- The recent sudden deaths of three trainee psychiatrists and a hospital intern in Victoria have raised concerns that the medical profession is not doing enough to support people in the industry struggling with mental health.
- As many as 30,000 Liberians will be injected with experimental Ebola vaccines over the course of a large-scale trial in the west African country.
- Doctors say they now have proof of what parents have long suspected: the more time teenagers spend on computers or mobile phones, the less they sleep, especially if the gadget is used just before bedtime.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th February 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
The recent sudden deaths of three trainee psychiatrists and a hospital intern in Victoria have raised concerns that the medical profession is not doing enough to support people in the industry struggling with mental health.
The three psychiatric trainees were working at St Vincent’s, Austin, and Frankston hospitals, while the intern was one week into an internship at Geelong Hospital.
Beyond Blue’s doctors’ mental health program chairman Mukesh Haikerwal said there was not enough support for medical professionals.
“Just because you are a training or training-to-be medical professional does not mean that you are immune from [mental health problems],” Dr Haikerwal said.
“You do need to seek help. You need to have help. You need to have systems in the workplace.
“This is where Beyond Blue is doing a lot of work in terms of supporting people in the workplace …
Dr Haikerwal said he was first alerted to the deaths by a colleague.
He said he had since been asked to meet with a number of trainee psychiatrists about the issue.
“With four people in Victoria in a very short space of time dying suddenly, it opens a whole lot of additional questions about why this is happening and what can be done to reduce the drive for this to happen,” he said.
He said the workload, stress and expectations on medical professionals were significant.
Many people had been traumatised within the industry by the deaths, he said.
As many as 30,000 Liberians will be injected with experimental Ebola vaccines over the course of a large-scale trial in the west African country.
The vaccine contains a harmless part of the Ebola virus that scientists hope will prompt the immune system into forming antibodies to fight the disease.
The potentially life-saving medicine has been delivered to a secret location in Liberia, and initially administered to just 12 volunteers.
Eventually the trial, centred at the Redemption Hospital in the capital of Monrovia, will involve up to 27,000 adults. Among those will be frontline health workers.
The Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL), a collaboration between the United States and Liberia, said trials would begin at other hospitals around Monrovia after the first 600 participants join the study.
The study, led by the US National Institutes of Health, was launched at the Redemption Hospital on Sunday (local time) at an event attended by Liberian vice-president Joseph Boaikai.
There is currently no vaccine on the world market, and no specific drug approved to treat it, even though the virus first emerged in the 1970s.
Doctors say they now have proof of what parents have long suspected: the more time teenagers spend on computers or mobile phones, the less they sleep, especially if the gadget is used just before bedtime.
The evidence is so strong, the experts said, that health watchdogs should overhaul guidelines for electronic device use by youngsters.
The team carried out an investigation among nearly 10,000 people aged 16 to 19 in Hordaland county, western Norway, in 2012, they reported in the journal BMJ Open.
The teens were questioned about their sleeping patterns, how long they looked at a screen outside of school hours and the type of gadget they used.
The respondents said they needed between eight and nine hours’ sleep on average to feel rested.
Those with screen time of more than four hours per day were three-and-a-half times likelier to sleep fewer than five hours at night, the probe found.
They also were 49 per cent likelier to need more than 60 minutes to fall asleep. Adults normally nod off in under 30 minutes.
The study also confirmed what many parents of a sleepy teen have experienced already: using an electronic device in the hour before bedtime badly affects both onset of sleep and its duration.
In particular, teens who used a computer or mobile phone in the last hour were 52 and 48 per cent likelier to take more than 60 minutes to fall asleep.
They were also 53 and 35 per cent likelier to lose out on two or more hours of sleep.
The researchers, led by Mari Hysing at a regional centre for child health in the city of Bergen, point to several possible explanations.
One is quite simple: that teenagers are getting to bed later and screen time is eating into their sleep time.
Another idea is that the bright light from devices interferes with circadian rhythm, the day-night system that tells our brain when we should sleep and when we should wake up.
There could also be muscle pains, tension or headaches, for instance from playing a game for too long.
The current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics set down in 2004 is to not have a TV in the bedroom.
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