Facts and trends in mental health

The Mental Health Network (MHN) has published the fourth edition of  key statistics and trends in mental health. This updated edition, reflects new figures, statistics and resources, giving an overview of the major trends and challenges facing mental health services.

Image source: http://www.nhsconfed.org/

This factsheet sets out available data relating to:

  • investment in services
  • trends in morbidity
  • suicide and homicide rates
  • service activity
  • use of mental health legislation
  • mental health of children and young people
  • service user experience
  • inequalities experienced by people with mental health problems
  • workforce and staff satisfaction.

Opioids Aware: A resource for patients and healthcare professionals to support prescribing of opioid medicines for pain

Good practice in prescribing opioid medicines for pain should reflect fundamental principles in prescribing generally. The decision to prescribe is underpinned by applying best professional practice; understanding the condition, the patient and their context and understanding the clinical use of the drug. This resource, developed by UK healthcare professionals and policymakers, provides the information to support a safe and effective prescribing decision.

Image source: FPM 

Resources available include:

  • Best practice and the law.
  • Assessment and long-term pain challenges
  • Clinical use of opioids
  • A structures approach to prescribing
  • Information for patients

View the full resource here

Be an Expert: Take Action with Evidence-Based Practice

Howe, C. J. & Close, S. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Available online: 8 March 2016

Image source: CFCF

Image shows the different levels of evidence:

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to clinical decision-making that integrates the best available evidence with one’s own clinical expertise. As well, it incorporates patient values and preferences to improve health outcomes (Melnyk, Fineout-Overholt, Gallagher-Ford, & Kaplan, 2012). The Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine (2009) set a goal that by the year 2020, 90% of clinical decisions will be supported by accurate, timely, and up-to-date clinical information, reflecting the best available evidence. Melnyk et al. (2014) established nursing competencies for EBP, highlighting the importance of EBP skills for practicing nurses.

Despite these directives, the use of EBP remains inconsistent in the practice setting. Significant obstacles to EBP include lack of time, lack of knowledge and skills, the inability to access research evidence, and the lack of support from colleagues and administration (Dogherty, Harrison, Graham, Vandyk, & Keeping-Burke, 2013). Many nurses, however, wish to learn and refine their EBP skills to optimize health care for their patients (Melnyk et al., 2012).

This column focuses on four essential EBP skills: 1) asking a practice question using the PICO method, 2) retrieving evidence from the literature, 3) appraising the evidence, and 4) synthesizing the evidence. Although there are several models of EBP in the literature (Schaffer, Sandau, & Diedrick, 2013), the Johns Hopkins Nursing EBP (JHNEBP) model offers a practical guide to the EBP process. The JHNEBP textbook by Dearholt and Dang (2012) proves easy to read and many of their EBP tools are available online.

Read the abstract here

£11 billion cost of treating physical and mental health separately

The King’s Fund. Published online: 8th March 2016.

kings fund2
Image source: The King’s Fund

The King’s Fund publishes a new report today which shows that the psychological problems associated with physical health conditions, and vice versa, are costing the NHS more than £11 billion a year and care is less effective than it could be. The report argues that by integrating physical and mental health care the NHS can improve health outcomes and save money.


The £11 billion a year is the collective cost of:

  • high rates of mental health issues among those with long-term conditions such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • limited support for the psychological aspects of physical health, for example during and after pregnancy
  • poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ such as persistent pain or tiredness.

The separation between physical and mental health has a high human cost: the life expectancy for people with severe mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) is 15 to 20 years below that of the general population, largely as a result of physical health conditions.

kings fund1
Image source: The King’s Fund

Read the full report here

Read the full commentary here

All deaths in England and Wales will be investigated by independent medical examiners from April 2018 – HSJ

Lintern, S. HSJ. Published online: 9th March 2016.

  • Medical examiners to review all deaths in England and Wales from April 2018
  • Jeremy Hunt to implement recommendation of Dame Janet Smith after 7 year delay
  • Medical examiner pilots found one in four hospital death certificates were inaccurate


All deaths in England and Wales will be investigated by independent medical examiners from April 2018 in an effort to improve patient safety and tackle inaccurate death certification.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to announce plans for a nationwide medical examiner service at a patient safety summit in London tomorrow.

The new role will see approximately 300 senior doctors appointed to review the causes of all deaths from April 2018. These examiners will have the ability to refer deaths to a coroner for investigation and it is hoped their work will make it easier to spot trends in deaths and tackle clinical governance problems.

Medical examiners will also be able to liaise with relatives and potentially investigate any concerns they may have about the care their loved one received.

The idea of medical examiners was first recommended by Dame Janet Smith following her public inquiry into serial killer GP Harold Shipman. Legislation was passed via the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 but the role was never implemented. It was also supported by recommendations from Sir Robert Francis QC after the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry and Dr Bill Kirkup’s investigation into failures at Morecambe Bay.

Read the full article via HSJ 

Tweeting links to Cochrane Schizophrenia Group reviews: a randomised controlled trial

Jayaram, M. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010509

Image source: Alan O’Rourke

Objective: To assess the effects of using health social media on web activity.

Design: Individually randomised controlled parallel group superiority trial.

Setting: Twitter and Weibo.

Participants: 170 Cochrane Schizophrenia Group full reviews with an abstract and plain language summary web page.

Interventions: Three randomly ordered slightly different 140 character or less messages, each containing a short URL to the freely accessible summary page sent on specific times on one single day. This was compared with no messaging.

Outcome: The primary outcome was web page visits at 1 week. Secondary outcomes were other metrics of web activity at 1 week.

Results: 85 reviews were randomised to each of the intervention and control arms. Google Analytics allowed 100% follow-up within 1 week of completion. Intervention and control reviews received a total of 1162 and 449 visits, respectively (IRR 2.7, 95% CI 2.2 to 3.3). Fewer intervention reviews had single page only visits (16% vs 31%, OR 0.41, 0.19 to 0.88) and users spent more time viewing intervention reviews (geometric mean 76 vs 31 s, ratio 2.5, 1.3 to 4.6). Other secondary metrics of web activity all showed strong evidence in favour of the intervention.

Conclusions: Tweeting in this limited area of healthcare increases ‘product placement’ of evidence with the potential for that to influence care.

Read the full article here

New Information About the Benefits of Drinking Water Compared With Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Megan A. Moreno. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016;170(3):304.

Image source: Moreno, M.A. in JAMA Pediatrics

Water is essential for human life. It prevents dehydration and is an important source of a nutritious diet. Research scientists have been studying how drinking water compared with sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda or juice, affects children’s health.

A new study in this month’s JAMA Pediatrics describes an intervention in New York City public elementary and middle schools. This quasi-experimental study included more than 1 000 000 students in these schools. It was performed after New York City schools banned artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners in all beverage vending machines and limited beverages to those that had less than 10 cal per 8 oz. As part of this new program, the school installed water jets in school cafeterias.

Water jets are electrically cooled, large clear jugs that can provide a fast stream of cool water. The schools provided plastic cups for students to use with the water jets. The researchers wanted to know whether the change from sugar-sweetened beverages in vending machines to water jets would affect the students’ weight. They found that the adoption of water jets was associated with a reduction in the average weight of students as measured by body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). The researchers also found that there was a decrease in the likelihood of being overweight. These changes happened after the sugar-sweetened beverages were removed from the schools and the water jets were placed in the school cafeterias.

Read the full article here

Wellcome Science Image Awards 2016

Finalists of the Wellcome Image Awards 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images show:

  1. Human stem cell embedded in a 3D matrix, Cryo SEM. Credit: Sílvia A Ferreira, Cristina Lopo and Eileen Gentleman, KCL.
  2. Cross section through an ebola virus particle, illustration. Credit: David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank.
  3. Engineering and implanting human liver tissue. Credit: Chelsea Fortin, Kelly Stevens and Sangeeta Bhatia, Koch Institute, copyright MIT.
  4. Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites – Structured-illumination micrograph. Credit: Leandro Lemgruber, University of Glasgow.
  5. Asymmetric cell division in a live zebrafish embryo. Credit: Paula Alexandre, UCL.

View the full winners gallery here

Health Education England defends new nursing associate role

Shaun Lintern for HSJ. Published March 8th 2016.

  • HEE director of nursing says role is not designed to be a substitute for registered nurses
  • Lord Willis says NMC regulation and CQC focus on safe staffing are key safeguards
  • Consultation on new role closes on Friday


The new nursing associate role should not be used by NHS trusts as a substitute for registered nurses, according to Health Education England’s director of nursing.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt told HSJ the new role would be in addition to existing nursing staff and would have consistent standards of education designed to increase patient safety.

She rejected claims that the role would increase risks to patients, saying research evidence on this was not as clear as people believed.

Lord Willis, whose Shape of Caring review recommended the new role as a way to boost the education and career pathway for healthcare assistants, said his intention was never about substituting graduate nurses and he reiterated his support for a graduate nursing profession.

Nursing associates are expected to be based at band three or four and sit between existing healthcare assistants and registered nurses. They will be able to provide direct patient care under supervision of existing registered nursing staff.

Read the full article here

NHS to introduce new £600m financial incentive to improve staff health

The NHS in England is step up its efforts to improve the health of its 1.3 million staff by offering financial incentives to support their health and provide them with healthy food options.

Image source: USACE

From April, hospitals and other providers of NHS care will for the first time be funded to improve the support they offer to frontline health staff to stay healthy. They will be able to earn their share of a national incentive fund worth £600m in 2016/17 if they:

  • offer frontline nurses, therapists, doctors, care assistants and other staff access to workplace physio, mental health support, and healthy workplace options. The annual NHS staff survey will track the increase in NHS staff saying that their trust is taking positive action to support their health and wellbeing, and reduce work related stress and back injuries.
  • take action on junk food and obesity by ensuring that healthy food options are available for their staff and visitors, including those working night shifts. To qualify for the scheme, trusts will need to remove adverts, price promotions and checkout displays of sugary drinks and high fat sugar and salt food from their NHS premises. They will also be required to submit information on their current fast food franchises, vending machines and retail outlets in preparation for the NHS ‘sugar tax’.
  • increase the uptake of the winter flu vaccine for their staff so as to reduce sickness absence and protect vulnerable patients from infection. The aim is to increase staff vaccination rates from around 50% to nearer to 75%.

Read the full story here