Nearly a third of illness notes issued by GPs is for psychiatric problems, says an NHS report with a 14% rise in notes relating to anxiety and stress between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the findings were ‘alarming’ and pointed to a need for more to be done to help get people back to work.
The new NHS data analysed more than 12 million ‘fit notes’ (formerly called sick notes), issued over almost two and a half years from GP practices across England. Around half of the notes had a known diagnosis.
The NHS Digital report also revealed that fit notes for psychiatric problems were being issued for longer periods of time than other types of illness . For example, more than one in five psychiatric sick notes were issued for longer than 12 weeks, compared to only 3% of notes for diseases of the respiratory system.
Jed Boardman, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said not enough was being done to facilitate a person’s return to work.
“GPs will write suggestions on the fit note, such as staggered work days or agreeing specific goals for the returning employer – both parties need to be more active in tailoring these suggestions to that person,” he said.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, told the BBC: “These figures explain why the NHS is now putting mental health front and centre, in what was recently independently described as ‘the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses’.”
Dealing with stress and anxiety has become more common for clinical hypnotherapists, says the National Council for Hypnotherapy – the UK’s largest not-for-profit professional association for hypnotherapy, with more than 1,800 therapists across the UK on its directory.
“Hypnotherapy helps people to make changes in their behaviour. It cannot force you to make any changes against your will. Hypnotherapy commonly helps with conditions including stress and anxiety,” says the NCH.
The national body adds: “Stress is one of the major reasons people take time off work, and i nvesting in stress reduction schemes companies can increase productivity, happiness and subsequently loyalty in their employees.
“Many hypnotherapists offer special offers to businesses for stress reduction schemes at work. It is worth talking to your employer or to a local hypnotherapist to see if that this is a possibility.”
“Almost half of benefits claimants of Employment and Support Allowance in England are receiving payments as the result of mental and behavioural disorders,” he pointed out.
Anxiety can also manifest itself in different worries, explains the NCH. “It may be fear of being around other people, it may be anxiety in specific social situations, anxiety in your relationships with particular people at home, at school or at work.
“Anxiety is a fear or concern that is exaggerated, and is out of proportion to the situation, although sometimes it may not feel like this.”
An NCH hypnotherapist can help assess a person’s anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship. They will then work with the person to overcome this and lead the life they would prefer to live.
Unlike GPs, NCH hypnotherapists offer treatment sessions outside of office hours. To contact an NCH therapist near you, click h ere to access the NCH directory.
Resolve negative feelings and attitudes with clinical hypnosis at Wise Blue Owl Therapy Centre 01784 392449
Schizophrenia does not mean you have a split personality or automatically become violent, a mental health charity has warned.
Rethink Mental Illness said a survey of 1,500 people showed that the condition is widely misunderstood.
Schizophrenia commonly causes hallucinations, such as hearing voices, or delusions and can make people lose interest in life.
But it should not be "a dirty word or a term of abuse", the charity said.
The organisation warned such myths are dangerous.
One in 100 people is affected by schizophrenia during their life, but 45% of those surveyed thought the illness was much more common.
Half mistakenly thought the illness was defined by a split personality and a quarter believed it definitely led to violent behaviour.
But the reality is very different, a new campaign by the charity claims.
It is not true that "someone with schizophrenia can appear perfectly normal at one moment, and change into a different person the next", the Royal College of Psychiatrists says on its website .
And although there is a higher risk of violent behaviour if you have schizophrenia, it does not necessarily make people dangerous.
Comparatively, drugs and alcohol cause far more violence.
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them, the psychiatrists say.
Schizophrenia can affect the way individuals think, feel and behave.
Experiencing hallucinations is common and people often hear voices, which can sound very real and be critical and abusive, although they are all in the mind.Image copyright MRC Image caption Brain scans have discovered higher activity levels in part of the brain's immune system in schizophrenia patients than in healthy volunteers
Delusions can occur too, which means believing something completely and feeling like no-one else sees the world in the same way.
Other symptoms can include depression, loss of concentration and feeling uncomfortable around other people. Some people also have painful feelings in their body.
The Rethink Schizophrenia campaign said the illness can affect other aspects of life too - for example people with schizophrenia die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population on average.
And only 8% of those with the illness who want to work are currently employed.
The charity said this is because physical health problems are often missed or attributed to mental illness, and the side-effects of medication can cause complications.
Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said: "It's about time we all got to grips with what schizophrenia is and what it isn't.
"Schizophrenia can be treated and managed, just like many other illnesses. It's not a dirty word or, worse, a term of abuse."
He added that myths stopped people from getting jobs, forming relationships and getting access to the healthcare they needed.
"The symptoms of schizophrenia don't fit neatly into a box, everyone will experience it differently," he said.
"However, we can all play a role in rethinking schizophrenia, and helping to change attitudes, by learning to separate the myths from the facts."
Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was "astounding" that schizophrenia was still so widely misunderstood.
"To tackle the stigma that so many living with schizophrenia face, we have a huge task ahead of us in informing and educating the public," she said.
"We also need to ensure that more medical students choose psychiatry so that those living with schizophrenia have specialist doctors available to treat them."