TagCanadian Journal of Psychiatry

Reading of the Week: Alastair Campbell on his Brother, his Life and his Schizophrenia

From the Editor

“So, my schizophrenia story. Well, the story is mine, but the schizophrenia was Donald’s. He would happily have told you his story himself, for he was very proud of the life he led, given the seriousness of the condition. Sadly, he can’t, as he is dead. So I will tell his story instead.”

Alastair Campbell is many things. He is the author of more than a dozen books. He is a former press secretary and director of communications for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. He is the father of three.

And he’s the brother of a person who had schizophrenia.

In this week’s Reading, we consider his speech for the Schizophrenia International Research Society, “The Shittiest of all the Shitty Illnesses.” He discusses his brother’s illness and its impact on his family – and he also talks about his brother.

stream_imgAlastair Campbell

In this Reading, we consider Campbell’s comments, and also the larger issue of reduced life expectancy for those with severe mental illness.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Suicide & the News – the New CPA Media Guidelines for Reporting on Suicide

From the Editor

“Hemingway Dead of Shotgun Wound; Wife Says He Was Cleaning Weapon.” So reads the headline from the front page of The New York Times reporting the death of author Ernest Hemingway. It quotes Frank Hewitt, the Blaine County Sheriff, who comments that the death “looks like an accident… There is no evidence of foul play.”

It is well known that writer Ernest Hemingway died by suicide – the sheriff didn’t want to say it. As we as a society discuss mental illness more and more, how do we discuss topics like suicide? For years, of course, we didn’t – or, if we did, reporting was often insensitive.

In last month’s Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Hospital’s Mark Sinyor and his co-authors, including other psychiatrists and journalists, suggest guidelines for the reporting of suicide. The effort provides an update of a past report, and includes recommendations for social media.

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In this Reading we look at the guidelines, and consider the opportunities and problems of the Twitter era.

DG

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Reading of the Week: More Demand, Less Physician Care? The New Chiu et al. Paper. Also, CAMH’s Really Big Donation

From the Editor

Canadians understand more about mental health and – with declining stigma – are more interested in services. So are they using more services and how have practice patterns changed with time?

In this week’s Reading, we consider a new paper from The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Chiu et al. try to answer these questions by looking at outpatient family doctor and psychiatrist visits from 2006 to 2014. They also look at ED visits and hospitalizations.

8b16181v-565x422Family docs and mental health: how much care do they deliver (and are all their patients this cute)?

They find that ED visits were up for mental health, as were hospitalizations, but physicians visits went down (all in terms of rates). They write: “The increasing acute care service use coupled with the reduction in outpatient visits suggest, overall, an increase in demand for mental health care that is not being met in ambulatory care settings.”

Also in this week’s Reading, we consider some good news: CAMH received a $100 million gift from an anonymous donor. Good news – but is it all good news for mental health charities?

DG

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Reading of the Week: Mental Health’s Funding Problem – the New Wang Paper; Also, the Life of Jimmie Holland

From the Editor

As we start 2018, additional funding for mental health care is widely discussed.

But what are current funding levels? How have they changed over the past decade? Which provinces are funding more and which are funding less? A new paper just published by The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry attempts to answer these questions. While the paper looks at different aspects of funding, it reaches a surprising conclusion: between 2003 and 2013, “the percentage of mental health costs with respect to total provincial public health care expenditures decreased overall…”

In this Reading, we review that paper and consider the broader implications.

In the second selection, we consider the life and contributions of Dr. Jimmie Holland, who recently passed. Dr. Holland has been called the “mother” of psycho-oncology.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Ethics & Medical Assistance in Dying – the new Simpson Paper. Also, Exercise for the Cognitive Symptoms of Depression?

From the Editor

It may soon be the law… but is it ethical?

In 2016, Parliament passed Bill C-14, legalizing doctor-assisted suicide. The legislation represents a major change in many ways: from public policy to the practice of medicine. And, in the coming years, it’s quite possible that the scope of this legislation will be expanded, and could include those with mental illness.

In this week’s Reading, Dr. Wayne (Sandy) Simpson of CAMH weighs in on the ethics of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) and mental illness in this provocative “perspective” paper just published by The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. He considers the nature of mental illness before concluding: “[A]cting as a partner in helping people recover as well as acting as an agent in a patient’s death is an impossible burden that is not ethically justifiable or legally necessary.”

ethics-cert

Also, this week, we consider another recent paper by The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that considers the impact of exercise on cognition in patients with depression.

DG

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Reading of the Week: ECT – Safe, Effective but Declining Use. The Lemasson et al. Study on ECT in Quebec

From the Editor

It’s an effective treatment for depression – maybe the most effective. Yet ECT remains highly controversial. Patients routinely ask about its safety; the media portrayal is tough.

