Breaking Convention: My first Psychedelics conference

bc15-banner-brown

This weekend I attended something quite unlike my usual conferences, as many of you will know I am something of a veteran of the conference scene – in particular health (especially mental health), social care, youth work and technology. As much as I love being part of this scene I do often find that:

1) I have a fairly good understanding of a lot of the sessions, workshops and talks already

2) When I present at these conferences I often find myself facing a room full of faces I already know, who have heard me give the talk or something similar before – preaching to the converted.

So I decided to shake things up a bit and attend a very different conference: Breaking Convention 2015.

Breaking Convention is a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness, featuring more than 130 presenters from around the world and attended by around 800 delegates from an equally dizzying array of countries.

Look at all these happy faces!

Look at all these happy faces!

I actually first found out about BC through a school friend, Dave King, who is one of the co-founders of the organisation. I have been following some of his incredible, groundbreaking work over the last few years but this was the first year I could 1) manage and 2) afford to attend the actual event – and I’m so glad I did!

Other than the Breaking Convention talks I really didn’t know what to expect and I was a bit anxious as it was one of the few times in my life I’ve been to a conference where I’ve only known one other person. Thankfully my suspicion that it would be a wonderfully open and welcoming conference was confirmed on day 1 and by day 3 I had made several friends from across the world and had some incredible, meaningful conversations on a huge range of topics: from mental health to human rights and so much more.

Days 1 and 2

On the first few days I mainly went to talks about clinical applications and research into Psychedelics as this is something I know a bit about but wanted to know more – especially some of the more cutting edge international work that is being done in countries with far less restrictive laws than the UK. I will make a list underneath of all the talks I attended that I thought were particularly interesting or had the most profound effect on me.

You will also be able to Breaking Convention videos when they are uploaded over the coming weeks.

I also may have found a new look for myself – this is what happens when you play “I can fit more through my tunnel than thou” with strangers at strange conferences..

Flower Power

Flower Power

The final day

As day three was the last one I decided I would not only try and attend as many sessions as possible but also to go to sessions which I knew nothing about so I ended up learning about some completely new ideas and research.

The show stealing presentation was of course given by Professor David Nutt who is something of a personal hero of mine. His talk was titled “Throwing the baby out with the bathwater: How irrational drug laws are hampering medical research” and left us with a sobering picture not just of how hard it is currently in the UK to conduct research in this field but also just how dangerous and stupid the New Psychoactive Substances Bill is. You can Professor Nutt twitter for more updates on his work and campaigning and I also recommend his book Drugs Without The Hot Air.

Obviously this was a major highlight of the weekend for me:

David Nutt tweet

What did I learn about?

Over the three days of the conference I didn’t manage to attend as many talks and workshops as I had hoped due to anxiety and fatigue but I still managed to attend all the talks listed below, videos of all talks will be available on the Breaking Convention videos soon.

– Synesthesia and Psychedelics
– Concepts of Psychedelic drugs as therapeutic agents
– The discovery of the Endocannabinoid system and it’s importancy for treatment with Cannabis
– Ketamine for Depression: A pill for all pains?
– An fMRI investigation into the acute effects of MDMA administration in chronic, treatment resistant PTSD
– A mixed method investigation of Ayahuasca ceremonies as a candidate therapy for Bipolar Disorder and Cyclothymia
– Your Human Rights to use Psychedelics
– Dealing with powerful, difficult, emotionally intense experiences in the context of Psycholytic Therapy
– Psychonauts going Psychonuts
– Criminals and Researchers: Perspectives on the necessity of underground research
– Psychedelic Therapy: Notes from the underground
– The real secret of magic: Burroughs, McKenna, and the syntactical nature of reality
– On “Object manipulators”, Psychedelic festivals and the contemporary youth sociopolitical participation
– Entheogens and the emerging Internet of Everything
– Sacred medicine for a secular culture: How to make spiritual experience accessible
– The Psychedelic Shadow

I also had a chance to try out the Discovery Dome. This was an odd, inflatable igloo of sorts which inside was filled with pillows and blankets and projected incredible visualisations and played beautiful music. I had a chance to try out the dome on both the second and third days and saw different “shows” and had a very different reaction to each.

There was also a wealth of beautiful art littering the conference, many workshops and a lot of afterparties and music that I sadly missed in order to pace myself but I have heard were wonderful.

