Tag Archives: Mental health

Blogs concerning mental health including what it is , prevention of mental illness, treatment and important links for readers who may have problems.


We are increasingly aware that we are living in an age where sugar consumption is spiralling out of control -outlets selling a wide variety of fizzy drinks, fashionable cupcakes and coffee shops selling cakes to eat at all times of day are al to prominent on the high street. Notwithstanding, the numerous foods on the shelves that contain hidden sugar.


As a child cakes  were considered a treat and kept for birthdays and weekends and fizzy drinks or ‘pop’ as it was known was not bought by every household. I remember the ‘pop’ man delivered the pop on a Friday, but I was told by my parents that it was unhealthy and a waste of money!  In those days if parents said that,  it was accepted and adhered to even if offered out of the home. The only fizzy drink I ever drank at home was ‘Andrews Liver salts’ tempted after watching my father flick off the lid with the handle of the teaspoon and mixing the white  powder in a glass of water.



I remember being fascinated as the water fizzed  and bubbled to the top of the glass and it wasn’t long before I sneaked into the cupboard where it was kept alongside the condiments to try it for myself when my parents were not around  – I was thrilled to have experienced drinking a fizzy drink. For those who don’t  know this medicine it was often taken as an antacid and mild laxative and my father took it regularly.

My first fizzy drink outside the home was ‘ Perrier water’ when I went on a french exchange visit at the age of 13 yrs and believe or not I was too shy to say no and drank it feeling very guilty. I certainly didn’t tell  my parents!

It is not surprising that alarm bells are ringing and people are speaking out about the association of sugar  consumption with obesity and mental health. It was in 2009 childhood obesity expert Prof Robert H. Lustig at the University of California, stated just this and following this the youtube lecture went viral. Similarly, Paul Van  der Velpen, head of Amsterdam’s health service, said that sugar is ‘the most dangerous drug of our time’ and that it is the main cause of the obesity epidemic. He believes this is because sugar is addictive and is ‘as hard to give up as smoking’. He supported research which suggested that when people are eating fats and proteins they stop when they are full, but that when they are eating sugars they will keep eating until their stomachs hurt.

As a grandmother I do feel concerned about what I see young children eat and  drink.  I am staggered by children around me who are apathic  and sluggish and so reluctant to exercise in an enthusiastic manner.

Could  there be an obvious answer in front of our eyes?

When my daughter cajoled  me to watch a film, recently released by Soda pictures a UK distributor


I have to say it seemed to answer many of these  questions.



Moreover,  when a very obese gentleman, who worked as a health care professional came in on Monday morning following my viewing this film and proceeded to tell me how he was putting on weight, feeling lethargic, apathetic and couldn’t stop snacking all day and needed medication to stop him. Infact, he had actually installed a fridge in his office to store his snacks, including his healthy cereal bars, yogurts and fruit juices! Could I help, preferably could I prescribe something?

‘Yes’ I retorted, watch this film, it’s all there!  ‘No’  you don’t need medication!

THAT  SUGAR  FILM is one man’s journey into the effect of eating the sugar that is hidden in food marketed as healthy.     Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves.

THAT SUGAR FILM will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.  It is easy family viewing, good catchy music, great graphics and even stars Stephen Fry! The message  is loud and clear and has had a significant  impact on what I eat and I will not be the doting grandmother who tempts  my grandson with hidden or overt sugar and remain slim and enjoy the numerous active sports and games that I enjoyed as a child.





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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Training and Advice


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imageRecently I had an email from a patient asking if I would  support them in attending a course with MindFood. I had to admit I didn’t know what this was about and emailed Ed Harkness from MindFood to let me know what this was all about. After reading about it on the website I asked if I could blog about as not only was I interested in this venture but I would like to promote it.​

MindFood has a vision to see people with mental health issues recover, find healing and go on to achieve their potential through growing and selling food.

