New Study Links Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder To Racism

Report states that African-Americans experience the condition at a higher rate than whites

By Juliana Lucas
A new study has found that racism can cause a person to suffer from post-traumatic stress.

The study, carried out in the US by Dr Monnica Williams, a mental health clinical psychologist and the associate director of the University of Louisville’s Center for Mental Health Disparities, proposes for changes to be made in the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

DSM-5, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by psychiatric drug regulation agencies and clinicians around the world to provide a standardised criterion for the classification of mental disorders.

Previously, according to the research: “racism was recognised as a trauma that could potentially cause PTSD, but only in relation to a specific event.”

However, under the new definition, “the requirements for fear, helplessness, and horror have been removed, making room for the more lasting effects of subtle racism to be considered in the discussion of race-based traumas.”

Williams told the Huffington Post: “The problem is these things affect our self-esteem, because when we meet a micro-aggression or some sort of slight or assault, we don’t know if it’s because of our colour, because the attacks are not blatant anymore, or if it’s because of something about us.”

At present, African-Americans experience PTSD at a prevalence rate of 9.1 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent in non-Hispanic Whites.

Researchers found that African-Americans who reported experiences of racial discrimination had higher odds of suffering from generalised anxiety disorder.

It states that “one major factor in understanding PTSD in ethnoracial minorities is the impact of racism on emotional and psychological well-being.”

#RT via via Matthew

MRC SGDP Open Day Invite Wednesday 26th June 2013

Dear all,

SGDP retrospective

Please come and join us during the day or in the evening.

Science Open day will be running from 11am – 6pm. You will be able to…

  • See your brain waves recorded on an EEG machine
  • Build a model of DNA to take home
  • Have a go at some of our research tests
  • Build a brain and learn about its structure
  • Extract and see real DNA
  • Find out about SGDP research
  • Build your own DNA model using sweets (and then eat it!)
  • Control a toy racing car using your brain waves

So please come and join us to…

  • Come and find out all about our research on what makes you, you!
  • Meet scientists and find out what they do
  • Join in with some fun activities to explain and experience the science

The Art Exhibition evening view will be from 5pm – 7pm

Please RSVP to  020 7848 0759

Kindred Minds is recruiting!

At kindred minds we are recruiting for a Co-facilitator for our BME Women’s Group.

We are looking for:

BME women’s group facilitators and organiser

A Co-facilitator to assist in running and developing some of our Kindred Minds activities, which will also include promoting the project around the borough amongst BME mental health service users in the community.

1 post – planning and preparing group in advance, running specifically themed groups, shopping, booking rooms, help set up and clear up, promote the group,  attend training and support meetings with Project Manager.

JD Womens Group Co-facilitator

Womens Group Co Facilitators Advert and App Form

The deadline for applications is 12th June with interviews the week beginning 17th June.

Many Thanks,

Helen George


Kindred Minds – A Southwark Black and minority ethnic (BME), user-led mental health project.

Office based at: Cambridge House, 1 Addington Square, LondonSE5 0HF

Office tel: 020 7358 7029


Mobile: 07809 701 434  text or call us to receive messages of Kindred Minds events.


Facebook us: Kindred Minds

Current Kindred Minds Activities:

Kindred Minds Talkshop, a BME Men’s weekly discussion group every Saturday 6.30-8.30pm @ Inspire, The Crypt, St.Peter’s Church, Liverpool Grove, SE17 2HH

Kindred Minds PoP-In fortnightly drop-in space @ Cambridge House 4-6pm on: June 6th and 20th, July 4th and 18th, August 1st, 15th, 29th, September 12th and 26th, October 10th, 24th, November 7th and 21st and December celebration.

Kindred Minds Members Committee has been formed and is working on ideas for the coming year. If you’d like to be involved let us know.

Wellbeing bulletin – June

June’s wellbeing bulletin is now available online at:

This month:

– UK child wellbeing: problems and progress
– Scale of mental health problems among students
– Resources for managers to help mental wellbeing at work
– Report from Centre for Mental Health on why girls join gangs
– Help us design a new wellbeing network logo for Lambeth and Southwark
– Funding for projects for young people aged 11-18
– Help promote cycling opportunities in Southwark

Benefits Reform Statistics Used By Grant Shapps Were Inaccurate, Says Official Watchdog

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps has been caught using false statistics to back up the government’s welfare reforms, pointing to the wrong set of numbers to imply there were nearly a million benefit cheats.

In a Sunday Telegraph article from March, Shapps is quoted saying: “nearly 900,000 people who were on incapacity benefit dropped their claim to the payments, rather than undergo a tough medical test.”

It continues: “This is a new figure, nearly a million people have come off incapacity benefit… before going for the test. They take themselves off.”

However the UK Statistics Authority said the Tory chairman had “conflated” figures to get that total.

The figure of nearly one million Shapps quoted was in fact the number of new applicants to Employment and Support Allowance who had dropped claims between October 2008 and May 2012. They had not been awarded ESA.

The actual number people who were on incapacity benefit who dropped their claim to the payments was 20,000.

UKSA chair Andrew Dilnot, responding to MP Sheila Gilmore’s enquiry, said: “Having reviewed the article and the relevant figures, we have concluded that these statements appear to conflate official statistics relating to new claimants of the ESA with official statistics on recipients of the incapacity benefit (IB) who are being migrated across to the ESA.”

He goes on to answer Ms Gilmore’s further inquiry over why so many new applicants dropped their claims, questioning Shapps’ claim that applications for ESA were dropped because of the government’s ‘tough new test.’

