Raj Persaud in conversation - the podcasts ((6) psychiatry at the cutting edge academic psychiatrists and psychologists discuss the latest research findings)

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links




The Voices Within




The Voices Within is a book about the voices in our heads. It is published by Basic Books in the US and by Profile Books/Wellcome Collection in the UK.

The Voices Within was picked as a top neuroscience book of 2016 by Forbes and a science book of the year by the Observer and ABC. It was chosen as a top spring science book by Nature and selected as a summer reading pick in the Guardian and Times Higher Education. It was the subject of an essay-review in the New Yorker.

I spoke about the themes of the book on the Diane Rehm Show, and discussed them in this Q&A with The Atlantic. These pieces for TIME Ideas and the LA Times explore the benefits of talking to yourself. I spoke about these ideas on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week; you can listen again here. You can also see me speaking about the themes of the book in this talk for 5x15 and in this Royal Institution lecture. The book featured in a Guardian Books podcast. An abridged extract from the book was published by BBC Future.

Translation agreements have been concluded for German, Spanish, French, Turkish, Italian, Korean and simplified Chinese.

Order from the Guardian BookshopHive.co.uk or Amazon.com.






'A lucid, authoritative survey of our current knowledge… The author’s investigations, at once scientific and humane, represent the discipline of psychology at its rare best.' Raymond Tallis, Wall Street Journal

'An intriguing and deeply humane book… particularly good when addressing the role of inner voices in creativity… In ‘The Voices Within’, [Fernyhough] has again rendered complicated mental experience without losing its human texture.' Casey Schwartz, New York Times Book Review

'Fernyhough’s book … provides enough science to ground the argument, but the real achievement here is the writing. The author is a psychologist and a novelist, and his prose has a narrative feel that separates it from most books on the psych shelf. The subject is one of the tough brain conundrums that’s far from settled; we’ll be trying to figure out the role of the inner voice long from now, but Fernyhough’s book is a readable take on what we know and where the questions may go next.' David DiSalvo, Forbes Brain Books of 2016.

'From explaining the hurdles of studying our internal dialogue to setting the record straight on schizophrenia and “hearing voices,” this book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the voices in their heads.' DiscoverMagazine

'Fernyhough has built up an interesting picture of inner speech and its functions… making a case for the role of inner speech in memory, sports performance, religious revelation, psychotherapy, and literary fiction.' The New Yorker

'This sophisticated and appealing work scrutinizes a tangled topic with aplomb and will leave readers permanently observing their own thought processes differently. Perfect for readers of Oliver Sacks and Malcolm Gladwell.' Booklist (starred review)

'After reading the book, I couldn’t help noticing my thoughts more closely—asking myself, Is this dialogic thinking? or What perspective was that voice taking?At one point, there’s mention of “the idea that, when we internalise dialogue, we internalise other people. Our brains, like our minds, are full of voices.” For me, at least for now, one of those voices is Fernyhough’s.' New York Magazine, The Science of Us


'Though the book is not about creativity per se, one of its highlights is its fascinating insight into the process of artistic creation, particularly writing. In another high point, the narrative gently prods readers into a wider and more empathetic view of pathologies such as aural hallucinations. Fernyhough's book is a valuable addition to the literature surrounding the unending human quest to understand the location—and the creation—of the self.' Publishers Weekly

'Fernyhough examines the phenomenon of "inner voices," which manifests in two broad components: the more or less ordinary business of talking to oneself and the more fraught existence of voices inside one's head... with much to say about how the brain works at the interface of thought and language.' Kirkus Reviews

'This expansive review offers a stimulating blend of theory, research, and insight on inner speech and voice hearing that will complement more prevalent behaviorist and biomedical perspectives.' Library Journal

'A book that will challenge some of our preconceptions about how we think and how "the voices within" may be plentiful, or infrequent, helpful or problematic and variable from person-to-person. This is a valuable book for those who want to understand one important aspect of our human mind.' New York Journal of Books

'Intriguingly challenges conventional assumptions about the self as unified and coherent, while also posing the question: how might that which we deem pathological be shaped by the mores of our times?' Christine Gross-Loh, Guardian summer reading picks.

