‘People with psychosis need compassion, not drug-free treatment’

Professor Helen Minnis said anti-psychotic medication has allowed many people suffering from psychosis to 'have their lives back'.

Care: Professor Helen Minnis says anti-psychotic medication has allowed many people to 'have their lives back'. Eliola via Pixabay
Care: Professor Helen Minnis says anti-psychotic medication has allowed many people to 'have their lives back'.

Norway’s health service is piloting treatments for psychosis that don’t involve medication.

New non-drug treatment facilities have developed amidst a growing movement in Norway to change its mental health system, following criticisms from the UN Committee Against Torture. 

Norway is now the first country in the world to embed drug-free psychiatric facilities as an option in its state-run mental healthcare system.

Reading the interviews with Norwegian service users featured in a recent news article on these facilities, it would be easy to conclude that anti-psychotic drugs are inherently problematic, as though these drugs are a black-and-white alternative to genuinely caring treatment. 

ADVERT

For me, the key statement in the piece is the quote from Malin, aged 21, who had several stays in psychiatric wards where “powerful anti-psychotic medication was the only treatment on offer”.

Any person who is seriously ill, whether with acute psychosis or acute cardiac failure, needs more than just medication. 

People in the acute phase of psychosis are often having terrifying experiences that make it challenging for them to discern what is real.

People in acute heart failure are often terrified by sensations of being unable to breath or even of drowning. These are not experiences that will go away simply by talking them through with a sympathetic person.

ADVERT

Someone going through this kind of hell needs respect and compassion more than ever, but respect and compassion are not the treatments.

The dignity afforded to a sick person by being treated with respect and compassion is a basic human right that should underpin any treatment plan, whatever the illness.  We would never imagine that respect and compassion alone could cure heart disease.

‘Any person who is seriously ill, whether with acute psychosis or acute cardiac failure, needs more than just medication.’

Professor Helen Minnis

Non-drug treatments certainly have their place in the treatment of psychosis. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in reducing psychotic symptoms.

CBT for psychosis needs to be offered by well-trained, skilled practitioners and it might not always be possible for people who are very unwell with psychosis to engage in psychotherapy.

Just as for medication, non-drug treatments must be offered with respect and compassion. Once again, respect and compassion are not the treatments – it is the CBT that is the treatment.

‘The medication is not the problem. If any treatment – drug or non-drug – is offered without respect and compassion, then that is the problem.’

Professor Helen Minnis

For centuries, people suffering from psychosis were locked away in asylums receiving drug-free treatments.

If memoires from that period (e.g. Silvia Plath, Frances Farmer) offer any insight, then those drug-free treatments were sometimes offered with a startling lack of respect for the dignity and unique qualities of the individual. 

ADVERT

Anti-psychotic medication has allowed many people suffering from psychosis to have their lives back. It is usually a key element of treatment, especially in the acute phase.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just as insulin has revolutionised the lives of people with diabetes, anti-psychotic medication can be a crucial part of the treatment of psychosis.

The medication is not the problem. If any treatment – drug or non-drug – is offered without respect and compassion, then that is the problem.

Professor Helen Minnis

Helen Minnis is professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Glasgow.

She has had a longstanding clinical and research focus on the psychiatric problems of abused and neglected children.

Currently her focus is on intervention research, including a randomised controlled trial of an infant mental health service for young children in foster care and a randomised controlled trial of dyadic developmental psychotherapy for primary school-aged children in adoptive or foster placements.

She is also conducting behavioural genetic research focused on the role of abuse and neglect and its overlap with neurodevelopment across the life-course. 

She has collaborations with colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, the universities of Aalborg and Aarhus, Denmark, and with the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Follow Professor Minnis on Twitter.

Pass the Mic

Pass the Mic works with women of colour who are experts in their field – educators, academics, researchers, campaigners, policy-makers, community activists, writers, workers, carers and many more. 

It aims to make a tangible change across media in Scotland by increasing the representation of women of colour who participate in it, and by improving how women of colour and the issues that impact them are talked about.

For more information on Pass the Mic, click here.

More on:

Yousaf confident any COP26 coronavirus case rise can be ‘countered’

Some 25,000 people are expected to come to Scotland for the climate conference.

Georgeclerk via IStock
Glasgow: Some 25,000 people are expected to come to Scotland for COP26.

The Scottish Government can take the necessary steps to counter a potential spike in Covid-19 cases caused by the COP26 gathering, health secretary Humza Yousaf has said.

