Where are we with mental health stigma?

On March 24th 2015, the world was hit by the news that a German aircraft had crashed into the French Alps, killing 150 people. Information quickly started to circulate about an apparently ‘suicidal pilot’ who had deliberately caused the crash. He would later be named as 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz: he had co-piloted the flight and locked himself into the cockpit while the principle pilot was in the bathroom. Prior to any formal investigation, news outlets reported that Lubitz had been …

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It seems politeness lies amid the collateral damage of polarisation…

Events in Washington DC on January 6th provided evidence if it were needed that the divisions in American society have further widened since last November’s elections and reached a visceral fever pitch. With increasing frequency, I find myself quoting Professor Liam O’Dowd whose career studying conflict in Northern Ireland and beyond has spanned five decades. In an address to colleagues the occasion of his retirement from Queen’s, Liam described how, when he began to write about the troubles, his international …

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One thing to which every generation is doomed is the scathing judgement of the next and the amused perplexion of the one after that…

In recent years, screenwriters have discovered a simple means of time-travel. From Don Draper in Mad Men to Frank Sheeran’s flashbacks in The Irishman, there is one prop, one visual cue sure to transport viewers to the bygone era of the middle third of the 20th century: the cigarette, lit and pluming in a bar, an office or a living room. In the west, smoking indoors has been so thoroughly stigmatised in the meantime, those trails of passive smoke render …

Read more…One thing to which every generation is doomed is the scathing judgement of the next and the amused perplexion of the one after that…

Welcome to the Era of Vaccine Politics…

If recent developments around COVID vaccination has reminded us of anything, surely it’s that nothing is easy. Proof of anything is hard to come by. Weighing up a 90%-effective vaccine against a 70%-effective one might seem straightforward, but that’s without knowing if those numbers remain stable as more evidence comes in, and if so, who are the 10 and 30% and when and why a vaccine can be ineffective in a given instance. Then you’re straight on to, well what …

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Do we like being distracted?

It’s sunny and I’ve just ordered at my local cafe. My fellow customers and I wait in the little socially distanced phalanx we’ve been trained to form. Business seems to have been steady for the cafe since they reopened in May. I suspect they may be selling to customers who this time last year were queuing for coffees in Belfast city centre, but now come here to break up a day spent working from their breakfast table. All of a …

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