We’ve all likely read about the many health benefits of hiking, which shows that spending time in nature is good for you. But even if you can’t escape the city, spending time in local parks and urban green spaces can still offer a number of great health benefits. Here we will take a look at 24 scientific studies showing how green space is good for you.
First, my ongoing, unremitting struggle for sanity…
I wrote this article during the fourth and fifth week of the Coronavirus lockdown in England. I wrote it whist living in an Air B&B in London, in a room with an en–suite bathroom – no living room, no garden, just a small kitchen that I have been sharing with the other two Air B&B residents.
Since the beginning of lockdown I have been ‘self-shielding’ (to use the UK government terminology), being one of the 1.5 million people in the UK deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’ to Coronavirus. What makes me part of this very high-risk group is that I have an ‘underlying health condition’ (Crohn’s Disease) and I am immunosuppressed due to the Crohn’s Disease medication I am on. As a result of ‘self-shielding’, I have only briefly left my room four times in the five weeks of the lockdown – for food shopping and collecting medication. But I am luckier than many in that I am able to buy fresh food on-line, and I have a good friend who has offered to collect my medication.
‘Stay home, save lives’ – says the Coronavirus lockdown motto. I am nowhere I can call home (we are not all in this together after all). My ‘self-shielding’ has brought about acute feelings of isolation, as well as a strong sense of lack of control, a sense of existing in enforced captivity and solitary confinement in one fairly small room (I live alone). I have been reminded of that other (profoundly traumatising) place and time – the acute psychiatric ward in Manchester where I was sectioned for three months back in 2009 – where I experienced a similar sense of imprisonment, lack of freedom of movement, and deprivation of liberty. That other place and time is both similar and very different. During the Coronavirus lockdown I have not been severely depressed, psychotic and suicidal as I was back in 2009, and I would not need Section 17 leave from a psychiatrist to leave my Air B&B.Read More
We also asked Peter Groot who helped develop the first Tapering Strips for Antidepressant withdrawal – who with colleagues has demonstrated that this can help many people – not all – unfortunately not all he would say.
Before answering the questions, all were asked, Peter offered some more general views that have been paraphrased here.Read More
There are now a multitude of calls and statements to end systemic racism in the U.S. and around the world. From the Ivory Towers of academia to CEOs to NASCAR (of all sports), it seems like almost every entity has woken up to an entrenched reality existential to the very fabric of the U.S. social hierarchical system. The public display of brutal police victimization, murder, and hate in the public execution of George Floyd finally has everyone aghast! The racism, discrimination, and violence that Black people have voiced for centuries are on display right before our very eyes and all this is on the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which has highlighted the racial inequities that plague our health care systems.Read More
H’s nightmare with Effexor withdrawal was laid out in last week’s post. Experts on antidepressant withdrawal were asked to comment – Will Hall, Altostrata, Peter C Groot, Bob Fiddaman, Josef Witt-Doerring have generously given time to do so. James Moore, Stevie Lewis and Ed White, administrator for a Facebook venlafaxine withdrawal group, who have substantial international profiles on withdrawal have also added comments to last week’s post.
Most of those commenting have had lives touched by withdrawal. I’ve designated them as experts but they would likely see themselves as ordinary people who have had to grapple with two awful problems – the effects of a drug and a betrayal by the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry – and they would likely say to any readers going through similar problems that your motivation is more likely to lead to answers than waiting for expertise to ride to the rescue.
The issues in these posts apply to all SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, but also antipsychotics, gabapentinoids and other drugs. The withdrawal button beside the RxISK blog brings up 50+ posts on withdrawal issues with some on Sertraline and Prozac having hundreds of comments. RxISK also has a Complex Withdrawal panel with more information.Read More
Society’s psychological reactions to a crisis can be predicted according to disaster response frameworks. Mental health innovators can use these frameworks to understand what to build during the evolving COVID-19 crisis, and when those innovations will prove most vital.
A package of biopsychosocial services for young adults experiencing psychological distress was evaluated and compared to usual outpatient psychiatric care. Young adults (18–25) with moderate-to-severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety (n = 26) were enrolled in a 13-week intervention consisting of nutritional coaching and multi-vitamin supplements, weekly educational and peer support groups, and a modest financial stipend to engage with physical or expressive activities. A comparison group (n = 13) continued with their usual medication-based outpatient care. Program participants reported significantly improved depression, anxiety, severity of distress, overall quality of life, and empowerment over 4 months, with progress maintained or further improved at 2-month follow-up. No evidence of change on any outcome was observed for comparison group participants. Although long-term impacts on mental health trajectories and reliance on psychotropic medications remain unknown, a holistic self-learning approach is a viable alternative to standard outpatient psychiatric care for young adults.Read More
This paper proposes a set of nine critical elements underpinned by human rights principles to support individuals experiencing a serious crisis related to mental health problems or psychosocial disabilities. These elements are distilled from a range of viable alternatives to traditional community mental health approaches and are linked to a normative human rights framework. We argue that crisis response is one of the areas of mental health care where there is a heightened risk that the rights of service recipients may be infringed. We further make the case that the nine critical elements found in advanced mental health care models should be used as building blocks for designing services and systems that promote effective rights-based care and supports.Read More
The Guidance for Psychological Therapists: Enabling Conversations With Clients Taking or Withdrawing from Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs1 was published in December 2019. I was invited to play a small part in its production as I am a campaigner bringing to the attention of governments, the NHS, and the public the difficulties that some people have with severe and protracted physical symptoms when trying to withdraw from SSRI antidepressants.
We know from the advance research quoted at the beginning of the Guidance that 96.7% of therapists work with clients who take at least one psychiatric drug. Of the therapists surveyed, 93.1% reported they would find it either ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ to have professional guidance to help them work more competently and confidently with such clients.1 This prompted the development of the Guidance as an accessible source of information for therapists about each class of psychiatric drug, how it works, what it is prescribed for, and what is known about its effects on the body and while it is exiting the body. Anything specifically written about a drug is referenced, and everything is evidence based.Read More
A new study compared intensive cognitive behavioral case management (CBCM) with and without antipsychotic use in young people diagnosed with first-episode psychosis. The researchers found that there was no difference in outcomes at the six-month endpoint. Both groups improved, and there was no added benefit to having taken antipsychotic medications. The study authors, writing in Schizophrenia Bulletin, explain:
“There was no discernible advantage to receiving antipsychotic medication from the start of the trial,” the researchers write.
The study was led by Shona M. Francey at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Parkville, Australia.Read More