They run a sensory market garden in Ealing West London
They offer people with a wide range of mental health issues a therapeutic environment where those attending can learn to sow, plant and grow a variety of fruit and vegetables.
They then go on to sell ‘food that’s good for your mood’ into local communities.

I have to say I am a keen gardener and have been all my life- I have never been  far from a garden and if is no coincidence that the consulting room looks out on a garden. I remember as a small child having a patch to grow vegetables and there was nothing more thrilling than watching things grow and even  more exciting tasting the crops . I always enjoyed growing kale, spinach and sprouting purple broccoli as they all guarantee a good productive harvest from a small packet of seeds. It amuses me now to hear my children telling me now to buy them because they are today’s superfoods! Kale chips are a strong favourite- simply bake prepared kale with olive oil or even better coconut oil at 180F  for about 15 minutes and sprinkle some chilli and paprika and sea salt on them –  delicious family favourite.

My dear uncle was a gardener for the Council and had been brain damaged after a very traumatic birth but he had a major influence on my love for gardening. He could barely read or write but he knew how to garden. He could make frozen peas grow – nothing better than his homegrown Birds Eye peas! He could tell you the colour of a tulip by the bulb and prune a tree skillfully. I loved being with him in the garden and learnt so much from him but most of all I loved the peaceful atmosphere that I felt as we chatted and worked together.

When I was in Wales as a GP it was not unusual for me to be summoned from the garden, toss of my wellies to visit a patient when I was on all each weekend. Patients knew of my interest and when they came with their various complaints would also be asking about the state of the garden or pass on tips to get rid of blight, slugs or the like.

It has been my greatest joy since I have partially retired to do more gardening. I am aware of the hours of pleasure gardening has  given me over many years,  a chance to unwind, get rid of inner frustrations by digging and a sense of achievement after weeding an overrun flowerbed or harvesting crops. I am writing this after a day in the garden – trimming the conservation hedge I planted a 3 years ago and now well established providing food and homes for several families of birds. I planted my spinach and purple sprouting broccoli along with other vegetables and will look forward again to gathering the crops later this year and weeded my herb garden.

My garden last year – summer 2014. I have created this over the past 3 years since my partial retirement and it has become my Paradise.


I was delighted when my half Danish grandson decided to call me ‘Drangma’  which is the Danish for ‘ big digger’. He obviously felt it was appropriate as one of our main activities together has been digging in the garden.

It is not surprising that I was so pleased to hear about this project which supports all that I would say about gardening.


I strongly commend this course to anyone who has had moderate or severe depression and for anyone else to either look at the website or visit the site to consider volunteering to help support ythisworthwhile project.

MindFood CIC
Cleveley Crescent,
W5 1DZ

MindFood is launching a new ‘Growing Wellbeing’ 6 week course that focuses on the 5 ways to wellbeing in a food growing environment. The course is designed to be a fun balance of learning how to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables whilst becoming more mindful of ways to improve our wellbeing.

The course is action orientated so each week we’ll discuss and commit to a specific action that will help improve our wellbeing between each session and ongoing after the course.

The five ways to wellbeing are 5 simple and practical steps that we can all take to improve our levels of wellbeing. The graphic below is an outline of the 5 ways to wellbeing and an indication of how this course will help you to engage with each one. s the course right for me?

Do you feel that poor mental health is having a negative impact on your quality of life? This course is aimed at people who experience mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems. The course is also for people who want to help prevent the onset of mental ill health e.g. an episode of depression.

When does the course run?

Our courses runs on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. The next course starts on the 12th June. (Please note lunch is not provided)

Where is the course based?

We are based in Ealing, West London on a group of allotments which are a 5 minute walk from Hanger Lane Tube station or on bus routes 83, 112, 226, 95, 487. A map of our location can be found here.

What is the cost of the course?

The 6-week course costs £30 (£5 per session). The course is subsidised through the support of MindFood’s funders.

How do I sign up?

Please register your interest or direct any queries by emailing
Alternatively you can complete the referral form and send to Ed so that we can assess whether this course would be suitable for your needs.