'As enlightening as it is surprising… By entwining inner voice theories, research, and data into easy-to-digest literary, pop culture, and personal anecdotes, Fernyhough has (quite intentionally) crafted a book that reads like a novel but never strays from its carefully examined scientific foundation.' Kirkus Reviews author interview

'Charles Fernyhough isn't just a scholar and a scientist, he is also a novelist, and this book reflects his unusual combination of gifts. It is an engaging and humane exploration of the experience of voices in our heads, delving into the origin of these voices in children, their contribution to problem-solving, creativity, and religious experience, their role in madness, and much else. This is a beautifully written and fascinating work.' Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and author of Just Babies

'Perceptive, illuminating and humane.' Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being

'Fascinating and elegantly humane... [Fernyhough’s] book is refreshingly interdisciplinary in its insistence that philosophy and literature are going to be just as important investigative tools for this subject as clinical psychology and brain scan.' Steven Poole, Guardian

Fascinating… the book traces in detail (the footnotes are just as interesting as the text) the various attempts to pin down inner voices… an expert blend of the scientific and artistic.' Erica Wagner, New Statesman

'Persuasively unravels connections between the voices we hear inside and the words we say out loud... an elegantly written survey.' Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

'If Fernyhough is to be believed, there is a sense in which we are visited all the time by good or bad angels and it is the ability to question and discriminate that distinguishes creative thoughtfulness from madness... His book, The Voices Within, is the intriguing result of his research.' Salley Vickers, Observer

'Fascinating… thought provoking… intriguing… clear presentation of the slippery nature of both our inner and spoken worlds.' Suzanne O’Sullivan, Lancet

'Stimulating and fruitful... A fascinating tour d'horizon.' Mike Jay, Literary Review

'Profound and eloquent... an intriguing array of fresh findings and perspectives.' Douwe Draaisma, Nature

'Compelling… reassures those of us who worry that we have a chorus of voices jabbering in our heads.' Mail on Sunday

'This is a truly exceptional book for its scope, richness of detail and originality… a book that informs as well as provoking thought and reflection… It is quite simply a remarkable book.' British Journal of Psychiatry

'With its extensive illustrations of the creative effects of inner speech and voice-hearing, sane and mad, [The Voices Within] is a thought-provoking and engaging read.' Times Higher Education

'Fernyhough presents his work as a wide-ranging investigation, spanning psychological research – including the brain-plundering marvels of fMRI – as well as philosophy, spirituality, literature and the arts. If there’s a drawback to The Voices Within, it’s that it may make you spend even more of your waking hours listening to yourself think.' The Saturday Paper(Australia)

'Utterly fascinating... the main joy of Fernyhough’s book comes from watching him chase down the faintest conceptual ripples extending outward from the ideas he discusses.' The National (UAE)

'A surprisingly humanitarian approach to a necessarily human topic… a vital, illuminating, engaging exploration of the things that make us who we are.' Ilkley Gazette

'Most of us talk to ourselves. In fact, many people describe their thoughts as being like a conversation between the different voices of their consciousness. In his eye-opening new book, Charles Fernyhough explores this inner speech, revealing what purpose it serves, what it says about us, and what it can tell us about those who experience hallucinated voices.' BBC Science Focus



I was born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1968, and educated at Brentwood School, Essex, and Queens’ College, Cambridge, where I read Natural Sciences.

I returned to Cambridge to study for a PhD in Developmental Psychology, which I was awarded in 1995.

My writing has been published in several anthologies, including New Writing 11 and New Writing 14, and my books have been translated into eleven languages.




Photo credit: Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images


My awards include a Time to Write Award from the Northern Writers’ Awards and an Arts Council of England Grant for the Arts

I have taught creative writing, with a particular focus on psychological processes in reading and writing, in a variety of contexts around the UK, including a short course on Creative Writing and Psychology at Newcastle University. Between 2004 and 2006 I worked as a mentor on the British Council’s Crossing Borders project for African writers.

I have appeared at festivals in Barcelona, Sydney, Durham, Newcastle, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Hay-on-Wye, LSE, Wigtown and Bath.

