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First Published: September 24: 2015
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Psychology Arkive Year Alpha and Year Beta 2015-16 and 2016-17

 

 

 

 

Gaming Addiction Problem Among Hong Kong Upper Primary Students: Societies Governments Agencies Parents Must Invest Their Time-Resource in Raising Their Children and Young Instead of Letting Devices Look After Them While They Do Other Things: This is Dehumanisation at Work Removing the Parents and the Young Away From Each Other and Breaking the Bond That They Ought to Create Foster Nurture and Live By: For While the Young are Abandoned to Their Devices Parents are Doing the Same: Technological Dehumanisation is What the World Must Rise to Fight

Image: University of Hong Kong


|| June 25: 2017: University of Hong Kong News || ά. The Social and Health Psychology Laboratory of the Department of Psychology at the University of Hong Kong conducted a survey on the gaming habits among Hong Kong upper primary students from March to May in 2017. A total of 2,006 Primary four to six students were surveyed. Results show that the problem of gaming addiction is prevalent among the students. Special attention should be paid to the high prevalence of exposure to violent video games reported by the respondents.

The phenomenon of gaming addiction has raised concerns among medical and mental health professionals. The American Psychiatric Association, which possesses strong global influences in the medical profession, is advocating further research into this condition, and may, possibly, classify it as a formal mental problem in the future. Thus, apart from gambling addiction, gaming addiction, may, become the second mental problem classified under behavioural impulse control disorder.

The Association’s publication, 'Manual on Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders', covers important criteria for the diagnosis of mental illnesses, which are adopted in many countries and regions in the world, including Hong Kong. In its fifth edition published in 2013, gaming addiction refers to uncontrollable and persistent engaging in gaming, leading to significant impairment. Thus, gaming addiction could be regarded as a psychologically pathological behaviour, which is worth attention.

The survey aimed at understanding students’ habits of gaming, which included playing video games through computers, mobile phones and consoles, but excluded cyber surfing. Based on the survey findings, nearly 10% of the student were estimated to be at risk or might have been addicted. The three most common characteristics of addiction among the students were:

01: I realise that I spend too much time playing video games, 60.3% answered, Yes
02: Want to play video games again after I am done playing video games, 55.2% answered , Yes
03: When I am not playing video games, I think about video games, 34.6% answered, Yes

Students are, also, shown to have spent too much time playing video games. On average, the students polled played video games 03.6 days a week and spent eight hours a week on gaming. For the male respondents, they even spent 11 hours on gaming on average and 13.9% of them spent over 21 hours per week on gaming, which means over three hours per day on average.

Past studies suggested that violent video games, might, influence children’s temperament, make them feel irritable or desensitised to violence, and thus, agree with violence. About a quarter, 24.8% of the students polled said that the video games they played often or always showed violent images. Over 40% male students said that they played violent games. Higher addiction level was exhibited among the students, who played violent video games more frequently. However, a more detailed relationship between violent games and addiction remains to be further investigated.

Professor Cecilia Cheng, who led the study, considers that the prevalence of gaming addiction among Hong Kong students deserves greater public concern. "The amount of time that children spend on gaming, the addiction that they are experiencing and the prevalence of exposure to violent video games all deserve greater public concern. Children’s physical health, mental health and daily functioning, may be, impaired. For the well-being of our next generation, some effective preventive measures, must be, implemented to reduce the risk of gaming addiction among children."

From 2015 to 2017, the research team visited a number of schools in Hong Kong to promote a Game Over Programme:GOP, a pilot universal preventive intervention on gaming addiction among upper primary school students. The programme aims at assisting parents in dealing with children’s gaming problems through short courses, and in the long run, maintaining intimate relationships with children as well as helping children to develop healthy lifestyles.

A total of 229 parents participated in the project. They were assigned to attend the GOP course or the control course. Regarding the effectiveness, both GOP and control course significantly reduced children’s gaming time. However, the GOP course has shown better improvement in children’s gaming habits in the long run.

Being concerned about the needs of children and parents, the research team launched a Game Over Programme:GOP website to provide information and downloadable resources for the prevention of gaming addiction. The website was launched on June 20 to provide background information about the project initially and will be fully launched in early August.

At present, the Health School Policy implemented by the Education Bureau focuses on combating drug abuse, offering advice on risk management and providing support to schools to prevent drug abuse in youth. The research team believes that the Government should, also, recognise and face the problem of gaming addiction in children, that in the long run, the Government should consider including prevention of gaming addiction in the Health School Policy, so that students in need can receive relevant preventive education as well as professional counselling and assistance.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Post-Secondary Educational Institutions Across Alberta Province of Canada Receive Mental Health Funding Boost

Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health and Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education announce increased
mental health funding for post-secondary institutions in the province. Image: Riley Brandt, University of Calgary 
 

|| June 23: 2017: University of Calgary News || ά. The Government of Alberta, Canada, is investing $25.8 million over three years to provide consistent mental health resources at institutions across the province. The Honourable Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education and the Honourable Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health, were on campus on June 20 to share the funding announcement with attendees of the 2017 Wellness Summit, an SU Wellness Centre initiative in collaboration with Healthy Campus Alberta.

The investment comes after Alberta post-secondary students continued to ask for sustainable, long-term funding for mental health services, a much-needed focus for students juggling multiple demands with a challenging academic schedule, social life and extracurricular activities. The University of Calgary’s 2016 National College Health Assessment results showed that 89 per cent of University students felt overwhelmed, with 65 per cent feeling very lonely, 60 per cent feeling anxious and 73 per cent feeling very sad at some point in the past year.

“We have heard first-hand how important mental health programmes are to students, which is why, for the first time, government is providing equitable funding to all public institutions. Creating healthy campuses and promoting positive mental health at Alberta’s post-secondary institutions better prepares students to deal with everyday stresses, sets students up for future success and builds a more resilient community.” says Honourable Schmidt.

Over the next several months, the province will provide $08.9 million to institutions to support student mental health and addiction activities on campus, with specific grant allocations to be announced in the fall. “Mental wellbeing is vital to students’ success. When our students feel supported by a strong network, they are empowered to strive for their goals with focus and clarity. They are, also, motivated to encourage others and contribute to a community of caring on our campus and beyond.” says President Ms Elizabeth Cannon.

The University of Calgary’s commitment to mental health was formalised in December 2015, with the launch of the Campus Mental Health Strategy. The strategy set forward 28 recommendations in six focus areas, to help build a community of caring, where students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars talk about their mental health and help each other when they need it most. To date, 26 of the 28 recommendations are underway or complete.

The Wellness Summit is an opportunity for people from across the province to come together on the topic of post-secondary mental health and addiction. It is a space for all campus stakeholders, including students, staff, faculty, administration, community partners and government to share what is happening, celebrate successes and learn from each other’s challenges. This year’s theme was Building Resilient Campus Communities.

“This year we were excited to open the day with a theatrical keynote by Victoria Maxwell. Victoria combines her theatre background, personal experience of psychiatric illness and professional knowledge as a group facilitator and mental health worker, to give a unique and powerful ‘insider’s’ perspective on dealing with depression and other mental illnesses.” says Ms Danielle Stewart-Smith, Healthy Campus Alberta Co-ordinator.

The event, also, brought Mr Michael Ungar, the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience and Director of the Resilience Research Centre. Mr Ungar has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, schools, workplaces, and communities.

“The Summit’s programme reflects a blend of lived experience and expert knowledge that will expose Summit participants to new ideas and also connect to story of campus mental health.” says Ms Stewart-Smith. The first Summit took place in 2013 and has grown annually, with this year at full capacity with over 190 attendees, including representation from 21 campuses, all three provincial student groups and multiple community and government partners.

“The Wellness Summit connects the University of Calgary community with like-minded campuses across the province who are committed to the vision of creating inclusive, caring campus communities. The Summit allows us to connect with our provincial partners and ensure a strong student voice in supporting wellness.” says Ms Debbie Bruckner, Senior Director, Student Wellness, Access and Support in the SU Wellness Centre.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Can You Play Some Chimpanuzeek, Instead: Anyhow, Why Do They Call Themselves Monkees

Please, mind that this is not a chimpanzee! Gorillas have become an endangered species. In recent decades gorilla populations have been
affected by habitat loss, disease and poaching as is the case in the DRC: Image: UNEP

 

|| April 01: 2017: University of York News || ά. Previous research conducted with chimpanzees, living in laboratories, has suggested that playing music has positive effects on the animals’ welfare, however, other research with zoo-housed primates has yielded mixed results. Many zoos continue to broadcast music to their primates either as a form of enrichment or for the enjoyment of caregivers.

Research conducted by Dr Emma K Wallace, from the University of York’s Department of Psychology, investigated how classical and pop:rock music affected the behaviour of the chimpanzees at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo to establish if it impacted positively or negatively on their welfare. Further research involved a ‘chimpanzee jukebox’, which allowed the chimpanzees at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and the National Centre for Chimpanzee Care, Texas, the option to choose whether they wanted to listen to classical music, pop:rock music or silence.

Some of the music that the chimpanzees were able to select included work by Mozart, Beethoven, Adele and Justin Bieber. The combined results of these studies show that neither classical nor pop:rock music has a positive effect on the welfare of these chimpanzees. They, also, did not show any consistent or persistent preferences for either type of music or silence.

Dr Wallace said, “These results suggest that music is not something that is relevant to captive chimpanzees and are supported by recent work with zoo-housed orangutans that were unable to distinguish music from digitally scrambled noise.

However, whilst music does not appear to have a positive effect on captive chimpanzee welfare, it equally did not have any negative effects. As such, it should not be considered a successful form of enrichment for these animals but, providing that the animals have the option to avoid it, music can still be played for animal caregivers.

These results, also, highlight the possibility that music appreciation is something that is a uniquely human trait.” The welfare of captive animals, especially those living in zoos, is of the utmost importance to those who care for them.

Providing animals with enrichment, such as toys, puzzle-feeders or unfamiliar smells, is a commonly used method of presenting the animals with mental challenges or novel forms of stimulation. The research is published in PLOS ONE.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Bristol Psychology Professor Appointed Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Image: University of Bristol

|| March 31: 2017: University of Bristol News || ά. An academic from the University of Bristol School of Experimental Psychology and the Cabot Institute is among 47 leading social scientists who have been conferred as Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences. The award for Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Psychology, was announced today, March 31 and will be made formally at a ceremony in June.

