This News In Mentalists – Immortal Jellyfish edition

This week’s TNIM is late and a bit rubbish because I forgot about it and then had internet connection issues. It also contains discussion of suicide and the death of a man whilst in police custody.

A major story that will effect people with both physical and mental illnesses is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold “Obamacare”:

The US Supreme Court has said President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform act is constitutional.

The court upheld a core requirement known as the “individual mandate” that Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.

Of the nine justices on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote was decisive in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favour of the law.

The ruling comes months before the US election, with Republicans vowing to push for a repeal of the bill.

Healthcare is a deeply polarising issue in the US and Republicans strongly opposed Mr Obama’s legislation.

The state of Florida, along with 12 other states, filed a legal challenge to the bill minutes after Mr Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010.

They were later joined by 13 more states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and several individuals.

Congressional leaders responded quickly to the verdict. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said: “We’ve passed plenty of terrible laws around here that were constitutional.”

The BBC also has a story on the difficulty of getting treatment if you’re a suicidal teenager.

Suicide is the most common cause of death among young men in Britain.

Figures show around 800 young people die every year but around 19,000 attempt it.

Doctors are advised to treat anyone over 16 as an adult.

When young people are no longer eligible for child services there is often a period of no support as they wait to access adult services.

They can be put at the back of long waiting lists and for some young people that means they do not get the help they need.

Adult services are different from adolescent services with different counsellors and varying treatment plans.

Meanwhile, the Guardian discusses long waits for bipolar diagnosis.

People with bipolar disorder wait for an average of 13.2 years before they are diagnosed, and often spend years receiving treatment for other conditions, a survey of sufferers has found.

Bipolar campaigners and psychiatrists say the delays are “staggering” and are worrying because those with the illness are 20 times more likely than the general population to take their own lives.

In a survey of 706 people with bipolar, it emerged that the average wait until someone was correctly diagnosed was 13.2 years. While 15% of participants did get diagnosed promptly, the other 85% experienced difficulties in having their illness identified.

The Telegraph has an interesting piece about the Conservative MP Charles Walker’s personal experience of mental illness:

Walker, who is married with three children, describes his OCD as “like a hundred little blackmails a day. You are constantly striking deals with yourself. They can be very minimal blackmails: I’m a keen fisherman and, when I’m getting my fishing tackle out of the box, I will think, ‘If I don’t put it back that way, I won’t catch any fish today.’ Then there’s medium-level threats, where if I don’t do things a certain way something bad will happen to me personally – so if I don’t switch the light on and off four times, the press will turn on me. And then there’s what I call ‘Defcon 3’, which is, ‘If you don’t do that, someone you love is going to be wiped out.’ ” Sometimes it comes out of nowhere, he says. “I’m looking at a picture of my son and the OCD says, ‘If you don’t tear this picture up, he will die.’ ”

Walker first developed OCD when he was 13 and moving schools. “It comes and goes, but it usually arrives during periods of stress, and then it lasts for 18 months to a year. If I look back, it was really bad when I went to university, it was really bad when I got my first job [in marketing], and then it was really bad when I became an MP in 2005. I was selected on a Friday, Saturday was lovely, and then on the Sunday it came back with a vengeance.”

He thinks it is all about control, “because it always happens when things are out of control in some way”. Sometimes his OCD gets so bad that he just wants “to go to the top of a mountain and scream. I can be in a room and it feels as if all of the oxygen has been sucked out.”

The Washington Post has an article on the lack of resources for mentally ill people in Virginia:

 A shortage of group homes and other community-based housing for the mentally ill keeps many patients hospitalized far longer than needed — at significant state expense and possibly in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a report that will be presented to legislators Thursday.

It costs $214,000 a year, on average, to keep a patient in a state psychiatric hospital, compared with $44,000 a year for community-based housing, according to the report, prepared by the inspector general’s office for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

With at least 70 “discharge-ready” patients stuck in state hospitals, the report says, Virginia is spending about $12 million a year on unnecessary psychiatric hospitalizations.

The Independent reports on the ongoing inquest into the death of Sean Rigg, a mentally ill man who died in police custody in August 2008.

Two 999 call-handlers have admitted to an inquest that they could have done more to alert police about the seriousness and urgency of a situation involving a mentally ill man who later died in police custody.

The inquest into the death of Sean Rigg, who died shortly after being restrained and arrested by officers from Brixton police in South London in August 2008, has heard how five 999 calls from hostel workers where he lived were treated as the lowest possible priority.

Call handler Maurice Gluck, who is recorded telling the hostel manager, Angela Wood, to go and complain to her MP is she was unhappy with the police response, told the jury that people often exaggerated about the seriousness of a situation and at the time he felt the hostel should have been able to cope with Mr Rigg’s psychosis.

On a slightly less depressing note, Al Jazeera English has a story which is more than a week old, but sufficiently awesome to be worth including anyway:

India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It also has a growing gulf between the country’s burgeoning rich and poor.

While the wealthy face issues like obesity and diabetes, the majority of the population struggles each day to find enough food to eat.

The tens of millions of Indians suffering from mental illness face even greater hardship, often abandoned by their families and surviving on the streets without care or treatment.

This uplifting and confronting film follows Krishnan Narayanan. Once destined for a high-end culinary career, Krishnan’s life changed when he met an old man living in depraved and squalid conditions.

Rejecting a lucrative European job and ignoring strict caste conventions, Krishnan now devotes his life to helping those unable to fend for themselves, cooking meals for the dispossessed, dumped and neglected in his home city of Madurai.

(Speaking of Al Jazeera English, do people think that TNIM needs to be less UK-centric? Or does it make sense that a blog that is hosted in the UK and mostly has UK-based bloggers focusses largely on UK news?)

This week’s wildcard is the weird and wonderful (and, ok, not very recent but I only just heard about it and I thought it was cool) story of a jellyfish that has the power to regenerate, apparently infinitely:

Turritopsis Nutricula is technically known as a hydrozoan and is the only known animal that is capable of reverting completely to its younger self.

It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation.

Scientists believe the cycle can repeat indefinitely, rendering it potentially immortal.

While most members of the jellyfish family usually die after propagating, the Turritopsis nutricula has developed the unique ability to return to a polyp state.

Having stumbled upon the font of eternal youth, this tiny creature which is just 5mm long is the focus of many intricate studies by marine biologists and geneticists to see exactly how it manages to literally reverse its aging process.

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About sanabituranima

I have sharp edges, but a soft centre. Catholic, female, white, middle-class, mildly socially conservative and economically lefty, nerdy, Classics student, 23, differently-brained.

One Response to “This News In Mentalists – Immortal Jellyfish edition”

  1. Thanks for this San. I must say I’m enjoying the orgy of butthurt that’s currently emanating from the American Right over today’s court ruling.

    Oh well, if it’s so odious for them to live under the banner of universal healthcare, they can always go and live in Canada, the UK, the EU, Japan….Oh wait. ;)

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