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In brief: Junior doctors, cannabis use, and stroke survivors

Image of junior doctor
MedicAlert UK | Unsplash

Top story Over 90% of junior doctors feel work has damaged their mental health

A survey conducted on behalf of ITV News has revealed that 91% of junior doctors feel that their job has negatively impacted their mental health, with many reporting feeling burnt out, demoralised, and having suicidal thoughts.

295 junior doctors were included in the survey, over half of whom said that their mental health has been worse over the past year than it was during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 91% who felt their job had negatively impacted their mental health, 89% had considered changing jobs.

Almost all respondents (99%) said that improving working conditions would improve their mental health.

The key underlying issue for many junior doctors is likely understaffing – according to the British Medical Association (BMA), there are currently 9,000 doctor's vacancies in the NHS, which the Association says leads to longer shifts and more stress for those who are in the job.

The survey findings come as around 45,000 junior doctors are expected to go on strike over pay issues.

Results of the BMA ballot, which will need the majority of junior doctors to vote in favour of strike action in order for it to go ahead, will be announced on Monday 20th February.

If it does, an estimated 200,000 appointments will be cancelled during the 72-hour walkout period.

Remarking on the possible strike action, chairman of the BMA Professor Philip Banfield blamed a "conveyor belt of prime ministers with empty promises to the people."

“Doctors have never experienced so much stress, so much moral injury from not being able to undertake the care that they’re so desperate to give.

"This Government, with its silence and disregard for our highly skilled and expert workforce, is consciously and deliberately overseeing the demise of the NHS at a point when it is needed most.”

Police missing more days due to mental health

Police officers are missing more days than ever due to issues with their mental health.

In 2022, officers took 730,000 sick days, a vast increase compared with 2012/13 when they took 320,000.

This number translates to 2,000 officers being off work each day in 2022 vs 877 in 2012/13.

The leader of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Steve Hartshorn said:

“Police officers want to do their best while facing horrific cases. The increase in workloads is significant – that’s down to austerity and budget cuts. They’re dealing with more trauma and violent scenes without any break. There’s a lack of support.”

Record number of young people hospitalised for mental health issues due to cannabis use

The number of young people being hospitalised with mental health issues triggered by cannabis use has hit a record high.

Each week, over 250 young adults are admitted for severe psychological issues caused by cannabis use.

This is an 80% increase compared with 2013 when these figures were first recorded.

Nuno Albuquerque, from UK Addiction Treatment Centres, said: “There’s not enough education around the dangers, especially for young people. Using cannabis at a young age is becoming socially normalised yet it can induce mind-altering symptoms.”

It is also worth highlighting the impact of cannabis only being available through the black market, where illegal growers breed plants to have higher levels of THC and lower levels of mediating CBD.

Anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation causing mental distress for young people in the US

Youth mental health in the US is being drastically impacted by recent anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.

According to the Human Rights Campaign in 2023, at least 150 bills were filed that would restrict the rights of the trans community.

Parents of transgender children are also reporting an increase in violent rhetoric as “anti-trans extremists” are emboldened by the national rhetoric.

Polling from The Trevor Project and Morning Consult has shown that this increase in legislation and provocative political debate has negatively impacted the mental health of non-binary and transgender young people.

Olivia Hunt, policy director for the National Transgender Center for Equality said: “Every single day, trans youth are facing the threat of harassment, discrimination and violence, and that’s all made worse when some politicians and public figures are targeting them in the hopes of holding onto political power.”

One-third of stroke survivors experience depression

Research from the American Stroke Association reveals that 1 in 3 stroke survivors experience depression.

While it is suggested that this is a normal psychological reaction to the extreme stress of coming close to death, other cases may be due to electrical, structural or biochemical changes in the brain.

For example, if an area of the brain responsible for emotional regulation is damaged during a stroke then depression is not a surprising result.

As with any mental illness, stroke survivors with depression should seek professional help for their mental health, alongside support from family and friends.

Access to green space protects mental health

Data has shown that access to green space helps prevent mental health decline.

Researchers examined data from 2 million mobile phone users in London from January 2019 to December 2020.

They found that people with access to green space within 800 metres of their homes were significantly more likely to travel to use them when compared with people living further away..

After comparing this London sample with the rest of the UK, researchers demonstrated that individuals living close to green spaces experienced significantly less distress and better mental health during lockdown when compared with those living further away.


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