Professor Lewandowsky is an eminent social scientist and an expert on the application of computational modelling to social science questions. He has an international reputation for his studies of human memory, which have prompted key work on the extent to which information that is initially presented as factual, but then retracted, is still believed. These studies have led to more applied research that looks directly at how findings from social science should be communicated to the public and policy makers.

These interests have come together in Professor Lewandowsky’s cross-disciplinary work on the public understanding of climate change. His standing has already been recognised with awards that include a recent Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award and his appointment as a Fellow to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

He, also, holds editorial roles within the American Psychological Association and the Psychonomics Society and leads a highly popular summer school in computational modelling that has trained more than 100 junior social scientists since 2010.

Professor Christopher Jarrold, Head of the School of Experimental Psychology, said, "I am delighted that Steve's many and varied contributions to social science and to society have been recognised in this way. Steve is a leading academic with an international reputation for the quality of his own research and for his work on the public understanding of research findings in general. His election as a Fellow of the Academy is a fantastic achievement, but one that is entirely deserved."

Announcing the conferment, Professor Roger Goodman FAcSS, Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences, said, “The outstanding contributions of each new Fellow are a testament to the breadth of the social sciences, both in their ability to inform policy for public benefit, as well as in addressing some of our most pressing societal issues. The range of expertise of our more than 1,100 eminent Fellows speaks to the Academy’s growing reach as the representative voice of the social science community as a whole.”
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Depression: WHO Says Let’s Talk

Enlighten Universana The Humanion Beacon Organisation: Heads Together

|| March 30: 2017 || ά. Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives. The new estimates have been released in the lead-up to World Health Day on April 07, the high point in WHO’s year-long campaign, 'Depression: Let’s Talk'.

''The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.'' Said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. “These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.” One of the first steps is to address issues around prejudice and discrimination. “The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: Let’s Talk.” said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

“For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.” Increased investment is also needed. In many countries, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just 03% of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than 01% in low-income countries to 05% in high-income countries.

Investment in mental health makes economic sense. Every US$01 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$04 in better health and ability to work. Treatment usually involves either a talking therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of the two. Both approaches can be provided by non-specialist health-workers, following a short course of training, and using WHO’s mhGAP Intervention Guide. More than 90 countries, of all income levels, have introduced or scaled-up programmes that provide treatment for depression and other mental disorders using this Intervention Guide.

Failure to act is costly. According to a WHO-led study, which calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030, low levels of recognition and access to care for depression and another common mental disorder, anxiety, result in a global economic loss of a trillion US dollars every year.

The losses are incurred by households, employers and governments. Households lose out financially when people cannot work. Employers suffer when employees become less productive and are unable to work. Governments have to pay higher health and welfare expenditures.
Associated health risks

WHO has identified strong links between depression and other noncommunicable disorders and diseases. Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease; the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression.

''Depression is, also, an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.'' Said Dr Saxena. “A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning. What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world.”

Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer.

In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Believe It: You Do Look Like Your Name: You Do Not Believe It: Look at the Rose


|| March 01: 2017: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel News || ά. We're told not to judge a book by its cover but we make instant judgments about people’s intelligence, trustworthiness or dominance based on their facial appearance. Now, researchers have investigated the reverse possibility: can the way people judge us influence how we look? To answer this question, researchers led by Dr. Ruth Mayo and PhD candidate Yonat Zwebner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined whether a person's appearance can be influenced by their given name. To do this, they recruited independent observers and showed them colour headshot photographs of complete strangers.

Then they presented a list of names to the observers and asked them to choose the stranger's real name based on his or her facial appearance. In a series of studies, now reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the observers repeatedly beat the odds of correctly identifying a person's name based on their facial appearance alone. For example, upon looking at the face and considering four possible names ¾Jacob, Dan, Josef or Nathaniel¾ observers correctly chose 'Dan' 38% of the time, significantly above the 25% chance level of a random guess. This effect held true even when the researchers controlled for age and ethnicity, implying that something more than simple socioeconomic cues is at work.

"Our research demonstrates that, indeed, people do look like their name." said Dr. Ruth Mayo, Senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Furthermore, we suggest this happens because of a process of self-fulfilling prophecy, as we become what other people expect us to become.”

Supporting the notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy, the researchers found that observers beat the odds of correctly guessing a person’s name even when they were only allowed to see their hairstyle. This suggests that people may choose the hairstyle that fits a stereotype associated with their name.

The researchers confirmed that observers in a second country and culture were also able to beat the odds. However, while observers were good at matching faces to names in their own culture, they were not good at doing so in a foreign culture. This supports the idea that name stereotypes are important when matching faces with names. The researchers also found that observers were less good at guessing the given name of people who use a nickname exclusively. This indicates that a person’s appearance is affected by their name only if they use it and not if it simply appears on a birth certificate.

In one study, the researchers completely removed the human factor from the matching process. Using a computerised paradigm, they found that computers were able to beat the odds when asked to choose the correct name for 94,000 different faces. This further supports the idea that our faces contain relevant information related to our names.

The researchers suggest the 'Dorian Gray effect', cited in previous research on how internal factors like personality can influence facial appearance, may apply here as well. Dorian Gray was the protagonist of an Oscar Wilde novel whose actions affected his portrait. "We are familiar with similar processes from other stereotypes like race and gender, where many times the stereotypical expectations of others affect who we become.

We hypothesise that there are similar stereotypes about names, including how someone with a specific name looks and these expectations really do affect our facial appearance." said Dr. Mayo from the Hebrew University. According to the researchers, the possibility that our name can influence our look, even to a small extent, suggests the important role of social structuring in the complex interaction between the self and society.

The research suggests that we are subject to social structuring from the minute we are born, not only by our gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status but also by the simple choice that others make in giving us our name. "A name is an external social factor, different from other social factors such as gender or ethnicity, therefore, representing an ultimate social tag.

The demonstration of our name being manifested in our facial appearance illustrates the great power that a social factor can have on our identity, potentially influencing even the way we look." added Dr. Mayo. Future research could examine the precise nature of the mechanism leading to the emergence of this face-name matching effect, for example how a person’s name matches his or her face at different stages of life. Another question worth exploring is why some people have a very high face-name match while others have a low match.

Dr. Mayo's collaborators in this research include Yonat Zwebner, School of Business Administration, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Anne-Laure Sellier, Department of Marketing, HEC Paris; Nir Rosenfeld, the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Jacob Goldenberg, Arison School of Business, Interdisciplinary Centre:IDC and Columbia Business School, Columbia University.
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Paper: We Look Like Our Names: The Manifestation of Name Stereotypes in Facial Appearance. Yonat Zwebner, Anne-Laure Sellier, Nir Rosenfeld, Jacob Goldenberg, and Ruth Mayo. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 27, 2017. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000076.

The Research was part funded by the HEC Foundation.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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New Fathers Can Get New Baby Depression, Too: New Study

Image: University of Auckland’s Centre for Longitudinal Research:He Ara Ki Mua

|| February 20: 2017: University of Auckland New Zealand News || ά.  Depression symptoms among men before and after the birth of their children were identified by recent research from the University of Auckland’s Centre for Longitudinal Research:He Ara Ki Mua. The study found that expectant fathers were at risk, if they felt stressed or were in poor health. Elevated depression symptoms following their child’s birth were linked to social and relationship problems. The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry investigated depression symptoms in more than 3,500 New Zealand men during the third trimester of their partner’s pregnancy and again nine months after their child’s birth.

Study Author, Dr Lisa Underwood from the University of Auckland, says that while maternal antenatal and postnatal depression are recognised and known to be associated with poor outcomes for women and children, there has been little done to identify perinatal depression symptoms in men. “As in many other countries, New Zealand women are assessed for postnatal depression following childbirth.” says Dr Underwood. “There is no routine screening of women during pregnancy and none for fathers before or after the birth of their children, since they are not usually engaged in routine perinatal care. In the present study of fathers, self-reported poor health and self-perceived stress during the pregnancy were consistently linked to paternal depression during the pregnancy.”

Additional risks only associated with paternal postnatal depression included a history of depression, unemployment, relationship status and family environments during the postnatal period. Of these, the strongest predictor of paternal depression was no longer being in a relationship with the child’s mother.” says Dr Underwood.

“Increasingly, we are becoming aware of the influence that fathers have on their children’s psychosocial and cognitive development. Given the potential for paternal depression to have direct and indirect effects on children, it is important that we recognise and treat symptoms among fathers early. Arguably, the first step in doing this is to raise awareness about factors that lead to increased risks among fathers themselves.”

Combined with two recent papers reporting on New Zealand mothers’ antenatal and postnatal depression, this study provides a view of the separate and common risk factors for depression in parents which, if detected early and appropriately managed could limit the impact on their child’s wellbeing. All studies drew on interviews with families involved in the contemporary, longitudinal study Growing Up in New Zealand, which is tracking the development of more than 6000 children born in 2009 and 2010.

“The Growing Up in New Zealand cohort gives us a unique context in which to identify risk factors for parental depression symptoms around the time of birth and follow long term effects on children’s health and wellbeing.” says Dr Underwood. “It provides policy makers with evidence that is relevant to New Zealand families of today and can be used to better target those who may benefit from extra support to avoid downstream problems.”

During the perinatal period, from the third trimester of pregnancy to nine months after birth, 217, 06.2 percent, of the men in the study experienced symptoms of depression compared with 3306 who did not have elevated depression symptoms. Around one in 25 men reported symptoms of postnatal depression while antenatal depression only affected about one in 50. By comparison, more mothers suffered depression symptoms before than after the birth of their children.

One in six of the mothers interviewed in the Growing Up in New Zealand study cohort reported significant depressive symptoms at either the antenatal interview or when their children were nine months old. One in eight experienced antenatal depression symptoms with one in 12 experiencing symptoms postnatally, although these were not always the same mothers.

One in four women who had antenatal depression also experienced postnatal depression and more than one in three with postnatal depression had experienced antenatal depression. “In our studies focusing on mothers, increased risks of experiencing depressive symptoms were associated with Pacific or Asian ethnicity, stress, anxiety, a previous history of doctor diagnosed depression and difficult relationships and family environments.” says Dr Underwood.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Speak, If You Understand Grief: Only Swirling Silence Follows More of Them Through the Desolate Burning Emptiness That No Psychologist Can Ever Fathom

Image: University of Bristol

|| January 15: 2017: University of Bristol News || ά. The loss of a child can cause intense grief for parents and for many, life is never the same again. Now researchers have built up a comprehensive picture of the devastating social and economic impact that a child’s death can have. The findings could help policy-makers improve the support provided to bereaved parents, which in turn could reduce the economic costs to the family and the state.

Professor Gerard van den Berg from the University of Bristol, together with colleagues from Sweden, Petter Lundborg from Lund University and Johan Vikström from Uppsala University, used extensive information on the parents of all Swedish children aged one or above who died from traffic collisions or sudden accidents between 1993 and 2003, almost 2,000 children. In such cases, parents could not have modified their behaviour in response to an impending death, making their situation just before the tragedy comparable to parents in similar circumstances who have not lost a child.

The loss of a child impacted on almost every outcome studied, from reducing family income to increasing the likelihood of divorce and reduced mental health. The economic well-being of parents was also found to suffer for a long time after intense grief had subsided. In some cases, the chances of being out of work years after the child’s death was nine per cent greater than if the child had not died, while the probability that a parent would be hospitalised for mental health problems was two to three times higher than otherwise.

Professor van den Berg, from Bristol’s Department of Economics said, “Clearly, grief may lead to sickness absence. But in some cases, the parent decides to quit work or is pushed into a long-term sickness programme. The resulting prolonged spells of inactivity may have persistent negative effects on the individual's labour market chances. After a substantial amount of time out of work, it becomes more and more difficult to find a job again. In extreme cases, the parent will never work again and could separate from their partner.”

The study showed that the estimated effects on a grieving parent are invariant to characteristics of the child; they do not depend on the age of the child, birth order of the child, or family size.

“Whether the child is a son or a daughter does not matter either, with one exception.” added Professor van den Berg. “If a family has more than one daughter and one of them dies then the father seems to be less affected than if the family has multiple sons of which one dies. In the latter scenario the father's labour income goes down more strongly than in the former. For mothers we do not see such differences, and if the only daughter dies then there is no difference for fathers either.

“A loss of employment seems to trigger a downward spiral in the parents’ subsequent life. This suggests that it is important to communicate to parents who have just lost a child that they should try, where possible, to continue working.” said Professor van den Berg.

In addition, if such parents do actually quit employment, it may be sensible to think about how these people can get professional support and help to prevent a downward spiral in their subsequent life.”
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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I Have No Time to Sit at a Bench: But You Will Always Love Speaking to One That is Really Listening

 

|| January 04: 2016: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine News || ά. Brief psychological treatment delivered by Zimbabwean lay health workers dramatically improved the symptoms of patients with mental health problems, according to new research published in JAMA. It found patients with depression or anxiety symptoms who received problem-solving therapy through the Friendship Bench Programme were more than three times less likely to have symptoms of depression after six months, compared to patients who received standard care, 14% of patients in Friendship Bench group compared to 50% patients in control group.

They were also four times less likely to have anxiety symptoms and five times less likely to have suicidal thoughts than the control group after follow-up. The randomised controlled trial was conducted by the University of Zimbabwe, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London, and supported by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada. Low-income countries face a particularly heavy burden of mental illness for a variety of reasons, including poverty and inadequate access to healthcare. Crucially, many countries have a chronic lack of professional support to help those with problems.

Zimbabwe is particularly affected, over one in four adults attending primary healthcare facilities are believed to have depression or anxiety. The Friendship Bench consists of six structured 45-minute one-to-one counselling sessions delivered on a wooden bench in a discreet area within the grounds of a clinic. They are given by supervised lay health workers, known as ‘grandmother health providers’, who have received training in problem solving therapy, a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy:CBT geared to improve an individual's ability to cope with stressful life experiences.

This study involved more than 550 patients with anxiety or depression, all aged 18 or over, at 24 randomised primary care clinics in Harare. Patients at 12 control group clinics were given standard care while those in the treatment group at 12 other clinics received Friendship Bench. After six months, all participants were then re-assessed using locally validated questionnaires for depression and anxiety; the Shona Symptom Questionnaire:SSQ, the Patient Health Questionnaire:PHQ and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder scale:GAD. The results were striking.

50% of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of depression compared to 14% who received Friendship Bench, based on PHQ. 48% of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of anxiety compared to 12% who received Friendship Bench, based on the GAD, and 12% of patients who received standard care still had suicidal thoughts compared to 02% who received Friendship Bench, based on SSQ.

Dr Dixon Chibanda, from the University of Zimbabwe who co-founded the Friendship Bench Programme, said, “Zimbabwe has a large treatment gap for mental, neurological and substance use disorders, with only 10 psychiatrists serving a population of 15 million. The Friendship Bench offers an opportunity to fill this void and make a real difference to the lives of those with mental health problems.”

Ricardo Araya, co-author and Professor of Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, “Countries with substantial resources and modern healthcare facilities are struggling to cope with the global mental health crisis, so it’s no surprise that nations such as Zimbabwe aren’t able to provide adequate support. The Friendship Bench Programme is low-cost and, as this study showed, highly effective. Training lay health workers to deliver brief psychological treatment could be a blueprint for tackling poor mental health in Africa.

“Developed countries can also learn from this model by increasing mental health services in primary care using less well trained health workers, not only because it’s cheaper than referring to a psychiatrist, but also because it’s more effective. This is already happening in the UK and we should monitor its effectiveness as well as quality and safety.”

With CDN $01 million in funding from Grand Challenges Canada earlier this year, the Friendship Bench Programme has since been scaled-up to 72 clinics in the cities of Harare, Gweru and Chitungwiza, total population 01.8 million. To date, over 27,500 people have accessed treatment.

Dr Melanie Abas, co-author and Associate Professor in Global Mental Health from King’s College London, said, “King’s College London is privileged to have been connected with research on depression in Zimbabwe for over twenty years. One of the most exciting aspects of the Friendship Bench is that it has emerged through empowering local health workers to use their own natural skills, bolstered by training in evidence-based problem-solving therapy.

These ‘grandmother’ health workers find it rewarding to learn new techniques to improve mental health in their own communities. The Friendship Bench is set to become the largest mental health programme for depression in any low-income African country, being feasible to scale-up, low cost and culturally acceptable.”

Dr Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada, said, “In developing countries, nearly 90% of people with mental disorders are unable to access any treatment. We need innovations like the Friendship Bench to flip the gap and go from 10% of people receiving treatment, to 90% of people receiving treatment.”

The authors acknowledge limitations of the study including that participants were only followed up after six months, so the long-term effects of the Friendship Bench Programme are unknown. There were also few men in the study as they are less likely to attend primary care clinics. ω.

Publication: Dixon Chibanda, Helen Weiss, Ruth Verhey, Victoria Simms, Ronald Munjoma, Simbarashe Rusakaniko, Alfred Chingono, Epiphania Munetsi, Tarisai Bere, Ethel Manda, Melanie Abas. R Araya. Effect of a primary care-based psychological intervention on symptoms of common mental disorders in Zimbabwe: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. DOI:10.1001/jama.2016.19102.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Doctor, A Question for You: How Do You Keep Doctors as Oxygen-Souls So That They Don't Become Hydrogen-Souls: Sorry, Don't Follow: So That They Help Burn and Don't Get Themselves Burnt Out: Oh, I See..... Now, That Sounds Like a Question Someone Asked Me While I was Reading The Triumph of Surgery Years Ago: Go on, What was It: Well, I was Terribly Busy Reading And Did Not Answer....But Doctor an Unanswered Question is an Eternal Invite to Seek to Answer It... You Think So: I Know So....Then You Answer the Question You Asked Me: But I Asked You: Well, To Begin with We Must Begin by Looking at Doctors as Human Beings and Not Just Qualified Machines That Can Be Put Under Infinite Pressures Perpetually and Expected to Produce the Same Results with Same Efficiency Perpetually....Now That's a Great Answer But Are You Going Answer That Question... That Question... That is the Question.....But This, as a Headline, is Too Long: Well, Go and See How Many Hours Doctors Work and You Will Really Know What is Long and What is Short....

|| December 06: 2016: University of Southampton News || ά. Current approaches to dealing with burnouts in doctors on an individual case-by-case basis is not effective and the issue should instead be tackled with organisation-wide initiatives, according to researchers at the University of Manchester and the University of Southampton. A meta-analysis study, which brought together the results of previously conducted research, was carried out to explore the effectiveness of interventions in reducing burnout in doctors.

It explored the comparison between doctor-directed interventions that target the individual and organisation-directed interventions that target the working environment. The strength of the doctor’s experience and the particular healthcare setting they worked in was also assessed. The research concluded that while doctor-focused tactics such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioural are important, the greatest success at preventing and reducing burnout in doctors can be achieved through the adoption of organisation-directed approaches such as improved working environment and organisational culture.

Burnout is a major problem in the healthcare industry and is often driven by excessive workload, imbalance between job demands and skills, a lack of job control and prolonged stress. It is a syndrome consisting of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment. Importantly, burnout can result in an increase in medical errors, reduced quality of patient care, and lower patient satisfaction.

It was found that organisations that combined several elements such as structural changes, fostering communications between members of the health care team, and cultivating a sense of teamwork and job control tended to be the most effective in reducing burnout. However, such intense organisation-directed interventions were rare and had not been evaluated sufficiently.

What’s more, the evidence indicated that young doctors starting out in their career, are at higher risk of burnout compared to those with more experience, and interventions focused on enhancing teamwork, mentoring, and leadership skills might be particularly suitable for this group.

Dr Maria Panagioti, Research fellow in Primary Care at the University of Manchester who led this study said: “Our findings clearly show that we need more effective intervention models to prevent burnout in doctors. Such models could be organization-directed interventions which promote healthy individual-organisation relationships and view burnout a problem of the whole healthcare systems.”