I work as a part-time Professor of Psychology at Durham University, with interests in child development, memory and hallucinations.

  photo credit, it’s Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images

Dr Charlotte Hanlon is a British psychiatrist who lives and works in Ethiopia, linked to Addis Ababa University and King’s College London. Dr Hanlon provides clinical supervision to psychiatric trainees working in general adult psychiatry in Ethiopia. She co-ordinates a PhD programme in mental health epidemiology at Addis Ababa University, from which 6 Ethiopian students have graduated and a further 20 students are enrolled. Her research interests focus on public mental health, women’s mental health, cultural validity of measurement, intervention studies and health service and system implementation research. She is research director for the Programme for Improving Mental health carE  (PRIME:www.prime.uct.ac.za) which is developing evidence to support scale-up of integrated mental health care, and country lead for the ASSET project (health system strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa: https://www.healthasset.org) and PST project (adaptation and piloting parent skills training for child developmental disorders).

Dr Hanlon works to support efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health to scale up mental health care in Ethiopia and is a member of the Ministry’s technical working group on mental health. Dr Hanlon and Professor Vikram Patel have just co-edited a revised version of Where there is no Psychiatrist (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/where-there-is-no-psychiatrist/47578A845CAFC7E23A181749A4190B54) to support the delivery of integrated mental health care in primary care settings.

Dr. Hanlon received her PhD in psychiatric epidemiology from the University of London, a master's in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and her medical degree from the University of Oxford. 

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links





Delusions, in their many different manifestations, are central to the concepts of madness and psychosis. Yet what causes them remains in many ways a complete mystery. McKenna's Delusions is the first comprehensive attempt to tackle one of the most arresting phenomena in psychiatry: an in-depth and critical review of what delusions are, the forms they can take and how they might be explained from both psychological and biological perspectives. Delusions covers key topics such as the clinical features of delusions, the disorders they are seen in, other oddities that resemble them in both health and disease and the different approaches that have been taken to try and understand them. It is an essential book for psychiatrists and psychologists who work with delusional patients, as well as being of interest to neuroscientists engaged in research into major psychiatric disorders.

Peter McKenna qualified in medicine in the university of Birmingham and has a degree in psychology and physiology from the university of Oxford. He worked as a clinical psychiatrist in Cambridge and then became professor of psychiatry in Glasgow. His research focuses on neuropsychological aspects of schizophrenia and other major mental disorders and their relationship to symptoms and brain function. He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is the author of a book on schizophrenia (currently in its 2nd edition). He is also, with a linguist, Tomasina Oh, the co-author of a book on on disordered speech in schizophrenia. For the last five years he has worked as a senior researcher in FIDMAG and is a principal investigator in the CIBERSAM mental health research network.

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links



Some surprising causes of mental illness - interview with Ardesheer Talati Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center

Raj Persaud talks to Ardesheer Talati.

Ardesheer Talati’s research focuses on understanding long-term clinical, behavioral, and neurobiological problems in offspring that result from prenatal exposures.  Two particular areas of interest are tobacco and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant exposures during pregnancy. Although the rates of smoking have decreased in the general population, about 5-10% of women smoke during pregnancy today. On the other hand, the rates of antidepressant medication use have been rising. When used in pregnancy, both nicotine and SSRIs cross the placental and the blood-brain barriers and thus can enter the developing fetal brain.  His research focuses on trying to understand what (if any) the long term consequences of these exposures are, with a particular focus on brain development. For example, he tests whether maternal smoking or use of SSRIs during pregnancy impairs normative development of fetal brain structure, connectivity, and circuitry; and if so, whether those alterations persist through childhood development and increase risk for clinical or behavioral disorders.

American Journal of Psychiatry Volume 170, Issue 10, October 2013, pp. 1178-1185

Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder in Offspring

Ardesheer Talati, Ph.D., Yuanyuan Bao, M.S., Jake Kaufman, B.A., Ling Shen, Ph.D., Catherine A. Schaefer, Ph.D., and Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H


Why are the children of depressed parents more likely to die earlier and from unnatural causes?

Dr Raj Persaud talks to Professor Myrna Weissman about what happens to the children of depressed people


There was increased mortality in the children whose parents had serious depression (5.5% compared with 2.5%) due to unnatural causes, with a nearly 8-year difference in the mean age at death (38.8 years compared with 46.5 years in the control group - children of parents without depression).


