News round-up (8 March 2024)

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8th March 2024 about a 5 minute read

The government is providing £10m of funding to charities across England to work on projects offering support to people at risk of suicide. After recent focus on the woes of the menopause, there is some good news, with research suggesting that not all menopausal women are at risk of experiencing mental health problems. Older people’s mental health problems, however, are often overlooked, a new report says, and it calls for integrated care boards to review their provision of mental health services for older adults.

Mental health charities awarded £10m in suicide prevention funding

The government is to award £10m to charities across England to provide suicide prevention services.

The funding will go to 79 charities in all, including large national charities and smaller community organisations. The Department of Health and Social Care said the funding signalled an “important milestone” in the delivery of its suicide prevention strategy.

The beneficiaries include the Samaritans, which received £530k for its helpline and outreach projects; Papyrus, which has received £625k to deliver support on the east coast through six new community hubs; and James’ Place, which has also received £625k, which it will use to set up support in Liverpool, Newcastle and London. This support will include two full-time therapists in each location.

Older people’s mental health is overlooked, charities say

Older people are too often overlooked and excluded from mental health support, according to a new briefing by Centre for Mental Health.

The briefing, Mental health in later life, was commissioned by Age UK. It says that ageism and discrimination stop older people from accessing support, with poor mental health often dismissed by health professionals as an inevitable part of getting older.

Research shows that 75% of people aged 65+ have experienced significant anxiety or low mood at least once since turning 65, with depression affecting 40% of older people in care homes.

The briefing finds that older people face barriers to mental health support at every level. They are often disregarded by professionals, lack access to specialist services and are overlooked by national and local mental health strategies in England. It makes six recommendations, including that integrated care boards review their provision of mental health support for older adults.

ICO tells employers they can share staff data in a mental health emergency

Employers can legally share staff data in a mental health emergency, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.

New guidance from the ICO provides advice on when it is appropriate to share workers’ information if the employer believes that someone is at risk of causing serious harm to themselves, or others, because of their mental health.

Chris Hogan, the ICO’s head of regulatory strategy, said: “We want to reassure employers that during a mental health emergency they should share necessary and proportionate information without delay with relevant and appropriate emergency services or health professionals.

“It is a good idea to plan ahead, as this will help you to make well informed decisions if you need to. Our guidance will help you do that and includes useful case studies to illustrate how the law can work in practice.”

Menopause does not always affect mental health, study finds

Menopause does not uniformly elevate the risk of depression and other mental health conditions, a new review of research has found.

The review, published in the Lancet, did not find evidence that menopause universally caused a rise in risk of mental health conditions – including depressive symptoms, major depressive disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychosis – in all women.

The researchers did find, however, that certain groups are more at risk of mental health during menopause. Women were more likely to report depressive symptoms if they had previously experienced depression, if their sleep was severely disturbed by nocturnal hot flushes, or if they had a stressful life event concurrent with menopause.

Schoolchildren receive mental health rucksacks

Schoolchildren in Berkshire and Oxfordshire are to receive backpacks filled with items to support their mental health.

The Resilience Rucksack project, led by the University of Reading, will provide 1,000 children in eight schools with rucksacks filled with comic books, playing cards and journals, along with other wellbeing tools.

The year six and seven pupils will attend fairs where they will learn more about the science behind psychological resilience and choose the types of tools they want to take away and try.

Professor Stella Chan at the University of Reading, who is leading the project, said: “The transition from primary to secondary school can be an incredibly challenging time for young people’s mental health. By engaging pupils directly in this innovative and creative way, we hope to provide them with fun and evidenced-based tools to support their resilience throughout their school years, and for life.”

New campaign to encourage people to get help for mental health problems

A new NHS campaign has been launched in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes to inform local people about dedicated NHS services that can help with common mental health problems.

The campaign is encouraging people to self-refer to their local NHS Talking Therapies service. The service can provide support and treatment for problems such as feeling anxious, low or hopeless; having panic attacks; finding it hard to cope with work, life or relationships; stress and worrying a lot; or fear of social situations.

They can also help people struggling with flashbacks or nightmares about upsetting events from your past, obsessive thoughts and behaviours, and phobias.

The type of therapy offered includes guided self-help, cognitive behavioural therapy and (CBT), counselling.