Tag Archives: mental health

Making time for play

It’s hard to know exactly how we’re going to come out of lockdown, despite the rumours and the guesses. It’s certainly a complex challenge to negotiate, but in the midst of this dilemma a group of several experts from education, child development, psychology, and child psychiatry are trying to make sure that children’s wellbeing is put front and centre.

The group’s initiative is called Play First, and they want to make sure that children’s need to play is prioritised as much as their need to catch up academically, as they return to school. They’ve written a letter to MP Gavin Williamson with some practical advice on how to achieve this safely (like children taking turns to play in small groups) along with a clear summary of the evidence that their views are based on.

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Everything in moderation: including good advice

There’s been some interesting pieces written about coronavirus recently, from Ashley Fulwood’s advice for people experiencing OCD on how not to let the news be a trigger, to Dr Jo Daniels’ piece on how to prevent anxiety about the virus from spiralling out of control.

If mental health is a spectrum, how do we give advice that doesn’t inadvertently harm people at the pointy end of it? Good advice can tip into something harmful if worries around it get out of control.

It was also Eating Disorder Awareness Week last week, and amongst the tips for how to spot an eating disorder, I recalled some research on food labels published last year.

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Too easy an excuse

Last Saturday’s front page Guardian was grim. “Revealed: just 1.5% of rape cases lead to summons.”

This refers to the number of reported rapes that result in a summons. The stat is worse than it was when, ten years ago, I was first involved in a piece of research which tried to better understand the huge attrition rate in rape cases.

At that time the stats were bad, only 6% of reported rapes went on to a successful prosecution. Today, those stats are even worse.

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Genetics study findings signpost new lines of investigation for anorexia treatment

Anorexia nervosa is a condition with serious emotional and physical consequences. Emotional consequences include deep distress, isolation, and loss of pleasure in things that once were loved. Physical consequences can be long-term and severe, and in the worst case anorexia can be fatal. There are some treatments that help, but not everyone, and the problem remains in need of innovative interventions for the people experiencing the disorder and their families.

A new study just published in Nature Genetics brings hope of some new ways of approaching the disorder. Researchers have found eight genetic variations which are associated with greater risk of anorexia.

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Resources for journalists who are interviewing people about sexual assault and trauma

I’m lucky enough to be in Lausanne at the World Conference of Science Journalists this week, on a panel about interviewing people who have experienced bullying, harassment, and sexual assault. It’s a responsible issue to be talking about and there’s lots of information to share.

This blog pulls together some resources for journalists who are interviewing people who have experienced something traumatic, and in particular sexual assault. Links are embedded throughout. I hope it’s useful.

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A reason to enjoy the rain


I have been loving the sound of the rain on the veranda recently, and the smell of the plants that gets so much stronger and fresher after they’ve been doused. Being under shelter as the rain falls on the roof reminds me a bit of camping at festivals, and a bit of being really young and in my dad’s workshop out the back, with its corrugated roofing and smell of cut wood and glue.

The sound of the rain also made me think about the news items there have been about forest-bathing recently, the Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature, and research which has shown it’s good for us to have time in the wild.

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Why it’s so hard to speak up about assault

Night buses in London are wild – on busy nights you’re just grateful to catch one that isn’t full up but the things that go on in them are sometimes really sketchy. I once saw someone showing off a gun to his friends. I don’t live in London anymore but I had many a night bus journey when I did, travelling back to Camberwell in the early hours.

Melania Geyonat and her girlfriend Chris, were a couple amongst those travelling home on a night bus recently, only they got attacked on their way home, because they were two women in a relationship. The couple were verbally and physically assaulted, and they spoke out in the news about it.

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Psychology Gogglebox

There’s been a run of programmes about different sorts of mental health problem recently, and different ways of helping. I had a week where I watched lots of them: Louis Theroux on experiences of postnatal depression and psychosis, Alistair Campbell on depression, Nadiya Hussain on anxiety and David Harewood on psychosis.

Just as mental health is a spectrum, so is its coverage. The purpose and filming practices of these programmes are in stark contrast to reality TV shows that have also been in the news lately, in relation to their effects on participant mental health:  Jeremy Kyle’s show in particular, but also Love Island.

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