Month: October 2017

Rape culture and how it is perpetuated

Rape culture and how it is perpetuated

One in four women. That is one in four women in your office, gym class, lecture, or family. One in four women who have experienced some form of sexual violence.
The World Health Organisation defines sexual violence as: “Any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.” This can include anything from unwanted advances in a public setting, to marital rape, and is considered to be one of the most traumatic, pervasive, and most common human rights violations.
As someone who has worked with survivors of sexual violence for nearly 10 years, I have come to realise how widespread this issue really is. Recently in the media, Angelina Jolie and William Hague chaired an important conference about rape as a weapon in war, however in this instance I couldn’t help but wonder “What about the rape that is being experienced here?” Everyday in clubs, bars, pubs, halls of residence, offices, and even at home, more and more people are becoming victims of sexual violence. But what can be done to help? And how can we stop blaming the victims?
One of the things which I have found can help victims come to terms with their experiences is to educate them on the body’s natural reaction to this kind of violence. Often, women are made to feel ashamed, guilty and somewhat responsible for their victimisation, with questions such as “Why were you there?” “What did you do?” and “I thought you liked him/her” often becoming more important than the simple answer: It’s not your fault. And while these comments may come from individuals that love and trust the victims, they can unknowingly perpetuate the stigma associated with sexual violence, and contribute to what we know as ‘rape culture’. Rape culture is essentially victim-blaming, but in the context of sexual violence this can be extremely harmful for victims.
However, what is not common knowledge to most is how our brain reacts to trauma such as sexual violence or rape. In instances of extreme stress or trauma, the brain uses a different system to its usual rational system, known as the survival system. When the survival system kicks in, the body goes into a flight, fight or freeze response. These responses are similar to a rabbit in headlights or mouse playing dead when a cat catches them. They are life preservation responses. Most commonly in rape or sexual assault freeze or appease are the primary responses. This means that victim’s brains make an unconscious decision to either freeze or appease because evolution has taught humans that these are the least dangerous options.
When the threat is over the survival system shuts down and the rational system comes back on, however this system is greatly influenced by environmental cues and norms, which means that a victim may begin to blame themselves, especially if those around them do. This needs to change. And for this to happen it is important that as many people as possible understand the body’s reaction to sexual assault, and how asking questions about the experience can sometimes feel like an attack. Remembering sexual violence can be painful in itself, as it requires the individual to revisit the trauma – so before you begin asking questions, ask yourself; is this necessary? Our society has a responsibility to survivors to understand, and not judge or invalidate what they are feeling.
No one questions survivors of cancer, or natural disasters, if there was anything more they could have done, and no one should suggest that this was a possibility for victims of sexual assault. Anyone could be the target of sexual violence, and no matter when or how, there is never anything they could have done to prevent it. The blame is always with the attacker. Psychotherapy can help individuals to normalise their experiences, and realise that they are not alone. Anyone would have reacted in the same way, because the survival system takes over.
I believe that educating the general public about why we respond the way we do to sexual violence will greatly reduce stigma, and potentially shift attention away from the victim and to their attacker. The most common responses from women are shame, guilt and a sense that they did not do enough to stop the attack. This is often reinforced by other people’s reactions, but is simply not true in any case. As long as we maintain this emphasis on the individual’s reaction, individuals will continue to believe they are responsible for being raped. What is more important is understanding when to stop asking questions, and start supporting the women (and men) whose human rights have been violated.
Anya is a therapist on the Dr Julian platform www.dr-julian.com search "Dr Julian" on the app store you can have a counselling session with her on your iPhone/ iPad for £60/ hour

Source: Dr julian

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Is the NHS failing to meet the mental health needs of the country?

Is the NHS failing to meet the mental health needs of the country?

