Counselling News

Job applicants with schizophrenia facing discrimination

A report by the Work Foundation has found that tens of thousands of people with schizophrenia are being denied the chance to work because of “severe discrimination”.

Only eight per cent of people with schizophrenia are in paid employment, compared with 71 per cent of the general population, although many more would like a job, states the report.

Seven out of 10 people with schizophrenia feel that they experience discrimination because of their condition. The report blames a lack of understanding, stigma, fear and discrimination towards people with schizophrenia and calls for urgent government action to prioritise work as part of the recovery for those with mental illnesses.

People with schizophrenia in paid employment are over five times more likely to achieve remission from their condition than those who are unemployed or in unpaid employment, according to the report, Working with Schizophrenia.

Read the original article from the Independent

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder, affecting the sufferer’s ability to think clearly and decipher fantasy from reality. The disorder may develop gradually and it may therefore take a while for the individual, or their family, to realise anything is wrong. Schizophrenia seems to develop at an earlier age in men (late teens to early twenties) than women, who are generally affected in their twenties to early thirties.

Most people suffer either chronically or episodically from the disorder throughout their lives, enduring terrifying symptoms such as hearing voices that others cannot hear and believing others are plotting against them and reading their thoughts.

Early warning signs of schizophrenia

The following list is not exhaustive and none of these symptoms alone constitute the disorder. However, if several signs are present and behaviour has changed and persisted over a few weeks then proffessional advice should be sought:

Difficulty concentrating, suspision, fearfulness, unusual emotional reactions, isolation and withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, lack of social relationships, lack of personal hygiene, gazing, staring, difference in words or language structure, unordinary behaviour.

The causes of schizophrenia

Causes of schizophrenia are still not known. However research is continuing and scientists have found that brains of people with schizophrenia differ, as a whole, from the brains of people without the disorder. These differences are quite subtle and are not characteristic of all people with schizophrenia, nor do they appear only in those with schizophrenia. Thus further research is crucial to develop our understanding of the disorder.

As with many other medical illnesses, the result of genetic, environmental and behavioural factors are also thought to play a role in the cause of schizophrenia

Treatment of schizophrenia

Although there is currently no known cure, anti-psychotic medication and counselling/psychotherapy are used to control and manage the positive symptoms of Schizophrenia. Full recovery may occur but should not be expected, as most people with schizophrenia continue to suffer with some symptoms throughout their lives. However, some people do just get better on their own.

“Angry young men” lack optimism

A study of youth attitudes has raised concerns about young men in the “squeezed middle” who are deeply pessimistic about their future chances.

Among these young men – from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers – more than two-thirds never expect to own their own home, says the Youth Matters survey, carried out for the O2 telecommunications company, and analysed by Prof Chapman of Durham University.

“These are neither the most deprived, who get quite a lot of attention, nor are they affluent enough to be on a conveyor belt to university,” says Prof Chapman, who has examined the views of 1,500 young people.

“These are a group of young people who are caught between these positions,” he says.

These youngsters are aware of the advantages of their better-off middle class counterparts, he suggests, but have diminishing expectations of gaining them for themselves.

And it is particularly the young men rather than young women who have the bleakest expectations.

“They have skills and ambitions – but they have a fatalistic sense that there are barriers that make it pointless to try in the first place,” says Prof Chapman.

Only 30% of these young men ever expect to own their own home in their lifetime – compared with 39% among their counterparts in poorer families.

Even at this early stage in their working lives, almost a quarter of these young men expect never to have a fulfilling job – a much more negative outlook than their female counterparts.

Almost a third of these young men say they “feel unhappy” when they think about their future – much more than women.

Prof Chapman describes these youngsters as coming from “respectable” families with “strong aspirations” – but now facing increasingly insecure job prospects.

Read the full BBC article

One in ten young people cannot cope with daily life

A recent survey conducted by the Prince’s Trust highlighted the difficulties faced by 16-25 year olds, especially those not in work, education or training (so called Neets).

The annual youth index, which questioned 2,136 young people, found that 52% of Neets often or always felt depressed. Many of those in work (27%) also cited that they often or always feel down or depressed.

