Mental health

Women's Fightback: Pandemic hits women's mental health

New studies indicate that the pandemic has caused a crisis in mental health in women and girls.  CARE spoke to 6,200 women and 4,000 men in nearly 40 countries around the world. They found 27% of women had reported increased mental health challenges. This compared to 10% of men. They identified increased unpaid work in the home and worries about food, work and health care. Women were almost twice as likely to report that accessing quality healthcare services that they needed had been harder during the pandemic. CARE identified three key areas of difference between the genders during the...

Responses to the pandemic: equality or insanity?

Agitation for increased funding for mental health services continues, with various research papers highlighting or predicting high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mental health services are in desperate need of resources. It remains unclear whether this coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, specifically, really have made a difference to the mental illness pandemic that was already blighting the lives of billions globally long before Covid-19 came into being. For instance, a survey from UCL headlined that 18% of...

The pandemic from further back

Since the start of the pandemic there have been almost daily warnings of the effects that this natural disaster will have on our mental health. The impending mental health crisis has even been given a name: the “shadow pandemic”. However, beneath the headlines, there is surprisingly little hard evidence. Many surveys have found people increased levels of stress and anxiety, but that is not the same as mental illness. Some papers have predicted a big spike in mental illness based on patterns from previous natural disasters and economic crises. However the workings of the human mind are complex...

Children, parents, school workers: stand together!

The education unions are right to say schools should not accept further mass return of pupils until the five tests are met. We should fully support any school workers who will take action on health and safety grounds from 1 June to keep their workplaces open only to vulnerable and key workers’ children. That does not mean we, or school workers, are oblivious to how difficult school closures have been on families. Solidarity has covered, and will continue to cover, the increased risk of domestic violence and neglect in a stressful period with less contact between the household and the outside...

Deaths in custody

Under the emergency powers of the Coronavirus Act, unless a medical professional deems it necessary, death certificates for people that die in custody will not have to be signed by a coroner. Yet the law was passed with little debate and with almost no opposition to these provisions from the Labour leadership. Inquest reported that in the financial year 2018-19, there were 276 deaths during or following police contact, 16 in or following police custody. Of those 16 deaths, 10 people were identified as having “mental health concerns” and 13 were known to have a link to alcohol or drugs. Six of...

Diary of an engineer: You’ll probably deserve it?

On Mondays my cohort attends college. The building is made of slick modern metal and glass, and built on the site of the battle of Orgreave. The Economist magazine described its construction as “a promising attempt… to tackle an ancient and ridiculous class divide” by getting Boeing and Rolls Royce to invest in working-class children’s education. Over the road is the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, hosting buildings dedicated to factory automation and nuclear research. My class is twelve men and three women, aged 17-30. Our Health and Safety Trainer is a 30-40 year old Brummy called “P...

Labour Campaigns Together

A coalition of grassroots Labour Party campaigns has launched a website, Labour Campaigns Together. Its aim is to press the Labour leadership to include left-wing policies voted through at the 21-25 September Labour conference in Brighton in its manifesto and in the actions of a Labour government. The key policies are: • A just transition to a decarbonised economy by 2030 • Build 100,000 social rented council homes a year • Transition to a 32-hour working week with no loss of pay • Protect and extend the rights of migrants • End all forms of criminalisation of rough sleeping • Free our unions...

Against “exam factories”!

The National Education Union (NEU) is balloting its primary school members between 4 June and 12 July over whether to boycott high stakes summative testing (HSST) in primary schools. What is HSST? “Summative” means that the main purpose is to attach a score to what has been learnt, not to inform future learning and teaching. “High stakes” means that the school and school workers are measured by that score. The tests are used to compile league tables of schools, and those in turn play in to the marketisation of education. Testing is also big business: companies make a lot of money selling tests...

Letters

Inequality and the super-ego If my review of The Inner Level left readers thinking that it presented a narrow, economistic view of mental illness, then I apologise for writing a poor review. Thanks to Ian Townson for prompting me to write this correction. Wilkinson and Pickett stress that their research is not a “theory of everything” and do not claim that income inequality is the only driver of mental distress. They describe a broad statistical trend within which our human drama plays out. There are outliers in the data where there must be powerful countervailing factors. For example, Italy...

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