather sweet news story emerged the other week, in which it was claimed that studying feminist theory could help anorexics with their recovery by teaching them how “cultural constructions of femininity” can lead to “body distress”. Now, I am of the opinion that feminism is the answer to pretty much everything, so the idea of bell hooks and Kate Millett swooping in to save the day where all those medical professionals failed certainly has its appeal. So, like I say, sweet – but also a teensy bit annoying. I would never dissuade anyone from reading feminist theory, but the suggestion that a mental illness can be treated by argument feels a mere skip from saying its causation is similarly straightforward. Gender influences, like cultural influences (fashion models, women’s magazines, all the usual suspects), play a part in anorexia’s external manifestation, but the causes are as deep and knotty as a tree root. Mental illness, by its very nature, defies logic.

Related: The evidence is mounting – a man’s place is in the home | Hadley Freeman

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A London pub’s offer of a free dinner for anyone who’s alone at Christmas is a heartwarming reminder of a social ill that exists all year round

To say that somebody is a “product of their environment” is to suggest that their actions or behaviour can be explained by where they’ve grown up, where they’ve worked and, in particular, who they’ve had around them.

For example, a child isn’t born with a certain view on race, gender or a favourite football team. I have a school friend who earned a work placement at a bank in the City and he wasn’t even a little bit of a tosser when he merrily travelled off to Liverpool Street in 2002. However, I’m almost certain that the 15 years he’s spent within that environment has possibly helped chisel out the man who stood before me at a recent reunion said he was “more than happy to spunk his latest bonus up the wall”.

Related: Loneliness as bad for health as long-term illness, says GPs' chief

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Shadow health secretary says three-year commitment fails to deliver promised parity of esteem with physical health

A government commitment to spend an extra £300m over the next three years on improving mental health support for school pupils has been dismissed as inadequate by Labour.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said the Conservatives were “failing to deliver parity of esteem” between mental and physical health, as promised, and that their proposals did not amount to “meaningful action”.

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In just three years, John’s Campaign has turned from an idea into a nationwide movement

There’s a happy-making little film on YouTube of a man dancing by himself at a music festival. Some people sitting on the grass nearby look on, curious and amused. Most ignore him or don’t notice him; their backs are turned and their attention elsewhere. Then after a minute or so, another person gets up and joins in, grinning and a bit self-conscious, but with him nevertheless. Now there are two people dancing. Another stands up, hesitates and then starts to dance. Now there are three: three makes it a group. There are four, five, 10, more and more. Too many to count.And soon a whole field of people is dancing. It’s become a movement. The people who started it don’t matter any more.

John’s Campaign turned three last Thursday. It was launched in this paper on 30 November, 2014, with an article I wrote about the catastrophic effect of hospital upon the health and selfhood of my father, after whom the campaign is named. When he went into hospital, he was living with dementia, happy and beloved and linked to his world by a thousand invisible threads. Restricted visiting and a lockdown of his ward...

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Critics say 2019 launch of vital mental health plan is not soon enough

Children suffering from anxiety and depression will be offered counselling at school under government plans to tackle a widely reported crisis in young people’s mental health. Pupils in England will be able to attend sessions with therapists at school or college in an attempt to stop any psychological difficulties deepening into lifelong issues.

Every school will also be required to appoint a teacher to co-ordinate improved support for the fast-growing number of children who are struggling mentally, many self-harming as a result of bullying, exam stress, dissatisfaction with their body shape, troubles at home and other factors.

Related: Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 health and wellbeing winner: Highgate primary school

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My father, Sydney Morris, who has died aged 97, was one of the first male district nurses and a quietly distinguished contributor to the health and civic life of his south London community for more than 50 years.

He was born in Bristol, the son of Alf Morris, a tailor, and his wife, Sophie (nee Harris), who also worked in tailoring, but the family moved to London, where he attended St Mary’s primary school, then Hither Green secondary, both in Lewisham. The influence of a musician uncle led Sydney as a teenager to play the alto saxophone, to a lifelong love of jazz and the Great American Songbook, and to his own band, known as Syd Morris’ Rhythm Monarchs.