In 2008, the government released a statement highlighting their plans to improve mental health services in the UK, in new ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) reforms. These reforms aimed to employ more licensed practitioners, and treat more people suffering from anxiety and depression, while simultaneously reducing waiting times for these services, however they have not been entirely successful with this. In 2015/16, 1.4 million referrals were received for talking therapies, of which only around 67% ever received treatment. Of those treated, the average wait time for treatments was 29 days, however some waited up to 139 days, and this is only once referrals had actually been made. It is likely that in most cases, individuals waited even longer to be referred – that is if they were even lucky enough to receive a referral.
Recently, the NHS commissioned an IAPT expansion programme for 2017/18, whereby they aim to train and employee more individuals to carry out a number of low-intensity intervention strategies such as panic-management and cognitive restructuring. By introducing these roles the goal is to ensure more mental health employees are available; however while these new roles may be useful in providing short-term assistance, they will not necessarily address concerns regarding the availability and accessibility of clinical treatments. In sum, this new service may be helpful in providing contact prior to treatment, however it is unlikely to come close to solving the long-standing issue of a lack of access to qualified mental health professionals.
Of course, the short term nature of these roles is acknowledged by the NHS, meanwhile the long-term problems remain unaddressed. It is understood that these interventions will not provide the same support as a series of traditional therapies would do, however the NHS struggles with a lack of available staff to administer these sessions. Qualifying as a clinical psychologist, or equivalent professionalism, takes years of study and experience – therefore a shortage in this area is hard to address rapidly. Further, this problem is made increasingly difficult as a result of recent government cuts to the NHS in general, with particular budget cuts to several mental health services across the UK.
As with any government cuts to funding, the consequences can be dire, but especially so for mental health services. Currently in 2017 there are more people than ever before on waiting lists for mental health care, and trends suggest that this will continue to rise. The current system for referring and treating individuals, although showing signs of improvement, is currently just not appropriate for the scale of mental health cases in the UK. Waiting lists can often cause mental health issues to become heightened – meaning that by the time an individual is seen by a professional, that professional/service may no longer be the right one for them. Worse still, individuals on these waiting lists may not live long enough to receive the treatment they need desperately, as it is estimated that between 2003 and 2013, 18,220 people in the UK with mental health problems took their own life (University of Manchester, 2015). And, according to the Samaritans (Suicide Statistics Report, 2017), these figures continue to rise at an alarming rate.
It is clear that desperate action needs to be taken to solve the UK’s current mental health crisis, however as highlighted before, the current procedure for referring and treating individuals is simply not effective or quick enough, even with recent reforms accounted for. Accessibility to services may be improved in the long-term only through drastic change to how these services operate and are received, such that the procedure of seeking mental health advice needn’t be so long-winded. One potential way to do this may be through remote video therapy, which has the potential to speed up referrals while also reducing costs and making the best use of professional time.
Remote, or online, video therapy is something which may be administered from the comfort of one’s own home or office, and has shown promising effects which suggest it may be just as effective as face-to-face therapies. This kind of therapy is administered in a similar way to traditional therapies, but over video call from two separate locations, rather than the traditional method of therapist and client in the same room. A number of therapy techniques have shown to be just as effective using this method, such as CBT and psychotherapy to name a few, and it’s advantages for both therapists and clients respectively are numerous.
Using remote therapies could help reduce running costs for several mental health services, meaning that money could be spent more efficiently in order to help a wider scope of people. Further, these types of remote therapies free up time between sessions, meaning that more clients could be seen in a shorter period of time with less repercussions in the instance of no shows, or unexpected emergency appointments. In the case of online therapy, an appointment could quickly and easily be reassigned, rescheduled or redirected – meaning less wasted time or money, and fewer unused slots. In terms of improving accessibility, clients and professionals alike are less likely to be inconvenienced by waiting times, physical barriers to travel, or prior commitments, as these therapies can be carried out anywhere, anytime, as long as internet access is readily available. This has the potential to speed up the time between sessions, with professionals available even at non-standard times, which could alleviate the pressures currently experienced by the NHS by increasing the number of people seen within a day.
Currently however, the NHS does not offer this kind of service, despite its advantages. And, while the current IAPT reforms seem to be slowly improving accessibility, they have a long way to go if they are to catch up with the growing number of individuals with mental health complaints. At the moment, online therapy sessions are available privately, such as through the Dr Julian app, which may be suitable for those who feel that waiting months for an appointment is just not an option. The app currently allows individuals to book therapy sessions with their chosen professional at a time to suit them, without the need for a referral; which cuts out the NHS referral system altogether. Appointments can be booked and received the same day, without even leaving the house – making this up to 100x faster than the NHS. In the future, it may be that the public mental health system adopts this kind of online therapy booking system, however for the time being this is exclusively something available privately.
www.dr-julian.com
References:
-University of Manchester (2015). National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness: Annual Report 2015: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales July 2015. Manchester: University of Manchester
-House of Commons Mental Health Problems Statistics on Prevalance and Services, available at: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06988
-Outline of current NHS IAPT reforms: https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/resources/access-waiting-time/
-Samaritans statistics available here: https://www.samaritans.org/about-us/our-research/facts-and-figures-about-suicide

Source: Dr julian

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5 Signs That You Should See A Therapist