George Lewith, Professor of Health Research at the University of Southampton who supervised the research, said, “This work suggests that if we want to retain safe and professionally competent NHS clinicians working in very demanding front line jobs we need to support their mental and physical health and creating appropriate and enabling working environments for them. Efforts need to be focused on finding appropriate ways of reaching doctors who work in stressful environments to ensure their wellbeing is taken care of. If we don’t patient safety could be at risk.”
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Forensically Looking at It: What is Really Burgled is Not Taken: It is Left Behind Violated: One in Ten Burglary Victims Moves House

Dr Claire Nee, Reader in Forensic Psychology: Image: University of Portsmouth

|| November 20: 2016: University of Portsmouth News || ά. Being a victim of burglary has such a profound effect on some, that more than a million in the UK moved house as a result, according to new research. Victims of burglary have also suffered physiological conditions including sleep deprivation, 25 per cent, and illness, eight per cent. Some experienced psychological trauma, with six per cent losing confidence and needing counselling to cope with the trauma. More than one in ten, 11 per cent, victims couldn’t be home alone after their home was broken into.

The survey of 2,000 victims of burglary was carried out by Churchill Home Insurance and supported by Dr Claire Nee, a Reader in forensic psychology at the University of Portsmouth. She said: “Being a victim of burglary is a traumatic experience for anyone and for some it can have a lasting emotional impact. The thought of someone in our home, our safe place, looking through our personal things can leave us feeling violated and vulnerable.

The important thing for anyone who has been a victim to remember is that they are not on the burglar’s agenda. The burglar targets a property to enter and exit as quickly as possible with a reasonable gain and actively wants to avoid meeting the homeowner.”

In addition, Dr Nee conducted separate research with experienced burglars and, of those interviewed, 86 per cent reported that, if they saw or heard a victim during the commission of a burglary, they would try to leave. Three-quarters said they had abandoned burglaries because they had heard an occupant in the house or returning to the home.

Nearly half of burglary victims said the worst aspect of being burgled was the knowledge that someone had been in the home. The second worst aspect was the shock, 32 per cent, followed by a feeling of violation, 30 per cent, and vulnerability, 24 per cent.

It takes victims, on average, three days before things feel more or less back to normal, however, for a fifth, 21 per cent, they didn’t feel this way for a month and for eight per cent, this feeling took six months. One in ten, 11 per cent, said things never returned to normal.

The 01.3m who moved home as a result of being burgled is based on extrapolating the 13 per cent of the more than 10m who were burgled in the UK in one year.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Music Therapy Reduces Depression in Children and Adolescents: New Research

Kerry Brown and Band


|| November 03: 2016: Bournemouth University || ά. Researchers at Bournemouth University:BU and Queen’s University Belfast have discovered that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems. In partnership with Every Day Harmony, the brand name for Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, the researchers found that children and young people, aged 08–16 years old, who received music therapy had significantly improved self-esteem and significantly reduced depression compared with those who received treatment without music therapy.

The study, which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, also found that young people aged 13 and over who received music therapy had improved communicative and interactive skills, compared to those who received usual care options alone. Music therapy also improved social functioning over time in all age groups. In the largest ever study of its kind, 251 children and young people were involved in the study which took place between March 2011 and May 2014. They were divided into two groups: 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioural problems.

Professor Sam Porter of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work at Bournemouth University, who led the study, said: “This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs. The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support.”

Dr Valerie Holmes, Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast and co-researcher, added: “This is the largest study ever to be carried out looking at music therapy’s ability to help this very vulnerable group.”

Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of Every Day Harmony, the music therapy charity that was a partner in the research, said: “Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trail in a clinical setting.

The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option. For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects. I would like to record my gratefulness to the Big Lottery Fund for its vision in providing the resources for this research to be carried out”.

The research team will now look at the data to establish how cost-effective music therapy is in relation to other treatments. ω.  

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Bowel Cancer Patients Without Emotional Support Three Times More Likely to Experience Clinical Depression: No One Should Face Cancer Alone: Macmillan Cancer Support

Image: Cura Supporting People Fighting Breast Cancer
 

|| October 19: 2016: University of Southampton News || ά. Many bowel cancer patients are experiencing a lack of affection, emotional and practical support after surgery, according to new research by the University of Southampton and Macmillan Cancer Support, released on October 17 at the International Psycho Oncology Society Congress. Those lacking emotional support are almost three times more likely to have clinical depression. The Colorectal Wellbeing:CREW study follows more than 1,000 people with colorectal cancer from before their surgery until five years afterwards. Results showed that people with colorectal cancer saw a reduction in affection, social interaction and practical and emotional support after surgery and for up to two years afterwards.

Even more worryingly, those that lacked social support, such as having someone to talk to or help with practical tasks like household chores, were at a greater risk of a poor quality of life. For example, at diagnosis, one in 20, five per cent, patients said they had little or no affection. Two years after diagnosis, this had almost trebled to one in eight, 13 per cent. Findings are similar for patients missing out on practical help. Two years after diagnosis, the proportion of people who lacked support was more than double compared to the point of diagnosis, 12 per cent vs five per cent. For those lacking emotional support, such as having someone to confide in or to ask for advice, as well as being almost three times as likely to have clinical depression, they were also twice as likely to have clinical anxiety. They were more than three times as likely to experience poorer wellbeing.

The research also showed that the odds of a patient having clinical anxiety or clinical depression are approximately doubled if they live alone compared to those who do not. Those with poorer social support or living alone are more likely to be older, female, live in deprivation and have less confidence to manage their illness.

Macmillan Cancer Support says this research highlights the needs of people affected by cancer, beyond their medical treatment. They need emotional and practical help and not just while they are going through treatment but for however long they need it afterwards. Without this, people are left struggling with anxiety, depression, and poorer well-being.

Macmillan is calling for cancer patients to have a full assessment of their needs and a care plan that addresses the practical emotional and financial implications of their cancer diagnosis. It needs to be regularly reviewed before, during and after cancer, so they can get continued assistance, particularly if family and friends are unable to provide it.

Ron Peck, 55, a teacher from Sussex, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2011. Five years on, he still feels the lack of ongoing support. He said: “I’d been warned that the support you have during your treatment can suddenly fall away. I thought I was prepared for it but I ended up feeling emotionally isolated and abandoned. You live your life around full-on treatment regimes, appointments and having regular opportunities to talk with your care team, then it suddenly stops.

There was a void where my care used to be and there was no-one to talk to about my ongoing side-effects. Many of your friends who initially rallied around move on, too. They don’t appreciate the continued impact that cancer has on you. But all of this combined leaves you feeling isolated, you feel very low and it’s upsetting because you feel like you’ve been left to fend for yourself.”

Macmillan, which offers a range of services from the point of a cancer diagnosis and for months and years afterwards such as its free telephone helpline, is urging people affected by cancer to get in touch if they need help. It also has a website, The Source, with tips for friends, relatives and colleagues of people with cancer.

Professor Claire Foster, Chief Investigator of the CREW study from the University of Southampton, said: “It is so important for people to have the help and support they need to manage the consequences of cancer after being diagnosed and treated. Assessment of people’s needs early on in the recovery process and then at regular intervals would help identify those most in need. There are vulnerable patient groups such as older people, those living alone and those experiencing anxiety and depression who are most likely to need additional support. People can feel isolated following their treatment and those with limited social support are at greater risk of this. More needs to be done to identify and help people who are struggling in the months and years following cancer treatment.”

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This research shows the heartbreaking reality for thousands of people with cancer who are going through one of the most difficult times with no one to talk to, no one to give them a hug when they’re feeling down, no one to cook them a meal when they’re wiped out from chemotherapy. It’s hard enough going through cancer when you have support, but without it, you must feel completely lost.

At Macmillan, we know that people with all types of cancer are trying to cope without help – and dealing with the devastating effect it can have on their recovery. We also know that sometimes these people do have friends and family who want to help but don’t know how or are worried they will say or do the ‘wrong’ thing. We encourage people who have cancer and are feeling alone, as well as friends and family who want to help, to get in touch with Macmillan.

The health system has a role to play too. By making sure cancer patients have a full assessment of their needs and a care plan that is regularly reviewed, they can encourage patients to get the help they need, whether that is practical assistance from social services or health specialists, or just someone to talk to. Every person with cancer should be given the right support to give them the best chance at getting their life back on track.”

No one should face cancer alone. Macmillan offers information and advice to people affected by cancer on its website and via its free telephone support line on 0808 808 00 00. ω.  

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World Mental Health Day: Ban Ki-moon Cites Importance of Immediate Support for Post-Crisis Psychological Distress

UNICEF programmes aimed at ending exclusion for children with disabilities, and also saw the organisation's work in education and early childhood development. Image: UNICEF: June 01:2016

|| October 10: 2016 || ά. Marking World Mental Health Day 2016, the United Nations has highlighted the importance of making mental healthcare available to everyone who needs it, with a focus this year on providing immediate support to those in psychological distress after a crisis. According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, psychological distress takes many forms. “Today, we are witnessing an unprecedented wave of humanitarian emergencies linked to conflict and natural disasters,” Mr. Ban said in his message on the Day.

“Meanwhile, millions of people each year endure sexual assault, violent crime and traumatic accidents,” he added. He explained that too often, people who suffer from this affliction receive little or no immediate counselling, adding that in humanitarian crises trained mental health professionals are rarely available. “However,” Mr. Ban continued, “It is perfectly possible to train first responders, such as police and fire officers, emergency health staff and humanitarian aid workers to provide ‘psychological first aid’ to people in need.”

He noted examples of this in the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, along with that of the Syria conflict, and the thousands of displaced people in Greece, Nigeria and South Sudan. “Psychological first aid is just one component of the broader mental health services integral to national health systems that governments committed to in the World Health Organisation’s:WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, underscored Mr Ban.

According to Mr. Ban, Governments need to develop robust systems of care for the short- and long-term. “Civil society organizations can support these efforts through raising awareness, community-based programmes and research,” detailed the Secretary-General. “And each one of us can examine how we can offer support to our friends, families and neighbours,” he added.

“On this World Mental Health Day,” Mr. Ban concluded, “Let us all show compassion and empathy for those who have survived a crisis and make sure they can access the help they need, for as long as they require it.” Also today, WHO kicked off a year-long campaign to combat depression, called Depression: Let’s talk.

This mental illness affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. The risk of depression is increased by poverty; unemployment; life events, such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up; physical illness; and problems caused by alcohol and drug use.

