Connect with us

Sex and Relationships

Coronavirus: Most young people with increased suicide risk only display mild to…




Coronavirus: Most young people with increased suicide risk only display mild to... thumbnail

Home / Sex and Relationship / Coronavirus: Most young people with increased suicide risk only display mild to moderate mental distress

Vast majority of young people experiencing suicidal thoughts display only mild or moderate mental distress, instead of more obvious symptoms associated with a diagnosable disorder, according to a new study.

As such, measures to reduce suicide risk in young people should focus on the whole population, not just those who are most distressed, depressed or anxious, said Cambridge University researchers during Mental Health Awareness week. The study recently published in the journal BMJ Open.

They argue that the small increases in stress across the entire population due to the coronavirus lockdown could cause far more young people to be at risk of suicide than can be detected through evidence of psychiatric disorders.

“It appears that self-harm and suicidal thinking among young people dramatically increases well within the normal or non-clinical range of mental distress,” said Professor Peter Jones, senior author of the study from Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry.

“These findings show that public policy strategies to reduce suicide should support better mental health for all young people, not only those who are most unwell,” said Jones, who is also a consultant for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

“Even modest improvements in mental health and wellbeing across the entire population may prevent more suicides than targeting only those who are severely depressed or anxious.”

The Cambridge researchers conducted the study with colleagues from University College London. It was supported by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research.

Recent studies suggest a broad range of mental health problems – e.g. depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour, low self-esteem, and so on – can be taken as a whole to measure levels of “common mental distress” (CMD).

Researchers analysed levels of CMD in two large groups of young people through a series of questionnaires.

They also separately collected self-reported data on suicidal thinking and non-suicidal self-injury: predictive markers for increased risk of suicide – the second most common cause of death among 10-24 year-olds worldwide.

Both groups consisted of young people aged 14-24 from London and Cambridgeshire. The first contained 2,403 participants. The study’s methods – and findings – were then reproduced with a separate group of 1,074 participants.

“Our findings are noteworthy for being replicated in the two independent samples,” said Jones.

CMD scores increase in three significant increments above the population average: mild mental distress, followed by moderate, and finally severe distress and beyond – which often manifests as a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Those with severe mental distress came out highest for risk of suicide. However, the majority of all participants experiencing suicidal thoughts or self-harming – 78% and 76% respectively in the first sample, 66% and 71% in the second-ranked as having either mild or moderate levels of mental distress.

“Our findings help explain why research focusing on high-risk subjects has yet to translate into useful clinical tools for predicting suicide risk,” said Jones. “Self-harm and suicidal thoughts merit a swift response even if they occur without further evidence of a psychiatric disorder.”

The findings point to a seemingly contradictory situation, in which most of the young people who take their own life may, in fact, be from the considerably larger pool of those deemed as low- or no-risk for suicide.

“It is well known that for many physical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, small improvements in the risks of the overall population translate into more lives saved, rather than focusing only on those at extremely high risk,” said Jones.

“This is called the ‘prevention paradox’, and we believe our study is the first evidence that mental health could be viewed in the same way. We need both public health and a clinical approach to suicide risk.”

“We are surrounded by technology designed to engage the attention of children and young people, and its effect on wellbeing should be seen by the industry as a priority beyond profit.”

“At a government level, policies affecting the economy, employment, education and housing, to health, culture and sport must all take account of young people; supporting their wellbeing is an investment, not a cost. This is particularly important as the widespread effects of the Covid-19 pandemic unfold.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed. )

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

Sex and Relationships

Empowering bystanders to intervene will help to prevent domestic violence, abuse




Empowering bystanders to intervene will help to prevent domestic violence, abuse thumbnail

Home / Sex and Relationship / Empowering bystanders to intervene will help to prevent domestic violence, abuse

A UK-based study has found out that training people to intervene when they witness unacceptable behaviour can help to prevent domestic violence and abuse.

Results of the study found that a total of 81 per cent of participants reported being more likely to intervene when they saw wrongdoing after the training, this increased to 89 per cent four months later.

Specific training for bystanders makes them “significantly” more confident to take action when they see or hear wrongdoing related to domestic abuse in their community, according to the research.

This is the first academic study to examine a bystander programme as a way to tackle domestic violence and abuse in UK communities. The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, comes at a critical moment: during the current coronavirus lockdown, there has been a sharp rise in calls to domestic abuse helplines.

Similar training has been used in universities in the UK and experts who developed the new programme hope bystander training will now play a key role in domestic violence prevention work across the country.

The training, entitled Active Bystander Communities, was led by Dr Rachel Fenton at the University of Exeter and Alexa Gainsbury at Public Health England and is a collaboration between University of Exeter Law School, Public Health England, Devon County Council, Bristol County Council, Splitz and the Hollie Gazzard Trust. It was piloted with 70 people in Exeter, Torquay and Gloucester.

Active Bystander Communities was designed to give people the knowledge and skills they need to be ‘active bystanders’ and intervene positively in potentially harmful situations.

It was delivered in three two hour sessions by experienced facilitators. Participants learned how to notice harmful behaviour alongside developing the skills to be able to intervene safely and effectively.