Closing ceremony 

Breaking Convention Blessing

Because I paced myself I did manage to stay until the end of the last day and attend the closing ceremony which was unlike anything I have ever experienced as we were lucky enough to gather to meet Mara’akame Paritemai, a renowned and well respected medicine man and healer who closed the conference with a blessing.

Conclusions

I consider myself so lucky to have had the chance to attend Breaking Convention 2015, I met so many incredible people doing groundbreaking work, I felt so welcomed and comfortable and I learnt a lot along the way.

The venue itself, the University of Greenwich was gorgeous and we were very lucky with the weather for the majority of the weekend:

No filter, it genuinely is this beautiful!

No filter, it genuinely is this beautiful!

I would definitely recommend the conference to anyone that has an interest in Psychedelics, Mental Health, Wellbeing, Drug Reform or just a general curiosity in any of the above.

The only things I’d like to see next year is a bigger presence on social media – although we had 800 attendees we need many more people to join the Scientific Drug Research cause. Also as much as it is an academic conference and that should remain the focus I would love to hear from more of the study participants – the actual users of Psychedelics who can talk about their own experiences.

I also found that parts of the conference brought up a lot of emotions for me, mostly anger at our ridiculous government and it’s continued wilful ignorance and dismissal of scientific evidence and my own sadness that I have used Mental Health services for 12 years, tried over 20 psychiatric medications most with awful side effects and yet something that could really help me would make me a criminal.

But that’s for another post..

Talking & Walking Out Of Darkness

The following post is a write up of the speech I gave on Saturday at the first ever Walking Out of Darkness event. Some of it may be slightly different from what was actually said on the day; mostly because I got the most emotional I have ever been giving a speech!

claspwalk

Hi everyone,

My name is Kat and I’m here today because when I heard what Kenny was trying to achieve this weekend, I had to get involved.

These days I’m very open about my mental health, so I’m happy to share with you that I’m not okay and in fact I haven’t been okay for a very long time.

I’ve used mental health services on and off for a decade and probably have enough labels to keep the post-it note industry alive. I’ve also come far too close to the edge myself and there were times, certainly, when I couldn’t bear the thought of being here for another day.

Looking around today, I can see a fair few familiar faces and, given what we’re all here for, I’m pretty sure I may be preaching to the converted, but let’s give it a go anyway.

Even for me this has not been an easy speech to write which these days is a novel experience for me. Over the last six years I have dedicated a large amount of my life to campaigning around mental health issues including Suicide.

I have spoken to countless individuals, and at events around the country about my experiences and those of my peers. Hell I even took on Jeremy Paxman live on Newsnight earlier this year to talk candidly about my experience of Self Harm and what I think needs to be done to help other young people suffering in silence.

But Suicide, even now, is something of a taboo within a taboo and not something that I can easily find words for.

You’ve probably all heard the statistic, that one in four of us will be affected by mental health issues. However I’ve often argued that it’s four in four. Because one in four doesn’t take into account the distress and despair felt by friends and family when a loved one is struggling. And yet many do not, cannot talk about it.

I used to be one of them. Even though I’ve been ill most of my life it wasn’t until six years ago, aged 19 that I “came out of the mental health closet”.

I was lucky enough to stumble across an amazing charity who changed, if not saved my life. The charity in question was YoungMinds and without their support there is no way I would be here today giving this talk. YoungMinds helped me to find my voice and start standing up to stigma. I joke that they gave me the activism bug, but more seriously, they helped me express the injustice I had long felt and gave me a platform to actually do something proactive.

In fact some of my friends from YoungMinds are here today so if you see anyone wearing our tshirts come up and say hello. I’d also urge you to sign up to our mass movement for change, YoungMinds Vs as we attempt to fight the pressures faced by young people across the UK.

I now work for a mental health start-up called BuddyApp. We’re a small team and we work with NHS services up and down the country to help people of all ages have a better experience of treatment using something strikingly simple and accessible; a text message.

Because I am so open I am often seen as one of the more visible advocates for service user voice in the mental health community. Because of this a lot of people reach out to me. It happens, sometimes several times a week and the sad thing is the conversation always starts the same way:

I’m really sorry but I don’t know who else to talk to

Now I’m glad that people reach out to me, don’t get me wrong. However it saddens me that, even in 2014 in a supposedly enlightened culture, there aren’t more of us willing to stand up and speak out. I wish my friends and the acquaintances and strangers that message me don’t have more options.