This week, we look at two new studies on electroconvulsive therapy. In the first, just published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, the authors consider the use of ECT in Quebec over a 15-year period, finding a decline over time.

An ECT Machine: going the way of the dodo bird?

We also look at a new paper from Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica considering the safety of ECT, tapping a rich database.

These new papers point to a public health problem: the treatment is incredibly safe (and effective) but used less and less often.

Note: there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Canadian Journal of Psychiatry: “Telepsychiatry 2.0”

‘Closed-circuit television has been introduced into the field of mental hygiene as a medium for the administration of therapy to a mass audience. The present evidence indicates that that the use of this type of television may promote the development of new and more effective methods for the treatment of the mentally ill.’ This hopeful statement appeared at the beginning of a 1957 peer-reviewed paper. Four years later, the potential of telepsychiatry ‘as a means of extending mental health services to areas that are remote from psychiatric centers’ was described. Six decades later, where are we?

So begins an editorial in the current issue of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.  I’ve co-authored the paper; Dr. David Goldbloom is the first author.

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Drawing on the Serhal et al. paper on telepsychiatry in Ontario, we consider the current state:

Consider: of the more than 48,000 people in need of psychiatric care (defined by the authors as psychiatric or primary care within a year after a psychiatric hospitalisation), fewer than 1% saw a psychiatrist through telepsychiatry—and 39% saw no psychiatrist. We note the marked contrast with the United States, where telepsychiatry has been rapidly growing.

And we consider how to move forward. We propose a four-point plan, including “a province-wide strategy that has defined clinical priorities, geographic rationales, and measured outcomes.”

You can find our editorial here:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0706743717714469

Note: open access.

Reading of the Week: Coming to Canada – Immigration and Mental Illness

From the Editor

Last week, when in Halifax, I went to Pier 21, a museum that now stands where more than a million immigrants entered this country by ship. The exhibits describe the aspirations, the experiences, and the struggles of these people – our people. As a nation of immigrants, here’s an important question to ask: what impact does immigration have on mental health?

Different studies show different things of the immigrant experience. On the one hand, some studies find that immigrants (and refugees) have higher rates of psychosis (including a recent Canadian paper by Anderson et al.); on the other hand, other studies show a “healthy migrant effect” – that is, immigrants have lower rates of mental illness overall.

The August issue of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has a thoughtful paper that considers immigration and mental illness. The authors tread on familiar ground – there is a rich body of work in this area, but they offer a Canadian perspective by looking at people in Montreal, and they consider mental health utilization and service satisfaction.

Pier 21: A boat, a pier, and the beginning of the new beginning for hundreds of thousands – but are there implications for mental illness?

Spoiler alert: immigrants tended to have lower rates of depression and alcohol dependence than the general population.

DG

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Reading of the Week: “Taking On the Scourge of Opioids” – Dr. Sally Satel’s New Essay

From the Editor

Today, the addicted are not inner-city minori­ties, though big cities are increasingly reporting problems. Instead, they are overwhelmingly white and rural, though middle- and upper-class individuals are also affected. The jarring visual of the crisis is not an urban ‘gang banger’ but an overdosed mom slumped in the front seat of her car in a Walmart parking lot, toddler in the back.

So writes Dr. Sally Satel, an addiction psychiatrist, about the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Satel is writing about the United States, but these problems are also seen north of the 49th parallel. Canadians remain the second highest per-capita consumers of opioids in the world; for the record, only our southern neighbours best us. And, like in the U.S., opioid use has soared in recent years – and so has misuse.

Opioids: little pills, big problems

How did we get here? And where do we go?

This week’s selection: a new essay by Dr. Satel. Drawing on the words of Nicholas Eberstadt, she describes “a new plague for a new century.” Dr. Satel writes about the roots of this drug problem and considers options moving forward.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Is Psychoanalysis Relevant? Paris vs. Ravitz

From the Editor

“Today, psychoanalysis has been marginalized and is struggling to survive in a hostile academic and clinical environment. This raises the question as to whether the paradigm is still relevant in psychiatric science and practice.”

This week, we consider the relevance of psychoanalysis.

Drawing from the May issue of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, we look at two papers.

Freud and analysis: debating his relevance

In a Perspectives piece, Dr. Joel Paris argues that psychoanalysis is part our legacy – but not much more. In an Editorial, Dr. Paula Ravitz responds. She opens by writing: “My concern is that by unnecessarily pitting psychiatry against psychoanalysis, we may throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

It’s a great and important debate.

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