As many as 25,000 people are set to arrive in Glasgow for the key climate summit, billed as the “last chance” to counter the effects of climate change.

But experts, including key government advisers, have raised concerns over a potential increase in cases associated with so many people being in a relatively small area.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Yousaf said “of course” there will be Covid-19 cases associated with the event, but he was confident these could be contained.

ADVERT

“There’s not a public health expert in the world that would say there’s no risk in the middle of a global pandemic to have tens of thousands of people descending onto largely one city,” he said.

“There is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.”

He added: “We are also very, very assured by the protocols we’ve got in place (at the conference) to be able to isolate those cases as best as we possibly can.”

PA Media via PA Ready
Scottish Government: Health secretary Humza Yousaf.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The health secretary simply had no answers to the potential impact of COP26 on our NHS.

ADVERT

“We need to see action to speed up the booster programme, ramp up testing and to secure surge capacity for our NHS.

“We are looking down the barrel at a winter of extreme pressure on our NHS and potentially surging levels of Covid.

“We need action from the health secretary to avoid this, not warm words.”

Cases in Scotland were on the rise throughout the summer as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed, but began to fall in September as the vaccination programme reached its end with young people included, but the drop has levelled off, with cases in October rarely falling below 2000 per day.

Despite the stubborn statistics, the health secretary said there are no immediate plans for a return to tough restrictions.

“We’re not actively considering restrictions,” he said.

“We know the harm restrictions have had in the past and therefore doing things like ensuring as many people get vaccinated as possible, continuing to make face coverings mandatory in certain settings such as indoor public settings and public transport, ensuring that we have that universal testing offer and asking people to test themselves regularly.”

ADVERT

But Yousaf said it would be “foolish” to speculate on possible restrictions at Christmas.

“I’m not going to tell you what’s happening in a couple of months time,” he said.

‘Take action against drink spikers rather than punish venues’

A number of reports of spiking – including allegedly with needles – have surfaced on social media in the past week.

PeopleImages via IStock
Spiking: A number of reports have surfaced on social media in the past week.

Scotland’s health secretary has said the focus should be on “taking action” against men who spike women’s drinks, as opposed to punishing venues.

Reports of a spate of spiking incidents against women, some involving the use of needles, have spread through social media in the past week, prompting police investigations across the UK.

Humza Yousaf, who was justice secretary earlier this year, said police were taking the incidents “incredibly, incredibly seriously”, but said he would not like to see venues punished.

“My view, having discussed this issue as a government, is that the night-time industry are very, very concerned and are doing everything they possibly can,” he told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show.

ADVERT

“I don’t think we want to beat the night-time industry over the head because of this issue.

“It is the perpetrators – the men, because let’s be honest it is men perpetrating this – that we need to get through to and if necessary take action against.

“We will continue to examine the law and enforcement to make sure it is robust to deal with this.”

He added: “I was deeply concerned to read those reports.”

ADVERT

When asked what action the government can take to tackle the problem, Yousaf said: “We’re looking at the law at the moment to see if it’s absolutely robust.

“But I know from the justice secretary’s (Keith Brown) conversations with Police Scotland they are taking it incredibly, incredibly seriously and doing whatever is necessary.”

According to a report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), almost 200 spiking incidents were recorded in the past two months, according to data from 40 police forces across the country.


What the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow could achieve

There is no big ‘Paris Agreement’ style deal to secure in Glasgow, but the conference needs to deliver on a number of fronts.

PA Media via PA Ready
Glasgow: There is no big ‘Paris Agreement’ style deal to secure, but the conference needs to deliver on a number of fronts.

The COP26 summit in Glasgow is being billed as the biggest UN climate conference since countries secured the Paris Agreement at talks in the French capital in 2015.

However, there is no big new deal like the Paris Agreement to agree at COP26 – instead Glasgow has to deliver on the promises made six years ago and, alongside the formal UN negotiations, drive action to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

Here are some of the key areas where action is needed and where momentum and new commitments could help Glasgow be seen as a success:

Keeping 1.5C within reach

ADVERT

Glasgow has been billed as the last best chance to limit global warming to 1.5C in the long term.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to curbing temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5C – beyond which worsening impacts of climate change will be felt.

But, back in 2015, it was clear the emissions cuts countries had signed up to left the world far off track to meet the global temperature goals so, under the Paris deal, countries were due to bring forward more ambitious post-2020 national plans ahead of COP26.