This common disorder causes mental anguish and can impact a person’s ability to carry out the simplest everyday tasks – sometimes causing devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends. Untreated, it can prevent people from working and participating life.

According to the UN health agency, the ‘Depression: let’s talk’ campaign aims to better inform people about the disease, how it can be prevented and treatment options, which will reduce the stigma and lead to more people to seek help.

While treatment usually involves talk therapy and/or antidepressant medication, WHO underscores that talking with trusted people can be a first step towards. ω.  

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National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness


|| October 07: 2016: University of Manchester News || ά. As the UK’s leading research programme in this field, University of Manchester's Inquiry produces a wide range of national reports, projects and papers, providing health professionals, policymakers, and service managers with the evidence and practical suggestions they need to effectively implement change. The New Inquiry Report published on October 06.

The Annual Report and 20-year Review 2016 presents findings from 2004 to 2014, and reviews 20 years of data collection. It provides the latest figures on suicide, homicide and sudden unexplained deaths and highlights the priorities for safer services. Key messages include: There are now around three times as many suicides by CHRT patients as in in-patients. The crisis team is now the main setting for suicide prevention in mental health. Many people who died by suicide had a history of drug or alcohol misuse, but few were in contact with specialist substance misuse services. Access to these specialist services should be more widely available, and they should work closely with mental health services.

More patients who died by suicide were reported as having economic problems, including homelessness, unemployment and debt. There has been a rise in the number of suicides by recent UK residents: those who had been in the UK for less than five years, including those who were seeking permission to stay. There are a number of ways in which mental health care is safer for patients, and we now know what services can do to reduce suicide risk:

Safer wards
Early follow-up on discharge
No out-of-area admissions
24 hour crisis teams
Outreach teams
Dual diagnosis service
Family involvement in ‘learning lessons’
Guidance on depression
Personalised risk management
Low staff turnover

In England the number of homicides by people with schizophrenia appears to have risen since 2009, though the numbers are small. Most patients who committed homicide had a history of alcohol and drug misuse. This was found in all UK countries but was more common in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Report authors are Louis Appleby, FRCPsych, Director: Nav Kapur, FRCPsych, Head of Suicide Research: Jenny Shaw, FRCPsych, Head of Homicide Research: Isabelle M Hunt, PhD, Research Fellow: Sandra Flynn, PhD, Research Fellow: Saied Ibrahim, PhD, Research Associate: Pauline Turnbull, PhD, Project Manager: Myrsini Gianatsi, MSc, Research Assistant and Su-Gwan Tham, BSc, Research Assistant. ω.  

Read the Report

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New Study Shows Digital Sleep Improvement Programme Helps Over Two-Thirds of Depression and Anxiety Patients Move to Recovery



|| August 10: 2016 || ά. A new peer-reviewed clinical study reveals that 68% of patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety experienced a reduction in symptoms following treatment from digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:CBT programme Sleepio. The evaluation was conducted at Self Help Manchester, part of the NHS, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies:IAPT service, which aims to increase the availability of evidence-based mental health provision.

The moving to recovery rate of 68%, compared to an average 45% rate for NHS IAPT services as a whole, demonstrates that digital CBT for insomnia can be an effective way of improving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Given that between 60%-70% of anxiety and depression patients also suffer from insomnia, these findings suggest that sleep could represent a destigmatised “Trojan horse” to address problems like anxiety and depression in the population at large.

Sleepio, Big Health’s first product, is a digital sleep improvement programme clinically proven to improve even long term poor sleep without pills or potions. Co-founded by Peter Hames, an NHS Innovation Fellow, and Professor Colin Espie, University of Oxford, digital medicine company Big Health’s goal is to provide evidence-based, non-drug solutions to mental health issues, making them as scalable and accessible as pharmaceuticals. Sleepio is featured on NHS choices website as part of its online mental health services.

Peter Hames commented: “Sleepio empowers patients to overcome their poor sleep by providing personalised, evidence-based CBT techniques and support. Whilst the link between insomnia and depression and anxiety is well documented, it’s incredible to see a digital solution designed to manage insomnia having such a marked effect on patients’ anxiety and depression symptoms, too. These results raise the exciting prospect of using sleep as a destigmatised “way in” to help the millions with anxiety and depression who don’t currently seek help.”

Professor Colin Espie, of University of Oxford added: "Traditional CBT revolves around face-to-face sessions between patient and therapist. Delivering CBT through digital channels is less resource-intensive, letting patients access treatment regularly at any time and place, and also enables the treatment to be standardised and measurable. Digital CBT can also be delivered at scale, which gives it the potential to help millions of people around the world who suffer from insomnia, anxiety and depression and may not have access to traditional treatments. Not everyone can easily access face-to-face therapy, and a digital approach also provides flexibility to develop services that make best use of clinician time.”

Dr. Alice Gregory, PhD Psychology, Goldsmiths University, University of London, also commented: “As researchers of mental health our ultimate aim is to reduce suffering. We want to know how best to prevent and treat psychiatric disorders. Big Health’s latest study excites me because not only does it support the idea that improving sleep is a sensible way forward to improving anxiety and depression; but it seems that we can deliver treatment online, which has the incredible potential to reach people suffering worldwide. Poor sleep has been linked to most psychiatric disorders investigated to date, so future work needs to establish the extent to which CBT could also help reduce some of these other difficulties and improve well-being around the world.”

Big Health currently works with companies such as Comcast, LinkedIn, Boston Medical Centre, and the Henry Ford Health System to provide Sleepio as a health benefit to employees with the aim of improving wellbeing.  In the world’s first placebo-group randomised controlled trial:RCT  for a digital sleep programme, published in the journal SLEEP in 2012, Sleepio was shown to have a comparable effect to in-person CBT, with 76 percent of insomnia sufferers achieving healthy sleep.

About Big Health: Big Health was co­-founded in 2010 by Peter Hames and world renowned sleep expert Professor Colin Espie, after Hames used Prof Espie’s self-help book to cure his own insomnia. As the world’s first “digital medicine” company, Big Health automates behavioral medicine programs, thereby making them scalable, accessible and consistent. Big Health’s first product, Sleepio, is a digital sleep improvement program featuring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:CBT techniques, clinically proven to help overcome even long term poor sleep without pills. The company has offices in San Francisco and London, and is partnered with University of Oxford. ω.  

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Support from Family and Friends Important to Help Prevent Depression in Teenagers

Image: NASA

|| May 20: 2016: University of Cambridge News || ά. The importance of friendships and family support in helping prevent depression among teenagers has been highlighted in research from the University of Cambridge. The study, published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, also found that teenagers who had grown up in a difficult family environment were more likely than their peers to be bullied at school.

Adolescence is a key time in an individual’s development, and is a period where some teenagers begin to show signs of major depression. One of the major risk factors for depression in adolescence is childhood family adversity, such as poor parenting and lack of affection, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, family financial problems or the loss of a family member. Another major risk factor for depression is bullying by peers – and the combined experience of childhood family adversity and peer bullying is associated with increased severity of depression symptoms.

Studies suggest that friendships and supportive family environments may help protect adolescents from depression if they have experienced peer bullying and childhood family adversity. However, no study has simultaneously examined the complex interplay of early life adversity, bullying, family support and friendships on later adolescent depression.

Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge studied almost 800 teenagers (322 boys and 449 girls), and used mathematical modelling to examine the impact of friendships and family support at age 14 on depressive symptoms at age 17 in adolescents who had previously experienced childhood family adversity and primary school bullying.

“Teenage years can be difficult for everyone, but we found that this is particularly the case for those teens who have had a difficult family environment,” explains Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen, the study’s first author. “Adolescents who had experienced negative family environments are more likely to be bullied at school, and less likely to receive family support in adolescence. We also found that children who were bullied in primary school were less likely to have supportive friendships in adolescence.

“In fact, we found a strong relationship between having a negative family environment and being bullied at primary school. This puts teens at a double disadvantage and means they are more likely to experience more severe symptoms of depression in their late teens.”

Boys who had been bullied were less likely than girls to develop strong friendships in adolescence, which the researchers suggest may be because boys experienced more severe bullying or were more sensitive to bullying.

Crucially, the researchers also found that supportive family or friends in early adolescence could help reduce depressive symptoms in later teenage years. It is not clear from the results how social support influences later life mental health. However, the researchers suggest several possibilities, including that supportive friends and family environments may help enhance children’s ability to cope with adverse situations by improving their self-esteem and offering stress-relief and through helping them develop effective interpersonal skills.

“Our work really shows how important it is that children and teenagers have strong support from their family and friends, particularly if their childhood has been a difficult one,” adds Professor Ian Goodyer, senior author. “It also suggests a role for interventions such as helping parents in at-risk families develop their parenting and support skills or helping bullied teens build their confidence and social skills to help find and maintain friendships.”

The research was funded primarily by the Wellcome Trust and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

Reference
Van Harmelen, AL et al. Friendships and Family Support Reduce Subsequent Depressive Symptoms in At-Risk Adolescents. PLOS ONE; 4 May 2016; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153715.
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How Psychosomatic Problems and Complaints Affect Recovery from Concussion?


||April 21: 2016: Minneapolis || Athletes who have medical complaints, like aches and pains, that have no known physical cause may take longer to recover after a concussion, according to a study published in the April 20, 2016, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Called psychosomatic symptoms, such complaints are often described as psychological distress expressed as physical illness.

“The goal of this study was to determine how physical complaints before and after concussion play a role in recovery,” said study author Lindsay D. Nelson, PhD, assistant professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “We found the greatest predictor of recovery after a concussion was the severity of early post-concussion symptoms. But somatic complaints before injury also play an important role, either by possibly enhancing how a person experiences the injury or affecting their reporting of post-concussive symptoms.”

For the study, 2,055 high school and college athletes were evaluated before the start of the season for balance, thinking and memory skills and psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and psychosomatic problems such as feeling faint or dizzy, nausea or upset stomach or pains in chest or heart. For the psychosomatic problems, the athletes rated how often they had been bothered by these symptoms during the last week. About 50 percent of the participants had at least one of 6 symptoms, and the other 50 percent had no symptoms.

