Topics for this month:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – Mind Charity
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that you experience during particular seasons or times of year. Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.
If you have SAD, you’ll experience depression during some seasons in particular, or because of certain types of weather.
It’s common to be affected by changing seasons and weather, or to have times of year when you feel more or less comfortable. For example, you might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it gets colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping or eating patterns.
But if your feelings are interfering with your day to day life, it could be a sign that you have depression – and if they keep coming back at the same time of year, doctors might call this seasonal affective disorder or ‘seasonal depression’.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
If you have SAD, you might experience some of the signs and symptoms below. But it’s different for different people, and can vary season to season, so you might also have other kinds of feelings which aren’t listed here:
- lack of energy
- finding it hard to concentrate
- not wanting to see people
- sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
- feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
- changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
- being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
- losing interest in sex or physical contact
- suicidal feelings
- other symptoms of depression.
If you also have other mental health problems, you might find that things get worse at times when you’re affected by SAD.
How can I access treatment?
The first step is usually to visit your GP. If you’re given a diagnosis of SAD, this will be based on whether your symptoms repeatedly follow a seasonal pattern, usually for two or more years – it doesn’t depend on the specific season or time of year when you’re affected.
Mind guide to seeking help for a mental health problem has information about talking to your doctor about your mental health, including what might happen at the appointment and making your voice heard.
What treatments can help?
Treatments such as talking therapies, medication, light therapy and other treatments can help SAD.
There are many different talking therapies that can be effective in treating depression. Mind pages on treatment for depression and talking therapy and counselling have more information on these treatments, and information on how to access them – including through the NHS, charities or privately.
You might be offered an antidepressant, either on its own or in combination with talking therapy. This will most commonly be a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Mind pages on treatment for depression and antidepressants have more information.
Some people say they find it helpful to use a light box – a device that gives off strong white or blue light – or a lamp, or an alarm clock that simulates dawn. This is sometimes called light therapy.
The NHS doesn’t provide light therapy because there is currently insufficient evidence to show it works, although some people find it helpful. More research needs to be done to establish whether it is effective and why some people find it helpful and others don’t.
Light therapy might not be suitable for you if you’re also taking St John’s wort, as St John’s wort can make your skin more sensitive to light.
If you decide to try using a light box or lamp, you may wish to discuss this with your doctor who can advise on whether it’s suitable for you to try. If you have existing eye problems or you use a light box regularly, it’s also advisable to talk to an optician and to have regular eye check-ups.
You might also decide to try other treatments alongside, or instead of, talking therapies or medication. These might include:
- arts and creative therapies
- complementary and alternative therapies
- ecotherapy (nature-based treatments)
Your doctor may be able to refer you to some of these. You can also contact your local Mind to find out what they have available.
For more information please visit:
Advice and guidance regarding eating disorders
An eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations.
Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little, or worrying about your weight or body shape. Anyone can get an eating disorder, but children and young people between 13 and 17 are mostly affected. With treatment, most people can recover from an eating disorder.
Types of eating disorders:
The most common eating disorders are:
- Anorexia nervosa – trying to control your weight by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or doing both to an extreme.
- Bulimia – losing control over how much you eat and then taking drastic action by self-inflicted vomiting to not put on weight.
- Binge eating disorder (BED) – eating large portions of food until you feel uncomfortably full, with often recurrent episodes and until in a lot of discomfort which can be life threatening.
Symptoms of an eating disorder can include:
- Spending a lot of time worrying about your weight and body shape
- Avoiding socialising when you think food will be involved
- Eating very little food
- Making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
- Exercising too much
- Having very strict habits or routines around food
- Changes in your mood such as being withdrawn, anxious or depressed
You may also notice physical signs, including:
- Feeling cold, tired or dizzy
- Pains, tingling or numbness in your arms and legs (poor circulation)
- Feeling your heart racing, fainting or feeling faint
- Problems with your digestion, such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea
- Your weight being very high or very low for someone of your age and height, and noticeable drastic weigh loss.
- Not getting your period or other delayed signs of puberty
Getting help for an eating disorder:
If you think you may have an eating disorder, see a GP as soon as you can. A GP will ask about your eating habits and how you are feeling, as well as check your overall health and weight. They may refer you to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists.
It can be very hard to admit you have an eating problem but it is important to ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.
You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity ‘Beat’ by calling their free adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or free youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.
Beat listen, help to understand the illness, and offer specialist support to take positive steps towards recovery. They also support family and friends, equipping them with essential skills and advice, so they can help their loved ones recover whilst also looking after their own mental health. Beat campaign to increase knowledge among healthcare and other relevant professionals, and for better funding for high-quality treatment with eating disorders, so that when people are brave enough to take vital steps towards recovery, the right help is available to them.
The work they do means that every year lives are saved, families are kept together, and people are able to live free of eating disorders.
The Beat Charity website is below for more information and advice: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/arfid/
Those who have never taken drugs may find it hard to comprehend why others would choose to abuse illegal substances.
The reality is that drugs are highly addictive, and nobody actually elects to become addicted. Addiction is an illness that some people are more prone to than others. Did you know that giving drugs to another person such as a friend is classed as a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence?
