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Nearly every American is touched by serious chronic illness, either as a patient or as a caregiver. The federal government recognizes the far-reaching effects of such conditions, and agencies like the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct surveillance of these diseases. Such research allows us to better understand the […]

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“So, I’m getting routine labs on her.” Wait, what? Statements like these often make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. One of our residents was seeing a healthy young woman for her “annual physical,” seen just a few days after a routine postpartum visit with her OB/GYN after the uneventful birth […]

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My intern gazed blankly at her notes from the day. “You OK?” I asked. Her face was quivering with restrained tears as she turned to me, “I don’t think I helped anyone today.” This was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, that I had heard those words from a resident […]

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As Congress returns from its summer recess, the health care debate is sure to heat up … again. And over the past few months, the debate has had a significant impact on public opinion. A recent report describes how Americans currently view the ACA. According to national polls, over 90 percent of Americans would change […]

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I have been working on this essay for some time now. It has been difficult for me to convey in words this complex issue of physician-patient relationships that, to me, is the crux of the art of medicine. The first time I met Rachel was when she showed up at my office with Mary, her […]

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Data from government-funded research prompts fresh questions about effect of social media and school stresses on young people’s mental health

One in four girls is clinically depressed by the time they turn 14, according to research that has sparked new fears that Britain’s teenagers are suffering from an epidemic of poor mental health.

A government-funded study has found that 24% of 14-year-old girls and 9% of boys the same age have depression. Their symptoms include feeling miserable, tired and lonely and hating themselves.

Related: Judge attacks mental health provision after approving care plan for suicidal girl

Related: Suicide is at record level among students at UK universities, study finds

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Mental health advocate concerned over lack of resources for projected psychosocial disability needs and the increasing use of phone calls to assess eligibility

The chairman of the National Mental Health Commission, Allan Fels, has warned that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) lacks the resourcing to properly consider claims for psychosocial disability, potentially putting its rollout targets in jeopardy.

Fels has also criticised the increasing use of phone calls to determine whether those with severe mental illness are eligible for the national disability insurance scheme.

Related: National disability insurance scheme 'faceless' and rigid, inquiry told

Related: Disability service providers warn NDIS pricing could force them to shut down

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Patrick McGorry says Matt Canavan’s call for yes campaigners to ‘stop being delicate little flowers’ was ‘very regrettable’

The Nationals senator Matt Canavan’s call for marriage equality advocates to “grow a spine” was “very regrettable” coming from a politician who had faced less adversity than LGBTI Australians, the mental health expert Patrick McGorry has said.

The psychiatrist and former Australian of the year criticised Canavan in an interview on Sky News on Monday, responding to reports that mental health services have experienced a surge in requests for help since the same-sex marriage postal survey was called.

Related: Tied up in nots: same-sex marriage divides last bastion of Australian opposition

Related: A yes vote is vital for the mental health of LGBT Australians. That's a fact | Kamran Ahmed

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Exclusive: peak mental health bodies says people with psychosocial disabilities being barred from scheme and are missing out on support and treatment

Australians with severe mental health problems are being regularly barred from the national disability insurance scheme, prompting fears that under-resourcing and a lack of expertise are compromising decision-making.

Peak mental health bodies say they are receiving “alarming” reports “on a daily basis” of people with diagnosed psychosocial disabilities being denied access to the NDIS.

Related: People with autism have the right to support under the NDIS | Simon Wardale

People are reading these reports about themselves which might describe a very bleak situation

Related: NDIS in crisis, say disability groups as complaints soar

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The evidence of the mental health ill-effects of discrimination against LGBT people should banish outdated policies to the past

With the authorisation of an unnecessary postal vote on marriage equality, the public debate has predictably turned into a circus. So it should perhaps come as no surprise that the intellectual equivalent of custard pies are being thrown. False claims by the no campaign that marriage equality would somehow constitute an attack on freedom of speech and set in motion a chain of events culminating in young boys having to wear dresses in schools are as imaginative as they are inaccurate.

The question would perhaps better be phrased as follows: does Australia wish to stop senselessly discriminating against a minority group, or not? Despite the prime minister declaring that he has more important things to focus on than this issue, a yes vote is vitally important for the sake of equal rights as well as the message of acceptance it would send to LGBT people in Australia.