During the season, 127 athletes suffered a concussion. Those athletes were then reassessed within the first 24 hours of injury and then again at 8, 15 and 45 days after the injury.

Of the concussed athletes, 61 percent played football, 24 percent played soccer, 6 percent played lacrosse, 3 percent were wrestlers, 3 percent played hockey, 2 percent played rugby and 1 percent played field hockey. Of the group, 80 percent was male.

On average, concussion symptoms lasted five days, with 64 percent of concussed athletes saying their symptoms were gone after one week and the vast majority, 95 percent, saying they no longer had symptoms after one month.

After concussion, those athletes who had reported pre-injury psychosomatic symptoms had longer recovery times, recovering at a slower rate than those who had no psychosomatic symptoms. For people with symptoms, about 80 percent had recovered within about 20 days of the concussion. For those with no symptoms, about 80 percent had recovered within about 10 days.

Those who had more severe physical symptoms after their concussions, like headache and balance issues, recovered at a slower rate than those with less severe symptoms.

“That these athletes were relatively healthy physically and psychologically highlights the relevance of psychosomatic symptoms and the role they play in recovery even in healthy people,” said Nelson. “Our hope is our study will lead to further research, because identifying those at risk for prolonged recovery is critical to developing early interventions that improve outcomes for people who suffer concussions.”

The study was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

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Trauma Support Project to Help Children Across the World

By Grant Hill: University of Dundee

Image: University of Dundee

||April 17, 2016|| A pioneering project to help child victims of war and disaster cope with their trauma and grief is to be made globally available following a successful trial in Palestine led by a team including a trauma expert at the University of Dundee.

The `Children and Grief’ manual tells group leaders how to lead groups of children following traumatic losses. Dr Ian Barron, Reader in Trauma Studies at the University of Dundee, has worked in collaboration with Dr Ghassan Abdallah, Director of the Centre for Applied Research in Ramallah, to implement and evaluate the pilot programme in Palestine, which has worked with 158 children.

That successful pilot has now led the Children and War Foundation to make the training in the manual globally available for disaster and war torn areas.

“The programme that has been running in Palestine has shown very positive results,” said Dr Barron, who has an extensive record working on trauma studies in Palestine and with the Children and War Foundation.

“Children have reported flashbacks stopping, a greater sense of not being alone in their suffering, and being able to share their story, which is particularly important in a culture where adolescent voices are frequently not heard.

“The counsellors on the programme have been working with groups of children, all aged 10 to 18 years-old. The sessions are focused on some of the major issues they face, letting them understand that their responses to grief are normal, in a very abnormal and extreme situation, and helping them find ways of dealing with the many issues that arise from grief.

“This is a relatively new kind of programme, making use of group-based sessions, but we have shown it can have extremely positive results in this kind of setting.”

All of the counsellors who have been trained to deliver the programme are Palestinian and have worked on some of the past projects involving Dr Barron.

“One of the strengths of this programme is that it builds strength and capacity locally, which is especially important in a place like Palestine where it can be very difficult to establish and maintain any kind of resource,” said Dr Barron.

“We are training the people that are on the ground working with these children, so the same model could be applied anywhere in the world. Sadly, it is something that does need to be considered and deployed as wherever we have this kind of conflict or disaster it will be accompanied by grief.”

Dr Barron’s work in Palestine has received support from the Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association. The relationship between the two cities was marked by the twinning arrangement in 1980.

The Children and War Foundation

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It is More to Do With the Soul Than Science! NASA Studies the Multiple Benefits of Gardening in Space

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren waters the zinnia seeds in their individual plant pillows through a syringe system.
Credits: NASA

 


One of the most triumphant moments in the book and recent movie The Martian comes when lead character, Mark Watney, successfully grows a potato crop on Mars. It’s more than food for survival; he’s also nourishing his spirit. In space, there is no scent of baking bread, no wind on your face, no sound of raindrops hitting the roof, no favorite kitten to curl up in your lap. Over time, being deprived of these common earthbound sense stimulations takes a toll. Having limited access to stimuli to the senses is identified as a significant risk by NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance team.

 


 

ZINNIAS FROM SPACE! NASA Studies the Multiple Benefits of Gardening

One of the most triumphant moments in the book and recent movie The Martian comes when lead character, Mark Watney, successfully Commander Scott Kelly tweets photos of the first ever space flowers, zinnias, which bloomed on Jan. 16.

The behavioral health community has touted that gardening provides recreation and relaxation. “Monotony of stimulation… can be a serious source of stress,” Dr. Jack Stuster wrote in his book Bold Endeavors: Lessons from Polar and Space Exploration. NASA’s Human Research Program is interested in how caring for plants and flowers will help improve feelings of isolation, loneliness and stress that can be a part of a long-duration mission in space.

Plants to the rescue!

The zinnias bloomed, Commander Scott Kelly announced with a tweet. “Yes, there are other life forms in space!” he joked on Jan. 16. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated the growth of zinnia plants on Nov. 16, 2015, as part of an experiment in the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE), a facility that will help scientists learn how to grow fresh produce on orbit for the agency’s journey to Mars. Lindgren’s work with the zinnias was continued by Kelly after Lindgren’s departure. They are using red, green, and blue LED lights 10 hours a day to stimulate growth of the plants.

The countermeasure to sensory monotony is sensory stimulation. Working with plants provides astronauts visual, tactile and olfactory stimulation, and eventually even salivary stimulation with fresh foods and variety.

"It was surprising to me how great soybean plants looked," NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson wrote in one of her Letters Home while she was aboard the space station. "I guess seeing something green for the first time in a month and a half had a real effect. I think it's interesting that my reaction was as dramatic as it was."

Another space gardener, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, conducted his own personal experiments with growing plants in space during Expedition 30/31

“I grew three plants on my last mission,” Pettit said. “Space zucchini, and then he had his buddy space broccoli. And then there was space sunflower.”

To enhance his fun, he even wrote a blog from the point of view of space zucchini.

Experiments involving space plants have been a favorite of astronauts, especially those staying in space for long periods of time. VEGGIE is the biggest plant/flower experiment to fly on the orbiting laboratory. Furthermore, the behavioral health team cites that another important countermeasure to sensory deprivation is the importance of being involved in meaningful work.

Several astronauts agree that the ability to watch plants grow, and to play a part in their growth, provides a strong connection to something bigger than their immediate surroundings. Astronaut Mike Foale of ISS Expedition 8 said he loved working with plants while on the station. Every morning he would get up and look at the plants “for about 10 to 15 minutes. It was a moment of quiet time.”


The space zinnias gave Kelly a little scare as the year came to an end. He tweeted on Dec. 27 that they “aren’t looking too good,” and he is going to have to channel his “inner Mark Watney.” It turned out traces of mold were found on the plants. By Jan. 8 he tweeted again saying they are on the rebound and “no longer looking sad.”

“Growing a flowering crop is more challenging than growing a vegetative crop such as lettuce,” said Gioia Massa, NASA Kennedy Space Center payload scientist for VEGGIE. “Lighting and other environmental parameters are more critical.”

Lessons learned from the zinnia study will be used to help with the next flowering plant experiment in 2017, this one with an edible outcome—tomatoes!



Monica Edwards
NASA Human Research Program Engagement & Communications
( Editor: Timothy Gushanas: NASA)

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Sensedia

All we have as means to create a sense of what we are and what is outside of us in which we find ourselves operating in is our senses: sight, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. There is no other way we could know what we are and what the whole of outside that operates with or without our being there. Therefore, we must understand these five antennas that allow us the means to try and acquire knowledge of the outer world as well as of ourselves that in turn helps us live our life.

The question of subjectivity and objectivity, rationality and emotionality does not arise until we have understood this pentagon of our own self-awareness university. The very objectivity that is so much valued and prized by the so-called scientific community could not arise unless subjective judgments and experiences create this sense of objectivity and validify its existence. How do we know that an objective world exists without us subjectively experiencing it and then testifying en mass that in all our subjective experiences we found that this outer world that exists outside of us, and where we find ourselves living in; does exist without our accreditation or validation.  

Proof and evidence come later on at the labs but before we could locate a lab we have a hypothesis to prove either way that comes from our subjective experiences. Moreover, as individual subjectivity goes, we have five senses to almost create a subjective objectivity within our own subjective experiences by cross-referencing our different senses and their responses. So when we cannot see something, we try to smell it or hear it or touch it. So the birth of the very objectivity begins with our subjectivity and therefore, there is no objectivity that could be tested or validated unless there are individuals who could subjectively experience it and then validate it.

Whatever people might bring in as rationality, cognition, memories or awareness or anything like this at the very foundation we start with our senses and use them while adding on other devices to them to expand their ability to experience the reality: namely our creativity, empathy and imagination. Without senses there are no experiences and without experiences there cannot be any knowledge, neither of self nor the other, the outside.  

Let us call ourselves as self and the whole outside is the reality. We are part of the reality yet within that reality while being part of it we form our own unique mini reality. As we begin to respond and ‘prospond’ in response and ‘prosponse’ to our sensual experiences or initiated sensedine  ‘prosponsive’ experiences we continue to become and thereby, our reality changes interacting with the greater reality consequently changing that too or at least influencing it to some smaller or greater extent.  

Our knowledge of ourselves must begin with the fact that we acknowledge that there is an outer reality that exists beyond us. This we gather using our senses: we see it, we hear it, we smell it, we touch it, we even taste it and through these sense-employing we gather experiences from which we fathom out information, form knowledge that offers us wisdom with which we enhance our being and living.  

Before we venture any further, let us just briefly bring in the feeling here that is viewed and sensed as an inferior sibling of thinking. These two words bear the two faculties of humanity, namely, emotionality and rationality. If we see our senses as rain then feeling is the lake-surface where the rain falls and there we see the response of that rain falling, the dance of water drops and the waves, the music, the symphony and the whole landscape of this rain-occurrence, a state of wounding taking place causing pains and joys to bloom. This whole is our emotionality of the rain of senses and that becomes our experiences.  