So everyday, sadly, I see the human cost of distress, of mental illness and of suicide. And sometimes it feels to me as though it’s everywhere, just hidden behind a thin veil. Perhaps if we stopped and looked around the crowds we would see that not everyone manages to keep their mask on, perhaps we could take a bit more time to carry out some random acts of kindness.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

When it comes to Suicide, we can talk about statistics until the proverbial cows come home. I could rattle off numbers and tell you how many thousands died last year.

I could tell you that the biggest killer of men aged 20-49 is not road traffic accidents, it’s not Cancer and it’s not Heart Disease..it’s Suicide.

But I guess, and I can’t believe i’m quoting, or rather misquoting this person, but as Stalin almost said:

The death of millions is a statistic. The death of one man is a tragedy.

What makes us sit up ad think, what really pulls our heart strings and makes the numbers feel more human, what we sadly often lose, is the individual tragedy.

I’m guessing that many of you, like me, are here today because you have lost someone you love or have come too close to taking those final steps for yourself. There is no pain like it, I know.

I was 18 when I first lost someone to suicide. Her name is Casey Brooks. She was a charming, funny, caring girl with friends all over the world (we met through an online support group). Although I never met her she provided me, and many others with support in our darkest hours. And yet, in hers, that last time, she didn’t reach out.

Casey Brooks

Casey didn’t think much of herself, a common problem for people like us with mental health issues. I wish she had truly understood the love and the laughter she brought to people’s lives and what the absence would mean. I wish could see the effect her leaving had. I don’t think she could have guessed that all these years on her online memorial would have almost a thousand members. I wish she knew that her parents never stop talking about her, or about the work they’ve done in the last few years to help save other young lives. Her dad has also written this book which I would recommend.

Since that fateful day I have come far too close, far too often to losing far too many others.

Three weeks ago I received a text that made my blood run cold. It was one of my dearest friends, who I have known and cared about for years and she was saying goodbye. I think my heart stopped beating as I read those words.

I know she’s come close before, I’ve held her as she wept, whispered supportive words down the phone at 4am when everyone around me was asleep, I’d do anything for this girl. But this time felt different. I guess after all these years being involved in the mental health community, and all my safeguarding experience, you start cultivating a pretty accurate gut reaction. It didn’t help that I was also several hundred miles away and couldn’t do what I desperately wanted to, which was to hold her and keep her safe until the storm passed.

I’m so happy to be able to say that she’s still with us but it breaks my heart knowing how close she came and how little she felt she had left to live for.

And i’m proud of her for telling me, I am so grateful I didn’t lose her that night.

When we are struggling and feel alone, we need the courage to reach out, to say this is not how my story ends. And appropriately for today, if we see that hand reach out, we must have the courage to clasp it and hold on, as long as it takes.

I want to thank you all for joining us today Walking Out Of Darkness; blessed are the cracked for we let in the light. I’d also like to think Kenny, the CEO of CLASP, who has worked so incredibly hard to bring us all together today.

And I will leave you with this quote from Ben Okri, which struck me as apt for today;

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and be greater than our suffering.

Thank you

The problem with IAPT

I’ve just been referred to IAPT when i really shouldn’t have been, i will explain..

A bit of background: most of you know that i have struggled with various mental health issues for the majority of my life. I’ve also used mental health services on and off for the past decade to try and move towards that elusive “recovery” we hear so much about. I’m also a very well-informed service user with 5 years of  experience working with organisations like YoungMinds-basically i know what i’m talking about when it comes to mental health and in particular what is best for me.

I recently went back to my GP in a very distressed state. My anxiety recently has been through the roof and it’s had a crippling knock on effect on my mood and several other conditions which in turn has lead to a sharp deterioration in both my mental and physical health. Basically i was not in a good way-another bad downspike in what for me is a severe and enduring problem.

This one GP in particular is one i try to avoid as we have had several clashes over my treatment in the past. After refusing to prescribe me more medication she offered to refer me back for CBT (which i have had previously & has been relatively effective). I agreed but pointed out it would probably be at least a year until i was seen and that i would need to continue medication in the meantime (which she was not happy about). She told me that several of her patients had only waited a month or two.

This struck me as odd-i look back and want to kick myself; i should have known why.

She was not referring me back to the adult CMHT who have seen me before and know me. She was referring me to IAPT.

I have since been back to the surgery to see a different clinician who confirmed exactly what i already knew: i should never have been referred to IAPT and my local IAPT service won’t take me-i am too severe a case with far more than mild-moderate Depression/Anxiety.

It’s very frustrating to continually have to educate clinicians myself about things they should know about-mental health and services in particular. I often have to explain mental health conditions to GPs (who do not need to have any training on mental health to qualify by the way) or tell them about third sector services in the area that they could refer people to.