He writes: “In your letter, you also expressed concern about the apparent implication in the Sunday Telegraph article that claims for ESA had been dropped because the individuals were never really ill in the first place. The statistical release does not address the issue of why cases were closed in great depth, but it does point to research undertaken by DWP which suggests that ‘an important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation’.”

Sheila Gilmore told the Huffington Post UK the letter “confirmed that Grant Shapps and the Tory press deliberately misused statistics on disability benefits.

“This is part of a campaign by the Conservatives to undermine public trust in welfare. It allows them to prioritise cutting benefits ahead of taxing the richest in their attempts to reduce the deficit. That’s why in the same year that disabled people hit by the Bedroom Tax are having their weekly income slashed by £14, 13,000 millionaires are getting a tax cut of £100,000.

“To counter this I’ve been calling for the Work and Pensions Select Committee – of which I’m a member – to question DWP Ministers on this issue. Hopefully then this practice of deliberately misusing benefit statistics will stop.”

In a rebuke to the chairman, the UKSA copied the letter to Iain Duncan Smith, Bernard Jenkin MP, and the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg MP and to the National Statistician, Jil Matheson.

Iain Duncan Smith has already been criticised by the UKSA for misusing figures to promote the effectiveness of the coalition’s benefits cap on getting people into work. A petition calling on MPs to hold Duncan Smith’s use of statistics to account has now attracted more than 50,000 signatures.

David Cameron has also received a ticking-off from the official statistics watchdog over his claim that the Government was “paying down Britain’s debts”.

The Prime Minister’s assertion in the Conservative Party political broadcast sparked a furious complaint by Labour, which described his comments as “deliberately misleading” as the debt was actually rising.

Chair of the UK Statistics Authority Andrew Dilnot confirmed that public sector net debt has risen from £811 billion in 2010 when the coalition took office to £1.1 trillion at the end of last year.

Responding to Labour’s complaint, Mr Dilnot said it was important that politicians distinguished correctly between accumulated and annual public sector borrowing – which has come down under the coalition.

Grant Shapps’ office has not yet responded to a request for comment made by the Huffington Post UK.

#RT via

Avatars ease voices for schizophrenia patients

By Lorna Stewart

Use of an avatar can help treat patients with schizophrenia who hear voices, a UK study suggests

The trial, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, focused on patients who had not responded to medication.

Using customised computer software, the patients created avatars to match the voices they had been hearing.

After up to six therapy sessions most patients said their voice had improved. Three said it had stopped entirely.

The study was led by psychiatrist emeritus professor Julian Leff, who spoke to patients through their on-screen avatars in therapy sessions. Gradually he coached patients to stand up to their voices.

“I encourage the patient saying, ‘you mustn’t put up with this, you must tell the avatar that what he or she is saying is nonsense, you don’t believe these things, he or she must go away, leave you alone, you don’t need this kind of torment’,” said Prof Leff.

“The avatar gradually changes to saying, ‘all right I’ll leave you alone, I can see I’ve made your life a misery, how can I help you?’ And then begins to encourage them to do things that would actually improve their life.”

By the end of their treatment, patients reported that they heard the voices less often and that they were less distressed by them. Levels of depression and suicidal thoughts also decreased, a particularly relevant outcome-measure in a patient group where one in 10 will attempt suicide.

Treatment as usual

The trial, conducted by Prof Leff and his team from University College London, compared 14 patients who underwent avatar therapy with 12 patients receiving standard antipsychotic medication and occasional visits to professionals.

Later the patients in the second group were also offered avatar therapy.

Only 16 of the 26 patients completed the therapy. Researchers attributed the high drop-out rate to fear instilled in patients by their voices, some of which “threatened” or “bullied” them into withdrawing from the study.

New treatment options have been welcomed for the one in four patients with schizophrenia who does not respond to medication. Cognitive behaviour therapy can help them to cope but does not usually ease the voices.

Paul Jenkins, of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We welcome any research which could improve the lives of people living with psychosis.

“As our Schizophrenia Commission reported last year, people with the illness are currently being let down by the limited treatments available.

“While antipsychotic medication is crucial for many people, it comes with some very severe side effects. Our members would be extremely interested in the development of any alternative treatments.”

Next phase

A larger trial featuring 142 patients is planned to start next month in collaboration with the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry.

Prof Thomas Craig, who will lead the larger study, said: “The beauty of the therapy is its simplicity and brevity. Most other therapies for these conditions are costly and take many months to deliver.

“If we show that this treatment is effective, we expect it would be widely available in the UK within just a couple of years as the basic technology is well developed and many mental health professionals already have the basic therapy skills that are needed to deliver it.”

#RT via via Andrea

Confronting the Collection at the Bethlem Museum

As readers of this blog will probably be aware, the Bethlem Archives and Museum is preparing to move in 2014. At present, the Museum is working on designs for the new permanent exhibition, and would like to ask TWIG Ops readers for feedback on a number of topics. This new series expands on previous Bethlem Blog posts ( around Curatorial Conversations, and each is linked to a short survey. Please do take five minutes to complete each questionnaire, as your answers will be vital in shaping the new Museum of the Mind.

The first topic we want to explore is what doors and windows mean to you. In their simplest architectural form, these items allow a view or movement from one space to another. Both can, however, mean a lot more to us symbolically, depending on such things as the type of door, whether it is open or closed, or its location.

The link below will take you to a short survey, in which you will be asked five questions about doors and windows as symbols. We will be very grateful for your feedback, all of which will be presented to the museum designers.

Click here to take survey (link: