Hear Professor Nik Rose discussing how urbanisation is affecting our mental health on new ‘Policy Forum Pod’

Do you live in a city? If so, you share something in common with over the half the world’s population. In fact, the United Nations predicts that two-thirds of the world will live in cities by 2050. Policymakers have begun to grapple with the economic and environmental consequences of this wave of urbanisation, but what are the implications for human health and mental wellbeing? On the new Policy Forum Pod, Professor Nikolas Rose discusses the global move from the countryside to the metropolis, and how the problem of stress might require more creative policy for life in the city. Listen here: http://bit.ly/PFPstress

Professor Nikolas Rose is a Professor of Sociology at GHSM, and was Head of Department from January 2012 to December 2016. Trained as a biologist, a psychologist and a sociologist, his work explores how scientific developments have changed conceptions of human identity and governance and what this means for our political, socio-economic and legal futures.

The world is currently facing a number of big demographic shifts, but urbanisation is one in particular which is deserving of attention, Professor Rose explains.

“Something about the urban experience is becoming the typical experience for humans.

“In China, 300 million people have moved from the countryside to the cities in China, over the last 10 or 15 years. That is a huge, mass migration – probably the biggest that we have seen, proportionally, since the urbanisation in the late-19thcentury.”

Yet despite the volume of people moving into the cities of the world, there is a shortage of knowledge on how urban living is affecting people’s mental health. Anecdotally, we know that cities can be stressful environments to many people. But ‘stress’, as it turns out, is fairly hard to pin down.

“We use stress as a lay term all the time and there is a long history of stress research, but it foundered for a while, because nobody knew what stress was,” says Rose.

“Was being crowded stress? We sometimes want to go out into the big city and be with loads and loads of people and that is not stressful at all. Sometimes, there would be loads of people and it is stressful. Sometimes noise is stressful, sometimes younger people want to go to parties with a lot of noise.”

But although more work is needed to understand the causes of stress for people, it is clear that it is something that is an issue that poses real costs on society, whether it’s in terms of days lost at work, or visits to a doctor, or the use of pharmaceuticals, Rose says.

“There is a real economic cost to these kinds of conditions and, therefore, if there is no other incentive, there is a real economic incentive to begin to understand them and mitigate them.”

This is where stress becomes a matter of public policy.

“The attempt to produce low-stress environments, to put it at its simplest – is, indeed, a public good,” Rose says.

“People who are responsible for urban design, design of public spaces can begin to recognise that public spaces are not just good for trade… they actually are conducive to health.”

And for a planet which might have up to 10 billion people by 2050, with two-thirds of them living and working in cities, what can policymakers do to prepare?

“I think it will require activist governments. I think it will require foresight on the part of governments,” Rose says.

“It requires urban planners to begin to think about the spaces in the city as habitats in which human being live amongst all sorts of other organisms, with noise, with pollution, et cetera, and how they might make these habitats a little bit more conducive to a good life.”

You can catch up with our Policy Forum podcast series here, or via iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. If you like what you hear, please give us a review on iTunes and help us get the word out.

Nikolas Rose was in conversation with Policy Forum’s Martyn Pearce. To see the Urban Mind app discussed in the podcast, click here. For more on Nikolas Rose’s work, check out his website here.

This episode was produced and written by Nicky Lovegrove. 

Our thanks to Russell Buzby at the ANU Research School of Social Sciences for helping make this podcast happen.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The African Leadership Centre in partnership with the Global Health and Social Medicine invites you to ‘Mental Health in Africa: Where does the illness lie?’ March 30th

Where:  Room K4U.12, King’s College London- Strand Campus

When: Thursday March 30th18:30 hrs–20:30 hrs

mentalillnessafricaMental Health in Africa is a topic that deserves the utmost attention. While corruption and trade partnerships stand at the forefront of today’s global concern, it is the crisis of Mental Health that presents the harsh reality of Africa’s growing population. According to Amnesty International Award Winning Photo-Journalist, Robin Hammond, Africans with mental illnesses are abandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected, and abused by entire societies. In conflict regions, “they are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.” To foster ongoing conversations about this important and under-explored problem and shed light on the political influence on the issue, we have invited a robust group of panelist to discuss the broad topic of Mental Health in African Countries.


Kayode Ogundamisi, Journalist, Host of Politricks with KO, Political TV Commentator on Nigeria and International Politics

Dr. Peter Hughes, Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists- Works on Mental Health in Somalia and Sierra Leone

Dr. Julian Eaton, Asst. Professor in Global Mental Health at London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine

Dr. Ranti Lawumi, Psychologist at Talk it Thru, Author of Representing and Relating to ‘the other’: a Black African woman reflects on research interviews and therapy with Black African women refugees


Spaces are limited so kindly confirm attendance by registering via this link

Posted in Dissertation, Global Health, Global Health & Social Justice, Global Health & Social Medicine, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New NICE “budget impact test” is flawed attempt to solve a political problem, argue GHSM Vicki Charlton and Annette Rid in a new BMJ editorial

A new “budget impact test”, to be applied by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is an unpopular and flawed attempt to solve a fundamentally political problem, argue experts in The BMJ today.

The test means that NICE-recommended technologies costing the NHS more than an additional £20 million a year will be ‘slow-tracked’, regardless of their cost-effectiveness or other social or ethical values, explains Dr Annette Rid, Senior Lecturer in Bioethics and Society at King’s College London (KCL) and colleagues from the KCL / University College London Social Values and Health Priority Setting group.

They acknowledge that with hospital wards overflowing and trusts in deficit, the introduction of cost-effective but expensive new technologies places increasing strain on NHS finances. But they say that, while the change may deliver short-term savings, it is flawed.