There are many drug abuse facts that people are simply unaware of; below are some examples:
Drug Abuse Facts – The types of drugs involved:
Most people think about heroin, cocaine or cannabis when they hear the word drugs, but other substances come under the heading of drugs.
- Over-the-counter medication – There are some substances that can be purchased by individuals over the age of sixteen that can be classed as drugs. Although these medications are considered to be safe enough to sell without a prescription, they can be dangerous when misused. Taking large doses of medication such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems.
- Prescription medication – Strong painkillers are only available with a prescription because they are considered to be extremely dangerous when abused. Some of these medications can cause addiction when taken over an extended period of time.
- Psychoactive substances – These illegal manufactured substances were sold as incense, plant food or bath salts and were marked as ‘not fit for human consumption’. They are designed to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis. However, they are extremely dangerous and have been linked to many serious health issues, and even death.
- Illegal drugs – As mentioned above, most people think of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and cannabis when they hear about drug abuse and addiction. And they would be right because, for the most part, these are the most prevalent hard drugs in the world today. These illegal drugs can lead to many problems, not least of which is addiction. There are also many other illegal drugs that cause destruction and devastation to the lives of those affected including crystal meth, mephedrone, and ecstasy.
Signs and symptoms of drug abuse:
There are many signs, both physical and behavioural, that indicate drug use. Each drug has its own unique manifestations, but there are some general indications that a person is using drugs:
- Sudden change in behaviour
- Mood swings; irritable and grumpy and then suddenly happy and bright
- Withdrawal from family members
- Careless about personal grooming
- Loss of interest in hobbies, sports and other normal favourite activities/interests
- Changed sleeping pattern; up at night and sleeping during the day
- Red or glassy eyes
- Sniffly or runny nose
Drug Abuse Treatment:
The good news regarding drug abuse is that there are many treatment options available to those who want help.
As well as NHS-funded programmes, there are many private residential and outpatient clinics providing excellent care and support to those affected by drug addiction. In addition, there are charities and local support groups that work tirelessly to make sure that those who need help can access it.
https://www.recovery.org.uk/ will help you find the best treatment for you or a loved one with just one telephone call. Our fully trained addiction counsellors are there 24 hours a day and offer advice on both NHS and private treatment options.
The Addiction Helpline is 100% free to use and all calls are confidential. Telephone helpline number 0203 553 0324
Please visit the website for more information:https://www.recovery.org.uk/drug-addiction/drug-abuse-facts/
Domestic abuse is a pattern of coercive control, which includes combinations of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse and isolation by a current or former partner, or family member.
Domestic abuse includes:
- psychological abuse
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- financial abuse
- emotional abuse
- so called ‘honour’ based violence.
Other definitions include:
- Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
- Forced marriage (FM)
- Honour based violence (HBV)
- Prostitution and trafficking
- Sexual Violence including rape
- Sexual exploitation
- Sexual harassment
It can be hard supporting someone experiencing domestic abuse, whilst your first instinct maybe to protect, getting involved can be dangerous for you and the victim.
National support and advice on how to respond can be found by visiting:
The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Information about support in Liverpool can be found by visiting:
Information and contacts for support services across the Merseyside can be found by visiting:
Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 254 0909
Independent Choices Greater Manchester set up our confidential Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline in 1978. It is open for anyone over the age of 16 who is experiencing or has previously experienced domestic abuse & violence in any form. Visit the website for more information:
7 Minute Briefings:
Please read the attached information regarding the 7 minute briefing covering:
Safeguarding concerns with Virtual Reality app
Some apps in the virtual-reality metaverse are “dangerous by design”, the NSPCC has warned in response to a BBC News investigation.
A researcher posing as a 13-year-old girl witnessed grooming, sexual material, racist insults and a rape threat in the virtual-reality world.
The metaverse is the name given to games and experiences accessed by people wearing virtual reality headsets. The technology, previously confined to gaming, could be adapted for use in many other areas – from work to play, concerts to cinema trips.
Mark Zuckerberg thinks it could be the future of the internet – so much so, he recently rebranded Facebook as Meta, with the company investing billions developing its Oculus Quest headset.
The app used in the investigation, called VRChat, is an online virtual platform which users can explore with 3D avatars.
While it is not made by Facebook, it can be downloaded from an app store on Facebook’s Meta Quest headset, with no age verification checks – the only requirement being a Facebook account.
The BBC News researcher created a fake profile to set up her account – and her real identity was not checked.
Inside VRChat, there are rooms where users can meet: some are innocent and everyday – such as a McDonald’s restaurant, for example – but there are also pole-dancing and strip clubs. Children mix freely with adults.
VR and the metaverse are not specifically mentioned in the UK’s forthcoming Online Safety Bill, which is due before parliament in the coming months.
But in evidence to Parliament last year, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries made it clear the legislation would cover the technology.
The bill, when passed, would impose a duty of care on platforms and providers to protect children from harmful content.
For more information please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-60415317
Locket is a widget all about photo sharing; it’s designed to let people share photos instantly with other users they have connected with. Widgets are little pieces of software that run on your tablet or phone home screen, displaying bite-sized information without making you open an application, for example the weather forecast or a media player.
Instead of sending photos via an app like Snapchat or WhatsApp, the photos automatically appear on the other person’s phone screen. It’s a bit like a private social media platform right there on your home screen. Locket is free to download and does not include in-app purchases.
Users can choose up to ten friends to connect with, all of whom must also have downloaded the Locket widget app. Once connected, the users’ photos are shared with each other via their phone’s home screen widget. Essentially, users are allowing contacts to place pictures directly onto each other’s iPhone home screen. It’s currently only available on iOS.
Potential safeguarding concerns with Locket:
Locket’s terms of service says that a user must be 13 years of age or older to create an account or use the services. However, there is no age verification process. Users simply have to check a box agreeing that they have parental permission to use it. For children who are eager to use the widget, they could simply check this box and continue on to use Locket.
With no parental controls, a child or young person could be vulnerable to seeing inappropriate images – remember, the photographs will appear instantly on their phone, without further permissions needed to send, receive, or view them. This means that inappropriate images could be shared with no warning.
Once an image is sent, there is no way to retrieve or delete it. The other user will have access to the photo in their history and on their widget. Once it has been sent, there isn’t a way to take it back via the widget.
There are many reasons why a child or young person might send an image and then regret doing so, including coercion, grooming or simply by mistake. They may feel they can trust the person they’re sending it to but there are no guarantees about what the other person will do with that image – it does not remain ‘in the widget’ and could be shared with others on other external platforms and apps.
For more information please visit: https://ineqe.com/2022/02/02/locket-widget/
Sexting: advice for professionals by NSPCC
Sexting is when people share a sexual message and/or a naked or semi-naked image, video or text message with another person. It’s also known as nude image sharing. Children and young people may consent to sending a nude image of themselves. They can also be forced or coerced into sharing images by their peers or adults online.
If a child or young person originally shares the image consensually, they have no control over how other people might use it. If the image is shared around peer groups it may lead to bullying and isolation. Perpetrators of abuse may circulate a nude image more widely and use this to blackmail a child and/or groom them for further sexual abuse.
It’s a criminal offence to create or share explicit images of a child, even if the person doing it is a child. If sexting is reported to the police, they will make a record but may decide not take any formal action against a young person.
If you have any concerns, please contact JTM’s Safeguarding Lead immediately: firstname.lastname@example.org or JTM’s Pastoral Support: email@example.com
Getting an explicit image removed from the internet
To get an explicit image removed from the internet you can:
- report the image to the site or network hosting it
- contact the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
- encourage the child or young person to get in touch with Childline.
Young people under 18 who are worried that a sexual image or video of them may have been shared online can use Childline and IWF’s Report Remove tool to see if it can be taken down.
For more information please visit:
Healthy and unhealthy relationships
Children form bonds with others at all stages of their development. Forming healthy, positive relationships helps children and young people feel safe and supported as they grow up.
But being in an unhealthy relationship negatively affects a young person’s wellbeing. They might feel anxious and nervous or not free to make their own decisions. They might have low self-esteem and depression, experience headaches or have other ongoing physical health symptoms (Women’s Aid, 2015).
It’s important that anyone who works or volunteers with children is able to recognise if something is wrong in a young person’s relationship and take appropriate action to keep them safe.
Recognising the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships
Children and young people might not always understand that a relationship they are in is unhealthy. If they have been groomed for example, they might believe they are in a healthy relationship. If they have experienced unhealthy or abusive family relationships, they might never have known any different.
This means children and young people might not always speak out about unhealthy relationships. So it’s really important that the adults around them are able to spot the warning signs.
Signs of healthy relationships:
A healthy relationship is one where a young person is respected and feels valued for who they are. It’s where they can openly share their thoughts and feelings and feel supported and encouraged.
Healthy relationships include:
- good communication
- mutual respect
- being yourself.
In a healthy relationship a person is free to make choices about their own behaviour and is not controlled or coerced into doing anything.
Signs of unhealthy relationships
An unhealthy relationship is one where a child is not being treated with respect. They might be forced or coerced into doing things they aren’t comfortable with, be made to behave in a certain way, or be made to feel they aren’t good enough. Because young people don’t always realise when they are in an unhealthy relationship, it is important that adults are able to recognise the signs.
A young person might:
- not have close relationships other than with one particular person
- be isolated from friends and family
- be prevented from working or going to school, college or university
- have their money taken away or controlled
- have access to food, drinks and day-to-day items restricted
- have their time controlled or heavily monitored
- have their social media accounts controlled or heavily monitored
- be told what to wear
- feel pressured to do things they are not comfortable with
- be put down or criticised
- experience threats of violence if they don’t behave a certain way
- experience threats to loved ones or pets
- be threatened with damage to their personal property
For more information please visit:
If you are concerned that someone you know may be in an unhealthy relationship and you have concerns, please contact JTM’s Safeguarding Lead immediately: firstname.lastname@example.org or JTM’s Pastoral Support: email@example.com