Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hello to my many followers

Well, it has been some time since the last post. I think that a certain re-orientation is needed for the blog. I will post occasional links and thoughts in the widely-defined mental health area. This blog has no longer even a tenuous link with UCD psychiatry teaching.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Research on this blog!

Hi all,

Well I hope this posting finds you all well, avid P&S readers. Since we last spoke, some of our research on this whole blog lark has been published -

Check it out. (Scroll down a little bit, it's titled "Using a Blog to Engage Medical Students in a Multidisciplinary Teaching Course about Psychiatry and Wider Society, S. MacSuibhne, A. Guerandel & K. Malone"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two tribes

There seems to be a dramatic gap between "front line" health staff and the administrators of the HSE, and an even more dramatic one between doctors' perception of the problems of the health service and politicians'. This not just the case in Ireland. There are lots of reasons why this might be so. One however relates to a more general issue about how scientists and experts communicate with politicians and "policy makers" (a wonderfully vague term that seems to mean anyone of influence) about scientific and medical issues. We have lots of training now in how to communicate with patients, but communicating with politicians/policy makers seems to be nearly as important a skill. One set of suggestions I found online, from the world of palliative care, can be read here (you have to scroll down a bit to get to the part about politicians)

An exercise for readers of the blog - if were given half an hour to present to the Minister for Health and a random selection of influential TDs (or MPs, or Senators, or whoever) about suicide, or psychiatric stigma, how would you go about it? What would you like to get through to them?

Reporting suicides

One of tomorrow's lecturers is Joe Little, RTE's Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent. You've probably seen him on the news! He'll be talking about psychiatry and the media. One of the most pressing issues in this regard is how suicides are reported. The way suicides are reported has been shown to affect suicide rates. You can look at some guidelines here. Reporting of suicide methods also can affect which methods are used. For instance, in Singapore some high profile deaths by suicide involved charcoal burning, and subsequently the proportion of suicides by this method increased (you can read about this here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Has psychiatry turned normal sadness into depression?

This article is a lengthy review of a book published earlier this year arguing that psychiatry has turned "normal sadness" into depression. The review is balanced and well argued, and gives an interesting if somewhat jaundiced overview of the process whereby DSM diagnostic criteria are created.

A qualitative study about stigma worth reading

This study about stigma a few years ago from the British Journal of Psychiatry is worth reading. It goods a give overview of many of the issues involved. It also gives you some sense of how qualitative research is carried out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Environment, Climate Change, and Mental Health

A few months ago this article in the magazine WIRED attracted some attention. It deals with the topic of "solastalgia", a word coined by the Australian environmental philosopher to describe the distress experienced by those whose environment is changing around them.

Albrecht had worked for many years as an environmental activist and advocate in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Open cut coal mining and the construction of new power stations had transformed this formerly agricultural landscape. Local residents who were concerned about specific environmental issues contacted Albrecht to discuss these. In the course of these interactions he began to notice that a wider distress at the extent of local environmental change was evident. Influenced by various environmental thinkers, who argued man-made environmental stress lead to “land-sickness” (which, unlike other "natural" environmental stresses, did not lead to an environmental recovery) and caused psychic stress among the population of the particular environment, he developed the concept of solastalgia.

Albrecht described how "nostalgia" was traditionally defined as sadness at absence from a particular place, and wrote in his original paper on solastaliga “People who are still in their home environs can also experience place-based distress in the face of the lived experience of profound environmental change. The people of concern are still ‘at home’, but experience a ‘homesickness’ similar to that caused by nostalgia. What these people lack is solace or comfort derived from their present relationship to ‘home’, and so, a new form of psychoterratic illness needs to be defined. The word ‘solace’ relates to both psychological and physical contexts.”

Clive Thompson, who wrote the WIRED article, described "solastalgia" as "a fascinating new concept in mental health." Do you think that "solastalgia" can be described as a "mental illness?"