The survey, now in it’s 5th year, also found that 22% did not have someone to talk to about their problems.

More on this story

The symptoms of depression can be mild, with a low mood that soon picks up, or it can be a consistent low mood that lasts for several weeks or more. This can prevent a person from functioning to their full ability and is not something that can be changed overnight.

Depression can be a particularly devastating illness that affects the body, mood, behaviour and thoughts. If treatment does not occur, symptoms can be present for many years. Particularly concerning is the potential for suicidal thoughts.

A range of psychological interventions are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of depression including: cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, interpersonal therapy, behavioural activation, behavioural couples therapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Mental health & domestic violence

A new study published in the journal PLoS showed that both men and women may be more likely to experience domestic violence if they have mental health disorders.

Investigators from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University of Bristol found that females with depressive disorders are around two and a half times more likely to have experienced domestic violence than those without mental health issues.

Using data from 41 studies around the world to collate their findings, the results showed women with anxiety disorders have a three-and-a-half times greater risk of such experiences and those with post-traumatic stress disorder are around seven times more likely to be involved in this behaviour.

It was also found that men with mental health disorders are at increased risk of domestic violence, as are women with other conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Professor Louise Howard from the Institute of Psychiatry at the learning institute said: “Domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.”

Dr Victoria Tischler, a Chartered Pyschologist from the University of Nottingham, comments:
“Mental health problems make individuals vulnerable to poor levels of social support and difficulties in social interactions therefore experiences of domestic violence and being subject to violence more widely is not uncommon.
“In my research with women experiencing homelessness, three-quarters of whom had mental health problems, most had been subject to domestic violence with other types of violence, for example from neighbours. Concerningly, many of these individuals had experienced abuse in childhood as well and had dependent children who had witnessed recent domestic abuse.
“This suggests an ongoing pattern of dysfunctional relationships in some vulnerable groups which requires urgent intervention. In particular we should provide additional support to those experiencing mental health problems and promote positive social relationships, for example through educational problems, befriending and mentoring, to enhance social inclusion and break the cycle of abuse.”

Types of domestic violence
Domestic violence can take many forms, from physical to emotional:
• Criticism/verbal abuse – shouting, name calling, verbal threats, criticising, mocking.
• Pressure – removing communication devices, taking the children without informing, lying to others, making threats.
• Harassment –constant checking where the victim is and who they are with, following/stalking.
• Threats – violent threats, intimidating, brandishing a weapon, carrying out violence on inanimate objects.
• Physical – punching, kicking, pushing, burning, slapping etc.
• Sexual – using force, rape, degrading marks about sexuality.
• Breaking trust – lying, withholding information, breaking promises, lying to others.

Treatment for domestic abuse
Domestic violence can be very difficult to recover from. The victim may have issues learning to trust again, be dealing with post-traumatic stress, flashbacks, nightmares, or feel they are constantly living in fear. It is very common that the victim may experience long-term stress or anxiety issues. Depending on the nature and severity of the abuse, the victim may also need to recover from physical injuries.
Counselling is an important tool for the victim to help overcome the trauma, recover and rebuild their life. It provides a safe environment where the victim can work through their issues, helping to get their life back on track and be able to move on.
Counselling can also be helpful for abusers. If someone is able to recognise that their behaviour is becoming unacceptable, counselling can help them to find were the emotion is coming from, and help change their behaviour.

Eating disorders on the increase

Hospital admissions for eating disorders rose by 16% in England between 2011 and 2012. Eating disorder experts have said that these figures are “just the tip of the iceberg” and it is estimated that about 1.6million people across the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
Further details on this story can be found here.

