Who, What, Why: How do you assess a killer’s mental health?

BBC News

Anders Behring BreivikSelf-confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is more likely to be detained in a mental institute rather than prison, after psychiatrists in Norway declared him psychotic. How is this kind of assessment carried out?

Breivik, who admits killing 77 people and injuring 151 others in July, has been declared a paranoid schizophrenic after months of assessment.

A report by two court-appointed psychiatrists says he was psychotic at the time of the shootings and in subsequent interviews. Their findings must now be reviewed by a panel from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine.

If approved, it could mean he is detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital and will not stand trial.

So how are such assessments made? And how accurate can they really be?

Full story at BBC News

Laughter the best medicine, certified psychiatric and mental health nurse says

By Susan Shelly

Laughter In a HospitalAging, as the saying goes, is not for sissies. From being unable to remember the name of a person you’ve just met, to knees that complain as you walk up the steps, to losing the car keys for the third time that day – sometimes it’s all you can do to not just sit down and cry.

Unless, according to Rita E. Miller, a certified psychiatric and mental health nurse, you learn how to laugh.

“We all need humor, especially as we get older,” said Miller, who recently spoke to a group of residents at Penn’s Crossing, a Spring Township apartment facility for individuals 62 years or older. “Humor is one of our very best ways to cope.”

Laughing not only makes you feel good, Miller said, it triggers healthy physical changes in your body, including strengthening the immune system, boosting energy levels, lessening pain and protecting you from damaging effects of stress. It also is good for improved kidney and brain function.

Full story at Reading Eagle

Mental illness, drug abuse costs Oklahomans billions of tax dollars

By Sonya Colberg

Mental Health Tax Costs HighA somber group settled down seven years ago to consider why substance abuse and two hush-hush subjects consume thousands of Oklahomans’ lives and billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Many members of the Oklahoma Governor’s and Attorney General’s Blue Ribbon Task Force had personally seen the tragedies of untreated substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. The group of 15 hung on to the hope that, over about a year, they would come up with recommendations to save Oklahoma lives and money.

A team of nine researchers — the principal investigator jokingly called his team high-priced accountants on a $200,000 contract — plunked down their shocking research before the Task Force.

“It was a crisis then. I’d say it’s a crisis level now,” said state Health Secretary Terry Cline, a task force member.

Drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and domestic violence cost the state $3.4 billion in 2005, the report showed.

Full story at NewsOK

Awareness of mental health highlighted in computer game

BBC News

Mental Health in Computer GameCalled Shaded, the game introduces players to characters with mental health problems. The boys worked on the project for about three months.

The pupils from Settlebeck School in Sedbergh all have Asperger’s syndrome.

Currently just a concept, the idea has reached the top ten shortlist of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition.

Finlay Miles, 13, from Kendal, Matty Goad, 16, from Sedbergh and Reuben Kane, 14, from Kendal, designed the game in which the player is “Naked Edgar”, a discarded sketch thrown away by his creator, a graphic designer.

Finlay, the author, said: “We were inspired to create this game because we all have social disorders and wanted to make people think about them – it was a bit self indulgent, but it became a really fun experience.”

Full story at BBC News

Mental health: the straight and narrow?

Nursing Times

Mental HospitalWhat happens to mentally ill ex-offenders when they are released back into a community that often views them with suspicion and fear? Community psychiatric nurse Ruth White talks about keeping patients on the straight and narrow and the importance of understanding their view of reality.

Mental illness makes many of us feel uncomfortable and the resulting discrimination runs deep, despite the plethora of laws and right-on noise to the contrary. This reaction can be extreme when mentally ill offenders are released and it’s hardly surprising, given the media attention that often accompanies high-profile murder cases involving mental illness and their cumulative influence on the public psyche.

It is also highlighting misleading; reoffending rates amongst those suffering from a mental illness are low compared to ex-prisoners and the prospect of becoming a victim is highly unlikely.

It is hard to gauge what effect this backdrop of prejudice has on patients re-entering society on top of their daily struggle to manage conditions, such as bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Freedom brings its own challenges and offenders spend an average of five years in a medium security unit before being released. They often face an uphill struggle, including the day-to-day challenge of managing their condition, resisting the temptations of returning to their old life, public stigma, isolation and finding employment.

Full story at Nursing Times