How many people will be on the course?

The course is limited to 6 places.

Are there other courses or opportunities that MindFood offers?

Upon completion of the 6-week course you will have the opportunity to join MindFood’s Plot to Plate programme that offers longer-term opportunities to be part of our ecotherapy social enterprise.


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One of the things I most enjoy in life is chatting with young people especially my children and their friends and relatives. I love to listen to their zest for life, their enthusiasm to explore the world around them, their hopes and thoughts of the future and most of all their wit and humour, albeit honest and direct. It is good to laugh out loud one minute and then be in serous conversation about where our world is going and what they think ought to be done. I cope with being teased, infact I  secretly enjoy it but at the same time they usually show respect for my views. It makes me feel refreshed and inspired to look out for opportunities in my life.


Hence, when I went with my youngest daughter to see The second Marigold hotel,  starring actresses such as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who I have followed since my late teens, the poignant words at the end said by Maggie Smith ” There is no present like the time” stayed with me and made me write this blog which I published whilst still writing!  It was an amusing film, not necessarily outstanding in anyway but not a bad way to spend a late dreary Sunday afternoon. For those that haven’t seen it, it is the story of a group of retired, typically English people (almost cringeworthy) who decide to go to an Indian retirement home rather than face the alternative in England. Before long amidst the chaos they find themselves finding employment of varying sorts and subsequently feeling rejuvenated and stirred into embarking on new intimate liaisons or just simply falling in love’  and generally rekindling a youthful lifestyle. Hence, Maggie Smith’s reflection at the end.


  One of the things that prevent us making the most out of time is fear. fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt or simply fear of being left alone. It doesn’t matter what age we are these feelings loom large. Many people find themselves in a rut, unfulfilled, or suffering a job which they don’t enjoy, being underpaid, putting  up with working with a bully or someone who is not pulling their weight. I hear this again and again in surgery and I know the impact it has on their lives and those close to them. Inevitably,  if they don’t move on it effects their mental or physical health or both and that’s when they appear in the surgery for help. It is interesting in Chinese medicine that ‘fear’ is the emotion related to the kidney and by weakening the kidneys this impacts on the other major organs. Also, they hold the view that the kidneys are related to fertility and because of this it is important to maintain a balance by avoiding fear and preserving kidney function to become fertile. An interesting idea and over the years I have been aware of several infertile couples becoming pregnant very quickly when they have cast cares and fears aside!

At our CQC inspection the staff were asked if they were happy and whether there was much sick leave and if they were able to talk openly and whistle blow if appropriate. Fortunately, it was remarked by the inspectors that they felt there was a positive atmosphere in the surgery and we fulfilled these criteria. I think on a day to day basis I believe for the most part we do. I also hope that if we don’t that patients and staff alike will be able to complain so that it can be redressed.

I feel very sad when I talk with young people who are trapped and can’t move on, they are lost and without direction. They fear getting a job that doesn’t sound good enough or is not paid well enough, but often taking up the most unlikely job can lead to job of your dreams. General Practice was always furthest from my thoughts, I only went the interview for the training scheme because the scheme was new and they wanted as many applicants as possible to attend in order to promote the new scheme. I was doing nothing on that afternoon and many of my friends were going so I thought I would go along . When I was offered a place I thought the jobs would be useful for my paediatric career. But at this time General Practice was under great change and before long I became drawn to it and I certainly have no regrets.

As we get older the fear can increase so that often people fear leaving the comfort of their homes. However, with the advent of easier travel and better health care I never fail to be astounded at the corners of the Earth our elderly patients venture –  from jungles to Antartica. I have often thought it would save the country a lot of money if retired people could have subsidised consecutive cruises to combat loneliness and they would receive excellent day care. I have learnt how oxygen can be arranged from country to country overcoming who is responsible from the aeroplane to the other side of passport control. This was to arrange various ambitious holidays for a patient dependent on constant oxygen, but it was a rewarding challenge! This demonstrated how determination and drive can overcome a disability. Travel is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but  it is important to make the best of life while we can and with modern technology there are ways in which the World can be brought to the home. I remember a  90 year old came into the surgery with neck pain. I asked her if she had been polishing or gardening but the she said” I have a confession to make, I bought myself a laptop for my 90th birthday and I think I have been spending too long on it!” She is by no means the only nonagenarian ‘techy’.

My message to young and old seize those opportunities whilst you can as time is precious and  not only will you enjoy life and be more fulfilled but it will preserve both your mental and physical health.


                                       There is no present like the time


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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Training and Advice


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Last year I attended an interesting lecture from a doctor that had recently been diagnosed with dementia. What impressed me was not only her courage at being able to talk about the subject but the fact that having been diagnosed in the early stages she was able to get her affairs in order and have some say in how she wanted to spend the rest of her life as well as share with others what her thoughts were about her future.

She was taking medication which can slow the disease down considerably. Moreover, the understanding and care of patients with Dementia has improved remarkably in the past 5 years. When I wrote about my mother 2 years ago it had only just been recognised the importance of Advanced Care Planning and my sister and I were able to have similar conversations with her so that she was able to have some say in where she was to live for the rest of her days, have a say in who should have her treasured possessions and even make personal similar requests such as ‘you will pluck out any facial hair, keep my hair tidy, my nails manicured, and make sure I wear  my favourite make up’ She wanted to remain smartly dressed and maintain a neat appearance this was important to her. We fulfilled her wishes as far as possible and she died wearing her usual make up, her favourite perfume, hair set and permed and wearing a clean, new nightdress. She had pictures of her family around her and playing the music she loved most.


When I recently went to see ‘Still Alice’ at the cinema not only was the acting of Julianne Moore worthy of an Oscar Award but it demonstrated how a family can be involved in the care of a relative with progressive dementia. In  the case of Alice it was a rare form of dementia which particularly strikes those of a young age, but nevertheless the message was the same. It was a compelling and emotional account of a family overwhelmed with a disease which affects all family members in many different ways,  sometimes dividing but also drawing everyone together with the common desire to help fulfil the individual’s life to the end as the person that everyone knows slowly disappears but somehow remains present.

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, you should encourage them to see their GP to talk about the early signs of dementia. If it is a relative may be accompany them . We usually screen them first by an array of blood tests to exclude simple causes which are easily treatable. If we are concerned about their cognitive function following a mini- mental health test we then refer to a older persons consultant who performs more mental tests s well as a MRI brain scan before coming to a definitive diagnosis.

Dementia is a syndrome (group of related symptoms) that indicate problems with the brain. There are several types of dementia.


One of the most common symptoms is memory loss. While there are other reasons someone might be experiencing memory loss, if dementia is detected early, in some cases its development can be slowed and the person affected may maintain their mental function. The typical features of memory loss are :-

Struggling to remember recent events
Problems following conversations
Forgetting the names of friends or objects
Repeating yourself
Problems with thinking or reasoning
Confusion in familiar places


In Ealing we have a very supportive group ‘Dementia Concern ‘ which is a group of people who support and help in the many aspects of caring for a person with dementia. Carers as we all know are amazing people who day by day and of often night after night perform the vital job of caring for someone who would fail to manage in their own home without them. They help maintain their dignity, their personal hygiene and those individual demands and requests we all have.

refer to their website to find out how they help and when the Dementia Cafe is open.

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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Training and Advice


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Candace also passed on this video as she found it helpful in describing the feelings she has gone through. It illustrates what anyone goes through when experiencing loss, albeit a serious illness, a bereavement or even the break up of a partnership. I am sure many people will identify with this giraffe and perhaps be able to raise a smile at the end!


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HestiaWhen I had an invitation to a 30 year party at our local hostel for homeless mentally ill. I was too quick to accept as I didn’t realise I had then laid myself open into having to give a speech. I thought, ” That’s not too bad as I know the staff and residents well”.Then it was revealed that ‘by the way’ the Mayor, the MP and Ealing Gazette and ….. would be there!
When I arrived I was relieved to see the familiar faces of the staff and patients- initially not immediately recognised as they had dressed up for the occasion and I was pleased I had appropriately attired.
I nervously gave the initial speech after introduction from the director of Hestia and then we had ‘the tree planting ceremony’ by the Mayor – an apple tree.

This was followed by an entertaining speech from Steve Pound who couldn’t resist relating the story of the circus elephant that was buried on Castlebar Hill many years ago when it died whilst walking from Hanwell acknowledging the elephant as being universal symbol of strength, loyalty, divinity and good luck appropriate for the siting of this important residence.
He then cut the cake!

Many of you will recognise this house which is on Castlebar Hill, Ealing and has always been known as Dame Gertrude Young House, although no-one knows exactly who she was.
The only information available is that in 1933 Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, opened the Dame Gertrude Young Memorial Convalescent Home. The building, with 4 acres of gardens, had been bequeathed to the Central London Throat and Ear Hospital by the Hospital’s Vice-President and a friend of Florence Nightingale, Col. Sir John Smith Young, on the proviso that it be used as a convalescent home for the Hospital. A liberal endowment fund was also bequeathed for its maintenance. The Home had accommodation for 26 patients – 8 males, 10 females and 8 children.

During WW2 the gardens provided vegetables for patients in the Home and its parent Hospital.

By 1964 the building had become a geriatric hospital for the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board, with 19 beds.

By 1967 it had 12 beds.

In 1976 it became a hostel for patients awaiting operation. It finally closed in 1977.

As we know it today The Dame Gertrude Young House opened in 1984. Hestia also liaise closely with Ealing council.
imageIt is run by the St Mungo Community Trust (Hestia) and has accommodation for 20 vulnerable homeless men.
What is the St Mungo Trust ( Hestia)
In 1970 Jim Horne, a man who had personal experience of homelessness, started a soup run to help people living rough around the old Covent Garden Market.

Later that year he founded the St Mungo Community Trust, and obtained the use of run-down houses at token rents, from the Greater London Council and local authorities, to provide shelter for men and women living on the streets. For nearly a decade the Trust pioneered work in this area, running the old Marmite factory in Vauxhall, the old Charing Cross hospital and other properties to provide as many as 800 people a night with accommodation. It was the dedication of the members of the Trust and of those who supported them which kept them going in conditions which would seem almost impossible today.

When I arrived in 1997 I was warned that we should not register residents permanently and they should be always accompanied on their visits to the surgery and seen at separate times after surgery hours. I was horrified at the idea as I was committed to the ethos of the National Health which serves all people without discrimination and insisted from the outset that they should registered, given a new patient check in the same way as other patients and attend surgery with everyone else. I have to say with the sensitivity and support of the surgery staff there have been no significant problems. Admittedly on occasions when receptionists have noticed that one of them has been agitated or unwell they have gently lured them away , given them a cup of tea and discretely called one of us out if surgery to attend to them, which has sometimes alerted an observant waiting patient to become disgruntled at the thought of someone being taken out of turn. Although there was one occasion when I had been warned that one resident tended to get inpatient and ready to call him in without waiting for very long but when I went to call him in he exclaimed, “We are playing I-spy and it’s my turn”.
For those that don’t know this game it is ideal to play as a family especially whilst waiting. (I-spy is a guessing game. One player chooses an object that is visible to all the players and says, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with …”, naming the letter the chosen object starts with (e.g. “I spy with my little eye something beginning with C” if the chosen object is a car). Other players have to guess the chosen object.)
All of these patients have suffered serious mental illness, often rejected by their families and friends and as a consequence become homeless and subsequently are taken from the streets and often end up having long stay hospital admissions in some cases up to a year.