What then would we call our rationality? Our rationality would be the germination of the whole experience through analysis and deriving out of a file of the whole experience in terms of images, information, data etc that allows us to put it into memories in an ordered manner so that they can be recalled easily. However, rationality is not just the process of putting the experiences into a file for ordered filling up of memories; it tries to derive knowledge out of the experiences, wisdom out them so that we can use them in our daily life without having to go through the process of recollecting the whole memories. For example, if we get burnt by fire we would experience it through our senses and there would be emotional responses to them that form memories of them. Rational mind would gather the memories and fold them into manageable system but derive knowledge and wisdom out of it. So next time with fire we are going to be careful because we have the knowledge and wisdom now that tells us to be careful, as we know the consequences. In doing that we are simply using the knowledge and wisdom out of the emotional experiences of the burning and not remembering the whole series of experiences. 

However, one point must be touched here before we venture out further with this discourse, in this market manipulated system of science where evidence seeking takes over the search of truth it is always emphasised that we value the thinking mind to understand things. Thinking, rationality and so-called scientific mind is highly portrayed yet what this does is continuously dehumanises us so that we could be made machine-like beings capable of producing information or presentation that could be sold or used to sell. What we are missing here is that we may need to understand empirically by thinking and analysing, yet the very understanding is a process purely of rational sense-making yet without emotional faculty’s contributions no human mind can function properly at all. We might be able to pretend that we do not value emotion but emotional input must be taken into account because without ‘emostanding’ something our understanding is half and surely unable to offer a full comprehensive knowledge of something. Therefore, when we say we understand we must mean that we understand and emostand, which offer a complete sense or idea of whatever we are trying to understand.  

Therefore, emotionality and rationality are not opposing elements or traits of our mind; they are complementary to each other one cannot function without the other. These two act as two sages giving us two different means to access subjective experiences and derive an understanding of the whole. An emotional response is not a bad response but a partial response and a rational one is impossible unless emotional has already taken place. Therefore, the age-old debate of being rational and emotional now must be clearly taken on and dealt with here.  

Let us take this example: these two men knocked on my door, apparently from some church discipline; one being a young man zealous with God’s and Christ’s message, other being quite older than him, carrying the message of God’s and Christ’s, too, yet having talked to both of them for few hours, I admired the elderly father without whom we could not have continued talk for five minutes because of the young man’s arrogant outburst regarding the fact of who was going to hell or this or that. There was discussion going on: I was saying things and the elderly person was listening and responding, the young man was, too. There were emotional and intellectual states of minds at play there and both were involved as to how we were engaging in the discussion that allowed us to continue that few hours of discourse. Having finished the conversation on good terms, on a very fond tone, not with the young chap but the elderly person, I offered him thanks and gratitude for sharing his wisdom with me and we both separated on the following: he said, ‘ I am astounded and moved by your sincere and fundamental faith and conviction in the goodness of humanity, I wish I could share that, I am afraid, my faith in humanity is not that strong.’  

And I said, I could not share the gloomy sinful human beings and their lost souls in need of rescuing.’ Now, here everything was said and answered back and listened to both rationally and emotionally while between the elderly person and myself while the young chap simply decided to respond using his emotion alone. The elderly person might have taken the route of pure rational discourse or an emotional one, however, because of his age and maturity he has taken a blended view in mirroring my attitude and there was this sense of reaching out to see the other point of view. One could say there cannot be a rational discourse with a church leader or a mosque or synagogue or any other faith, but that is not what we are discussing here.  

When we say we are rational beings it does not and should not mean that we ought to ignore our emotional self and when we say we are emotional beings we must not mean that we ought to ignore our rational self.  

Rationality in us is the means to locate ourselves in the outside whole and emotionality is the means whereby we locate the outside in ourselves.  

And without doing this continuous translation, transfiguration and translocation of getting the outside in and inside out we cannot function or develop as fully functioning, fully-being human beings. Moreover, emotionality does that by creating subjectivity and rationality does that by creating objectivity.  

So if we take the analogy of a half sphere being our emotionality and subjectivity then the other half sphere is our rationality and objectivity. One cannot exist properly and stay in health without the other being in health. 

Therefore, we come to the age of metaphor of head and heart: our head stands for our rationality and heart for emotionality in this and, they cannot, should not and must not me taken as opposing entities, which is what they are taken to be today. They are as we have shown complementary and necessary means and mechanism for us to be humans. Being alive means we are using both of these two faculties together and to serve as one albeit two in one or one in two. They must serve us almost like a marriage whereby we have two people working together as one or one in two. One person cannot have a marriage. There won’t be a human being without both in functioning order and unison. If we are using only one, it does not matter which one, we are functioning as a half and therefore, we cannot be fully being, we cannot be happy and content, and here comes the nasty bit, because we are living being, when we cannot properly be, when we cannot become freely and when we fail to locate ourselves within us and relate ourselves to the outer world or reality, finding that unison, that peace we begin to break away into myriad of illnesses both physical and mental.  

Let us now get into further elaboration of the senses and how they are our Pentagon University of Self Awareness. Ironically, self awareness starts not from being aware of oneself but the fact that an entity, self, realises that it is aware of the outside world that is not within it and by virtue of that it became aware of itself and then begins a process of finding out more about itself as it does so of the outside reality.  

Therefore, self-awareness is a process in which one becomes aware of oneself and the outside reality and a living relationship of equal nature begins to be formed that provides us with the life-source, the goodness to maintain our health and well being. Hence, self-awareness cannot be complete unless the outer reality is being known and been taken into the self-awareness.  

So here we have this Pentagon: I, is the agency that became aware of itself because it realises that there is an outside reality that exists outside its being and control. How does that realisation occur? It occurs because this agency, I, opens its eyes and sees a whole world outside. It sees things, shapes, colours, sizes and so on. It then closes its eyes and does not see anything but realises that it could hear a lot of the sounds germinated from the outside reality. It then touches and can feel a lot of things that it did not see or hear. It smells and smells a lot of the things that it did not see, hear or feel. It tries and tastes things and realises that in its taste the outside existed. It tries by stopping to sense all these things that form the outside and then tries again to see whether the outside is still out there and sees that it is still there. So in its own way it employed all the senses to create a sensedia of the outer reality and it is subjective but because it has employed all the five senses this individual subjectivity has been validated by all the senses or by more than one and therefore, it became almost a subjective objectivity.  

Now this person is Dave and he now needs validation of his subjectivity and he goes and asks an other, James, Ahmed, Alende, Joan and Javan and they confirm the same subjective objectivity that then established before all these individuals that the outside is an objective reality even if they are not feeling it by their own five senses.  

Here we might hear the screaming of our lab-fav scientific community saying: this is not objectivity at all! We need lab-managed objectivity. We need to see whether I could reproduce something, replicate something, make figures, charts, and diagrams, take photos, video record things and then we could say this is objective! Objectivity does not need a lab, the whole world is a lab, living is a lab and people are the scientists. Someone puts too much salt in his or her food and it became bitter! They subjectively feel it, but want to be sure so they ask someone else to validify the bitterness and the second person goes, tastes it and screams out of bitterness! That is objectivity gained through subjective experiences, gained through individual senses and then subjectivity went to acquire further validity from further subjectivity and by means of doing that acquire subjective objectivity.  

The scientist who has spent all his life studying this element, say, x and failed to know that it is poisonous only to human taste. Finally, he decided to put it to taste and he dies! How else could he have gained this knowledge without tasting it! Poisonous gases can harm humans if they smell and inhale them! Our problem is not a problem of science but a problem of market. The market manipulation makes everyone a buyer and seller and these two groups of people are in a deathly combative relationship of not trusting the other, they live on the corrosive relationship of cynicism and therefore, they believe and import all the negative characteristics one could think of a human being! That’s why when someone says something which is taken as a lie or a fraud attempt. Therefore, it has to be proved to be not a lie! I say, I am Munayem Mayenin, the market does not believe me! It wants me to provide the passport, then driving license, then it asks me for the paper part of the license, then asks for bank cards, credit cards, cheque book, photo id, council tax bills, telephone bills. Having shown all this it still wants me to offer more proof, national id card, for instance, finger prints, ear prints, iris scan and God knows what else! So how on earth are we going to win over this cynicism! That’s why whenever someone says something we almost like machines say out loud: that’s not possible, that’s impossible, what is the evidence! When someone says she has seen a ghost outside Covent Garden tube on a Sunday night we just tell her off for making something up or if someone says he could see three pigeons forming and carrying a live triangle as they move on the ground and then they fly out into the air carrying the triangle with them that continued expanding we are going to call them mad! But the question ought to be why do we have to?  

Most important fact in our failed understanding of human mind is again related to the market! Followed by the rapid and impossible pace of industrial revolution mental illness became an impossible phenomenon to manage and because of the so-called meritocracy replacing aristocracy the market needed some form of classification tools!  

There came the psychiatry, psychoanalysis, the pills, the counselling, this and that therapies and God knows what else and what else not so that the market could just deal with the casualties, it has created as by products of its absolute nightmarish greed for materialistic consumption and profits, with treatment: pills, counselling, therapies and psychoanalysis! Yet, it did not stand aside and wonder as to why these minds got broken in the first place. 

All of that have got the map of human mind all twisted and tangled up and in the process they have been tearing it apart! Human mind is not a simpleton’s machine, it is not a computer, even if this computer is developed few trillion times it would still be nowhere near good enough to compete with a human mind! Further to this absolute nightmare, neurology and medical science went about establishing that human mind is a by product of brain functions and nothing more than that!   

And most arrogant of all claims so far made, made by medical science that it can fix anything and everything, which is one of the biggest falsehood ever told in human history! Why are we saying that? Medicine is nothing but the management of pain and supporting the human body to heal itself. There is hardly anything else medicine can do!  If the human body cannot heal itself then medicine cannot do anything for it other than simply helping it bear and manage the pain or offer palliative care. 

Yet medicine continues to claim that it has reached this pinnacle of science! In fact, this so-called evidence-based practise has become the death nail to all science! Science is not an evidence collector, science is a state of mind; science is a direction towards a darkness where, scientist’s mind tells him, might be hiding the truth. He guesses (academic name for it would be hypothesis) and goes into the darkness and tries the guess out, often times it does not work, he comes back, tears his hair and rework the rhythm and metre of his hypothesis and tries again. A good scientist is not a graphologist, a note taker or someone who spends a lot of time drawing diagrams! A good scientist who thinks as a philosopher and a good scientist is the last thing the market wants! That is why our universities are now forced to close down Chemistry and Physics Departments while the MBA programmes or a lot of other departments that produce  ‘skilled’ people capable of using the tools of the trade are over subscribed.  