Surveys of participants immediately after the training showed a significant increase in confidence and intent to take action as well as a significant improvement in their ability to spot and reject myths about domestic abuse.

A total of 87 per cent of people who took part in the training were less likely to believe myths about domestic abuse afterwards. A total of 84 per cent of participants said they felt more confident about intervening following the training.

Researchers found further improvement four months after training when participants had had the opportunity to take their learning out into their communities and take action.

Dr Fenton said: “Bystander intervention is about empowering all members of the community to speak up and challenge gender inequality and the drivers of domestic abuse in a safe and situation-appropriate way. It’s about helping people to find their own way to make an impact and make a difference. We hope others will now use our programme.

“People in the community are ideally placed respond to problematic behaviours and support individuals who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse because they have the relationships, insights and opportunities to make a real difference.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, people can still be a bystander by keeping in touch with friends and neighbours, and signposting to services and reporting particularly if they think others are at risk of domestic violence and abuse.”

One participant said: “I found the courage to voice my ideas, ideas that previously I was able to share with friends and family, but never with strangers on social media, and I did it in spite of how scared I was of the possible reactions.

I just knew that challenging certain behaviours could make the difference, that we can tackle big problems by performing small acts, and therefore could not keep silent.”

Another participant said: “I have felt empowered by the bystander intervention to feel confident to intervene and show my disapproval at sexist and toxic behaviours towards women, potentially within a male-dominated environment in which I work.”

“This has given me an insight into different ways to challenge domestic abuse and also made me aware of thinking of the impact my actions could have if I challenged behaviour for the victim. I now feel I have more tools to help me use appropriate responses that will support the victim.”

Ms Gainsbury at Public Health England said: “Preventing violence is everyone’s business and we are all aware of the devastating impact domestic abuse has on individuals, families and communities. Whilst we are clear that domestic violence and abuse should never happen, it is not always clear what we can do to stop it. The Active Bystander Communities is at the forefront of developing the evidence base for bystander interventions in the UK.”

“Our follow-up research has found participants have been quick to put their training into action and have already carried out a wide range of bystander interventions from calling out sexist behaviour to supporting victims of domestic abuse within their communities,” added Gainsbury.

“From spreading the word that bystanders can make a difference to calling out harmful behaviours they see in everyday life and being a source of support to those experiencing abuse, the range of ways in which participants have enacted interventions since undertaking the training has been inspirational,” Gainsbury further said.

Simon Kitchen, Head of Communities at Devon County Council said: “The Council has been pleased to be part of the development and learning from this innovative and challenging project. Ending domestic abuse and sexual violence in Devon is a longstanding ambition for the Council and our key partners and bystander intervention offers an important tool for people and communities to challenge thinking, behaviour and attitudes at an early stage.”

“I think it can also teach us about being better, kinder and informed citizens, and personally has given me tools and knowledge to be a better father, partner, colleague and friend,” added Kitchen.

Dame Vera Baird QC victims’ commissioner for England and Wales said: “I had the pleasure of helping to launch active bystander communities at Exeter City football club in October of last year.It had obvious potential to influence bystanders better to recognise problematic attitudes, beliefs and behaviours around violence against women. It also empowers them to intervene when they see harmful things occurring.”

“Interestingly, participants who heard discriminatory comments made by others found that if they spoke out many others listening shared their concerns. The point is to utter these concerns, empower themselves and each other and, one hopes, at the same, persuade the person they are critical of that their attitudes are unacceptable,” added Baird.

“It is excellent to see that the evaluation is as good now as the potential was then. I congratulate the University of Exeter Law School and Public Health England on this endeavour. I would enthusiastically recommend that other universities and organisations take on bystander projects,” further said Baird.

(This story has been published from a wire agency without modifications to the text)

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

Continue Reading

Sex and Relationships

World No Tobacco Day 2020: 8 effective ways to ‘kick the butt’, live healthy




World No Tobacco Day 2020: 8 effective ways to 'kick the butt', live healthy thumbnail

Home / Sex and Relationship / World No Tobacco Day 2020: 8 effective ways to ‘kick the butt’, live healthy

Smoking has become a part and parcel of daily life owing to the stress at work or any personal challenges, dealing with which might be a difficult task for most people. Even though smoking addicts feel like quitting it, the call of addiction obstructs the resolve and might also bring the baggage of heavy withdrawal symptoms, especially when you’ve been smoking for a long time. This World No Tobacco Day, here are a few easy yet effective ways to curb the craving of having ‘just one puff’ and kick the butt. Read on:

ALSO READ: World No Tobacco Day 2020: Disspelling myths about tobacco use, cigarettes and vaping

1) A pinch of ginseng: Add Ginseng powder to your breakfast, as it is an effective remedy to prevent the release of dopamine, one of the main components found in nicotine.

2) Suck on a drinking straw: For most smokers, the start and end of a meal indicate lighting a cigarette up, and once a habit is formed, it takes effort to let it go. However, you can replace the urge to smoke with that of sucking on a drinking straw. Choose a paper one and save the environment in a two-fold way – no plastic from either the straw or the cigarette butt, which also is a crucial environment polluter which is meeting the oceans’ plastic waste and harming the ecology.