I am exhausted from having to constantly and almost aggressively self advocate in order to get any treatment at all.

Oh the irony..

For me this is actually almost painfully ironic.

You see while i was a VIK at YoungMinds i was part of several consultations on IAPT before it was up and running and i even facilitated group workshops for other young people on the subject. I liked the idea in principle, after all it would offer therapy to so many people who usually wouldn’t be considered “ill enough” or would have ended up of the bottom of the average 18 month waiting list of adult mental health services. It would also bring in a self referral element often lacking from statutory mental health services and the waiting lists they suggested were much better too.

But i did argue one point very strongly:

My concern was that the implementation of IAPT might lead to cuts in other psychological therapies on offer and that we ran the risk of IAPT becoming the be-all and end-all. This is because IAPT is quicker and also therefore cheaper than more traditional talking therapies making it more attractive to commissioners and cash-strapped trusts.

I said repeatedly that there must be safeguards put in place and that clinicians and patients needed to be fully aware that IAPT is not appropriate for everyone, especially not those with more severe issues. Especially as IAPT often offers just 6-12 CBT sessions which are not appropriate for every condition and often not enough (i’ve had about 30 sessions over the years so far and i’m still painfully ill).

Sadly it seems my fears have been realised.

From January-March 2012/2013 259,016 people were referred to IAPT but only 154,722 entered treatment which suggests to me that i am not alone in being wrongly referred to the service. (Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre IAPT data set).

I have also spoken to a large number of people, especially in the 18-25 age range who have been referred to IAPT when they should not have been.

I would be very interested to hear of anyone else’s experiences of being wrongly referred and will be voicing my concerns on this matter to the NHS and YoungMinds.

What is IAPT?

IAPT stands for “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” and is an NHS program to extend access to talking therapies for over 18s in England (there is also CYPIAPT for children and young people). It is usually offered to people with mild-moderate Depression, Anxiety or Stress.

It’s mental health awareness week: and I am only too aware

So May 13th-19th is Mental Health Awareness Week.

Image

Yes i realise i am late to the party. I have a reason although you will have to excuse the shedloads of irony; i am not well. And by that i mean in my head.

Welcome to the beauty, or rather the curse of mental illness. As lovely as it would be if i could channel all my OCD into cleaning my wardrobe out (i’ve been putting it off for months) or all my anxious energy into getting through my overflowing email inbox, it doesn’t work like that.

Instead on a week where i would like nothing more than to blog, tweet, meet and run from event to event i can barely get my thoughts in enough order to make a cup of tea. 

And because of the inherent, insipid guilt and self loathing that has somehow slipped into the cracks (i drop my guard for one minute..) you beat yourself up because you, surely you of all people should be out there shouting on the streets, obsessively blogging and tweeting. But instead i know most have you have had something not unlike radio silence from my end.

I also feel guilty because the campaign is around physical exercise and wellbeing. Unfortunately this is less than possible for me for a few reasons;

1. Due to whatever mess is happening in my head at the moment i am really struggling to get out of bed and go to work (i have failed more than achieved this recently) although when i do make it it is some (stressful) exercise

2. Due to my weight and general physical health to some extent because of that exercise is not a great idea for me!

 

So i think my exercise for this week will mainly be lifting a cup of tea to my mouth and stretching in the morning sun. Better luck next time.

Confession time: the first time i asked for help

The World in Mentalists this week featured a blog about first experiences (or first contact!) seeking help for a mental health problem.

Reading that blog which you can find here i suddenly found myself transported back almost ten years ago now to my own first time. The first time i admitted that i needed help and couldn’t do it on my own any more.

This first experience is, for many, a huge deal. It is the first time they have ever admitted it and let their carefully crafted mask fall and from personal experience it feels like a confessional.

Forgive me doctor but something is really not right in my head.

The first time i ever admitted out loud that something was not all right was  definitely a shatter point in my existence. My memories of it are vivid even now and i look back and have so many things i wish i could say to that scared girl.

I was fourteen when i first went to my GP and asked for help. I had been ill for a fairly long time by this point, having already fallen quite deep down the rabbit hole of Depression, Anorexia, Anxiety and OCD.

These were not conditions that had come about suddenly, they had grown up with me, slowly and silently. I had always been an anxious child and i can remember very ritualised behaviour and obsessive compulsive symptoms dating back to the age of 6 but it had always seemed very normal and very manageable to me.