Anyhow, on top of that we have got these behaviourist wonder-poses ( hypotheses) in the name of psychology that is further drowning us into the abyss of doom! Human mind is a miraculous entity that is capable of infinite potential of development and the mind that we claim to know is nothing but the tip of the iceberg! The whole mind is as deep as the brain that continues to offer challenges to neurology. Human mind is a wholeness connected to this infinite universe and its power mechanism and therefore, what we only are aware of is not all that our mind is and definitely that is not all our mind is capable of dealing with, being, creating and achieving.    

We have our five senses and we are using them to create our aware understanding of things, ourselves and the world but the whole mind is connected to this living world and it is responding to that too and we ought to be open to receive that wisdom, too! We ought to be able to respond to that as well. Intuition is not an unscientific thing at all. Intuition is the response or prosponse our mind does with that deeper universe to which and to whose power belt it is connected to and works within its seasons and weather that we do not yet have the understanding, knowledge and most importantly, the technology to understand. Further to that, we do not have the philosophical, psychological, political, social, cultural and spiritual frameworks.   

This part of our mind is unconscious or subconscious but it is part and parcel of our mind but it is not in our apparent awareness but we are in its awareness and we ought to be more aware of that expanse of our mind! Human mind is a mind-boggling entity and it is not a by-product of our brain or its neurons! In fact, the human body is where the mind is housed and therefore, if the house is influenced or affected mind would essentially get impacted and affected by it or even manipulated by it (as in by medicine or drugs) but that does not make mind a body thing!   

Let us elaborate a little more about the power to which our mind is connected to: this whole universe is full of energy of many kinds: gravitational forces, rays, lights, magnetism, electricity, electromagnetism and more. Yet, all these powers are deriving out of the object world or from their motional impact. But all these powers are generated from somewhere, the big bang may be, but the question must go further than big bang! What power fuelled or ‘paid’ for the big bang! Until the big bang there could not have been objects and could not have been these powers that we found after the big bang. If powers stay eternally the same and could not be destroyed but transformed into some other powers then these powers must come from some bigger power source. The only bigger power source is the infinite darkness that covers the universe! That was and is the mother of all powers and that is still powering the whole universe. And our mind is connected to that power field as well as all other powers that we know of. All these feed into the mind and that is how intuition works. Intuition is the bigger science that is held by human mind that our so-called science could understand! We do not understand our own intuition other than saying; it is our gut feeling or a sense coming from the sixth sense!   

 We know a lot of the things that we do not know how we came to know about them! In fact, there are a great many things we know that seems to be apparently impossible yet we know them! Some people do and science call them liars!  

If a train is coming on a train line few miles down the line one could feel its vibration on the line and it gets stronger and stronger and eventually even the sounds begin to be audible! If one could feel that vibrations and says, I know a train is coming (without knowing about the train’s time table) in about five minutes are we going to call them mad or liar! But we would and we do!   

Now, if someone comes to us and says: I know my son is coming home at 2 on the train that comes at 2 and we would ask her as to how she came to know that and she would say that she just got a sense or feeling or intuition that told her that her son was coming! What are we going to brand this woman! Mad! That is what we are going to call her!   

But is it possible that a mother could gain insight of that train, of her son and the rest by legitimate means only that we do not know how to look at them or understand them! That the boy has a smell, the boy has a shape, the boy has a heart that beats and the boy’s body produces a lot of other signals and power fields, bio-electro-magnetic or otherwise and they travel through space in a way that we could not yet fathom out and the mother’s mind could decipher them because of the fact that anything that boy’s living body could produce has grown out of her and she would be and is capable of receiving them, deciphering them and responding to them without being aware of this fact that she could or that she has done! How about that then! How about that! We do not give enough credit to a human mind! In an aware level we do that all the time, we could say by touch who is touching us (if we know that person), we could do that by smell, we could do that by sound, too! Why should we not be able to do that with vibrations or waves coming from afar! Essentially, human body is a biological radio, too! Because the heart is continuously beating and therefore, giving out biologically produced radio signals out that are waves. Our bloods are rushing about and they are sending out sound and other waves, too. Our brains with all its wonderful neurons and the busy nervous systems continuously emitting signals and so on and so forth! Why do we take the view that we, both our body and mind, are in capable of deciphering and understanding them!    

Take a few examples of some of the things we hear and just brush aside as some rubbish!   

Someone got up in the morning and said: we are going to get our passport delivered by a neighbour this morning and he was looked at as though he had gone freshly mad! Half an hour later the neighbour came in with the passport. The postman apparently delivered it at the wrong address! How could he know about that! How could he know!   

This man says to his wife: today we are going to get a letter from somewhere that says this and that letter came!  

We are going to dismiss all of this by saying this all is a whole lot of rubbish simply because we want the whole infinite universe to fall in and fit in our narrow little view and box and if it does not, which it won’t, we say a whole lot of rubbish.   

It is almost time, science is taken out of the vice hold of the market and let it be science again. It is time that we abandon that psychotherapy’s dark chair, the misguided space of behaviourism and begin again. Psychology must stop apologising and must stop acting like a dog producing tests, scores, assessment techniques and tools for the market, provide therapies and counselling modules so that the market could deal with the people and their minds that it has, itself broken apart, shattered, destroyed and abandoned!  

Human mind is not a market-manipulated toy. It is an abounding miracle and its capabilities are infinitely complex and its potential to understand and emostand are beyond ‘’simpleton’s’’ medical science that needs to come clean and stop pretending that it could deliver miracles and magic when it cannot do anything but tend to pain and offer its many faceted bleeding and wounds some nursing.  

No matter however much money is put into it, it cannot deliver miracles or magic. Magic is and continues to be so is the human body, mind and soul ( and medicine is best placed to understand, appreciate and sing aloud about it), that are capable of astounding magic and monumental miracles and medical science must stop the pretence of being the pseudo-god!  

For it is none of that and it can never be. Most horrible fact about this arrogance is the pretence that we have reached the pinnacle of scientific and technological achievements! The truth is that in terms of human development and progress in this infinite sphere and scheme of things of this ever expanding universe humanity is just a baby learning to crawl! The whole of the future of this humanity has not yet begun! Only 1.5% or so of the human genome is working t this point in time of human development and the rest ( imagine how much) is not doing anything yet! This should tell medicine something absolutely profound.  

For humanity has to grow to be a toddler, an infant, a junior, a young man/woman, a human being and there would come full humanhood! That is probably when we would reach out beyond our Milky Way Galaxy! And these people are happy with Germany and Botswana!! So what are we going to do with this arrogance? Remember, how long ago was it that we were killing people by ‘bleeding’ in the valid and genuine practice of medicine? If we are at the pinnacle today of science and knowledge and technology then where would we go in a 100 years, 200 years, 2000 years, 2 million years! Or do we think that humanity is about to end while only 1.5% of its genome is at work?  

So what are we going to do with this arrogance? We must take lessons in humility and pick this arrogance up like a rubbish-sack and bury it down the core of the earth or somewhere deeper than that!  

Most importantly, humanity is waiting for another Einstein to offer us a new Physics, not Newtonian Mechanics nor Einsteinian Quantum Physics but Duantum Physics that deals not with lights but darkness: the mother of all power, all energy. Lights can only take us to a point because it is, after all, finite in quantities since only burning stars are its source, darkness, on the other hand, is covering the indefinitum universe. Think of how our mind is related to darkness. As soon as we close our eyes all we feel-see is a dark state as though by closing our physical eyes our mind goes back in the oceanic plateau of darkness sunk in it like a sage and connected to this infinite power source and, therefore, we need to understand how darkness works so that we could tell how it works with our mind!   

People who act as though they have got the tele-magic of humanity must now be challenged and defeated and with them their creator, the market that makes us feel it has brought us to this zenith of all! We have not even begun our walk to cross the valley yet to initiate the climb of the mountain! And in this process we must ensure that we have acquired the liberty for science from the vice hold of this market so that once again it could lead our quest of knowledge and wisdom and make it stop working as a lap dog of the market and this will free us from this slave-like poverty that makes us scream: oh! This is impossible! This is absolutely impossible! This can’t be! There is no evidence for it! It has never been heard of before! This is absurd!   

And instead, we are going to say: oh! Yes, tell, me, how does this work? Wow! Fascinating! I did not know this could be possible! If we were like this to Newton or to Einstein or other great people this world and we, the whole human race would still be living in dark ages! In all ages there were these people all screaming out: this is not possible, that is not possible, all that were impossible to them became possible. Now we all are screaming: in our eyes, anything and everything now shares the domain of impossible because we do not have any other word to think but what the system and the market tell us to think and there we are: in a state of impossible!    

We must break free into this all possible state that will take us somewhere that so far we have never been: liberty of being fully human with all that makes us a miracle, a magic in continual unfolding. Being human is the most ‘impossible’ state that makes all possible and we better learn to understand and emostand this being human and we would know how to sing out this miracle and dance out this magic through our living this monumental experience of a human life!  

And all this starts with these five senses who take us to the door of a realm impossible and opens it for us and let us become truly at liberty, free of all fears for it offers us the entire universe before us. This sensedia is enhanced by our rationality, our empathy, our imagination and our understanding of the structure, organisation, capabilities and potentials of our mind. The human mind or soul is an invisible replica of the entire universe that lives in us, a prospect that we bring to life by the fireflies of knowledge and by the solar exposition of the lamp of wisdom. And at this state a human mind ‘elvisions’ all outward with spherical an eye and does the same inwards and the two looks go contra-flow so that out and in is, at all times, in and at one point as one, as whole, as unity. It is indivisible and without parts.

Munayem Mayenin

Editor

Note: This piece was written in 2006 and was published in The Poets' Letter. This has been updated and modified. These pieces relate to the works I have been doing for years and are part of my Dehumanisation of Humanity, Psychology of Zoohuman, Humanics, Alphansum Sovereign Necessarius. These works fall in the categories of Philosophy, Psychology, Theosophy, Metaphysics, Sociology and inside the scopes of the future branches of knowledge, proposed and imagined by me, as Humanics, Hearteogenics and Cosmography.