Impact of social media on the young to be examined

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How social media helps or harms children’s mental health is to be examined by leading experts in social geography and mental health from the Universities of Portsmouth and Sheffield.

Professor Liz Twigg, in the Department of Geography at Portsmouth, has been awarded funding from the charity MQ to carry out the first long-term study of thousands of 10-15 year olds.

Funding was awarded against a sharp rise in mental illness among young people in the UK.

The results are expected to give the first indication of the effect of social media on the generation brought up with it, and will be used to give clinicians and mental health workers guidelines in how social media may influence the mental wellbeing of young adolescents.

Professor Twigg said: “Poor mental health among children is on the rise and it’s unclear whether social media is implicated or is helping.

“A snapshot of some children who are suffering mental illness at any one time isn’t enough – we need to be able to see the long-term effects of a lot of factors in children’s lives, including their social media use alongside the degree of their parents’ engagement in their children’s lives, their parents’ mental health, their social and economic circumstances, and details about the neighbourhoods they live in.

“It may be that online friendships are a great help in protecting some children, or that social media communities help some children develop resilience to stresses in their lives.

“It could be some uses of social media undermine children’s well-being or are more damaging for boys than girls, for example – we simply don’t know yet.

“We need a more complex and detailed understanding of the contexts in which social media might provide a level of resilience for young people.”

Existing research shows positive and negative effects of social media use but no research has examined its long-term effect in different types of individual across different types of household and neighbourhood. There is also little research on the early adolescent years (10-15 year olds).

The researchers will use data from Understanding Society, a complex dataset which, from 2009, has gathered on-going details of thousands of young people’s living situations, including their own sense of happiness and their parents’ mental health and socio-economic status.

Professor Twigg hopes that by shining a light on this under-researched group, well designed interventions could make a substantial difference to their long-term mental health.

Her goal is that by 2030 poor mental health among young people will have begun to decline and all key youth mental health workers will understand the complex ways in which social media can influence a young person’s mental health status.

Alongside publishing results in an academic journal, Professor Twigg will work with Professor Scott Weich, a consultant psychiatrist and expert in mental health epidemiology from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield, to provide guidelines to doctors, nurses, social workers and others.

According to the funder MQ, three children in every school class have a diagnosable mental health condition.

Professor Twigg has previously used similarly large, complex government data sets to study Britain’s physical, behavioural and social health.

Action for Happiness promotes altruism this August


Action for Happiness hopes to spread selfless goodwill this month, with its ‘Altruistic August’ action calendar.

The movement publishes monthly calendars, offering daily affirmations on the theme of the respective month. ‘Altruistic August’ follows ‘Jump Back July’, ‘Joyful June’, ‘Meaningful May’, ‘Active April’, ‘Mindful March’, ‘Friendly February’ and ‘Happy January.’

Suggestions for this month include the following:

  • Decide to be kind to others (and yourself) every day.
  • Ask someone how they are and really listen to the reply.
  • Show support for a cause that doesn’t affect you directly.
  • When you buy one and get one free, give the extra item away.
  • Sign up to be an organ donor or give blood.

Download the calendar

Big Ideas for Better Health Awards


Have you seen how innovative healthcare ideas have had a remarkable impact on the lives of patients within the NHS?

AbbVie’s ‘Big Ideas for Better Health’ Awards are free to enter and open to all UK NHS organisations and patient groups. Winners will receive a grant for £3,000 to extend their project or take it to the next level.

The ‘Big Ideas’ programme is now open for entries and the deadline for submissions is 10 August 2018.

The ‘Big Ideas’ Awards were originally launched in 2015 as a way to recognise, celebrate and share exceptional examples of improvements and innovation that demonstrate clear benefit to the lives of patients. The programme forms part of AbbVie’s Sustainable Healthcare initiative and this year has been refreshed with a new name (previously Patients as Partners) and new categories:

·         Delivering care closer to home
·         Supporting self-management and self-care
·         Driving prevention and early intervention

Previous winners come from across the UK and their programmes show not all heroes wear capes. Every day, ordinary people are saving money for the NHS and improving the lives of patients. You can watch a video of last year’s winners on AbbVie’s YouTube channel.

Find out more about the awards and how to enter

NHS to remove patient access to 17 ‘unnecessary procedures’ to cut costs

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NHS England has proposed to stop funding 17 procedures that are considered unnecessary to save money within the health service. These procedures are said to lack supporting evidence on their effectiveness and cost around £400m every year.

The main procedures that would lose this funding are dilatation and curettage for heavy menstrual bleeding in women; knee arthroscopy for patients with osteoarthritis; injections for non-specific low back pain without sciatica; and surgery for snoring.

In addition, a further 13 treatments would only be offered where specific clinical conditions are met. This list comprises of varicose vein surgery; breast reduction; haemorrhoid surgery; hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding; carpal tunnel syndrome release; Dupuytren’s contracture release; tonsillectomy; removal of benign skin lesions; removal of eyelid lesions; removal of bone spurs for shoulder pain; grommets for glue ear; excision of ganglia; and trigger finger release.

These changes could save the NHS as much as £200m each year and eliminate unnecessary clinical variation across the country.

Read more


Herbalist garden wins silver at Hampton Court Flower show

A garden that promotes the role of plants and herbs in health has won a silver medal at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

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Anton Chekhov’s Garden, designed by Anna Benn and Hannah Gardner, is based on the country estate near Moscow, where Chekhov, one of Russia’s most notable writers, wrote his famous play The Seagull.

Chekhov, who lived from 1860-1904, was also a doctor and herbalism is said to play a very strong part in Russian medicine and culture. This is illustrated in the garden’s use of many medicinal plants, such as Calendula officinalis, Menthe piperata and Inula helenium.

The garden is sponsored by the Anton Chekhov Foundation, promoting his legacy, and made in association with the College of Medicine, who supported the garden due to its link with arts in health and the benefits of plants and herbs, the topics of two recent conferences held by the College.

Read more about Anton Chekhov’s Garden

Action for Happiness jump back this July


This month Action for Happiness urges us to take a step back by learning how to be resilient and cope with life’s ups and downs.

The movement publishes monthly calendars, offering daily affirmations on the theme of the respective month. ‘Jump Back July’ follows ‘Joyful June’, ‘Meaningful May’, ‘Active April’, ‘Mindful March’, ‘Friendly February’ and ‘Happy January.’

Suggestions for this month include the following:

  • Make a list of the things you’re looking forward to
  • Get the basics right – eat well, exercise and go to bed on time
  • Write worries down and save them for a specific ‘worry time’
  • And remember we all struggle at times – it’s part of being human

Download the calendar


NHS celebrates 70th birthday


On 5 July 1948 Aneurin Bevan, UK Health Secretary of the post-War Labour government, launched the National Health Service (NHS). He saw his vision realised, to have an overarching healthcare system that linked hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists, and was free for all at the point of delivery.

Today the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, delivering lifesaving work since 1948.

Treating 1.4 million people every day, the NHS has countless success stories over the years, including discovering the link between smoking and cancer; introducing mass vaccinations for polio and other life-threatening diseases; reducing infant mortality dramatically; performing the first successful hip replacement and IVF procedures; setting up screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer; and more recently introducing a revolutionary robotic arm at St Mary’s Hospital in London for patients with fast or irregular heartbeats.

The NHS is asking the public to join in with the NHS70 celebrations, ‘talk about the wide array of opportunities being created by advances in science, technology and information’ and to thank the NHS staff, ‘the everyday heroes – who are always there to greet, advise and care for us.’

Find out more about NHS70