Even with new plans many countries have brought forward, the world is nowhere near on track for the 1.5C target, and there are concerns that some countries might turn their attention to post-2030 action, when much more efforts are needed within the next ten years.

ADVERT

So UK officials want to see countries addressing how to close the gap between ambition and action required up to 2030, as part of the negotiated text that it is hoped will be secured by the end of the two weeks of talks.

Cash

The key to success at COP26 is delivering on a long-promised $100bn a year for 2020 to 2025 for poorer countries to develop cleanly and cope with the impacts of climate change.

It is seen as a matter of trust between developing and developed nations for donor countries to deliver on the promised private and public climate finance, and conversations will also begin on unlocking further funds after 2025.

There is pressure for finance to be split equally between efforts to cut emissions and to adapt to climate change, and also pressure to address demands on support for loss and damage caused by extreme weather and rising seas.

Coal

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, and polluting coal plants need to be phased out in the next two decades to meet climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency.

ADVERT

The UK wants to see more momentum on ending the use of coal, and is urging developed countries and regions to commit to phasing it out by 2030, or by 2040 in the case of developing nations, and for commitments to no new plants.

Cars

Road transport accounts for a tenth of global emissions, so countries are being urged to commit to ensuring all new car and van sales are zero emission vehicles by 2035 or 2040 and put in place policies to boost uptake.

Vehicle manufacturers are also being urged to commit to selling only zero emissions vehicles by 2035 or earlier.

Trees

Healthy and restored forests can absorb and lock up vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, and protecting trees – along with other carbon-storing natural habitats such as peatlands – is seen as key to cutting emissions and helping communities and wildlife cope with climate change.

The pressure is on countries to take steps to halt and reverse deforestation, switch to sustainable agriculture and support efforts to protect or conserve 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

Methane

While the most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, methane – from sources including livestock, agriculture such as rice production and fossil fuel extraction – is a powerful, but short-lived climate-warming gas.

Cutting emissions of methane is seen as a key way to curb warming in the short-term.

A US and EU-led “global methane pledge” which commits countries to cut their emissions of the gas by 30% by 2030 has already garnered a number of signatures ahead of its formal launch at COP26, where it is hoped more will sign up.

The Paris rulebook

Back in the negotiations, there are still some outstanding issues about how bits of the Paris Agreement are going to work, and they need to be sorted out to make it operational and effective.

There are three issues: transparency, Article 6, and common timeframes, and negotiating them will be key to COP26.

A transparency regime would see UN-run assessments of what countries are doing on climate, but all countries need to agree to face these reviews.

Countries are meant to submit updated climate plans – or NDCs – every five years under the Paris Agreement, but there is no coherence on how long a period those plans cover.

Agreeing common timeframes will make it clearer who is doing what and help comparisons.

And then there is Article 6: the part of the Paris Agreement which covers carbon markets.

Finalising the rules on how these markets work would allow countries to buy carbon credits that fund new clean projects or protect and restore forests to cover their emissions as part of climate action.

More on:

‘We can restore our damaged peatlands – but we’ll need help’

Efforts are under way across Scotland to repair eroded peatlands in a bid to help fight climate change.

STV News

Peatland experts believe ambitious targets to restore damaged landscapes can be met – but only if more specialist contractors are hired.

The Scottish Government has pledged to spend £250m restoring peatlands over the next ten years to help fight climate change.

Peatlands filter much of the water we drink, provide habitats for wildlife and draw in more carbon from the environment than forests.

When they are eroded and burned to be used as fuel and compost, they emit more carbon than they store, and experts believe 80% of Scotland’s peatland is damaged.

ADVERT

‘Pathway to recovery’

Diggers are being used to smooth and recover peat at the Cairngorms National Park in a bid to restore them to their natural state.

Stephen Corcoran, peatlands programme manager at the park, which features some of the highest peatlands in the UK, said: “It’s a pathway to recovery, but the process does take a while.

“We’ll need more skilled contractors to help us with this project going forward because it is a massive area that needs to be restored.”

STV News
The Scottish Government has pledged to spend £250m restoring peatlands over the next ten years.
ADVERT

Meanwhile, peatland action project officer Sue White is working to restore damaged landscape in Shetland.

Peatland that should be naturally covered in protective vegetation has been exposed and is emitting carbon.