Related: We won't be giving equal time to spurious arguments against marriage equality | Lenore Taylor

Related: Conservative Christians’ anti-marriage equality lines ‘betray gospel of grace’,...

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In the latest of his political diaries, Labour’s former spin doctor reveals how the drama of the Blair-Brown years almost cost him his sanity – and his marriage

Alastair Campbell’s latest volume of diaries brings to mind the sign that used to be a ubiquitous feature of the 1980s workplace: “You don’t have to be mad to work here ... But it helps!” To my knowledge, no Westminster wag has ever hung one in No 10. From Campbell’s account of government during the transition from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, however, it would not have been out of place.

As a mental health campaigner, Campbell has always been open about his ongoing episodes of depression. But the mental health issues his new diaries reveal go well beyond the occasional black dog, reaching a torrid climax in 2006 during a walk with his partner, Fiona Millar, across Hampstead Heath. The couple were in total crisis, constantly rowing, confronting what looked like the end of their 27-year-relationship. When another argument erupted as they walked, Campbell lost it and began punching himself in the face.

Related: 'What do we do now?': the New Labour landslide, 20 years on

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An Australian coroner says Champix had a role in Timothy John’s death, which occurred after only eight days on the drug

When the retired Queensland schoolteacher Phoebe Morwood-Oldham started an online petition following her son’s suicide in April 2013, she could not have known that her insistence on asking hard questions of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies would lead to an Australian-first finding by a state coroner.

On Thursday in Brisbane magistrates court, coroner John Hutton found that a commonly prescribed drug named Champix – manufactured by Pfizer and sold internationally under the name Chantix – contributed to the death of a 22-year-old Brisbane man, Timothy John, who died by suicide soon after he began taking a medication that he had hoped would cut his smoking habit from eight cigarettes a day down to zero.

Related: Pharmaceutical companies gave $12m to doctors, nurses and pharmacists

Mum, I love you with all my heart. Peter, you’re the best brother I could ask for. I know it doesn’t make sense right now but it’s for the best, trust me. I’m losing my mind. I’m going crazy. I love you both.

I lost the person I love the most in the world, in eight...

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Study compiling data from every country finds people are living longer but millions are eating wrong foods for their health

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject.

Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

Related: Factory farming in Asia creating global health risks, report warns

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Patrick McGorry says Coalition fails to understand link between mental illness and drug addiction and could drive vulnerable Australians into homelessness

Leading mental health expert and Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry, has criticised the government’s plans to drug test welfare recipients as an “absolute disgrace”.

McGorry is the latest prominent Australian to voice his concern about the measure, which will see 5,000 welfare recipients drug tested at three trial locations.

Related: The price of drug-testing welfare recipients: 'Pushing people to utter desperation'

Related: Welfare drug testing punishes those 'least able to change', former AFP commissioner says

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If you have lost your benefit since being transferred from claiming Disability Living Allowance we’d like to hear from you

In August 2017, the United Nations denounced the British government for failing to protect disabled peoples’ rights. Full Fact also found recently that a quarter of people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for mental health conditions did not qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) when reassessed.

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The Unite union’s mental health lead wants a dedicated secretary of state for mental health, ringfenced funding and an end to the pay cap

Dave Munday was recently at a Mental Health Nurses Association meeting in Salford to discuss “the drastic decline” in the number of mental health nurses in England, while Theresa May was telling Jeremy Corbyn at prime minister’s questions that there are now “more nurses in our hospitals than we had in 2010”. It was 5 July, the 69th anniversary of the NHS.

Munday is the professional mental health lead at Unite – the trade union of which the MHNA is part. While it is true that nursing numbers overall have increased since 2010, for mental health nursing, the numbers in the NHS in England were down over the same period, with some 5,000 fewer nurses in March 2017 compared with 2010 figures, according to NHS Digital figures.

Related: Mental health sector gives mixed response to £1.3bn plan to improve NHS services

Related: Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly failed to meet pledges on mental health care

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My friend, work colleague and cousin by marriage, Ross Lazar, who has died aged 72 of cancer, was a psychotherapist and organisational consultant who spread British psychoanalytic ideas across Europe. A central part of his career lay in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and its associated observational studies. But in parallel he also developed a second strand working with groups and organisations.

