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Mental Health

Half of public sector workers take time off due to mental health

Ian Snug

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Nearly half of public sector workers have taken time off work due to poor mental health a new survey has revealed.

A survey of 12,000 employers by health charity Mind found mental health problems were more frequent in the public sector, with around 15% saying their mental health was poor.

Statistics show that, on average, public sector staff took three days off sick last year because of their mental health, compared to just under one day in the private sector.

Finally, the survey revealed that while public sector staff were more likely to disclose that they have a mental health problem, less than half said they felt supported after a disclosure.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: ‘A vital part of changing the lives of people with mental health problems is to tackle the culture of fear and silence in the workplace that stops people opening up about what they are experiencing. This data shows that the public sector in particular is making progress here. But it’s also vital that when people do speak out they get the right help and support at the right time.

‘It’s clear there is still a long way to go in both the public and private sector to address the gap between people asking for support and actually getting what they need.’

Mind is calling on the next government to make mental health in the workplace a key priority.

The Blue Light programme provides mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue services.

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Mental Health

NHS to recruit 21,000 Mental Health workers in England

James M

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The health secretary has said thousands more mental health workers are to be recruited by the NHS in England.

The £1.3 billion pound drive is promised to increase the number of nurses, therapists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to treat an extra one million people and provide services seven days a week.

Jeremy Hunt has promised to end the “historic imbalance” between mental and physical health services. He went on to say that the measures were “ambitious” and amounted to “one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe”.

The aim is to recruit enough nurses and support staff to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21 but with over 30,000 current NHS vacancies unions are critical as to where these staff will come from.

Professor Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who helped develop the plan, said; “You would expect to see a consultant if you had cancer and the same applies for mental health. The biggest challenge to creating robust mental health services is the workforce. I am very supportive of this strategy which starts to tackle that problem.”

However, the Royal College of Nursing said the plans did not add up, and more “hard cash” would be needed if the new staff were to be trained in time.

“If these nurses were going to be ready in time, they would be starting training next month,” said RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies.

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Mental Health

A Prescription for Murder? The BBC Documentary that further reinforces Mental Health Stereotypes

Sarah J

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Experts have heavily criticised the BBC Panorama documentary ‘A Prescription for Murder?’.

The controversial BBC documentary questioned if selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants played a part or even contributed to the murder of James Holmes.

With more than 40 million prescriptions issued in the UK each year for antidepressants, a significant number of these are for SSRIs.

Experts are warning that although openly speaking about mental health is good, reinforcing a stigma that has no evidence or basis-in-fact is a step in the wrong direction and only further reinforces mental health stereotypes.

You can watch ‘BBC Panorama: A Prescription for Murder‘ on BBC iPlayer. 

Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, wrote in the International Business Times that; “Last night’s Panorama programme A Prescription for Murderset back the journalism of mental health by decades”.

She goes on to explain that considerable research has been done and, currently, there is no evidence to suggest an even a casual link between antidepressants and murder. Instead, there is clear evidence that antidepressants are an effective treatment for an “extremely serious illness”.

Finally, she adds “Making a link between the two only increases stigma – which we know exacerbates someone’s mental”. You can read her full article here.

Prof Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, said: “There is no good evidence that antidepressants increase the risk of violent behaviour, and the extremely rare (and tragic) cases that are cited in support of this theory could be explained by chance”.

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