From The American Journal of Psychiatry Volume 173, Issue 10, October 01, 2016, pp. 1024-1032


Offspring of Depressed Parents: 30 Years Later


Myrna M. Weissman, Ph.D., Priya Wickramaratne, Ph.D., Marc J. Gameroff, Ph.D., Virginia Warner, Dr.P.H., Daniel Pilowsky, M.D., M.P.H., Rajni Gathibandhe Kohad, M.D., M.P.H., Helena Verdeli, Ph.D., Jamie Skipper, M.A., Ardesheer Talati, Ph.D.


While the increased risk of psychological problems in the biological offspring of depressed parents has been widely studied and replicated, the long-term outcome through their full age of risk is less known. The authors present a 30-year follow-up of biological offspring (mean age=47 years) of depressed (high-risk) and nondepressed (low-risk) parents.

One hundred forty-seven offspring of moderately to severely depressed or non-depressed parents selected from the same community were followed for up to 30 years.

The risk for major depression was approximately three times as high in the high-risk offspring. The period of highest risk for first onset was between ages 15 and 25 in both groups. Pre-pubertal onsets were uncommon, but high-risk offspring had over 10-fold increased risk. The increased rates of major depression in the high-risk group were largely accounted for by the early onsets, but later recurrences in the high-risk group were significantly increased. The high-risk offspring continue to have overall poorer functioning and receive more treatment for emotional problems. There was increased mortality in the high-risk group (5.5% compared with 2.5%) due to unnatural causes, with a nearly 8-year difference in the mean age at death (38.8 years compared with 46.5 years).

The authors of the study conclude that the offspring of depressed parents remain at high risk for depression, morbidity, and mortality that persists into their middle years. While adolescence is the major period of onset for major depression in both risk groups, it is the offspring with family history who go on to have recurrences and a poor outcome as they mature. In the era of personalized medicine, until a more biologically based understanding of individual risk is found, a simple family history assessment of major depression as part of clinical care can be a predictor of individuals at long-term risk.

Could warming up the body cure depression?

Raising Body Temperature Relieves Depression Symptoms, Small Study Finds




Madison, Wisconsin — Raising the body temperature of depressed volunteers to the equivalent of a mild fever improved their symptoms of major depression for as long as six weeks after a single treatment, results from a new study show.


Researchers led by Dr. Charles Raison of the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a small, double-blind trial to test whole-body hyperthermia as a novel treatment for major depression.


They evaluated the depressed volunteers on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and found that 60 percent of them had a response and 40 percent met the criteria for remission of depression during at least one assessment after having received the treatment.


“Our hope is to find better and faster-acting treatments for depression than the antidepressants currently in use,’’ says Raison. “We think that using heat to stimulate the skin activates serotonin-producing cells in the mid-brain, which then produce a change in how the brain functions. In a way, one might think of this pathway from the skin to the brain as a deep-brain stimulator crafted by evolution. We tap into this pathway because heat makes the brain feel happy.”


The researchers used a whole-body hyperthermia device to raise the body temperatures of 16 volunteers to 38.5 Celsius, the equivalent of about 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Another 14 were randomized to a “sham” procedure that had them lie inside the hyperthermia device with fans and lights, but only a small amount of heat, not the intense infrared heat that produced the full treatment.


“Our sham intervention was so realistic that most of the participants (10 of 14) thought they were receiving the real treatment,’’ says Raison. That is important, because it suggests the antidepressant response was not due primarily to placebo factors associated with the treatment.


The real hyperthermic treatment improved depression scores by a mean of 5.67 points more than the sham at week one and a mean difference of 4.83 points at six weeks after the treatment. The HDRS rates scores of 0 to 7 to be normal, 8 to 13 to indicate mild depression, 14 to 18 to indicate moderate depression and 19 and above to indicate severe and very severe depression.


Researchers screened 338 volunteers and wound up with 34 patients with HDRS scores of 16 and above. The two arms began with 17 volunteers each, but with dropouts, 15 wound up completing the whole-body hyperthermia and 14 the sham treatment.


Those receiving the active treatment were in a type of tent, and were heated on their chest by infrared lights and on their legs with infrared heating coils. After their body core temperature reached 38.5 degrees Celsius (usually after about an hour and half) the heat was turned off and they were allowed to cool for an hour.