“This sort of landscape is losing somewhere around 23.8 tonnes of carbon equivalent every year and we’ve got 40,000 hectares of it in Shetland,” she said.

“That alone is putting a huge amount of CO2 into the air, but we can turn it around quite simply.

“This funding is a good start. Going forward it is going to need private investment, but investors are very interested because you can sell carbon.”

The Scottish Government said it hopes the funding will help to restore 200,000 hectares of peatland by 2030.


Hunt for man who exposed himself to woman and carried out solo sex act

Police said the flasher struck in Linn Park, Glasgow, at around 6pm on Friday.

© Google Maps 2020
Linn Park: The incident happened on Friday evening.

A manhunt has been launched to catch a flasher who exposed himself to a woman in a Glasgow park.

The man also carried out an indecent act on himself during the incident in Linn Park at around 6pm on Friday.

Police said he struck near to the waterfall viewpoint.

The suspect is believed to be in his late-30s and around 6ft 1in. He was also described as slim and bald.

ADVERT

He was wearing a plain white vest and electric-blue basketball-style shorts with white leggings underneath.

Detective sergeant Nikki McPherson, of Glasgow CID, said: “Clearly, this was a disturbing and upsetting incident for the woman involved, who thankfully reported the matter to police.

“We are asking the public to get in touch if they think they know who this man is, or have witnessed similar incidents recently.

“We will be carrying out extensive enquiries to find the man responsible.”

ADVERT

If you have any information, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More on:

Two men in hospital after ‘disturbance’ outside hotel

Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening at this time.

© Google Maps 2020
Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them.

Two men had to be taken to hospital after a disturbance outside of a hotel in Argyll and Bute.

The incident took place on Saturday, at around 10pm, outside the Rosslea Hotel in Rhu.

Police say that a 27-year-old man was seriously assaulted and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A 42-year-old man was also assaulted and was taken to the Royal Alexandria Hospital.

ADVERT

Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening at this time.

Detective Inspector Fiona Macarthur, of Dumbarton CID, said: “We know the hotel area would have been relatively busy at the time and the consequences of this incident could have been far worse.

“We’re appealing to people who witnessed the incident or has any relevant information to contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 4135 of October 23.

ADVERT

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Keeping the 1.5C target alive: What it means and why it matters

COP26 in Glasgow has been billed as the last best chance to keep global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C.

PA Media via PA Ready
Climate change: COP26 has been billed as the last best chance to keep global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C.

COP26 in Glasgow has been billed as the last best chance to keep global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C. Here’s why that is important.

What is the significance of 1.5C?

When the Paris Agreement – the global treaty on climate change – was negotiated in 2015, there was a strong and ultimately successful push by nations such as low-lying islands to include the 1.5C target in the deal because they felt letting temperatures go any higher would threaten their survival.

As a result countries pledged to keep global temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5C over the long-term.

ADVERT

Will limiting temperature rises to 1.5C really make a difference?

Yes, according to a special report by the UN’s climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2018.

It found a 2C rise would lead to more heatwaves, extreme rainstorms, water shortages and drought, greater economic losses and lower crop yields, higher sea levels and greater damage to nature.

In one of its most sobering findings, the report said coral reefs would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5C, but would all but vanish in a 2C world.

ADVERT

The latest report from the IPCC this summer – described as a “code red for humanity” – also warns that every additional 0.5C temperature rise leads to clear increases in the intensity of heatwaves, rainstorms and flooding, and droughts in some regions.

With the world already experiencing more damaging climate extremes at 1.2C of warming, 1.5C is not seen as a safe level, but things get much worse if it goes above that.

Is it game over if the world warms by more than 1.5C?

No. Scientists say the 1.5C or 2C thresholds are not cliff edges that the world will fall off, but that every bit of warming makes a difference, so it is important to curb temperature rises as much as possible.

As Professor Richard Betts, from the Met Office Hadley Centre, puts it: “Like the speed limit on a motorway, staying below it is not perfectly safe and exceeding it does not immediately lead to calamity, but the risks do increase if the limit is passed.

“Limiting warming to 1.5C clearly needs much more urgent emissions cuts than is currently happening, but if the target is still breached we should not assume all is lost and give up – it will still be worth continuing action on emissions reductions to avoid even more warming.”

Are we off track to meet a 1.5C limit?

