Week in Review 15.05.17-21.05.17

This week Theresa May has been accused of mixing up learning disabilities with mental health. On the campaign trail in Oxfordshire, the prime minister was confronted by a woman with learning disabilities called Cathy, who passionately told her about the effect of losing her disability benefits. Theresa May answered that the Conservatives “had a lot of plans for people with mental health”.

Alicia Wood, co-founder of Learning Disability England, said: “We have experienced senior ministers responsible for welfare reform making the same mistake. The belief that a learning disability is a health problem that can be cured or improved is not the way forward when planning policy and investing in social care and welfare. It has meant that people with learning disabilities have not had the investment in the support and income they need to live equal lives.”

The Independent reported that Instagram has been ranked as having the most detrimental effect on young people’s mental health. The Royal Society for Public Health and the charity Young Health Movement conducted a survey in the first few months of 2017 of almost 1,500 young people (aged between 14 and 24) in Britain surrounding their social media usage.

They were asked to score how each social media site impacted a list of 14 health and wellbeing issues including anxiety, depressions, loneliness, sleep, bullying and ‘FoMo’ (Fear of Missing Out).

Based on the ratings, Instagram was listed as having the most negative effect. Snapchat was the second least positive platform ranking particularly badly for fear of missing out and bullying but favourably for self-expression. Facebook was in the middle, with factors including a harmful effect on sleep and a presence of bullying scoring highly. Twitter came second best in terms of the five social platforms. YouTube was the only social media platform to have a largely positive effect on mental health.

In other news the Conservatives have identified mental health as a “burning injustice” in their manifesto, promised to “break the stigma” around mental illness and said they will ensure patients are treated fairly.

However, the Independent reports, the party has not pledged any extra funding for mental health services, which doctors and campaigners say are struggling due to local authority cuts and increasing demand.

Unison called for funding to match this promise. “For too long mental health has been denied equal priority with physical health. A person with depression deserves the same treatment as a patient with a broken leg,” said Sara Gorton, the union’s deputy head of health. “But this is never going to happen unless there’s proper funding,” she said.

“Money for mental health should go to the services needing it most. The real ‘injustice’ is the Conservatives are making broad promises with no real commitment.”

The Telegraph ran a story on domestic abuse among gay men in Britain. Login

Staples’ reports that domestic abuse is prevalent among the gay male community. While women are almost twice as likely to be victims of domestic abuse as men, LGBT charity Stonewall says gay men are more vulnerable still: almost half (49%) of gay and bisexual men in the UK report experiencing at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16.

This week, Hestia are running a UK SAYS NO MORE campaign to call for an end to the silence that surrounds domestic abuse and sexual assault. Abusive LGBT relationships often present different behavioural patterns to heterosexual cases. For example, the perpetrator may encourage the victim to come out to their family in order to isolate them further. This is more common if, like Nasir, the victim comes from a religious background.

Another area of abuse that particularly affects gay men yet goes undiscussed relates to chemsex – the practice of groups of men having sex while high on drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, GHB and mephedrone. “There are people who can access the chemsex scene in a healthy way to explore their sexualityc” explains Meekings. “But there are also vulnerable people who get drawn into that scene and are targeted by perpetrators who know they’ll find victims there.” He also points out that sustained use of chemical substances can reduce a person’s empathy and inhibitions, making them more aggressive and coercive. “Often an older partner can force a younger partner to go to sex parties. The victim then feels that they can’t report it because they are feeling a lot of shame, particularly if they are closeted”