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Here it comes — another email about “physician wellness,” advertising mindfulness training, an ice cream social, or a volunteer day. As a psychiatrist, I can attest to the importance of tending to one’s own mental and physical health in order to strive for wellness. However, the trend of implementing physician wellness programs throughout the U.S. […]

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A little ways back, I was at a gathering of friends and family and was in the kitchen setting out a dish of black bean and quinoa dip. Suddenly, I heard someone from behind me exclaim: “What is that? If that’s something healthy, I am not eating it.” Although somewhat intended as a joke, there […]

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We have all seen and heard the story: a patient who is overweight and has heart problems (or arthritis, diabetes, low back pain or any number of other chronic conditions) is told by their doctor that they need to exercise. The patient agrees, “Yes, I really will try to start an exercise program.” Six months […]

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I first noticed this phenomenon while watching the world news on a weekday after work.  It was a commercial for a new diabetes medicine that showed overweight people dancing at a barbecue, cooking and enjoying life.  How different this was from my day in the wound clinic, where I saw patient after patient with obesity, […]

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It’s no doubt that the health care conundrum our nation is facing is fraught with high-risk hypotheses and their unpalatable consequences. Complicating this further is the business-minded nature of many lobbyists and policy-makers influencing our government’s decisions, including President Trump’s. This is particularly timely given the recent executive orders Mr. Trump has unilaterally implemented that […]

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Until genuine rights are extended to all patients, the ongoing health-care-reform saga perpetrated by Congress and executive leadership will continue to fail the American people. Many Americans have suffered and died because of a broken health-care-delivery system. One of us lost a 19-year old son due to lack of certain patient rights – specifically the […]

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 45-year-old man is evaluated during an annual routine health maintenance visit. History is notable for type 2 diabetes mellitus (diet controlled) diagnosed 3 months ago. Family history is significant for his father who developed end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes […]

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Diana Feliz Oliva, a 45-year-old transgender woman who grew up outside Fresno, Calif., remembers being bullied when she was younger and feeling confused about her gender identity. She was depressed and fearful about being found out, and she prayed every night for God to take her while she slept. “I was living in turmoil,” said […]

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Polly Ross, 32, was allowed the leave unit in Hull to buy cigarettes despite having made many earlier suicide attempts

A mother who killed herself while suffering from postnatal depression died as a result of a “very serious failure” that allowed her to leave a mental health unit unchaperoned, a coroner has ruled.

Despite having made multiple attempts to kill herself, 32-year-old Polly Ross was allowed to leave the Westlands mental health unit in Hull at about 8.30am on 12 July 2015, telling nurses that she was going to buy cigarettes. She was hit by a train at 11.10am and died instantly.

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We’d like to speak to people who have suffered serious loneliness in the past, but have found ways to reconnect

There’s no doubt loneliness is a serious problem – in 2014, Britain was named the loneliness capital of Europe, with a significant proportion of us having no one to rely on in a crisis, and suffering from a lack of friends and contacts in our local area. It’s an issue that affects people of all ages, races and classes, and can have serious consequences for both our mental and physical health.

Related: Loneliness is harming our society. Your kindness is the best cure | Rachel Reeves

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More than a quarter of new fathers in a new study showed significant levels of depression – what are the causes, and what can they do about it?

Men don’t go through pregnancy or childbirth. Their hormone levels don’t nosedive. They don’t get sore nipples. What exactly have they got to be depressed about? Quite a lot, according to research from Sweden showing that, over the past 10 years, a significant number of men have struggled with the transition to fatherhood.