ADVERT

Yes, way off track. The 2018 IPCC report said to limit temperature rises to 1.5C the world would have to cut carbon emissions by 45% on 2010 levels by 2030, and to net-zero – with any remaining pollution absorbed by measures such as planting trees – by 2050.

But the latest assessment from the UN shows the national plans for cutting emissions put forward by countries under the Paris Agreement would lead to a 16% increase in emissions on 2010 levels by the end of the decade.

Other analysis suggests that even with the latest pledges and targets, we are heading for around 2.4C of warming.

Glasgow isn’t going to change that, is it?

Some countries have still not brought forward more ambitious, updated climate plans as they have promised to do, but even with those, there will still be a gap between the 1.5C goal and the action needed to get there.

COP26 president Alok Sharma has said he wants the summit to keep the 1.5C target within reach – “keeping 1.5 alive”.

Because of the way that climate-warming emissions build up in the atmosphere, we cannot carry on as we are and think we can do more later, so keeping the 1.5C target within reach is going to take an awful lot of action between now and 2030.

The hope is there will be a negotiated outcome – formal agreement by countries – from the talks that sets out how the gap will be closed and spurs further action in the next decade.

COP26 will also be focusing on areas such as ending the use of coal, moving to selling only ultra-low emissions cars, ending net deforestation, and curbing the powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas methane.

That is because while targets and agreements are important, it is action that counts.

More on:

Vin Diesel walks Paul Walker’s daughter down the aisle at wedding

Meadow Walker, 22, married actor Louis Thornton-Allan in a small ceremony in the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

Meadow Walker via Instagram
Family: Vin Diesel walked Meadow Walker down the aisle.

Vin Diesel walked the daughter of his late Fast and the Furious co-star Paul Walker down the aisle at her wedding.

Meadow Walker, 22, married actor Louis Thornton-Allan in a small ceremony attended by friends and family in the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

She shared photos from the beachside event on Instagram and wrote: “We’re married!!!!”

A black and white video also showed Diesel, 54, escorting her down the aisle.

ADVERT

According to Vogue magazine, the bride wore a custom Givenchy Haute Couture wedding dress designed by Matthew Williams, creative director of Givenchy.

Her Hollywood star father, who was famed for his work in The Fast and the Furious franchise, died in a car crash in 2013 when he was 40.

He starred alongside Diesel, playing racing rivals, and the pair remained close friends.

Meadow told Vogue she and her now-husband said their vows in front of a smaller gathering than hoped.

ADVERT

She said: “The pandemic impacted our plans. Louis’ family wasn’t able to attend.

“A lot of close friends whom we consider family were also unable to attend due to travel restrictions.”

Walker played Brian O’Conner in The Fast and the Furious films and was set to star in Furious 7 at the time of his death.


In pictures: When Clydebank reached the Scottish Cup semi-finals

Clydebank took on Celtic at Hampden in the 1989/90 Scottish Cup semi-finals.

SNS via SNS Group
Sean Sweeney can't believe he hasn't scored for Clydebank after leaving Celtic keeper Pat Bonner on his knees.

Clydebank are back in the Scottish Cup for the first time in 20 years – and will take on Elgin City in a televised second-round clash on Monday.

It’s been a rollercoaster couple of decades for the former league stalwarts, whose name was controversially wiped off the football map following a takeover by Airdrie United, before they rose from the ashes as a junior outfit.

Now plying their trade in the West of Scotland Premier League, they’ve earned a spot on the road to Hampden, the venue for their 1989/90 season semi-final against Celtic.

Although they lost 2-0, they gave Billy McNeill’s side plenty of scares on a memorable afternoon for the Bankies, who were once sponsored by chart-toppers Wet Wet Wet.

ADVERT

In pictures, here’s a look back at the time Clydebank reached the last four of the Scottish Cup, their best ever run in the competition.

SNS via SNS Group
Andy Walker gets the better of Jim Gallagher to open the scoring for Celtic.
SNS via SNS Group
Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner pushes a shot from Clydebank’s John Davies round the post.
SNS via SNS Group
Clydebank’s Paul Harvey and Celtic midfielder Steve Fulton battle for possession.
SNS via SNS Group
Sean Sweeney thinks he’s scored for Clydebank, but his effort drifts wide.
SNS via SNS Group
Clydebank goalkeeper Jim Gallagher.
SNS via SNS Group
Clydebank’s Sean Sweeney chases Celtic striker Dariusz Dziekanowski.

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?