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MIDWEEK MINDSET: Puerto Rico’s mental health crisis

Publication date: August 8, 2018 Author: Jenna Rachid, Eloise Cadman and Alex Youngs

Puerto Rico’s mental health crisis

In Puerto Rico, psychological effects of Hurricane Maria are still being felt.

According to The Guardian, the disruption to every-day life has caused feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

From November 2017 to January 2018 the suicide hotline on the Island saw a 246% increase in calls from people wanting to take their own life. This was an 83% increase from the year before.

The deputy commissioner of New York City department of health and mental hygiene, Oxiris Barbot, said: ‘Teachers are having to act on behalf of students to prevent parents from killing themselves in front of their kids.’

‘This situation has brought into stark relief for me, that in this modern age, in the United States, we have to talk about the basicness of electricity and clean water and essential public health needs of a community.’

‘I never thought six months after a disaster, I would still have to focus on that,’ Barbot added.

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Mothers left to cope with mental illness

According to The Guardian, a leaked report has revealed that the NHS is unable to provide the necessary help to women who have mental health issues, as a result of pregnancy or giving birth.

The ‘secret report’ audited the amount of care there is for maternal mental illness.

England has 15 mother and baby psychiatric units with 115 beds.  Some women travel over 30 miles to get a place.

Government statistics found that perinatal mental illness affects 10 to 20% of mothers during their pregnancy and in the 12 months following childbirth.

The research manager at the National Childbirth Trust, Agnes Hann, said: ‘These findings are shocking, and mean that thousands of women experiencing potentially serious perinatal mental health problems are not getting the support they need.’

Perinatal mental illness can have a severe and long-term impact on mothers, babies and families. In extreme circumstances, it can result in tragedy – suicide is a leading cause of maternal death.’

Dr Alain Gregoire, the chairman of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, has urged NHS chiefs to publish the report.

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Children face up to two year wait for ADHD diagnosis

Children are facing up to two years wait for ADHD diagnosis in the UK.

A freedom of information request by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on ADHD reveals a ‘postcode lottery’ for diagnosis of children across the UK with waiting lists of up to two years.

According to The Guardian, this has sparked a debate surrounding misconceptions amongst schools and lack of support from the Government.

It reveals that children in Somerset are being seen ‘within a month’, whereas young people in Cheshire and Wirral can wait for up to two years, significantly longer than the ’18 week targets’ in place.

ADHD is recognised by the National Institution of Health, recommending families to seek referral for the diagnosis of the condition.

According to The Guardian, Jo Platt, Labour MP, and chair of the APPG, has been informed of families whose children weren’t provided support. Some paid for their children to see a private doctor.

Platt commented on the two year waits, stating they were ‘really, really shocking’. She also addressed the stigma that ‘all children who behaved badly were being labelled as ADHD and put on pills’, saying ‘that is not the reality.’

Ilina Singh, who led the Voices project, aiming to raise the profile of children’s psychiatric diagnosis, said: ‘There needed to be better understanding and co-operation between schools, the medical community and families, instead of ‘finger-pointing.’

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Is it good for your mental health to be close to your parent?

Boys with close relationships with their mothers are less likely to suffer from mental health problems.

study by the Marriage Foundation found that children who are close to a parent of the opposite sex are better at coping with adolescent life. Boys who are close to their mothers at 14 are 41% less likely to have mental health problems. Girls who are close to their dads are 44% less likely to suffer emotionally or have trouble with their peers.

The analysis, according to The Daily Mail, used the Millennium Cohort Study data from 11,000 mothers, and determined that family breakdown was the biggest factor affecting teenage mental health.

Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation, who co-authored the study with Professor Steve McKay, said: ‘Boys who are close to their mum tend to have better mental health, as do girls who are close to their dad.

A strong relationship with the parent of the opposite sex is found to boosts self-esteem and peer group relationship skills, both of which support mental health.

The fact that these links only apply to one parent, not both suggest that it’s the closeness with parents that affects the child’s mental health and not the other way around.’

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In case you missed it…

The rugby player tackling men’s mental health Rugby Union Player, James Griffin, starts the charity Talk Outside The Scrum to tackle sportsmen’s mental health.

A football club is teaming up with charities to tackle mental health Ipswich Town Football Club are working with the Samaritans and Suffolk Mind on a campaign to raise awareness for men’s mental health.