Does more mental health treatment and less stigma produce better mental health?

Two articles published this week shine a revealing light on how the general public views mental health care and its practitioners | The Conversation


Mental health problems continue to carry a heavy stigma. People who experience them are often feared, excluded, shamed and discriminated against. Overcoming that stigma is a high priority, not least because it’s a barrier to engaging people in treatments that might help them.

People suffering from mental health problems are not the only ones to experience the stigma of mental illness, however. Those who treat them sometimes share the burden. Just as the shadow of death falls on workers in the funeral industry, psychiatric stigma casts a shadow on the public image of mental health professionals.

Psychiatrists in particular have been concerned they are held in low esteem by the public and within the medical profession. This negative view of the field has significant consequences, such as making it difficult to recruit students into psychiatric training. The chronic under-funding of mental health research and treatment arguably reflects the same devaluation.

Read the full blog post here


Developing dementia-friendly care and support for people with a learning disability

A report from several voluntary sector organisations calls for an improvement in the way that the needs of people with learning disabilities and dementia are addressed | VODG

Image source: VODG

This paper explores how best to develop support, services and treatments for the growing number of people with a learning disability and dementia. It builds on earlier work, across the voluntary sector strategic partnership which focuses on dementia support within the context of the protected characteristics defined under the Equality Act 2010.

Read the full report here

Imaging for the exclusion of pulmonary embolism in pregnancy

The Cochrane Database of Systematic reviews has published ‘Imaging for the exclusion of pulmonary embolism in pregnancy’.

Cochrane Library
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Pulmonary embolism is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death. An accurate diagnosis in pregnant patients is crucial to prevent untreated pulmonary embolism as well as unnecessary anticoagulant treatment and future preventive measures. Applied imaging techniques might perform differently in these younger patients with less comorbidity and altered physiology, who largely have been excluded from diagnostic studies.

The objectives of the study was to  determine the diagnostic accuracy of computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA), lung scintigraphy and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism during pregnancy.

The Authors concluded that  both CTPA and lung scintigraphy seem appropriate for exclusion of pulmonary embolism during pregnancy. However, the quality of the evidence mandates cautious adoption of this conclusion. Important limitations included poor reference standards, necessary assumptions in the analysis regarding inconclusive test results and the inherent inability of included studies to identify false positives. It is unclear which test has the highest accuracy. There is a need for direct comparisons between diagnostic methods, including MR, in prospective randomized diagnostic studies.

Read the report here

Digital health for young people with mental health problems: silver bullet or red herring?

Betton, V. | The Mental Elf Blog


As children and young people (CYP) appear welded to their smartphones at all times of day and night, it seems obvious that when they face mental health difficulties they will turn first to digital health interventions (DHIs). But do young people really prefer DHIs to established services and are they clinically and cost effective?

At mHabitat our discovery work with young people has uncovered surprisingly mixed attitudes towards digital technologies, so I was interested to see how this new systematic and meta-review (Hollis et al, 2017) squares with what we have found in practice.

Read the full blog post here

Read the original research article abstract here

Burning Injustice: Reducing tobacco-driven harm and inequality

Recommendations to the government, local authorities and the NHS | All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health

Image source: APPGSH

The APPGSH launched this inquiry to review current action on tobacco control in response to concerns that funding is being reduced or not used effectively for work on tobacco control. The report provides evidence-based recommendations to the government, local authorities and the NHS for effective action to further reduce smoking prevalence at a time of austerity.

Read the full report here

Associations Between Sex Education and Contraceptive Use

Jaramillo, N. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: 26 January 2017

Purpose: This study examined associations between reports of receiving education on topics commonly included in sex education (e.g., abstinence only, comprehensive) prior to age 18 years and contraceptive use at the last sex among heterosexually active, 15- to 20-year-old males in the United States.


Conclusions: Exposure to a larger number of sex education topics is associated with young men’s report of dual contraception use at the last sex. Comprehensive sex education, focusing on a range of topics, may be most effective at promoting safer sex among adolescent males.

Read the full abstract here

Evidence review on drug misuse treatment published

The review by Public Health England shows the drug misuse treatment system in England is performing well.

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Public Health England (PHE) published a comprehensive review of the evidence on the drug misuse treatment system in England. In comparison with other countries and the international research, it shows the system is performing well but some areas need improvement. Some of the findings include:

  • 60% of all opioid users are in treatment – among the highest reported internationally
  • 97% of all users start treatment within three weeks, which compares favourably with other countries
  • there is a very low rate of HIV infection among injecting drug users (1%) in England

The review gives policy makers and local areas an objective assessment of what drug treatment outcomes are achievable, and compares outcomes in England to the evidence and to other drug treatment systems

It reviews the impact of housing problems, unemployment and social deprivation on treatment engagement and outcomes. The review also considers how drug treatment will need to be configured to meet future need and recommends an appropriate set of measures or indicator for treatment evaluation.

Read the full review: