Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement have published a new report, #StatusOfMind, examining the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health.

The report includes a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health. YouTube tops the table as the most positive with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

RSPH and the Young Health Movement are calling for action from government, social media companies and policy makers to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives. These recommendations include:

  • Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations
  • Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support
  • Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated

Download the full report #StatusOfMind

Additional link: BBC news report

 

From bursaries to gender balance: what needs to change in nursing?

Our expert panel took a constructive look at the state of nursing in the UK. Here are the best bits of the discussion | The Guardian Healthcare

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On International Nurses’ Day, we brought together a panel of students, qualified nurses and educators to answer readers’ questions on the state of the profession. After a drop in student applications following NHS bursary cuts; a post-Brexit exodus of EU staff; and a possible strike by the Royal College of Nursing, there was plenty to discuss. Here’s what we learned.

Chance of colon cancer recurrence nearly cut in half in people who eat nuts

Something as simple as eating tree nuts may make a difference in the long-term survival of patients with colon cancer, a new study concludes. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) | ScienceDaily | 18th May 2017

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An observational study of 826 patients with stage III colon cancer showed that those who consumed two ounces or more of nuts per week had a 42% lower chance of cancer recurrence and 57% lower chance of death than those who did not eat nuts.

A secondary analysis revealed the benefit of nut consumption was limited to tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, among others. These findings will be presented at the upcoming 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Read more at ScienceDaily

‘Pro-vegetarian’ diet could halve chance of obesity

Study describes benefits of the ‘flexitarian’ diet: basically vegetarian, with meat and fish consumed occasionally | The Guardian Health

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A diet which reduces or even excludes meat and animal produce in favour of vegetables, fruit and grains could halve people’s chances of becoming obese, according to new research.

A study carried out in Spain describes the benefits of what researchers call a “pro-vegetarian” diet which does not exclude meat and dairy products but reduces them. It has also been called a “flexitarian” diet – basically vegetarian, with meat and fish consumed occasionally.

Some 16,000 university graduates were tracked from 1999 for 10 years, by which time 584 were obese, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal.

Read the full news story here

Ethics of digital technology for mental health

The potential of digital technology to make the lives of people with mental health difficulties better has never been greater | The Mental Elf

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The advent of the smartphone and mobile internet access has created the conditions for an ever-expanding range of opportunities for the use of technology to influence outcomes in health. However, ethical considerations remain for professionals in suggesting the use of such technologies.

Bauer et al.’s (2017) open access paper Ethical perspectives on recommending digital technology for patients with mental illness reviews some of the major ethical concerns presented to medical professionals by this explosion of technological possibilities and explores some of the ways in which new technologies challenge the boundaries between health, commerce and the private and public uses of data.

Read the full blog post here

Alcohol abstention advice to pregnant women is wrong, say campaigners

Health officials and experts are wrong to tell women that they should completely abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy, according to campaigners | OnMedica

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Telling women that small quantities of alcohol in pregnancy can cause irreparable damage to a developing foetus has no basis in evidence and can cause needless anxiety, claimed academics and women’s advocates speaking at a conference in Canterbury, Kent.

The conference, Policing pregnancy: who should be a mother?, is a collaboration between the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) charity, the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS), maternal rights campaign group Birthrights, and engaging sociology.

Currently, pregnant women are warned that even light alcohol consumption can cause problems for them and long-term harm to their foetus, such as stunted growth, and eventual learning difficulties and behavioural problems. Warnings also include the possibility of liver damage to the baby and increased risk of the mother having a miscarriage.

Read the full overview here

Related news article by the Guardian available here

Mental health and new care models

GPs need to prioritise mental health more, say experts. | Mental health and new models of care | Kings Fund | OnMedica

While some of the vanguard sites developing new care models report promising early results from adopting a whole-person approach, the full opportunities to improve care through integrated approaches to mental health have not yet been realised.
This Kings Fund report draws on recent research with vanguard sites in England, conducted in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The report found that where new models of care have been used to remove the barriers between mental health and other parts of the health system, local professionals saw this as being highly valuable in improving care for patients and service users. But there remains much to be done to fully embed mental health into integrated care teams, primary care, urgent and emergency care pathways, and in work on population health.

The main vehicle for rolling out what vanguards are trying to achieve are England’s sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and there are concerns, said the authors, that some STPs had limited content on mental health.

‘It is vital that STP leaders are encouraged to make mental health a central part of their plans, and that they are able to take heed of the emerging lessons from vanguard sites,’ says the report.

More mental health support is needed in GP surgeries, said the authors. They recommend strengthening mental health capabilities in the primary and community health workforce by improving the confidence, competence and skills of GPs, integrated care teams and others.

Deaths from dementia set to quadruple by 2040

The number of people who will die from dementia could almost quadruple over the next 20 years, suggests a study published in BMC Medicine | Story via OnMedica

hospital-bed-315869_1280Researchers analysed mortality statistics for England and Wales from 2006 to 2014 to estimate the prevalence of palliative care need in the population.

By using explicit assumptions about change in disease prevalence over time and official mortality forecasts, they modelled palliative care need up to 2040 as well as making projections for dementia, cancer and organ failure.

They calculated that by 2040, annual deaths in England and Wales could rise by at least 25.4% from 501,424 in 2014 to 628,659 in 2040.  If age and sex-specific percentages with palliative care needs remained the same as in 2014, the number of people requiring palliative care could grow by 25% from 375,398 to 469,305 people a year.

However, if the upward trend observed from 2006 to 2014 continued, they said, the increase could be as much as 47% more people needing palliative care by 2040 in England and Wales.

In addition, disease-specific projections showed that dementia (increasing from 59,199 to 219,409 deaths/year by 2040) and cancer (increase from 143,638 to 208,636 deaths by 2040) would be the main drivers of the growing need.

The authors concluded: ‘Our analysis indicates that palliative care need will grow far more over the next 25 years than previously expected’.

Full reference: Etkind, S. N et al. How many people will need palliative care in 2040? Past trends, future projections and implications for services. BMC Medicine 2017 15:102.

Adolescent obesity

The World Health Organisation European Office has published Adolescent obesity and related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014.

The report presents the latest trends in obesity, eating behaviours, physical activity and sedentary behaviour from the health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC) study, and highlights gender and socioeconomic inequalities across the WHO European Region.

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Image source: http://www.euro.who.int

Childhood obesity is considered one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Obese children are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep difficulties, musculoskeletal problems and future cardiovascular disease, as well as school absence, psychological problems and social isolation.

The report argues that policy initiatives and interventions need to target high-risk adolescents within the context of families, schools and wider communities, and suggests policies that improve young people’s access to healthy diets should be a priority. It also recommends built environments be improved so that physical activity is re-established as an integral part of daily living.

Additional link: WHO press release