Posted on 20th February 2024 by Dan Price

The first few weeks of 2024 has seen the publication of numerous reports about the wellbeing of prisoners in England and Wales. They present a picture of a system that is struggling to cope, putting the wellbeing of both prisoners and staff members at considerable risk.

From inspectorate reports about individual prisons, such as at HMP Bedford, to thematic reviews across the country, there is compelling evidence of the risks to both mental and physical health that people are facing. In January, for instance, the Independent Monitoring Board published evidence about the use of segregation units in prison for people experiencing acute mental health needs, in many cases while waiting for weeks and months for an urgent hospital bed. Then in February, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission raised further concerns about these protracted waits and their effects on people’s health and safety. Data published by the Ministry of Justice last year also show rising rates of self-harm, suicide deaths and assaults on staff members in prisons in England and Wales. In the year to September 2023, there were 93 deaths described as ‘self-inflicted’ (out of a total of 311 deaths in prisons), 67,773 incidents of self-harm involving 12,292 people, and more than 25,000 assaults on members of staff.

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Mind reveals mental health toll of cost-of-living crisis, with 2.7 million people considering suicide because of financial pressure

Posted on 31st October 2023 by Dan Price

Research published by Mind today shows the full impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the nation’s mental health, with three in every 50 (6 per cent) people in England and Wales saying they have considered ending their lives because of it.

Other findings include that one in five (20 per cent) people report worsening depression because of the cost of living, and one in ten (10 per cent) developing disordered eating as a result.

The numbers also show the increased impact on people who were already struggling, with the cost-of-living crisis resulting in:

  • People receiving Universal Credit being more than three times more likely to consider suicide because of the cost-of-living crisis than those who don’t receive benefits. [1]

  • A third (33 per cent) of people receiving Universal Credit reporting deepening depression.

  • A fifth (20 per cent) of people receiving Universal Credit reporting disordered eating.

The figures come ahead of the Autumn Statement, with wide reporting that the UK government will not raise benefits in line with inflation. Mind is calling on the government to make sure benefits continue to cover the essentials and to reconsider changes to Work Capability Assessments, reducing already limited support for people too unwell to work.

People with mental illness in England face ‘horrifically long’ ambulance delays

Posted on 11th September 2023 by Dan Price

Ministers have been accused of “sheer neglect” of people with mental illness as figures reveal one patient waited nearly three days for an ambulance to arrive last year.

Data obtained by the Liberal Democrats shows that ambulance services regularly breached response-time targets in emergency and urgent calls to help patients with a mental health crisis or severe illness last year.

The figures show the longest waits for emergency mental health ambulance callouts, which should be seven minutes on average, were more than two hours in 2022. The longest wait for an urgent callout, which is less of a priority than an emergency call, was more than 70 hours for an ambulance to reach one patient in the south-west of England.

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Antidepressants: I wasn't told about the side effects

Posted on 15th August 2023 by Tegan Chelsea

About one in seven people in the UK now take medication to treat depression but some say they are not being given appropriate advice about the potential side effects of the drugs they have been prescribed.

Seonaid Stallan's son Dylan was a teenager when he began receiving treatment for body dysmorphia and depression.

"He was struggling with the way he felt about himself, the way he looked," Seonaid said.

"He was extremely anxious. He would be physically sick. He would be unable to leave the house."

Dylan, from Glasgow, was treated with the antidepressant Fluoxetine from the age of 16.

But when he turned 18, his medication was changed to Sertraline.

Within two months of his prescription change he had taken his own life.

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Up to 3m UK people behind on bills have had mental health problems, study says

Posted on 25th July 2023 by Dan Price

Up to 3 million people in the UK who are behind with at least one bill have experienced a mental health problem in the last two years, according to research.

YouGov polling for the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity found that 12% of participants were behind on at least one payment such as energy, rent or credit cards, of whom half had a mental health problem. That equates to 3 million people who are behind on a payment and who have experienced a mental health problem in the previous two years, the authors calculated.

In all, people who have had mental health problems in the past two years are three times more likely to be behind on at least one significant bill, the report found, with 60% saying they felt unable to cope due to rising costs. Yet only 9% have received money or debt advice since the start of the cost of living crisis.

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Who should be responsible for mental health care?

Posted on 16th June 2023 by Dan Price

I’m writing in response to your article on mental health support for students in universities (Parents outline ‘woeful’ mental health support for students at UK universities, 2 June). Amid arguments that universities should become quasi-mental health service providers, university staff are already struggling under pressure to support mental health.

My mother is a mental health professional. She had nine years of university and three years of on-the-job training. I had nine years of university and three years of on-the-job training to become a lecturer. My mother’s training involved learning how to protect her own wellbeing while helping others. My training did not. Most university staff are not mental health professionals, and the few who are need more support.

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