They explain that budget impact is essentially the price per patient multiplied by the number of patients treated. Yet the prevalence of someone’s condition should not determine their access to treatment.

The new test constitutes numerical discrimination, they argue. And if a large number of patients experience delays, the policy threatens widespread harms.

They also argue that the consultation on the policy was far from supportive, with less than a third of respondents believing that a budget impact threshold should be introduced, and only 23% agreeing that technologies exceeding the threshold should be subject to delayed implementation.

And NICE’s justification for pursuing its approach – that “no alternative solutions” have been put forward – “is invalid in our view,” they add. The consultation did not ask for other options.

Perhaps the policy aims to pressurise industry to lower its prices when volumes are high, they suggest. “But this is to use large patient groups as a bargaining chip.”

They believe that a systematic and transparent programme of disinvestment, though difficult, “could increase the resources available to fund new technologies” while a more widespread use of risk-sharing on costs “might also help to reduce total budget impact.” A further alternative would be to update NICE’s current cost-effectiveness threshold for all technologies, so treating patients equitably.
Or, most controversially, they say the 90-day funding requirement for NICE-approved technologies “could be removed entirely and the power to make decisions about affordability given back either to politicians or to NHS England.”

These alternatives raise significant ethical and political challenges. But they should be considered before NICE commits to an inequitable approach which few support, they conclude.
“The recent consultation should have marked the start, not the end, of a more substantial debate about the role of affordability in the NHS. It is not too late to correct this mistake.”
Note to Editors

Editorial: Cost-effective but unaffordable: an emerging challenge for health systems

You can read the full BMJ paper here: http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.j1402 
Author contact:

Dr Annette Rid, Senior Lecturer in Bioethics and Society, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London, UK

Tel: +44 207 848 7113 or +44 74 6372 7003

Email: annette.rid@kcl.ac.uk

Posted in Bioethics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CALL FOR PAPERS Humans, the Enhanced, and Machines in Law – Science in Public Conference July 10-12, 2017, University of Sheffield

Science and technology are essential ingredients of our humanity. The emergence of fruitful and diverse scholarly perspectives on the history, practice, communication, governance and impacts of scientific knowledge reflects this fact. Yet rapid scientific and technological change has also unsettled the idea of what it means to be human; for example, through new frontiers in physical and cognitive enhancement, shift to knowledge economies, and potential threats to employment from mass automation. These changes take place in a context of broader challenges to expertise and evidence, dramatically illustrated by the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump. Taking these matters seriously calls for a renewed focus on compassion, benevolence and civilization. This year at Science in Public, we ask:

How do science and technology affect what it means to be human?

Panel 20 theme

Emerging advanced bio- and computer- technologies are highly likely to pose significant challenges to existing societal and legal conventions. Artificial Intelligence, synthetic biology, human enhancement, and other developments promise to draw into question the nature of personhood and humanity, a concept upon which many significant institutions are founded- not the least of which being human rights law. In the potential new era of novel consciousnesses that we may encounter, it is vitally important to establish whether existing law will remain sufficient, and if not, how it ought to be adapted to meet the requirements of the future.

To do so the sessions of the panel will examine the conceptualisation and positioning of the human in law both domestic and international, and attempt to determine the moral basis for this. It will also be necessary to determine whether, or under what conditions, this might be compatible with the existence of novel types of conscious being. If personhood is the deciding factor in law, then there is reason to believe and precedent that other consciousnesses should qualify. Furthermore, the sessions will discuss why we cannot afford to ignore these potential challenges, by highlighting existing issues in various legal spheres (including intellectual property) that are the result of technology outpacing legislation and which are the prelude to more far-reaching problems.
The panels, part of Science in Public 2017 (10-12th July 2017, University of Sheffield), will comprise multiple sessions, including:
-A panel discussion session on the Draft Report of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs on granting ‘electronic personhood’ to AI

– Short film on the impacts of new biotechnologies on patient lives and identities, and responses

– Open papers and invited speakers

Papers are welcomed on topics in the area, including:

  1. The conception of human in law
  2. How sci-fi/comics influence the legal imagination of emerging technologies
  3. Duties, liabilities, and obligations to and of enhanced humans and machines
  4. Regulating the already changing face of the human (eg mitochondrial replacement technologies, genome editing, new reproductive technologies, cyborgs)
  5. Intellectual property and the emerging technologies

The panel convenors, David Lawrence and Ilke Turkmendag, are both members of the Law, Innovation, and Society (LIS) research group of Newcastle University Law School (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/nuls/research/groups/lisgroup/)

Please submit paper proposals to http://sipsheff17.group.shef.ac.uk/ by April 18th 2017. Successful submissions will be informed April 26th.

Posted in Bioethics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday March 28th -Careers in Bioethics with Kate Harvey Senior Research Officer Nuffield Council on Bioethics

I am delighted to announce that Ms Kate Harvey, Senior Research Officer at  the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and King’s alumna, is coming to King’s  share her experience and tips about a career in bioethics next Tuesday.
Kate-high-res-e1407418899499When: Tuesday  28th March, 1600 -1700
Where: S0.13, King’s, Strand Campus
This event is hosted by the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, but is open to all students with an interest in bioethics/medical ethics.
Contact for this event is Dr Silvia Camporesi, Director, Bioethics & Society programme.
Kate is currently working on ethics of cosmetic procedures, and children’s involvement in clinical research.You can read more about the work of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics here:
and follow Kate on twitter: @kateharvey26
Posted in Bioethics, Careers, MA in Bioethics & Soicety | Tagged | Leave a comment