In fact i remember thinking that everyone did the strange rituals i did and thought the way i did, we never talk about it because everyone does it i reasoned to myself.

When i was thirteen it began to manifest more strongly and i started retreating into myself. I had always been quiet and i had just started the “terrible teens” so it was not really noticed, not even by me, that i had started withdrawing from the world.

I had a lot of friends online and they were the ones that eventually managed to convince me to tell people “IRL” (in real life) and that what i was feeling was not normal.

Up to this point i had told almost no one that actually knew me, it was something i kept incredibly close to my chest and that not even family or close friends knew about.

I finally managed to work up the courage to tell my parents. Almost. I left them a note that said i needed to go to the doctor because something wasn’t right. This may seem cowardly but at this point i was literally unable to get the words out of my mouth.

They were shocked and scared, it was completely out of the blue, so good i had got at hiding that anything was wrong.

I wrote a four page letter to my doctor on my computer and printed it out because i was terrified of saying anything and i knew i would sabotage it and end up saying that nothing was really wrong, i had made a mistake.

I honestly did not know what to expect or what would happen after i handed over those pieces of paper. Mental health was not talked about ten years ago. We now have wonderful campaigns like Time to Change and politicians talking about their experiences of mental illness but when i was 14 this just did not happen.

There certainly wasn’t anything about mental health or illness at school. People made jokes about “nutters” and “men in white coats” sure but there was deafening silence from the curriculum.

I was scared that i was going to be sent straight to a psychiatric hospital right there and then on the spot. I was scared i would be medicated up to my eye balls.

Luckily this was not the case!

The doctor i saw was young and very newly qualified. She admitted from the very beginning that she knew very little about mental illness or the conditions i was suffering from and had never had a patient like me but that she would do everything in her power to find out more and help.

She was incredibly kind and compassionate and refused to give me medication, saying instead that i would have a referral to the local CAMHS team for an assessment. I remember how wonderful she was, so non judgemental and what’s more she believed me and what i was going through.

Through the weeks she helped me understand that medically i was not well and i needed help, she helped me talk to my parents and together we learnt more about my illness.

Later on she left her position at my surgery and went elsewhere, however because of the way she had responded to me i felt optimistic about my treatment from this point onwards.

I hear about some people’s first experiences and think back to some of my own later run ins with professionals i feel terrible thinking about it. It is so important that your first time “coming out” as it were about a mental health problem is not a negative one. I know so many people that tried once and it took them years afterwards to try again because their first experience had been so traumatic.

There is still a real gap that needs to be dealt with in terms of good and actual patient experience is and the education of GPs when it comes to mental health, especially in young people.

But i hope that through continuing work by organisations like YoungMinds we can get there. Everyone deserves to be taken seriously and treated with respect.

And if you want to help support mental health education in schools check out my friend Charlotte’s amazing AcSEED project.

Celebrate World Mental Health Day in London

Celebrate World Mental Health Day in London

It’s  World Mental Health Day tomorrow. The event which is marking it’s 20th anniversary will this year  focus on Depression, something that affects a huge number of us here in the UK and worldwide and from what i can see is only getting worse.

As i’m currently working for YoungMinds and NHS London i thought i would do a little bit of my own research to see what London is doing to celebrate the day and how you can get involved.

Of course i may well have missed bits here and there so if anyone knows about something i’ve missed drop me a line in the form of a comment and i’ll add it to the list.

 

Camden

There will be a “Real Talk” event for 14-19 year olds running from 5:30-8:30pm at Camden Town Hall Council Chamber and the topic for debate is “Mental Health in Camden”. I will have a stall at the event and lots of information about YoungMinds and the VIK Project. There will also be some fantastic prizes, music, hot food and a goody bag for every participant. You do need a ticket for this event.

For tickets to Real Talk email Lizzie.Streeter@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 2943.   

North East London Foundation Trust

To mark World Mental Health Day, North East London NHS Foundation Trust is hosting a ‘Depression and Dementia’ awareness event on Wednesday 10 October at Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

The event will highlight how factors such as exercise and diet can affect mental health and how people can make positive changes to their everyday lives to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

http://www.nelft.nhs.uk/news_publications/110

Bipolar UK

Bipolar UK’s London office will be hosting a lunchtime welcome between 12 noon and 2pm. This is your opportunity to celebrate this special day, meet the team and learn more about bipolar and what the charity do do. 

http://www.bipolaruk.org.uk/world-mental-health-day.html

Haringey Council

I’m very impressed by Haringey Council who are actually running a whole week’s worth of events in order to celebrate World Mental Health Day and help local people experiencing mental health problems. The list of activities is detailed on their website.