This latest research tries to quantify just how many men get postnatal depression. Previous studies have found between 4% and 10% of men, while, in this smallish sample of 447 Swedish fathers who volunteered (and may therefore not represent your average dad), a surprising 28% of men had symptoms that scored above mild levels of depression. Overall, 4% had moderate depression. Fewer than one in five fathers who were depressed sought help, even though a third of those had thought about harming themselves. While women in the UK are often asked a series of questions that screen for postnatal depression (which affects up to 13% of women), the mental health of fathers is rarely assessed.

Related: Postnatal depression less...

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The former Newcastle and England striker’s investigation into links between brain damage and heading the ball is fascinating yet inconclusive. Plus: more Blue Planet II and The Queen’s Favourite Animals

In comes the cross from the right: who’s there for it? Alan Shearer, who else. Unchallenged, he braces himself, heads the ball cleanly, down to his left, the net bulges, goal!

So now he’s presumably going to peel away towards the corner flag, with a Cheshire cat grin and his right arm raised, palm open, while adoring black-and-white-clad geordies chant: “Shearer, Shearer!”

Related: Football is heading for trouble over brain injuries caused by the ball

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Thousands treated away from home region in practice seen as expensive and potentially harmful to vulnerable people

Mental health trusts are being forced as part of an NHS England crackdown to reveal how many patients they are sending elsewhere for treatment because they have too few beds.

Health service bosses want to compel the 54 NHS mental health trusts in England to start publishing details every month on the number of adults they have to arrange inpatient care for outside their own area.

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Colette McCulloch was hit by a lorry last year while in the care of a private residential home – her mother and father say a full inquest is needed

A grieving family has demanded the replacement of the coroner investigating the death of their autistic daughter, who they say was let down by the authorities charged with keeping her safe.

Colette McCulloch, who had high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder, died aged 35 after being hit by a lorry while walking along a dual carriageway in the early hours of the morning of 28 July 2016. Diagnosed with anorexia and OCD as a child, her autism wasn’t discovered until she was 33.

Related: MPs urge action on lengthy wait for autism diagnosis

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It was the oldest asylum in the Balkans. Now the doors are unlocked and patients are living new lives in the community

High walls still surround the oldest asylum in the Balkans, an 18th-century building pocked with the artillery scars of last century’s civil war, but the gates are no longer locked. Handles have been replaced on internal doors and bars removed from windows.

“The jail,” said Darko Kovaoic, a 53-year-old poet with schizophrenia who lives here, “has broken open.”

‘Love was not allowed in the institution. Now we are outside we have our own keys and take a bus. We are happy’

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A specialist NHS centre in London is helping thousands of young people who are having difficulties with gender identity

At a time when transgender issues occupy the centreground of today’s culture wars, a clinic in an unpreposessing 1920s office block in north-west London has found itself on the frontline.

The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, is the only NHS-run clinic that specialises in helping young people experiencing difficulties with their gender identity.

It is a gender identity service, not a gender transition service. Many children will benefit from talking therapies

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There are good reasons to be cautious about a new study claiming computer-based training can reduce the risk of dementia. But what does work?

More than 30 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s disease, and while researchers are pushing hard to find a cure, their efforts so far have met with failure. With no effective treatment on the horizon, prevention has become the only game in town. But what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia, now the leading cause of death in England and Wales?

In research published on Thursday, US scientists claim that a form of computer-based brain training can reduce the risk of dementia by 29%. The training was designed to speed up people’s visual information processing, for example by having them spot a car on a screen, and a truck on the periphery of their vision, at the same time. Those who are claimed to have benefited trained for an hour, twice a week, for five weeks, and some went on to have booster sessions at the end of the first and third years. To see if the training made any difference, the participants sat tests up to 10 years later.

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A study says that anorexic people feel less to blame for their condition after reading feminist theory. In my case, I have Susie Orbach to thank

According to a new study, feminist theory can help treat anorexia. That comes as no surprise to me, based on my own experience of trying to vanish, one skipped meal at a time. Researchers at the University of East Anglia trialled a 10-week programme with seven inpatients at a centre in Norwich. They used Disney films, social media, news articles and adverts to talk about the social expectations and constructs of gender, how we view women’s bodies and how we define femininity. They spoke about the way we portray appetite, hunger and anger, as well as the ways we objectify women’s bodies.

