Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

A generation under stress?

a-generation-under-stressMy thanks to the PinkStinks blog for pointing me towards a new report from Girlguiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation about girls mental health.

They surveyed 350 girls between the ages of 10 and 15 and held focus groups with 54 girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

One of the things they found was that:

a quarter know someone who has taken illegal drugs, while two-fifths have experienced someone drinking too much alcohol.

Overall, stable and supportive families and friendship groups were seen as the most important factor in helping girls become resilient to mental health problems. Having someone to talk to who would not judge you – whether that be a mother, teacher, or other supportive adult – was seen to be critically important.

The report goes on to say:

The pressure from magazines and websites directly targeting young girls with messages that they should aspire be thin, take drugs and even have plastic surgery was mentioned by several. Feeling obliged to be in situations where they might be offered alcohol or drugs was a further concern.

The report concludes with a list of things a panel of Girl Guides suggest:

  1. Give girls things to do: from adventure playgrounds to kung fu or street dancing.
  2. Create safe places where girls can have freedom without parents worrying.
  3. Boost confidence by giving girls opportunities to succeed outside school.
  4. Encourage girls to try something new.
  5. Make girls feel normal and accepted – whatever problems they might have.
  6. Don’t overwhelm them with advice – give them space.
  7. Help them understand that they can’t always help the way they feel.
  8. Initiate a young mayor scheme – giving girls a say in important decisions.
  9. Make information about where to turn for help easily available.
  10. Use the Girlguiding UK website to offer advice and support.

Filed under: alcohol, illegal drugs, mental health

Impact of Cannabis and Other Drugs on Age at Onset of Psychosis

Via Pushing Back I’ve come to this piece on Reuters which in turn led me to the abstract to a new piece of research on the links between use of cannabis and mental health problems.

Reuters report the findings this way:

Researchers from Spain have found a strong and independent link between cannabis use and the onset of psychosis at a younger age. The association, they say, cannot be explained by chance, and is not related to gender or the use of other drugs. It is, however, related to the amount of cannabis used.

The abstract in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry puts the findings this way:

Multivariate analysis showed a clear effect of cannabis use on age at onset, which was not explained by the use of other drugs or by gender. The finding was similar in the youngest patients, suggesting that this effect was not due to chance.

Filed under: cannabis, mental health

Project Support

A little off our normal territory, but given the concern there has been over the last year or so about the links between cannabis use amongst young people and mental health problems it might be of interest to readers:

Do you have a great idea for challenging mental health discrimination in your area?Open Up is pleased to announce the launch of Project Support, a new initiative for people with experience of mental distress, as part of our work with the Moving People campaign.

We are looking for people with ideas for innovative projects, that will challenge negative attitudes about mental health where they live. It could be anything from an awareness raising drama, to a media campaign, to a local support group, If it addresses discrimination in a
positive way, we want to enable you to put your plans into action.

Our programme of project support provides

  • One-to one support from our expert team of Regional Co-ordinators
  • Training to explore discrimination issues and to further develop your ideas
  • Help with expenses of up to £5000

    We will be supporting 2 projects in each of England’s eight regions. We welcome applications from groups and individuals from all backgrounds, whether you are already carrying out
    anti-discrimination work or just starting out.

    Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested. If you wold like some A5 flyers to distribute, please call 020 7700 8171.

    If you’d like to know more, or to ask for an application pack, please call 020 7700 8171 or email open.up@mhmedia.com

    Via Sara.

    Filed under: mental health,

    Cannabis

    There’s a paper in The Lancet on cannabis use and the links to mental health problems, which concludes (registration required):

    The evidence is consistent with the view that cannabis increases risk of psychotic outcomes independently of confounding and transient intoxication effects, although evidence for affective outcomes is less strong. The uncertainty about whether cannabis causes psychosis is unlikely to be resolved by further longitudinal studies such as those reviewed here. However, we conclude that there is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life.

    The Lancet has a podcast (here), where one of the authors of the paper talks about their findings – it starts at about 5 minutes and 20 seconds in.

    Full paper here.

    This story has been picked up across the media, including in The Times (and here with comment here), The Metro, The Guardian (also here and in a comment piece here), The Independent (also here and with comment here), The New Scientist, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The BBC, The Daily Telegraph (and here), The Sun, The Mirror (also here and here), and Community Care.

    Filed under: cannabis, mental health

    Teen Troubles . . . or drugs?

    The Times offers advice to those worried about how to distinguish between the slightly aberrant behaviour of many adolescents and the first signs of schizophrenia or allied conditions:

    After adolescent drug use, characteristics that would otherwise have remained covert become overt and the patient displays seriously odd, even psychotic, behaviour. If any parent or teacher has doubts, they should consult a psychiatrist who is accustomed to dealing dispassionately with adolescents from all backgrounds.

    I’m sure this is the right advice, but the question is whether the interface between teachers (or parents) and mental health services is strong enough.

    Speaking at a NCB conference yesterday Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families made the point:

    Only recently, I was hearing about a year 7 boy, whose father committed suicide while in prison. The boy was deeply distressed and exhibiting severe behavioural problems. The school’s response to this was to contact local health services, to get this boy some expert help before his problems escalated. They told the school to contact CAMHS, because it was too serious for them to deal with and he needed expert help. CAMHS told them there was a nine month waiting list. The school explained this boy’s situation again, only to be told by CAMHS that he would have to attempt suicide before he could be moved up the waiting list. This is not early intervention.

    I understand the pressure many services are under. But Every Child Matters cannot work if some parts of children’s services work on principles of early intervention and others are in crisis management mode.

    The question for the Secretary of State will be how the government help local services to square the circle.  Perhaps the £60 million he announced to help schools and mental health services work together more closely will make a difference.  He said he wants that money to:

    improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils. In particular, getting mental health experts working with teachers on the school site to identify problems and provide children and young people with support.

    Filed under: mental health

    About this blog

    This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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