A week after treatment, researchers who were blinded to whether the volunteers had the real treatment or not assessed their depression levels using HDRS. Further assessments were made at two, four and six weeks. Self-reports also showed lessening of symptoms, although not as dramatic. Both groups reported only mild adverse effects.


“We were surprised to see that the effect (of reduced depression symptoms) was still present six weeks after the initial treatment,’’ Raison says.


Co-author Christopher Lowry, associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, showed in an earlier study that whole-body heating activates neurons in the brain that synthesize the neurochemical serotonin, an effect that is shared by antidepressant drugs. In addition, Lowry said, “We know that warming the skin activates areas of the brain where activity is low in depressed patients.”


One brain area activated by heating the skin, the medial orbitofrontal cortex, is involved in the regulation of mood. This area of the brain responds to pleasant sounds, smells, images, tastes and other stimuli. A premise of the research is that certain sensory pathways evolved to mediate antidepressant-like responses. Lowry says depression is associated with over-activity of the brain’s default-mode network, which is engaged when a person is ruminating.


But throughout evolution, certain conditions made such a state of mind “extremely maladaptive,” Lowry observes. Extreme heat would demand that people shift their attention from internal thoughts to the external world.


Raison says that the current study extends results from an earlier open-treatment study his group did in Switzerland in inpatient volunteers with major depression. Hyperthermia has been used for many years, primarily in Europe, as part of a cancer-fighting regimen, although whole-body hyperthermia to treat cancer typically raises the body temperature to temperatures much higher than used in the depression studies.


According to Raison, the results of the small study are encouraging, but he cautions that because the sample size was small, more research is needed to determine how hyperthermia should be optimally delivered in terms of the temperature used and the amount of time patients are exposed to the heat. Additionally, the results may have been confounded by volunteers’ expectations that the treatment would work.


Raison is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families in the UW School of Human Ecology. He is also a member of the psychiatry faculty in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.


The study was conducted at the University of Arizona and funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Depressive and Bipolar Disorder Alternative Treatment Foundation, the Institute for Mental Health Research, the Braun Foundation and Barry and Janet Lang and Arch and Laura Brown.


Clint Talbott, communications director at CU-Boulder’s College of Arts and Sciences, contributed to this report.

Does Extremism Protect You From Depression?

Professor Jeremy Coid completed medical training at Sheffield University and training in Forensic Psychiatry at the Maudsley and Broadmoor Hospitals.


He was trained in research at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, where he completed his MD.


As Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist he established the medium secure service to East London for mentally disordered offenders.


He has extensive experience of giving evidence in court as an expert witness in cases of serious violence, sexual offending, and on childcare. He has been an advisor to the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence on management of high risk offenders.


He was appointed Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry in 1987 and awarded a personal chair in 1995.


This Podcast focuses on the recently published paper entitled: ‘Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men’ published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich

Background (from the paper)

There is growing risk from terrorism following radicalisation of young men. It is unclear whether psychopathology is associated. Aims: To investigate the population distribution of extremist views among UK men. Method: Cross-sectional study of 3679 men, 18–34 years, in Great Britain. Results: Pro-British men were more likely to be White, UK born, not religious; anti-British were Muslim, religious, of Pakistani origin, from deprived areas. Conclusions: Men at risk of depression may experience protection from strong cultural or religious identity.



The prevalence of depression was significantly higher among Pakistani and Black minority groups than UK-born White men...

The key finding was that men... with neutral or undecided views, were more likely to be depressed. Anti-British extremist views may have offered protection against depression, specifically among men of Pakistani origin. These findings correspond to the hypothesis that lack of personal identity and meaning, with unfulfilled need for belonging, create psychological vulnerability both to extremism and anxiety and depression. Within this theoretical framework, attributing blame, identifying responsible perpetrators, strong national or other cultural identity, and active support for or opposition to a cause, may protect against depression. For some men, depression may be a precursor to ‘mobilisation’, leading to active support for and consideration of involvement in terrorism or armed conflict along a pathway of radicalisation. Lack of identity and uncertainty, together with depression, may contribute to a vulnerable state in which personal crisis can act as a trigger, resulting in an opening for new beliefs and values, encouraged by people holding similar values that legitimise violence. Relatives’ and friends’ experiences of social exclusion, including poverty and reported experiences of racism, may have influenced these individuals to take a more active position. Factors such as turning to religion or new political beliefs triggered by a war (against people with similar cultural and religious characteristics) could result in a protective sense of empowerment involving new meaning, belief systems and identity along a pathway ultimately leading to violent action. However, since we cannot determine the direction of association in this cross-sectional survey, respondents with depression may simply have been less likely to fight for or against their country or to hold extreme views because of their depression.