Born to Jack, a businessman, and Pearl (nee Wachs), a legal secretary, in New Jersey, Ross came to Britain in the early 1970s to train at the Tavistock Clinic in London, where the Kleinian school of psychoanalysis – grounded in the observation of infants, children and families – had been established.

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The easy availability of temptations, combined with constant stress, is taking its toll on a whole generation

Here’s a story that is not about Trump or Brexit. But this could be worse, with even direr consequences. Addiction is up. Depression is up. Death is up. In America, we have seen a decline in our life expectancy for the first time since 1993. But this is not just happening in the US – death rates are up in the UK, Germany and China.

At the same time, suicide rates in teenagers have reached an all-time high and continue to climb. After their introduction in 1987, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescriptions in the US quintupled over the ensuing 15 years and doubled over the next 10. Recently, SSRI prescriptions have declined slightly as marijuana use has increased following legalisation in many states – it’s easier to procure an over-the-counter drug than a prescription one.

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She has always been picky, but is now withdrawn at mealtimes and nervous at the prospect of eating. I am concerned for her mental and physical health, and also that of her younger sister. Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader

I am concerned about the eating patterns of my nieces, who are five and 10. I have a close relationship with my brother and sister-in-law, and spend a lot of time with them. Both girls have always been extremely picky about food, with tantrums at most meals. They regularly refuse to eat anything, and a “win” for their parents is if the girls eat more than a few forkfuls of plain pasta or rice. The response has been to give up arguing with them as it is too distressing, and to agree to them eating anything they want as long as something is going in. The result is that their diets are very narrow. It is not just the quality of food that worries me, but the amount – not much.

The five-year-old’s moods are very up and down, with a regular pattern of tantrums and hyperactivity. However, I am particularly concerned about the 10-year-old. She is quiet and withdrawn at meals and I have noticed she “hides” food, by moving it around the plate or putting it on her...

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More and more health care practitioners are turning to social media for their medical education. Fellows are learning ultrasound from Snapchat, nurses are learning how to insert NG tubes from watching YouTube, and learners are learning pathophysiology from blogs and podcasts. To reach this audience with credible and reliable content, it is important for medical […]

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As Sen. Bernie Sanders prepares to introduce a universal health care bill in the next few weeks, many progressives who support a universal single-payer program worry about its effects on abortion access. Can we win Medicare-for-all while protecting hard-won reproductive rights? As a woman of color, a reproductive rights advocate, and graduate student of public health, I […]

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My first year after completing surgical residency was exhilarating and exhausting an experience most physicians will recall as part of their training. The American medical culture has imagined that the nation’s doctors — no matter their workload — simply don’t reach physical or emotional exhaustion in their work. But they do, and as we debate […]

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An executive summary of “A radically patient-centered proposal to fix health care in America.” The political theater over health care reform has quieted after yet another ugly show. A productive dialogue about big ideas seems impossible in our hyper-partisan climate. No matter which party holds power, any significant proposal is quickly met with fierce opposition […]

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The other day, rather than being at the office, I was sitting in the waiting room of our favorite gastroenterologist’s endoscopy suite. I had dutifully accompanied my wife, who was getting her colonoscopy. My cell phone buzzed. It was my nurse calling from the office. I had seen a patient late the previous day who […]

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A new mega-analysis has found in favour of SSRIs. Time to give people who take them a break

British society just cannot get comfortable with the reality of medication for depression. Despite widespread use, they still attract disapproval. New research appears to strike a decisive blow against widely publicised claims that antidepressant medications such as Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) are no better than sugar pills for people with depression.

Elias Eriksson, professor of pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg and one of the authors of the new paper, said: “I think, once and for all, we’ve answered the SSRI question. SSRIs work. They may not work for every patient, but they work for most patients. And it’s a pity if their use is discouraged because of newspaper reports.”

Related: Man down: why do so many suffer depression in silence?

We are invested in the idea of a grand conspiracy … an industry dampening human responses to reality for profit

Related: Survey finds 40% of Australian women diagnosed with depression or anxiety

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My job was a place where I could feel normal. That all changed when I informed you of my condition

Between my panic attacks and spells of mental numbness, work was a place where I felt more normal. Somewhere I was responsible. That changed after I spoke to you about my mental health.

