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In brief: Exercise, 999 calls, and the benefits of 'blue' and 'green' spaces

Image of person running up steps
Bruno Nascimento | Unsplash

Top story Exercise more effective for depression than counselling or medication

A meta-analysis of 97 reviews, including over 1000 clinical trials and over 120,000 participants, has found that exercise is 1.5-times more effective at improving symptoms of anxiety, depression and distress than either counselling or medication.

The study found that shorter interventions up to 12 weeks in length were the most effective at improving mental health, highlighting the speed at which exercise can help.

People with depression, pregnant and postpartum women, people diagnosed with kidney disease or HIV, and healthy individuals saw the biggest improvements in their mental health when exercising.

Dr Ben Singh, Leader Researcher, said: “Physical activity is known to help improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment.

“Our review shows that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations, with some groups showing even greater signs of improvement.

Interestingly, higher intensity exercises led to greater improvements in symptoms of both depression and anxiety, and longer periods of exercise had less of a beneficial effect than short or mid-duration.

The findings were also not restricted to type of exercise – aerobic exercise such as walking, resistance training, Pilates, and yoga all proved beneficial.

Mental health nurse education becoming “too generic”

The mental health nurse campaign group Mental Health Deserves Better has written an open letter calling for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to launch a review of its Future Nursing standards, to investigate the impact it has had on higher education mental health nursing courses.

The letter, which highlights concerns that mental health nursing students and academics are seeing less field-specific content in their courses and warned that future mental health nurses are only being taught “a generic nurse education syllabus”, has been signed by 86 people from 33 universities across the UK.

The letter says: “The variation in pre-registration curricula is somewhat concerning; rarely students are offered fully field-specific modules throughout, whilst others have courses which are entirely generic.

“Many seem to lean towards the latter, being dominated by ‘generic’ or ‘core’ content which seems to best suit the role of adult nursing, with specialist mental health education an afterthought rather than a foundation.”

Reduction of police involvement in mental health-related 999 calls

The involvement of police in 999 calls for mental health incidents is to be reduced under a new agreement between emergency services.

The new National Partnership Agreement will see medical professionals responding to people experiencing mental health issues as a priority, rather than being seen by police as the default.

The agreement is based on the Right Care, Right Person model developed by Humberside Police, with the nationwide rollout of the agreement being coordinated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Deputy Chief Constable, and National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for mental health and policing, Rachel Bacon, highlighted the impact mental health crises have had on police resourcing, saying:

“A national approach to ‘Right Care, Right Person’ will help forces reduce the number of deployments in respect of specific types of calls relating to mental health and concern for welfare, and help police staff in control rooms focus, from the outset, on getting the right person and agency, with the right skills, training, and experience to respond to the incident.

“We will work closely with key partners to ensure the right support and safeguarding measures are in place for people in the community through the National Partnership Agreement.”

Living close to water or parks ‘‘may reduce risk of mental health issues" for older people

A preliminary study has found that people living close to parks or water sources are significantly less likely to experience mental health issues than those who do not.

Specifically, those living within half a mile of “blue” or “green” spaces have been found to be 17% less likely to experience psychological distress.

The study is analysing data from the US Census and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made up of almost 43,000 participants living in urban areas of Washington state aged 65 and above.

Research Assistant Professor, Solmaz Amiri, said: “Since we lack effective prevention methods or treatments for mild cognitive impairment and dementia, we need to get creative in how we look at these issues.

“Our hope is that this study showing better mental health among people living close to parks and water will trigger other studies about how these benefits work and whether this proximity can help prevent or delay mild cognitive impairment and dementia.”

France football captain not attending Women’s World Cup to ‘protect mental health’

France’s highly experienced and decorated captain Wendie Renard has announced that she will not be attending this year's women’s World Cup to protect her mental health.

Renard cited being unhappy with the team's current set-up as her primary reason for pulling out of the competition.

Having played 142 international games where she has scored 34 goals, winning 15 league titles and 8 champion leagues trophies with Lyon, her absence will be noticed by the side.

Renard posted to social media: "I love France more than anything, I am not perfect, far from it, but I can no longer accept the current system which is far away from the demands required at the highest level.

"It's a sad day but a necessary one to protect my mental health. It's with a heavy heart that, with this message, I inform you of my decision to take a step back from the France team.

"Unfortunately I won't play in the World Cup under these conditions."

Librarians and sports coaches drafted into Norfolk NHS mental health pilot

Health Education England is trialling a new scheme to try and identify young people that need support with their mental health.

The pilot scheme involves training several public-facing roles that often come into contact with young people, such as librarians and sports coaches, to spot the signs of deteriorating mental health among young people.

The training will teach how best to communicate with children about their mental health, how to signpost them for support, and where they can find specialist help.

The trial will begin in Norfolk but will also be rolled out in Southampton and Portsmouth.

Sara Tough, from Norfolk County Council, said: "We are delighted to be part of this ambitious and important training which will give everyone working with children the opportunity to play their part in building healthy and resilient communities.

"The voices and experiences of children, young people and parents, combined with the experiences of the multi-professional workforce, can help us ensure that Norfolk's children can flourish."


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