The main characteristic of an eating disorder is the individual’s obsession with their weight; these obsessive thoughts can lead to severe consequences in both their health and their actions.
Research has shown that females are much more likely to develop anorexia and bulimia than males. However, this is not the case with binge-eating disorder, which seems to develop in almost as many males as females.
Common symptoms of eating disorders

  • dramatic weight loss or gain in a fairly short period of time
  • an obsession with weight
  • obsession with calories and fat content of foods
  • experiencing low self-esteem
  • experiencing suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide
  • obsessing about food and body image
  • isolation and fear of eating while others are around
  • unusual food rituals and secretive eating patterns
  • hiding food in strange places to avoid eating or to eat secretly at a later time
  • feeling anxious, lonely or depressed

The three main types of an eating disorder:
Anorexia nervosa: an obsession with weight loss resulting in refusal to eat or irregularity in eating patterns. It is not a loss of appetite but a serious perception disorder.
Further details.

Bulimia consists of an individual binge eating (compulsively eating a much larger amount of food than normal). This is not because the person is really hungry but more to comfort themselves from other issues such as stress or depression. The foods consumed during this binge eat are usually comfort foods, such as sweets, cakes and chocolate with high values of sugar and lots of calories or high carbohydrate foods. The sufferer then feels appalled and thinks they have to relieve themselves by getting rid of the food, usually by vomiting shortly after the binge.
More information.

Binge eating can be characterised in a number of ways,, such as eating the food quicker than usual, eating secretly in places where no-one is around, feeling full up but continuing to eat, consuming foods that are seen as naughty and feeling they cannot control their habit. This is usually followed by intense feelings of regret and guilt. Research has shown that this disorder is more common in women than in men.
More details on binge eating and it’s treatment can be found here.

The impact of postnatal depression

The tragic case of Felicia Boots, who killed both her children in May 2012 highlights the importance of getting treatment for postnatal depression. As professor Louise Howard writes in a recent article in the Telegraph “A new baby can turn your life upside down – sleepless nights, endless feeding and nappies – suddenly your life is no longer your own and you feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for this new addition to the family.”
Symptoms of postnatal depression include:
• Difficulty sleeping even when your baby is
• Bouts of feeling low and emotional highs
• Lack of enjoyment or interest in things you previously enjoyed
• Extreme fatigue and tearfulness
• Irritability
• Anxiety
• Negative thoughts and a sense of hopelessness about the future
The original article by professor Louise Howard:

Depression has soared by 500,000 since 2010

Recent analysis of NHS data suggests the number of people living with depression in England has risen by almost 500,000 since 2010.
The data, analysed by firm SSentif, showed that there was also a big surge in prescriptions for anti-depressants. However, charities think this number is only the tip of the iceberg, as many people living with depression remain undiagnosed.
SSentif managing director Judy Aldred said: “We have to remember that the real numbers are likely to be much higher as many people do not seek GP support.”
Signs of Depression can include:
• changes in sleeping patterns; broken nights or over-sleeping
• changes in eating patterns: loss of appetite or overeating
• overwhelming feelings of guilt and worthlessness
• tiredness and loss of energy
• headaches, stomach upsets or chronic pain
• persistent thoughts of death or suicide
More details can be found in the original BBC article.

Counselling is effective in treating mild to moderate depression, and is often combined with medication in more severe cases, which is sometimes known as clinical depression.

Understanding depression and its triggers it can be helpful for sufferers trying to manage the condition. A counsellor can help address low self-esteem, or relationship issues or persistent negative thinking.

Stress in the workplace

According to research by Legal & General Group, one million people now claim sickness benefits for mental health or behavioural problems; an increase of nearly 200,000 since 2002.
Managing Director Dianne Buckley said “increasing pressures in the workplace such as changes in regulation and trying to deliver more for less, are all taking their toll.
Last year a Government commissioned report claimed that more workers are claiming sick pay before quitting to live on benefits.
Putting up with stress can seriously impact your personal life and affect people around you.
Symptoms of stress can include:
• Being particularly snappy or feelings of anger
• Feeling emotional or teary
• Dizziness
• Chest pains or palpitations
• Anxiety or feeling depressed
• Constipation or diarrhoea
You can read the original article here

A counsellor can help to identify a person’s particular triggers for stress and help to re-assess the value system, which may have prevented them from adequate self-protection.

Individual Counselling can address issues of low self-esteem and allow the sufferer to be more realistic about their abilities and help them to be more assertive.