Mental health, social isolation, and financial stress: Christmas in COVID-19 (Podcast interview)

One of the exciting new projects I have been involved in is the launch of a new podcast: Real World Public Mental Health. This podcast was developed as a forum to discuss how evidence can be used in the real world to prevent mental health problems and promote better mental health. It is hosted by Stu King of the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network in partnership with a bunch of collaborators, including our NIHR Public Mental Health Programme and Public Health England.

I was delighted to participate in the second episode, which has just been released. In this episode, I join Ed Davie and Caron Walker to discuss the impact of loneliness, social isolation, and financial strain on mental health problems, with consideration to the influence of COVID-19 and the start of the holiday season. You can listen below or at this link:

Trauma and its relationship to mental health – Dr Neha Shah, Sally Armour & Laura Fischer Real World Public Mental Health

Guests:Sally Armour is the Child Health Commissioner for NHS Highland, working with the Highland Health & Social Care partnership, children and young peoples integrated service partnerships and regional planning groups in Scotland. This involves having oversight of population and wellbeing and influencing the service design and delivery of health and other services to support children and young people to achieve the best outcomes across the life course and into adulthood.Dr Neha Shah is the Public Mental Health Research and Evidence Lead at Public Health England and holds an academic post at City University. She is a qualified doctor with specialists registration in public health medicine and is a practising psychodynamic therapist. She has an interest in better understanding and addressing the factors impacting on population mental health and enhancing the quality, relevance and impact of mental health research for those that use it.  Laura Fischer is an artist, activist, lecturer, consultant and researcher. Her work weaves creative approaches with scientific methods and focuses on trauma, often with an activist agenda. She believes that trauma survivors are not powerless, broken individuals and are rather the survivors that have power and the resources to lead their own healing and growth, and contribute to the healing and growth of our communities. A key aspect of Laura's work is to develop novel interventions to respond to violence, abuse and neglect. Her main focus is the neurobiology of childhood trauma and the use of body-based methods to express and process traumatic memories to support healing and growth. In this episode, the group discusses what psychological trauma is and how it relates to mental health.  Dr Neha Shah talks about how childhood trauma can have an increased likelihood of poor mental and physical health outcomes later in life as well as the difference between types of traumas, in particular the difference between PTSD and Complex Trauma. She also discusses what trauma-informed approaches look like in non-healthcare settings. Sally Armour, from a public mental health point of view, talks about 'toxic stress', the distinction between adversity and when adversity becomes trauma and fundamental survival strategies. She touches on the importance of validating the difficulty people have in finding their innate path to recovery and discusses why some adversity and tolerable levels of stress in life are important in shaping us, but need not define us. Laura talks about research she has been involved in since the first lockdown on the impact of social distancing, particularly for young people in abusive environments. A key finding is that we really need everyone to be able to firstly recognise and then respond to trauma. There is a need to make the experience of trauma and the language associated with it understandable to the public. She raises the simple, but impactful idea that being trauma-informed is just being human-informed, looking at a person, their experiences and their perceptions – looking at the human behind the outcome. As a key takeaway, the reality is that trauma is extremely prevalent so don't dismiss it and don't turn a blind eye. Learn to recognise and respond to trauma. Contacts:@Stu_King_Hh @sallycroachy & @acehighland @Neha_D_Shah@brains_brushes
  1. Trauma and its relationship to mental health – Dr Neha Shah, Sally Armour & Laura Fischer
  2. Foundations of mental health – getting the best start in life with Professor Peter Fonagy, Dr Karen Bateson & Jabeer Butt
  3. Social Inequalities – Professor Kate Pickett, Rose Ssali & Andy Bell
  4. Workplace Mental Health – Professor Dame Carol Black, Professor Neil Greenberg, Dr Jane Suter
  5. Social Isolation, Loneliness & Financial Strain – Dr Jen Dykxhoorn, Ed Davie & Caron Walker

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