As the years have gone by we have formed a more positive relationship with these residents and my feedback from the warden in charge is that they appreciate coming to the surgery and looking after them has become an important part of my work as GP. Over the years I have watched many of them ‘turn around’ to lbe rehabilitated back into the community. The staff have an amazing gift of being able to patiently motivate them and guide them into feeling a part of a community and in some cases even helping them find employment and become independent. Working alongside these dedicated staff I have learnt so many different ways of getting alongside these men who can be challenging. The ‘knock on’ effect is that I have used these skills to communicate and understand patients and their families who could be potentially as vulnerable.
It is only in the past 3 years that it has been recognised that people with severe mental health have a life expectancy
10-15 years less than the rest of the population In a study looking at 30,000 patients they found that many were dying early from heart attack, stroke and cancer rather than suicide or violence. Is was stated in the press that
‘Mental health groups say vulnerable people need to be offered better care to prevent premature deaths.’
Now the government have recommended that patients with severe mental illness should have general medical checks!

More recently I have begun giving the residents talks on health issues and have taken medical students who have then chatted to them in small groups. The atmosphere has been positive and the questions interesting and they have asked me to give more talks which I hope to do in the coming months. Along with the staff we are encouraging healthy living particularly eating habits as many have living on fast food and living a poor lifestyle.
The Round Table bought a greenhouse for them and they have started growing vegetables and I am hoping that any gardeners in Ealing will be able to donate plants or gardening items to encourage this venture.

Thank you Sandra for letting me share this special occasion and to be associated with this wonderful organisation.



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This week my attention was drawn to an article on about the increase of Yoga in Sierra Leone. I had been aware of this country with long, atrocious civil war between 1991 and 2002 and a country with one of the worst records of human rights this was not the place I thought this would be happening.
I recalled years ago one of the patient’s, a Head-teacher coming into surgery having had a difficult Ofsted inspection – not an unusual when trying to manage a multicultural, challenging school in London. She certainly wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. I particularly remember her talking about a group of new children that had entered the school: they were children that had come from Sierra Leone and had been used as child soldiers. For her it finding a way to integrate them into the school was in itself a challenge as for these 8-9 year olds who had had no childhood all they knew was war and fighting. They had been deprived of a childhood and found it difficult to just play and have fun in a childlike way.
Despite peace the aftermath of this wretched war has left indelible scars and the World Health Organisation estimate that about one sixth of the almost 6 million population have mental disorders. Albeit, they only have one psychiatrist and care of these people is poor.

Tamba Fayia taking a yoga class

Tamba Fayia taking a yoga class

Tamba Fayia, once a child soldier in Sierra Leone’s civil war, who in 2012 became the country’s first qualified yoga teacher says yoga transformed his life. He set up Yoga Strength which focuses on taking yoga to the people that need it. “I work on the streets, in the slums, in the schools” says Mr Fayia. He has even held a class on a remote river island in the jungle.
He teaches at Sierra Leone’s only mental hospital in the east of Freetown, and therapists say the classes have led to clear psychological improvements in some patients. “It makes me feel light,” one patient said
He teaches at Sierra Leone’s only mental hospital in the east of Freetown, and therapists say the classes have led to clear psychological improvements in some patients. “It makes me feel light,” said one patient.


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Recently when I was choosing a book for my grandson I started to recall the many books I had read to my own children and then I stumbled on the book ‘We are going on a bear hunt’ by Helen Oxenbury’. I remember this story as one we used to tell each other around a camp fire when I was camping with the Girl Guides many years ago! We loved to build up that fear and scream out and then that that lovely feeling when all was well. Children love to feel fear when they know they are safe and can be reassured and know there will be a happy ending and I suppose that’s why so many popular children’s stories have an element of fear attached and why theme parks are so successful. It’s not just children as adults we sometimes get pleasure by experiencing a frightening experience as long as we are can somehow remain in or regain control.

Just to remind you of the emotions and feelings of fear take a look at this video of ‘We are going on a bear hunt’

How did that make you feel, how did you feel the characters feel? Did you see the fear on their faces, feel their heart thumping, their frozen fear, their legs and body shaking, breathing accelerate and become shallow and then witness their flight from the situation to find the safe haven of the bedclothes.

We have all been there whether it is before an examination, a job interview or an audition or going to experience something or someone unfamiliar. But sometimes there is feeling that flight is impossible and the safe haven does not exist.
This famous painting ‘The Scream by Edvard Munch’ (1893) portrays the sheer agony of his personal anxiety. He was taking a stroll along a path by the side of a beautiful fjord in Norway and instead of him finding it a pleasant, relaxing experience he became full of fear and indescribable anxiety.

The screamIn his diaries this is how he describes the event:-

“I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous infinite scream of nature.”

I recall many patients who have attended surgery where fear has been so overwhelming that they feel frozen, unable to carry on, unable to face going to work or school even unable to get out of bed. One such patient came to me following a panic attack ( an extreme feeling of fear ) which occurred just before she about to sing a second Aria on Christmas Eve at the Chapel Royal. She had sung the first Aria beautifully then she became so overcome with anxiety she was unable to sing the second Aria.
She had graduated from Cambridge with a double First in Music and was about to launch on a career of being an Opera singer. She was devastated and felt her whole life had crumbled. Thankfully with treatment she overcame this anxiety and was a wonderful moment when I went to hear her sing in an Opera at St.Brides, Fleet Street. I think I was more anxious than she was! She then literally went off into the World to sing.
Other patients never make to the surgery but languish in there beds or at home too fearful to seek help.
These are the sort of patients that cannot wait in the waiting room and pace up and down the corridor or outside, desperate, on edge,trembling, asking for a glass of water or may simply walk out. Having talked to them I have shared their feelings, felt their anxiety and fears and now we try to arrange a time when they can come to be seen with a minimal waiting time, and we hopefully give them time to express how they feel because I know that if they are seen we can help treat this condition and they will ‘go off into the world and sing’
Ways we can signpost you to get help:-

    • We have an in-house counsellor Tony who sees patient on a relatively quiet time in the surgery and a chance to give space to talk.
    • a referral or self referral to IAPT
      You can phone or email as below
      Telephone 020 3313 5660
    • we recommend self help books such as:-
      A sequel to Danny Penman’s other book ‘ Finding peace in a Frantic World’
      These can be obtained from Amazon as a book or downloaded onto a kindle

‘Want a happier, more content life? I highly recommend the down-to-earth methods you’ll find in Mindfulness. Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman have teamed up to give us scientifically grounded techniques we can apply in the midst of our everyday challenges and catastrophes,’ Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
Many patients have been grateful to having this book recommended to them. – this can be easily printed This has a useful podcast from someone suffering anxiety and how it was overcome and a booklet with information and ways to help anxiety

  • join a Yoga class or follow a class on YouTube or try the following 10 poses
    which I have re blogged to follow this blog.
  • finally if you are feeling too desperate to leave your home, phone a friend or seek help outside there will always be anytime day or night a sympathetic listening ear at the end of the phone from the Samaritans. Hence, everyone reading this I suggest that as Dr Livingston and myself have done make sure the number is on your mobile or near your phone as none of us know when we may need to phone that number.

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This resource has been designed to help people with mental health concerns and people who are carers

The site is intended to give people information to help them understand mental health issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

The site is also intended to give carers useful information about the demands, stresses and implications of being a carer.

They have gathered together lots of videos, documents, quotes and tips & hints which you will find useful.

This website will give you many insights into all aspects of mental health:-

Mental health


Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Training and Advice


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I  wrote in a blog last year with guarded optimism that the stigma of mental  illness was declining but sadly at the present time nearly nine out of ten people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. This can be even worse than the symptoms themselves.
Feb 6 Today the programme Time to Change, England’s biggest programme has been launched to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

There are lots of simple, everyday ways you can support someone who has a mental health problem.


Read more tips about the different ways you can be there for someone with a mental health problem on the website below:-


Remember if you need to talk at any time of day or night any day of the year there is always someone at the end of the phone:-

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Training and Advice


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