It can take time for the consequences of actions to occur. A melanoma does not develop the day after sunburn nor lung cancer a week after starting smoking. Thus, the mental health problems related to lockdowns and fear may not all be visible yet. 

Last year there were predictions that Australia could see an additional 7500 suicides over the next five years – a 50% increase on current numbers. Statistics are not yet available but anecdotally this does not seem to be coming to pass, which is great! However, mental health problems are increasing and how the fear which has taken hold (especially in children and teenagers) will manifest in the future is unknown.

Dr Joe Kosterich, Clinical Editor

It was a strange juxtaposition that the Perth and Peel regions went into lockdown over ANZAC Day. On this day we remember those who volunteered to fight for freedom and who volunteered, literally in some instances, to run towards bullets. For those who haven’t seen the movie 1917, I would recommend it as it gives just a tiny insight into what life was like for soldiers a century ago.

This edition looks at mental health. In particular we examine some new treatments. It is fair to say that despite significant spending and no shortage of prescribing, mental health problems are not diminishing. Two pieces examine the re-emergence of psychedelics. These drugs were caught up in the Nixon administration’s war on drugs (and the counterculture) and for 50 years have been ignored or vilified. New research is picking up from where it was left off and the results are encouraging.

Philosophically one wonders if there is a connection between the rise in mental health illness and reduced resilience in society. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used for depression and is now being expanded into pain management. Pain and depression often coincide. The importance of exercise in mental health is covered and how to better understand self- injurious behaviour.

Changing gears, oral ulcers, assessing abnormal liver function tests, and new radiation treatments are examined too.

Philosophically one wonders if there is a connection between the rise in mental health illness and reduced resilience in society. Niall Ferguson writes in the Wall Street Journal comparing this pandemic to the Asian flu of 1957: “…American society at the time was better prepared — culturally, institutionally and politically — to deal with it.” Ditto for Australia.

Ferguson compares the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac to the “beaten generation’ of today. Humanity has faced far worse and with way less resources. Maybe we need to remind ourselves and our children of this.