Lawyers' wellbeing; sociable brains; young peoples' mental health advisory group
A recent poll of junior lawyers suggested that 93% of participants experienced distress in the last month and 19% had felt unable to cope. Those across the legal profession are experiencing higher than average levels of stress, anxiety and alcohol abuse. Can the profession adapt to openly accommodate wellbeing to balance the demands of the job? Claudia Hammond talks to Emma Jones, Senior Lecturer in Law at the Open University who is now conducting research with the charity LawCare on mental health in the legal profession, and Alex McBride, who’s a criminal barrister turned author.
We all know that some of us are more sociable than others, depending on our personalities, experiences and the situations we find ourselves in. But could the microbes in our gut also play a part? John Cryan of the APG Microbiome Centre in Cork discusses his latest observations across species and in humans.
Three quarters of mental health problems first occur before we reach our mid-20s. Yet much of the research is done with adults. Dame Til Wykes, Professor of Clinical Psychology & Rehabilitation at Kings College London, discusses a new initiative - the young people mental health advisory group - to ensure the best possible research is being carried out through liaison with a group of teenagers who have experienced mental health difficulties themselves.
Producer Adrian Washbourne
Magic and gender bias
The Wounded Healer, also known as Dr Ahmed Hankir, Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Kings College London, tours the world talking about his experience of mental ill health and attacking stigma. But how does his lived experience impact his clinical practice? Joining Claudia and Ahmed in the studio to discuss the issues is Dr Sri Kalidindi,, consultant rehabilitation psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
While traditionally magicians have been men, there are more and more successful women entering the male dominated industry. But do they have to work harder to impress? Gustav Kuhn from Goldsmiths University of London and colleagues carried out a study revealing a very strong gender bias but this was erased comparatively simply by asking people to work out how the magic tricks worked.
Technology companies are developing artificial intelligence that can detect your mood. They are doing this by reading facial expressions but is this too simplistic an approach? Lisa Feldman Barrett at North Eastern University in the US questions whether the psychological research is being interpreted in the right way. Gary McKeown, a psychologist from Queens University Belfast, joins the discussion.
Studio guest is Professor Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster.
Acceptance and commitment therapy; Million Minds tour; Personality traits and spending behaviour
Acceptance and commitment therapy is an evolving talking therapy that is being used to address anxiety and depression. Rather than challenging negative thoughts, patients are trained to embrace them, Claudia Hammond hears how it's now being trialled for the psychological challenges that come with a number of physical conditions from muscular dystrophy to cancer.
We're at the culmination of the Million Minds tour - an attempt to reclaim the world record for the largest mental health lesson, which draws together psychologists, top performers and school children, aiming to break the teenage stigma surrounding mental health issues.
And with more financial transactions taking place online that ever before, can our digital footprint accurately reveal traits of our personality?
Claudia Hammond's guest is psychologist Prof Daryl O'Connor from Leeds University
Producer: Adrian Washbourne
Tackling Mental Health Myths
The National Gallery is launching a new tour with the help of young people from the McPinn Foundation challenging stereotypes in mental health. The tour focuses on works of art which confront commonly held myths. Claudia meets Lucy who was diagnosed with anorexia at 13 and Helen Fisher from the Institute of Psychiatry , Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, Kings College, to see their favourite exhibits including “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” by Joseph Wright 'of Derby' and “The Vision of the Blessed Gabriele” by Carlo Crivelli. A magnificent domed room which hosted daily piano concerts during the Second World War and survived the bombing demonstrates the resilience often felt by people recovering from mental ill health. The tour is available for free until 10th April 2020 via smartphones. (tiny.cc/ngmentalhealth)
Studio guest Mathijs Lucassen of the Open University discusses his latest research on LGBT teenagers and mental health.
Plus, most people are used to the idea that as we get older there is a diminishing of our abilities, but Professor Roger Kreutz of Memphis University in his book “Changing Minds” demonstrates that language is one skill that can just get better. And with the aim of improving brain health Dr Alastair Noyce and colleagues recently launched a European report which says “Time Matters”.
The need for possessions, predicting effective use of CBT, talking to strangers
Why do we have a strong desire to own things? Psychologist Professor Bruce Hood, author of a new book Possessed, and artist Hannah Scott, whose installation All this Stuff is Killing Me addresses our desire to acquire, discuss why we want more than we need and the extent to which we are controlled by our possessions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression but it only works for 45% of patients, so success is not guaranteed. Claudia hears from Filippo Queirazza of Glasgow University who's been using brain imaging techniques to predict an individual's likely success with the therapy. This could dramatically increase the odds of correct treatment for a patient.
Talking to strangers is something many feel anxious about or reluctant to do but could it be good for your state of mind? Social psychologist Gillian Sandstrom of Essex University discusses her latest research: seemingly inconsequential conversations with strangers can have a surprisingly beneficial effect on mood and well being.
Producer: Adrian Washbourne