Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Royal Society for Public Health | May 2018| #StatusOfMind  Social media and Young people’s mental health and wellbeing

This report from Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) explores the positive and negative impact of social media on young people aged between 16-24, and their mental health and wellbeing. It also includes a league table of five social media platforms which have been ranked in order of their net impact on young people’s health and wellbeing by young people.

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Image source: .rsph.org.u

The RSPH calls for

  1. The introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media
  2. Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated
  3. NHS England to apply the Information Standard Principles to health information published via social media
  4. Safe social media use to be taught during PSHE education in school
  5.  Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts and other data, and discreetly signpost to support
  6. Youth-workers and other professionals who engage with young people to have a digital (including social) media component in their training
  7. More research to be carried out into the effects of social media on young people’s mental health

The report can be downloaded here 

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Alcohol and mental health policy and practice in England

Institute of Alcohol Studies & Centre for Mental Health| April 2018 | Alcohol and mental health policy and practice in England

According to the Centre for Mental Health people who have alcohol and mental health problems are not well recognised in national policy. Mental health issues are poorly addressed in government alcohol policies, while alcohol is barely mentioned in national mental health policies including the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. And budget constraints in both substance misuse and mental health services have put extra pressure on services already struggling to meet people’s needs.

The Institute of Alcohol Studies and Centre for Mental Health surveyed people who work in alcohol and mental health services. The results of the survey indicate that support  for people with co-occurring conditions was poor.

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Image source: centreformentalhealth

Key findings

  • Most staff, in both alcohol and mental health services, felt that
    support for people with co-occurring conditions was poor.
  • Support for homeless people was consistently the biggest area of concern. Our survey also found that trust and understanding between alcohol and mental health services were weak.
  • Alcohol service staff were, however, overall more critical of mental health services than vice versa.
  • Barriers to greater integration included funding and workforce shortages (especially in alcohol services through lack of training), and the stigma facing people with co-occurring conditions.

They recommend that the UK Government should urgently develop a comprehensive alcohol strategy and commit, alongside NHS England, to a second Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

A news piece can be read at the Centre for Mental Health 

The full report Alcohol and Mental Health can be found here  

Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 presents actions to address mental health inequalities across England

Mental Health FoundationMarch 2018 | Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 

Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 is a new publication from the Mental Health Foundation, it underlines how certain population subgroups are at higher risk of mental health problems. This is a result of  of greater exposure and vulnerability to unfavourable social, economic, and environmental circumstances:

  • Material inequality – poverty, poor housing, lack of employment opportunities.
  • Social inequality and injury – stigma and discrimination or experiences related to:
    • living in care
    • immigration status
    • ethnicity
    • sexual orientation
    • disability
    • experience of violence or abuse.
  • Health inequality – including having long-term physical health conditions.
Mental health inequal
Image source: mentalhealth.org.uk

The Mental Health Foundation recognise a social gradient which exists in relation to poverty and/or economic  inequality and poorer mental health and wellbeing. Populations living in poor socio-economic circumstances are at increased risk
of poor mental health, depression and lower wellbeing. They advocate particular approaches and interventions to reduce the risk factors underpinning inequalities and applying these proportionately across the social gradient.

Their review of the latest evidence about how to lessen the risk of mental health  inequalities has enabled the to identify five priorities for action.  The manifesto  presents these actions that can be applied to address mental health inequalities in England. These are:

  1. Healthy children: Promote emotional wellbeing and build resilience from birth through universal and targeted programmes..
  2. Healthy minds:  Introduce a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to address mental health promotion, prevention, treatment, discrimination, exclusion, care and recovery.
  3. Healthy places: Apply a socio-ecological approach that takes account of the impact of the social and physical environment, within homes and in settings such as schools and communities.
  4. Healthy communities: Introduce a place-based approach to protect and support good mental health and wellbeing in the community.
  5. Healthy habits: Give people the knowledge, tools and resources to protect and improve their own and their families’ and friends’ mental health.

The full manifesto can be downloaded from the Mental Health Foundation 

Effectiveness of school-based mental health services

Broad evidence now supports the potential of school-based services delivered by teachers and other school-based professionals to help reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | via ScienceDaily

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Teachers and other school-based professionals can help reduce children’s mental health problems in elementary-aged children, reports a study published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services. The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.

In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behavior problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems, or substance use. Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Sanchez, A. L. et al. | The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis |  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | 2018; 57 (3): 153

2008 recession led to increase in obesity, diabetes and mental health issues

The 2008 recession resulted in changes to individuals’ health behaviour, with a significant increase in the likelihood of obesity, diabetes and mental health problems | Social Science & Medicine | Story via ScienceDaily.

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Researchers from City University London and King’s College London looked at data from the Health Survey for England (HSE), a cross-sectional survey taken yearly from a representative sample of about 9,000 English households. They specifically used data on respondents above 16 years of age for the period 2001-2013. In addition to socio-economic characteristics, the HSE includes information on a wide range of health lifestyles and health conditions.

The results of the study suggest that the start of the recession was associated with worse dietary habits and increased BMI and obesity. It was also associated with a shift away from risky behaviours, as a decrease in smoking and alcohol consumption was seen. In addition, there was an increase in the use of medicines and a higher likelihood of suffering diabetes and mental health problems, all of which were generally experienced more acutely by those with less education and by women.

Researchers discovered that the probability of being obese and severely obese increased by 4.1 and 2.4 percentage points respectively. Similarly, the probability of having diabetes was 1.5 percentage points higher after 2008, with the prevalence of mental health problems increasing by 4 percentage points.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Mireia Jofre-Bonet, Victoria Serra-Sastre, Sotiris Vandoros |  The impact of the Great Recession on health-related risk factors, behaviour and outcomes in England | Social Science & Medicine, 2018.

Running helps brain stave off effects of chronic stress

Study finds that exercise protects vital memory and learning functions | Neurobiology of Learning and Memory | via ScienceDaily

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Whilst it is widely acknowledged that getting a little exercise helps when dealing with stress, a new study discovers exercise — particularly running — while under stress also helps protect your memory.

The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, finds that running mitigates the negative impacts chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Lead author Jeff Edwards, states “Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress.”

Further detail at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Running exercise mitigates the negative consequences of chronic stress on dorsal hippocampal long-term potentiation in male mice.  | Neurobiology of Learning and Memory |  2018