When I informed you of my condition, it had gotten to the point where my illness was starting to affect me at work. Unable to get a good night’s sleep, I would wake up depressed and go to work feeling like a zombie.

Related: What I wish I could tell my boss: 'I was broken, and you fixed me'

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It’s shocking that so many young people worry about parents’ ability to pay the bills – but on the poverty line, childhood is increasingly an unaffordable luxury

Children are at their unhappiest since 2010. This headline, from the Good Childhood Report, was one I glanced over at first. I rolled my eyes a little bit. Children have never had it so good, what with all their human rights, better life chances, better health. They have it all, right?

Wrong.

We tell them to get on with being kids. How easy is that, if they happen to be living in a homeless shelter?

There are no picnics and bike rides with friends in the country. No endless summer days filled with costly activities

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Project counters lack of mental health care by helping migrants to teach coping skills and offering asylum seekers a listening ear

On the top floor of a former US army barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, a Somali refugee called Abdi Mohamed is standing in front of a colourful chart which says: “Stress: Causes, Signs and Coping Strategies”.

Mohamed is running a small group therapy session, together with Parisa Moayedi, a colleague from Iran. “What do you feel when you get stressed?” Mohamed asks two recently arrived asylum seekers from Somalia.

Related: Two years on, has Angela Merkel's welcome culture worked in Germany?

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Theresa May and her ministers now talk the talk. But government policies helped to fuel a problem they can no longer ignore

Front page articles on mental health have become a regular occurrence. This week we learned that Britain’s biggest police force received a phone call relating to mental health every five minutes last year. And James Munby, head of the high court’s family division, hit the headlines this month referring to the case of girl X – a suicidal teenager for whom no secure bed was available. Munby wrote: “If this is the best we can do for X, and others in similar crisis, what right do we, what right do the system, our society and indeed the state itself, have to call ourselves civilised?”

Related: Judge warns of 'blood on our hands' if suicidal girl is forced out of secure care

We cannot afford to ignore the well-established link between social inequality and mental ill health

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Rose Meade’s daughter killed herself while awaiting psychiatric treatment, Ruth Lewis says the health secretary is incompetence, and Amanda Eames says patients do not want seven-day GP services

Michele Hanson’s piece about the frustration of waiting has a special resonance for me (A certain age, G2, 29 August). Less than two years ago, my daughter sought help for her feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts, and was assessed under the Mental Health Act. They sent her home with the promise of further psychiatric treatment, date to be arranged. After a couple of weeks, she rang the mental health team to ask how long she might expect to wait. There was no response, and a few days later she killed herself. Compare this to Michele’s experience in A&E. It’s not how long you wait, it’s whether you are kept informed.

As a grieving parent, I don’t want to start another charitable trust, or seek financial compensation; that won’t bring my daughter back. I just want Jeremy Hunt – who had the gall to write about better standards of care in Monday’s Guardian (Stephen Hawking is wrong about our NHS plans, 28 August) – to recognise that the NHS should be available for people when they are...

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From Botticelli to glossy magazines, women have been idealised and misrepresented for centuries. Performance poet Lydia Towsey reveals how her own near-fatal eating disorder set her on a path to explore new ways of looking at female bodies

Botticelli’s painting of the Birth of Venus was the first female nude painted and exhibited life size, and in many ways the medieval blueprint for every covergirl to come. It was about the birth of beauty, sexuality and glamour. But what would happen if, instead of washing up on an ancient Cypriot beach on her magnificent scallop shell, the Roman goddess were to arrive naked and vulnerable on a UK beach in the 21st century? This question is the starting point for my show, The Venus Papers.

It’s about lots of things – a theatrical performance combining poetry, humour, art, movement and music, in which I introduce Venus to my world. She encounters customs officers, tabloid newspapers, the male gaze, bars, Primark, life modelling, the perils of breastfeeding in public and something I’ve previously struggled to talk about in my work – the eating disorder I had for approximately seven years.

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It’s 30 years since the condition was recognised. It is most often associated with children, but more and more grownups are now being diagnosed. Does this help?

Michelle Beckett, a 44-year-old entrepreneur from Harrogate, always knew she was different. But, like many women who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), she did not fit the stereotypical profile of a child with the condition. Beckett’s difficulties would come later in life, when she failed to live up to her academic potential, experienced two failed marriages and had mental health problems.

