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£122m for helping people with mental health issues back into work

Businessman going to work
Marten Bjork | Unsplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

The government has announced that it will provide £122 million to NHS England to roll out mental health employment services nationally.

The service aims to help people receiving mental health support for common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress, get back into work by providing them with access to an employment adviser.

In addition, service users’ advisers and therapists will collaborate to try and find an easier route back into work.

“It is important to recognise the virtuous circle between health and work – we know that giving people the support they need to work is very good for their long term health," said Department of Work and Pensions Secretary of State, Chloe Smith.

“Helping people access both clinical support for their mental health as well as employment advice gives them the tools they need to get into or return to work.”

7 in 10 junior doctors experienced severe symptoms of stress at beginning of COVID-19 pandemic

A new study has revealed that the majority of junior doctors experienced stress, anxiety or depression during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.

The survey was conducted between March 2020 and January 2021 and involved 456 junior doctors.

Worryingly, 70% reported severe or extremely severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression over this period.

The most commonly reported causes of distress were high workloads and strained relationships within the workplace.

In addition, the survey highlighted toxic work cultures, such as discrimination and bullying, as another major cause of negative emotions.

“We found a clear link between junior doctors’ working conditions and their mental health," said Dr Kevin Teoh, who carried out parts of the data analysis from Birkbeck, University of London. "It highlights the urgent need to address and improve the working conditions of junior doctors in the NHS.

“Focusing on the individual interventions like resilience training and counselling simply is not enough to retain our doctors and build a healthy and sustainable workforce.”

The research was carried out in collaboration by Birkbeck, University of London, University College London, Keele University, University of Birmingham and the University of Manchester.

Could a healthy diet and a news detox protect mental health?

A study from Spain has found that eating a healthy diet and keeping away from stressful news reports helped protect mental health during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.

The study was made up of 1000 adults and required them to record their levels of depression and anxiety, alongside what ‘free-time’ activities they carried out for a year since the pandemic started.

The researchers found that healthy eating and avoiding regularly reading the news about COVID led to better mental health over that period.

In addition, exercise and spending time in nature were beneficial ways of protecting mental health.

Surprisingly, it was reported that spending time on hobbies or talking with friends and family had a small positive effect.

However, it is important to highlight that the study has not yet been peer reviewed before drawing any conclusions.

Dr Joaquim Radua, lead researcher from the Institut d'investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, said:

“Like many people, we had assumed that personal contact would play a bigger part in avoiding anxiety and depression during stressful times.

“The relationships between behaviours and symptoms were difficult to tease out because we were looking at what happens over time rather than just at a single moment of analysis.

“Our work was centred on COVID, but we now need to see if these factors apply to other stressful circumstances. These simple behaviours may prevent anxiety and depression, and prevention is better than cure.”

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