Go That Extra Mile

Gretchen Reynolds (New York Times) writes about the science behind the links between physical exercise and good mental health. Not just weight-lifting, fell-running or five-a-side football, any physical exercise can help.

For instance, older women who regularly stroll for two miles per day (4000 steps) live longer than those who stroll just one mile or less. Even regularly rising from the chair, at home or in the office, seems to make people happier.

Find the article on The Independent’s consistently high-quality site:https://www.independent.co.uk/health_and_wellbeing/exercise-trends-2019-mental-health-ageing-walking-running-a9268926.html

Alcohol is Britain’s Most Dangerous Drug

Professor David Knutt, prominent neuropsychopharmacologist, has stated clearly what some of us have believed for a long time: alcohol is Britain’s most dangerous drug, by far: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11660210 His claim is backed by hard, scientific research, undertaken by The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. Its findings can be read in the medical journal, “The Lancet”.


Many, including some in government and those with links to the powerful alcohol industry, will not want people to listen to Professor Knutt’s claim, or to read the scientific evidence. Perhaps there are parallels between our society’s relationship with alcohol in 2020 and its relationship with tobacco in 1960, say. The truth was out but a lot of powerful people spent a lot of time and money attempting to suppress that truth.


Today, of course, smoking tobacco remains legal in Britain. Its dangers are universally acknowledged, however. The truth has a habit of emerging… eventually.




Mental Health and Football

We all know that men tend to find opening up and talking honestly difficult. Footballers, and all sportsmen, are likely to be even more wary than most, (a mental health problem being likely to be seen as “weakness” in your average football dressing-room).


I’m delighted that my favourite charity, Mind, has teamed up with the English Football League, in an attempt at promoting honesty and openness and ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues in sport: https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/efl-partnership/


Great, too, that my team, Sheffield Wednesday, has such an honest character as Sam Hutchinson in its ranks. He received an award from BBC Radio Sheffield, for a talk he gave on his own mental ill health, and the things and people that have helped him to cope better with his problems: https://www.swfc.co.uk/news/2019/december/hutchinson-receives-radio-award/


Sam is loved by the fans at Hillsborough for his wholehearted approach to the game – and to life more generally. Can I call him a “ledge”..? Well, I just have.

Smartphone Usage and Mental Health

A meta-analysis of 41 studies, dating from 2011 to 2019, shows that one-in-four young people display Problematic Smartphone Use (PSU). This ‘problematic’ use includes: neglect of other activities, anxiety when the smartphone is not available, poor sleep, and low mood. Press Association article, quoted in “The Indy”: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/smart-phone-addiction-children-gen-z-social-media-mental-health-a9225556.html


A walk down most British streets might lead you to understand that it is not only children and young people who might be using their smartphones problematically. Most of us seem to be aware, at some level, that both the internet in general and smartphones in particular are extremely addictive. Acknowledgement that their use could be problematic – in others and in ourselves – may be the beginnings of us addressing these problems, on a societal level.

Why Do Men Commit Suicide?

Good article at: https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/06/are-we-socializing-men-to-die-by-suicide.html on men and suicide. It is US-grounded, but the arguments and evidence are applicable in the UK, too (with the proviso that it is, at least, much harder to acquire a gun in the UK than it is in the USA).

Worth persisting with the article, right to the end. Here we learn that, “Manhood is not a mental health disorder.” Extraordinary that this needs to be spelled out, but it does.



MIND, Manchester

Mental health charity, Manchester Mind, is 30 years old this year. Originally called Hulme Action Resource Project (HARP) the organisation was set up to help improve the mental health of people living in perhaps Europe’s worst housing (Crescents of Hulme).


I moved to Manchester in the mid 90s and used to pass the abandoned Hulme Crescents on the bus into town. They were finally demolished in 1994/95. I worked as a volunteer for “Mind-in-Manchester” a little later. Some of the most rewarding work of my life. (I’ve also borrowed their tagline for my blog…)


30 years old, still going strong: https://manchestermind.org/about-us/




An excellent article in The Independent (Indy Voices section) by freelance journalist, Sam Hancock. Any attempt to limit this disorder to those who have a specific genetic predisposition is unhelpful. Hancock has suffered anorexia himself and speaks with authority and intelligence. Find it: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/anorexia-mental-health-illness-bulimia-depression-study-research-doctors-a9013311.html

Imposter Syndrome

The English class system has always encouraged people to, “know your place”. Working class people are told not to get, “too big for your boots” or, “above yourself”. This is a reinforcement of the status quo. It has always occurred and continues – right up to the present day. Additionally, it is often self-enforced. Young, working class people are told by other working class people: “Don’t get any big ideas”. Whereas, the message for Eton students is: “Anything is possible. You can be World King, if you want to be.”


Imposter Syndrome is the name given to that pervasive feeling that you just don’t belong; that you will be found out; that you are not really good enough for the decently paid, rewarding job that you are in. Everyone else is fine. You, however, are a fraud. This is something I encounter frequently in my psychotherapy practice.


Good article from Rik Worth, in the “Huffington Post”, on Imposter Syndrome and the English class system:https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/working-class-impostor-syndrome_uk_5d5e4708e4b0b59d256f8389?utm_hp_ref=uk-mental-health

Men Can Cope With Emotions

This article in Therapy Today challenges the idea that men are rigid beings, unwilling to experience – and to share – their emotions. The author carefully examines the coping strategies men stereotypically employ when faced with adversity. He goes on to suggest that psychotherapy and counselling have the potential to help broaden these coping strategies, as well as providing men with different models of masculinity. He calls this “flexible masculinity.”

With gender relations in a state of flux, perhaps us men can start finding ways-of-being that suit us all better, as individuals and as men. I believe that therapy has a major role to play in this process.

Find the article here: https://www.bacp.co.uk/bacp-journals/therapy-today/2019/june-2019/who-says-men-can-t-cope-with-emotions/