At 36, Beckett decided to seek help. A neuroscientist in York told her that the results of an EEG – a recording of brain activity – suggested she had ADHD. “I dismissed his diagnosis as rubbish,” she says. “How could I have ADHD? I was just [being] crap and needed to sort myself out.”

Over the years, I started to assume I was just lazy

I will step over piles of urgent laundry to complete my pointless DIY project

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Insp Justin French ‘built a story’ because he knew he was ‘on the hook’ over James Herbert’s death, misconduct hearing told

A police inspector “built a story” that a young man with mental health issues – who died after being restrained by officers and left naked in a cell – had been behaving aggressively, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Justin French allegedly tried to “cover his tracks” by claiming 25-year-old James Herbert was “shouting, screaming and kicking” as he was being driven to a police station in Somerset.

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As a clinical psychologist I have seen a rapid growth in teenagers needing urgent help. It makes no sense to cut funding for vital NHS services

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

Related: Mental health: what can new students do to prepare for university?

Related: Number of university dropouts due to mental health problems trebles

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Research also finds number of students who disclose mental health problem in first year has risen fivefold in 10 years

A growing number of undergraduates are reporting mental health problems, according to a report that shows a record number of students have killed themselves in recent years.

The scale of the mental health crisis at UK universities is revealed in a study by the IPPR thinktank. It shows that the number of students who disclosed a mental health problem in their first year rose fivefold to reach 15,395 in a decade.

Related: More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

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The job of clearing out her father’s house after his death led Jo Cooke to discover more about his childhood in Poland and strange behaviour – a process that helped her change career

My father’s death from pneumonia on 1 January 2012, aged 81, was almost a relief. He had been diagnosed with vascular dementia two years earlier, but remained reluctant to accept help with personal care, even as he forgot how to fasten his own belt and that you don’t drink whisky with breakfast.

After Dad’s death, I moved into his home to clear it. The mammoth size of this task soon became apparent.

Related: Inside the life of a hoarder: trauma, loneliness, and the secret power of Things | Giovanna Walker

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Links between the UK’s growing wealth gap and an increase in mental health problems are explored by Dr Maureen Tilford and the Rev Paul Nicolson

We read that there has been a massive increase in calls to the Metropolitan police involving mental health problems, with as many as one every five minutes Report, 29 August). Insp Brown from the College of Police attributes this to cuts in mental health services and of course this will have a clearly adverse effect, but what is the source of all this distress?

As far back as 1963, research by Langer and Michael found that psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities. Money is not a guarantor of mental health, nor does its absence necessarily lead to mental illness. However, it is generally conceded that poverty can be both a determinant and a consequence of poor mental health.

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Perhaps it’s the expectation of perfection, or maybe mothers don’t want to open up to health staff. Either way, postnatal depression seems taboo

You see an interesting phenomenon in a baby group. Groups of smiling women, somehow managing to hold a conversation while keeping small objects out of tiny mouths, feeding a baby and getting it to sleep. They talk about their babies, their partners, the news – but never about how tired they are, how relentless life is, how sometimes they have a secret cry in the bathroom. Among the many women that I’ve seen for therapy, one thing links them all – their struggles are silent.

Related: I deleted my baby apps when I realised how much they fetishise motherhood | Cerys Howell

Underlying all this is the myth of the perfect parent

Related: It costs £83 to treat postnatal depression. So why must so many women suffer? | Vonny Leclerc

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Music is neurologically special: we’re only just scratching the surface of what it can do for dementia sufferers – and for their carers and families

In October BBC Radio 3 will broadcast a six-hour programme blending music with the voices of people living with dementia, in a collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. It promises to be a moving demonstration of something we all need to know: that music can be a powerful tool for people with dementia.

Related: Could music projects cut the cost of dementia care?