Researchers published a paper in the journal Eating Disorders that suggested patients improved because they felt less to blame for their own condition. This makes complete sense. When I was 15 years old, I spent six weeks in an eating disorders clinic in Sydney. Staring at those pallid pistachio-coloured walls on my own in a cell-like room, I felt as though I may never recover. My emaciated companions and I were under the care of a former prison warden...

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Choir members, including people with mental health problems, say their wellbeing and connectedness have improved since singing together

“I think there’s something physical about singing in a choir that does you good,” says Kaye Brown*. “For me it’s coming together, and the wellbeing I feel as a result of it. There’s a general improvement in my mental health. I feel better for singing.”

Brown, who is in her 60s and has a history of depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, has been a member of the HarmonyChoir in Edinburgh since it began over a year ago. The choir was originally started by Liesbeth Tip, a clinical psychologist who is doing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, as a two-month research project to explore the impact of singing on wellbeing and views of mental health. Due to popular demand, it is still going.

What I find great is that we had no idea what it was going to be like and we’re quite good

Related: 'Without this, I would have killed myself': gardening helps heal refugees' trauma

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Charity helping people suffering from anorexia and bulimia reveals people waiting up to five years to start treatment

People with an eating disorder are waiting as long as five years to start treatment on the NHS, putting their recovery in peril, according to a report.

Beat, a charity which helps people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, warns that delays to access vital care can have a “devastating” impact on those with eating disorders.

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A new study claims a link between screen time and increased rates of depression and suicide in US teens. But what do the data actually say? And how can we move towards a more rational debate about digital technology?

Screen time is one of the more divisive contemporary issues in psychological science. In a sense, this is no surprise – smartphone use, particularly among children and adolescents, has consistently increased in recent years. And as with any new form of disruptive technology, there are questions around what constitutes healthy and maladaptive use, both at an individual and societal level.

The problem with the debate about screen time, however, is that very often the arguments devolve into overly-simplistic scaremongering claims. This peaked back in August, with the publication of an opinion piece in the Atlantic by Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University. Under the headline Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, Twenge argued that teenagers are on the verge of a catastrophic mental health crisis, and the culprit was the smartphone.

Related: Screen time guidelines need to be built on evidence, not hype

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Dear alternative medicine, Hi, it’s HD again. You may remember me from the last time we entered the squared circle, “Endocrinology vs. Naturopathy: Steel Cage Death Match.” I had hoped that you might internalize a couple of the lessons I tried to teach you: “Know your assay” and “know your pre-test probability” — but, shocker, […]

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Brain-computer interface (BCI) has been a topic of interest for several decades, and many discoveries have been made. The role of BCI has been monumental and significantly impactful in the field of medicine. It has been gaining much progress in recent decades with inventions such as the encephalophone, in which a person can create music […]

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 35-year-old man is evaluated for a 2-month history of upper abdominal discomfort after eating. He has recently returned from working in a rural area of a developing country. He takes no medications. There is no family history of esophageal or […]

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Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior. A particularly sensitive type of big data is medical big data. Medical big data can consist of electronic health records, […]

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During a 15-minute recess, the elementary school students trooped from the playground toward nurse Catherin Crofton’s office — one with a bloody nose, a second with a scraped knee and a third with a headache. Kids quickly filled a row of chairs. Staffers brought paper towels for the bleeders and tried to comfort the crying. […]

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I have written about both issues before: freestanding ERs and retail clinics. Two recent studies continue to show how useless they both are in helping create a better more efficient health care system. The freestanding ER study  examined the number of these facilities and population characteristics where they locate. They identified 360 freestanding ERs, mostly in Texas, […]

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About this site

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".