5 Signs That You Should See A Therapist

Today, the 10th of October 2017, marks World Mental Health Day – a day devoted to raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems. 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives, with many experiencing multiple problems, or re-emergence of old problems. These problems can develop and get worse over time, leading to more severe symptoms and further feelings of helplessness – however it is not all doom and gloom.
Research suggests that seeking help for mental health complaints early on can help prevent most mental health issues from ever becoming severe, meaning a speedier recovery and less interference in daily life. Identifying a problem as soon as it arises can make it much easier to manage and treat, meaning that mental health problems are less likely to escalate or get worse. Much as with problems surrounding physical health, mental health issues can get in the way of everyday life – but the earlier the problem can be identified and treated, the quicker and easier recovery tends to be.
The earlier a mental health condition is identified, the quicker treatment can be sought and you can begin feeling like yourself again, so knowing what to look for in yourself in terms of mental health issues can be very important. In this blog post, we wanted to help you do just that, by highlighting some of the key warning signs that may suggest that you should seek help, as it can be quite difficult to see these signs in ourselves. Don’t worry – you are not alone. Seeking therapy is nothing to be ashamed of, but simply a great way of looking after your own mental health.
Everyone feels sad, worried or stressed at times, however for someone suffering from a mental health problem, these feelings can be persistent and are notably more intense. Usually, the body regulates emotional responses, such that it is not unusual to feel happy and sad and scared and excited all in the space of one day, or even one hour. However, for someone suffering from depression or anxiety for example, feelings of fear or sadness are often persistent and overwhelming, such that normal functioning becomes difficult.
If you feel that your emotions or thoughts are becoming consuming or unhealthy, consider speaking to a therapist, or even just a loved one; as this may help to gage whether your reactions are unusual. Feeling anxious or stressed for short periods is completely normal, as often this is the appropriate reaction to cues in your environment, however if these feelings are ongoing, with no obvious cause, it may be time to seek help.
The term ‘substances’ can be used to describe anything which can be used in excess, ranging from drugs to junk food. Perhaps you have noticed that you are drinking or smoking more, or even that you are eating significantly larger or smaller portions – these could all be signs of an underlying mental health issue. It is fairly common for individuals suffering with their mental health to use substances such as alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, however even more common are changes to eating behaviours, such as skipping meals, or overeating.
Behaviours such as these are quite often carried out without thinking during times of extreme stress, anxiety or sadness, as they can have a numbing or distracting effect on emotions, although they can also have detrimental health effects. Long-term daily alcohol, drug or junk food intake can affect the way that the body functions, but not only that, these kinds of behaviours are unlikely to resolve any underlying psychological issues, so can cause a vicious cycle to begin. If you have noticed any extreme changes to your diet or substance intake, consider seeing a therapist to see if these changes could be indicative of a more serious mental health issue.
Irregular or disturbed sleep can be caused by a number of different factors, however persistent sleep disturbances can also suggest at an underlying mental health issue, especially when accompanied by low mood or stress. Of course, sleep disturbances themselves can cause negative feelings and a lack of motivation, however if ongoing this can lead to more serious mental health problems. If other treatments (e.g. herbal remedies, reduced device use, sleeping pills etc) fail to stop sleep problems, consider talking to a doctor or therapist about the potential underlying causes.
Sometimes loved ones can notice changes in your mood before you do, so it’s always important to listen to others when they suggest that you may not seem ‘right’. If people around you are showing a greater degree of concern for your mental health, such as asking if you’re doing okay, or explicitly expressing their concern, it may be time to consider that something is wrong.
For many people, it takes external influences for them to consider seeking help, but more often than not they are glad that they did. Often, our closest friends and family seem to know us better than we know ourselves, so don’t be afraid to open up to them and talk about what may be bothering you, or how you are feeling. If you’re not sure how you are feeling, that is completely normal – the most important part is that you are acknowledging that something isn’t right, and working towards making it right again.
Consider when the last time was that you played golf, caught up with friends or baked a cake. If things that used to be important or enjoyable for you are no longer appealing, or fail to bring you the same sense of joy, consider if this could be a sign that you’re mental health is declining. It is usual to change interests over time, but if you struggle to think of anything that makes you feel truly happy, it may help to consider when this began and why.
It is healthy to have vices, be it working out or simply chatting to friends on the phone, so when an individual begins to disengage with the things that they once enjoyed the most, it can be one of the greatest warning signs of a mental health issue. If you’re beginning to feel disinterested, unmotivated or simply continually fatigued, consider if your mental health may be the cause.
Dr Julian offers confidential online therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home. Speak to one of our therapists today about your mental health. The Dr Julian app is available for free from the App Store.
www.dr-julian.com

Source: Dr julian

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What are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise with Mental Health Issues (Depression)? Part 1

What are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise with Mental Health Issues (Depression)? Part 1

Physical activity can greatly improve your mental well-being. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins have a wealth of positive effects.
They are our natural antidepressants and painkillers. They act in a similar way to morphine however, unlike taking drugs such as morphine, if we produce these natural substances they do not lead to addiction or dependence. Our natural endorphins like morphine can cause us to feel happier. For example that feeling after going for a run is often described as ‘Euphoric.’ This “runners high” is often accompanied by an energized and positive outlook on life.
Endorphins by interacting with receptors in your brain act as natural painkillers. They bind to the same receptors as pain medications and can cause the same effects. Therefore those suffering with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia can find that exercise, gently introduced and then increased, can make a huge difference to their daily suffering and can allow sufferers to reduce their pain medications. Regular exercise has been proven to:
Reduce stressBoost self-esteemWard off anxiety and feelings of depressionImprove sleep
Exercise also has these added health benefits:
It increases energy levels.It lowers blood pressure.It helps reduce body fat.It strengthens your heart.It improves muscle tone and strength.It strengthens and builds bones.It makes you look fit and healthy.
Can Exercise be a Treatment for Clinical Depression? Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression in research trials but it is often underused.
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Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will discuss what types of exercise to do and finding the best types for you!

Source: Dr julian

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