We all know that flashback feeling when a song comes on the radio and takes you back to another time, person or place

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 36-year-old man is evaluated for a 1-year history of fatigue, intermittent headaches, sore throat, and joint and muscle pain. He reports no difficulties falling asleep and gets 10 hours of uninterrupted but nonrestorative sleep each night. He has seen several […]

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The National Academy of Medicine has launched an Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, but there is one missing stakeholder. On July 14th, NAM hosted its first public meeting on establishing clinician well-being as a national priority. The inaugural sponsors include nearly many medical specialty societies, the major insurance companies, the American Associations for […]

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As every physician practicing today knows, health care is in a constant state of flux. The latest news from Washington creates even more uncertainty. What we do know is that, for the foreseeable future, there will be an emphasis on team care, coordination, technology and, of course, meeting the requirements of the ever-expanding alphabet soup […]

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On a daily basis, I am introduced to new people from all walks of life. Some sit on the board of directors, some are CEOs, some are presidents, some are middle managers and other administrators, some are investors, others are entrepreneurs, and some are physicians, nurses, case managers and even patients. I listen to people […]

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Just as summer is in full swing, the back-to-school advertisements are running. This time of year can be exciting for many — the first day of elementary school, high school or college. For the rest of us, we try to be lifelong learners: learning from our successes and failures, learning from others and if we […]

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Figures show paramedics helped 30,000 more people experiencing a mental health crisis in 2016-17 compared with 2014-15

The number of ambulance call-outs for people experiencing mental health problems in England has soared by nearly a quarter in two years.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows paramedics helped over 30,000 more patients (172,799) in crisis in 2016-17 compared with 140,137 in 2014-15, a rise of 23%.

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When Kevin Braddock hit rockbottom, he had every intention of killing himself. He recounts what happened next – and reveals why so few men ask for help

It was a Monday when Robin Williams killed himself three years ago – Monday 11 August 2014. His death was shocking even if in hindsight it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the world’s funniest man might also be the most sorrowful, too – a person despairing to the point of ending it all.

It’s a date I remember well, because I’d spent the previous day trying to do the same thing. I was in the psychiatric ward of the Berlin hospital which I’d been manhandled into by friends the day before, and I was waiting to see the doctor who’d asked me to promise that I wouldn’t kill myself.

Facebook allowed me to ask for help, but any recovering I’ve done has been social in the original sense of the word

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At what point, when the initial story is over, do news outlets and social media need to continue to stalk, hound and dig for every tiny detail?

For five days over late August and early September in 2016, a strange case gripped the Australian media. A family of five abruptly went missing from their rural property east of Melbourne. They left their house unlocked and all potential trace elements behind: phones, credit cards and identification documents. Keys were left in the ignitions of the remaining cars.

The alarm was sounded by one of the three adult children, about 24 hours after their disappearance, when he disembarked from what turned out to be an ill-fated road trip near Bathurst in central New South Wales, about 800km from their home. The two remaining daughters were quickly located after they stole a vehicle to escape; one of them later turned up in the back of a man’s ute – to the shock of the driver. Their mother was found the following day, wandering the streets of Yass, near Canberra; two days later, the father was discovered, safe but dehydrated, on the outskirts of the north-eastern Victorian town of Wangaratta.

Related: Julia Gillard: the stigma around mental health...

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As results day looms, students complain that changes were rushed in, with errors in papers and inadequate revision materials available

Students awaiting their A-level results next week have described the stress of sitting new, untested qualifications this summer for which many felt ill prepared, with no past papers, no mark schemes and no clarity about grade boundaries.

Many complained that the changes, introduced by the Tories, had been “rushed in”, with teachers and students struggling to master demanding new syllabuses, aided by few revision materials. The pressure was compounded by the fact that the new qualifications are solely assessed on end-of-year exams, rather than coursework and AS-levels halfway through.

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He has had serious mood swings for most of his adult life, but my parents are scared to confront him in case he stops them seeing their grandchildren

I am concerned about how my brother treats my parents. He is 39, has a family of his own and is apparently a good dad, but he is controlling, moody and insular. His sulks and mood swings have become unbearable and my parents never know what mood he will be in when he visits. Increasingly, he is spiteful, abrupt, ungrateful and rude. My parents are the most loving, giving parents and there has never been an incident to trigger his behaviour. He has had serious mood swings for most of his adult life and hasn’t spoken to me for 20 years. My parents are scared to confront him in case he reacts and prevents them from seeing their grandchildren. My mother tried speaking to him during his last stay, but there is absolutely no reasoning with him and he shuts down and backs away. He is now not speaking to either of them and has told them they are not welcome at his home. We are sure he has mental health issues, but there is no way he will ask for help. How can this ever get better?

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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".

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