3) Snap out of it: Remind yourself to not go in the direction of the harmful stick. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever the craving arises. The sting will distract you and give you a moment to reflect and remember all the reasons why you have chosen to quit smoking.

4) Work out: Whenever the urge takes over, get up from your chair and do 5-10 pushups or practice planks for 30 seconds or more. Your mind and body will be diverted quickly and you’ll feel energised to focus on your task better. During the lockdown, a home workout regime can be added to your daily routine so you live well.

5) Do the dishes: Do the dishes when you crave a cigarette. A wet hand cannot hold a cigarette. The nature of the activity doesn’t matter as long as it gets you off smoking. You can also listen to a song, chat to your home assistants like Alexa or Google Home, watch a funny cat or dog video and more.

6) Meditate or chant: Incorporate a meditation session into your day so you are mindful of your actions as well. Guided meditation via music streaming apps or dedicated apps such as Headspace and Calm are effective companions when you want to find peace to quieten the mind’s traffic.

7) Knitting: Knitting is an effective way to deal with stress and anxiety and might lead people to smoke. Some studies have proven that knitting is a great way to keep stress at bay.

8) Reward yourself for the small wins: Celebrate your victories by giving yourself a reward to keep yourself motivated. This can be a cheat meal or even a piece of chocolate, especially if you’re watching what you eat as well.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, “By 2030, more than 80% of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which have been increasingly targeted by tobacco companies seeking new markets to circumvent tightening regulation in developed nations.”

The WHO report also delved into the environmental impact of everything from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers. It estimates that the industry emits nearly four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually — the same as around three million transatlantic flights. Waste from the process contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens.

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

Continue Reading

Sex and Relationships

Purvottanasana, Paschimottanasana and more: Practice Yoga to help reduce stress…




Purvottanasana, Paschimottanasana and more: Practice Yoga to help reduce stress... thumbnail

Home / Sex and Relationship / Purvottanasana, Paschimottanasana and more: Practice Yoga to help reduce stress and stay fit during lockdown

The novel Coronavirus has led to shutting down of gyms and health clubs, leaving people confined to their homes. People are forced to isolate and stay indoors, thereby creating a great deal of stress and anxiety. It is important to de-stress and unwind without having to step out of the comfort of your home. Yoga has time and again proven to be an effective and holistic health option which can naturally boost immunity and reduce stress, leaving us feeling happier and relaxed.

Yoga is an art that can be learned by everyone as it not only strengthens the body but also relaxes the mind. Since we have all been forced to maintain social distancing and work from home due to the lockdown, it is the perfect time to start a regular yoga routine.

ALSO READ: Yoga for holistic health: Tackle obesity, depression and other mental health issues with yoga and meditation

Here are a few simple yoga poses that can help improve strength, agility and patience especially during the low activity lockdown period.

Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar is one of the most popular and familiar yoga asanas. It is a powerful technique, which comprises 12 yoga poses and is majorly all you need to stay fit and healthy. Surya Namaskar is very effective in burning calories, balancing your energies, improving flexibility and boosting physical and mental strength. Since we are locked up in our homes, the best way to beat the quarantine blues is to incorporate an hour of yoga in our daily activities along with breathing exercises and Surya Namaskar.

ALSO READ: 10 minutes of Surya Namaskar daily is highly beneficial for body and mind, here’s how


Known as the standing forward bend pose, it is an important yet simple stretching yoga pose that ensures a variety of calming benefits. In this posture, your head hangs below the heart allowing blood circulation to your brain. This not only heals and but also rejuvenates your body. Though a basic yoga pose, it is important to follow the right technique to ensure that you are simply stretching your hamstrings and not injuring your back.

Viparita Karani

Commonly known as Legs-Up-the-Wall pose, this simple yet wonderful exercise offers many health benefits. It is one of the most calming and nourishing poses for both the body and mind. Whenever you are stressed or tired or just in no mood to exercise, Viparita Karani is a pose that you can do morning and evening, anywhere at the comfort of your home. It is a very easy yoga asana that helps to improve sleep and does not require a lot of strength or flexibility.

ALSO READ: Try these Yoga asanas to ease menstrual problems


Also known as the upward plank pose, it helps you unwind from stress and body stiffness. It is a balancing asana that empowers, energizes and strengthens. It is very beneficial for stretching the front body muscles and maintaining the health of the back muscles. It also helps build a strong core, relieves depression and fatigue, releases tensions and tones the hamstrings. It also helps to relax the mind and is not something too complicated for beginners.


The seated forward yoga bend is one of the most effective full-body stretch, a classic Hatha Yoga pose. Though seemingly easy, it offers loads of benefits especially for those suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. One of the major health benefits is that it calms the body and relaxes the mind. It also helps circulate fresh blood to the head thereby relaxing the mind and reducing insomnia, depression and anxiety.

Along with Yoga, one should also practice breathing exercises and meditate regularly. In these challenging times, Yoga is one of the best practices that can help you deal with the physical and mental pressures. Therefore, now is the best time to start Yoga, as this practice will take care of your body, mind and soul.

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

Continue Reading