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niall's blog

constant realities and changing ideas

This article is an extract from the WIAMH Annual Review for 2013, published this week.


It seems inevitable that every few years voluntary organisations must reinvent themselves, supposedly to adjust to changing circumstances.  This is odd, because in our case at least, the circumstances which change are not our main focus.  Individuals’ states of health or illness may come and go, but the existence of mental illness, like other states of health, has been a constant factor since people started living long enough to avoid being someone else’s dinner.

What changes is organisational fashion and legal context, and for these reasons, WIAMH is now at the end of its third incarnation, as a charitable company, and the committee are now decided that we should reform as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).  This is not entirely a new idea – indeed, questions about the advantages of Company status have been around since our incorporation.  You’d be forgiven for thinking that the only constant factor in our history has been working out the next change.  But I say again:  The real constant factor is the states of ill health we seek to alleviate.

Adult Content

Attention Deficit (±Hyperactivity) Disorder is not new, and not news, but as it – or rather they – are mostly associated with children, they are conditions which have an unusual capacity to create moral panic.  This usually turns up in terms of: “Is this real, or an artefact of modern diagnostic attitudes?” – or: “Is it right to give medicines to children for behavioural problems?”.  And of course: “Is it right to medicate children who are just being naughty”?  (This particular one has always irritated me; it makes so many unspoken assumptions I find it difficult to think of a response and keep breathing.)

So this is an area where clear, easily comprehended information is likely to be welcome, right?

Enter ADHD Voices, an international (i.e. United States & English) project which intends to bring “the perspectives and experiences of children into international debates around rising child psychiatric diagnoses and the increasing use of drugs in child psychiatry”.  The project has recently released a report which can be freely downloaded and read by anyone interested.  Having done so, I must say it is informative, presented in a readable way, and probably ... though I am not a child psychiatrist [1] ... representative of the limited number of cases Iʼve been aware of.

not an exercise substitute

(Blogging on mental health from WIAMH shall now begin ... it's about time, I think.)

A recently published study from Texas, USA [1] indicates that individually targeted exercise is as beneficial, in around half of cases, as secondary medication as a means of alleviating depression.  This isn't the first study to have shown a generally positive effect; it's almost received wisdom; but this study gets very interesting in its exploration of the difference between the effect on people in different circumstances, including the difference between people with family history of mental illness and those without.

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