If you hear voices - does that mean you are going to go insane?

Dr Kelly Diederen is a neuroscience researcher based at the University of Cambridge and has recently published a paper in the academic journal ‘Psychological Medicine’ which follows up a group of adults who hear voices but who are not formally diagnosed as psychotic – what happens to these people over a period of time?


Daalman K, Diederen KMJ, Hoekema L, van Lutterveld R, Sommer IEC (2016), “Five year follow-up of non-psychotic adults with frequent auditory verbal hallucinations: are they still healthy?” Psychological Medicine 1-11

Does Eating More Fish Cure or Prevent Depression?

Walk into any health food shop and you would think that  omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) were a panacea for all ills - the hype for these dietary supplements arises from recent research which appeared to find various benefits but now a study published by Brian Hallahan and colleagues attempts to pool all the data accumulated on the subject and cut through to the truth.

From the original recently published paper by Brian Hallahan and colleagues

Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression* Brian Hallahan, Timothy Ryan, Joseph R. Hibbeln, Ivan T. Murray, Shauna Glynn, Christopher E. Ramsden, John Paul SanGiovanni and John M. Davis

The British Journal of Psychiatry 1–10. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160242

Many randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have reported beneficial effects for omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) in bipolar and major depressive disorder, but others have reported essentially no effect.... possible explanatory factors: (a) that only eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant formulations of omega-3 HUFA have an antidepressant effect;37,38 and (b) that the putative antidepressant effects of omega-3 HUFAs only occur in episodes of diagnosed clinical depression...

The study found that:  

Among participants with diagnosed depression, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant formulations (450% EPA) demonstrated clinical benefits compared with placebo... whereas docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-predominant formulations (450% DHA) did not. EPA failed to prevent depressive symptoms among populations not diagnosed for depression.


Being A Syrian Refugee - is this the toughest test of anyone's mental health?

Interview with Ruth Wells - lead author on new paper on mental health of Syrian Refugees published in the British Journal of Psychiatry - From the introduction in the paper:

The United Nations (UN) has labelled the current Syrian conflict as the worst humanitarian crisis that has occurred within the first part of the 21st century. It is estimated that there are in excess of 4 million displaced Syrian refugees in the Middle East and over 629 000 who have been displaced to Jordan, the focus of this review. Although many displaced Syrians live in refugee camps, the largest being Za’atari camp which is home to over 120 000 people, the vast majority live in the host community. In Jordan, people from Syria have limited access to work permits and are often required to work in the informal sector to secure livelihood. Those registered with the UN are eligible to access some cash assistance, food vouchers and education and health systems, although the health system has struggled to keep up with demand. Stressors inherent in forced displacement,5 combined with exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs) during conflict, are likely to contribute to the development of heightened mental health difficulties in such settings.


From the introduction to this new paper

Psychosocial concerns reported by Syrian refugees living in Jordan: systematic review of unpublished needs assessments Ruth Wells, Zachary Steel, Mohammad Abo-Hilal, Abdul Halim Hassan and Catalina Lawsin

The British Journal of Psychiatry 1–8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.165084

Ruth Wells, BSc, University of Sydney, Australia; Zachary Steel, PhD, MClinPsych, School of Psychiatry, University New South Wales, The Black Dog Institute, Hospital Road, Prince of Wales Hospital, New South Wales, Australia; Mohammad Abo Hilal, MD, Syria Bright Future; Abdulhalim Hasan, MD, American Medical Center, Erbil, Iraq; Catalina Lawsin, PhD, Department of Behavioral Sciences, RUSH Medical Center, Chicago, USA