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/social_care_and_health/mental-health/worldmentalhealthday.htm

London School of Economics

On October 8th in collaboration with the Central & North London NHS Trust and LSE Student union are holding an event on the Houghton street campus, in the Student union building to raise awareness of mental illness amongst students. There will be information stalls and a film show “Open Secrets” following by a group discussion.

http://lsesu.tumblr.com/post/32927625078/lsesu-is-marking-world-mental-health-day-8th-oct

JAMI (Jewish Association for Mental Illness)

JAMI will be manning stalls in the community, raining awareness about mental health for World Menatl Health day.

Barnet

All day event at Brent Cross Shopping Centre (Centre Court) Stalls, information, volunteers/advisers, short talks on mental illness.

On the 11th of October Barnet’s Mayor Brian Schama will be attending an event titled “No Health Without Mental Health”.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/9959339.Mental_health_awareness_day_supported_by_Barnet_Mayor/

Dagenham

Dagenham are holding an event for World Mental Health Day, called Opportunities, which will highlight the Employment, Education and Training opportunities in the local communities for people with mental health issues, as well as raising awareness and addressing stigma.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/your-organisation/events/wmhd-opportunities

Hammersmith Lyric Theatre

An event will be held in the Lyric Square and Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith on Wednesday 10th October 12-4pm. The purpose of the event is to combat the stigma associated with mental health, promote awareness of mental health and provide information on services available. The event will have something for everyone: a play produced by the Creative Minds Youth Project, speakers, film screenings, advice & information, and stalls and workshops on mental health.

Time for Tea

Gillet Square, 14th October.

Time for tea is a one day festival spread over three locations in Dalston for World Mental Health Day in association with: Hackney Community Services East London NHS Foundation Trust Gillett Squared Studio Upstairs and Time to Change.

http://www.studioupstairs.org.uk/featured-news/time-for-tea-festival/

 Time to Change

Time to Change are running a roadshow event at a local community centre – MyPlace Community Centre in Harold Hill Romford which is linking in with an art exhibition that is delivered by people with Mental Health conditions to raise awareness of mental health to local people in Havering.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/your-organisation/events/mental-health-awareness-day-10th-october-2012

Rethink Your Mind

Rethink Your Mind had a fantastic London launch event that  i was lucky enough to attend last month. They asked people to send it positive, creative work with the sentence ‘With good mental health I have…’ to start them off.

 They will be revealing the winner of their competition and showcasing some of the creative work that has been sent to them.

http://www.rethinkyourmind.co.uk/

Mental Health Foundation

Tea and Talk events: All you have to do is get together a group of friends, family or colleagues, put the kettle on and invite them to make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation, it’s as simple as that!

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved/as-a-fundraiser/teaandtalk/

MindApples

The wonderful Mind Apples will have one of their trees down at Southwark Cathedral on World Mental Health Day. Check it out and add your 5 a day!

The Trouble with Moody Teens

Hello everyone,

Just to say an interview that i did with Miranda Sawyer earlier this year on young people and depression is airing Friday 11th May at 11:00a.m. on BBC Radio 4.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01h7cdh

Here is the synopsis:

In every school class, at least one teenager will need urgent treatment for clinical depression. With thousands of under-16s on anti-depressants, there is concern that mental health problems amongst youngsters are on the rise. So what is the difference between typical teen behaviour and something more serious?

Presenter Miranda Sawyer hears from young people who speak frankly about their thoughts and feelings, often hidden from those around them. She talks to parents, teachers and experts to find out what are the first signs that a teenager is suffering from clinical depression – and asks why it is sometimes so difficult to spot those early symptoms.

In this programme, teenagers speak about the increasing pressures of growing up today – from school, home and friends – and Miranda asks why do some teenagers cope with these pressures whilst others spiral down into depression? How much are social networking and today’s economic climate to blame and how much of the illness is hereditary?

At school, some teachers may dismiss early signs of depression as bad behaviour or lack of attention in class, but increasingly secondary schools like Bradley Stokes near Bristol have a specialist unit and strategies in place to identify vulnerable pupils and refer them early for psychological help.

Often social stigma and guilt make it difficult for teenagers and parents to come forward and GPs may initially put problems down to adolescence, while child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) can be patchy and oversubscribed. Miranda investigates the treatment available and finds out how charities like Young Minds support both teenagers with mental health problems and worried parents.