Articles by Louise Chunn

Why The Andreas Lubitz Case Shouldn’t Stigmatise Depression

Why The Andreas Lubitz Case Shouldn’t Stigmatise Depression

​We are all shocked and saddened by the death of 150 people in the Germanwings crash in the French Alps earlier this week. But as reports arise that link the deaths with co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's history of depression, many have faulted the way the media is reporting this tragic story. Headlines such as Killer Pilot Suffered from Depression (Mirror), Madman in Cockpit (Sun) and Why Was He Allowed to Fly (Mail) have, according to a joint press release from the mental health charities Mind, Time to Change and Rethink Mental Illness, been overly simplistic.
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Digital Detox at Middle Piccadilly

Digital Detox at Middle Piccadilly

Rather than staying away from easy addictions like alcohol or sugar, you are expected to dis-avow the very oxygen of 21st century life: the internet. For me this is complicated by two contradictory facts: I have founded a business on the internet; the business is to promote well-ness, which can be destroyed by the downsides of the internet. And yet I craved the chance to detach myself from its distractions.
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Wellcome Book Prize 2015: Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Wellcome Book Prize 2015: Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

This book may not sound like an easy read. Chapter after chapter about the triumphs, tragedies and tribulations of a London-based neurosurgeon as he looks back over 40 years of treating serious accidents and illnesses. Blood, bone, brain and many tears. Doctors live with life and death decisions every day; they seem to be able to cut themselves off the human tragedy. But some, like Henry Marsh, can use what they see, hear, and ultimately do, to open us up to essential truths about life and what really matters. That’s why this book has made the shortlist of...
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How to Embrace Mindfulness at Work

How to Embrace Mindfulness at Work

Is it possible to synchronise the world of work – all cut-throat competition, profit margins, productivity and cold, hard cash – and the higher principles of mindfulness? You might imagine that combining the two might make for an almighty clash. In fact, mindfulness is one of the hottest ideas in business right now. At the recent World Economic Forum a panel featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn (who virtually invented the modern idea of mindfulness), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post  and a board member of Goldman Sachs was a sell-out. Not only did it...
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Can Mindfulness Change the Face of Britain?

Can Mindfulness Change the Face of Britain?

No-one is in any doubt that we are facing a crisis with the increasing levels of mental illness in this country; one in four of us experiences a mental health problem every year. But what if there was something small – taking as little as ten or 15 minutes –that could help millions of us living with stress, depression and anxiety? And, as if that wasn’t enough, it could also help people focus, reduce anger, and aid in preventing any number of physical ailments. We’re talking mindfulness, of course. And that’s what led me to a meeting room in the House of...
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5 TIPS FOR DIVORCED AND BLENDED FAMILIES AT CHRISTMAS

5 TIPS FOR DIVORCED AND BLENDED FAMILIES AT CHRISTMAS

Christmas is a notoriously difficult time for families who are no longer living together as a unit. Sometimes children go from one parent’s house to the other on the day; others take it in turns to spend Christmas day with their children; some celebrate on consecutive days with each parent; and there are some who get together for the day, even with new partners and children born post-the breakup. Whatever the way you decide to handle this situation, there is no doubt that it is complicated, and things can go badly wrong. In the run-up to the festive...
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5 reasons anti-depressants are not the answer to women’s problems

5 reasons anti-depressants are not the answer to women’s problems

One in 10 women in England take anti-depressants, according to a report released this week by the Health Survey for England. This shockingly high figure - nearly twice the level for men, and higher than figures for Europe overall – should make us pause for thought. Does this mean that 10 percent of women in England are suffering from severe depression? Because that is what NICE recommends anti-depressants for. Whereas, for mild to moderate depression, the advice is not pills, but talking therapy, which is not nearly so easy to get hold of as an easy-to-write...
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Welldoing.org's First Birthday

Welldoing.org's First Birthday

Happy Birthday welldoing.org! It’s one year since the content part of this site went live (the Find a Therapist directory came five months later). It’s been an exciting, mind-expanding journey which has taken me from old skool magazine editor to brave new world website founder, and in many ways, we have only just begun. However, I didn’t want this moment to pass without acknowledging what’s been achieved. We’ve had daily posts from an amazing array of experts, writers and practitioners —- people who are therapists and counsellors; psychologists who work in...
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Movember Moves Men's Health into Spotlight

Movember Moves Men's Health into Spotlight

For the past few years November has lost its harried run-up to Christmas feel and become a must-do month. Why? Movember, of course, when any self-respecting man forgoes a razor to grow a moustache (and only a moustache, no other beardy bits allowed). The money raised (by getting friends, colleagues and family to sponsor him) goes to men’s health - but more all these moustachioed men tell others what they’re doing, and - man to man - they talk about things that men rarely talk about. This week, at the Good Day at Work Conference which focused on wellbeing in...
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Great Myths of the Brain

Great Myths of the Brain

Have you noticed how often the word brain pops up in newspapers and magazines, TV programmes and radio shows lately? For a number of reasons  – from the devaluation of traditional organised religion through to advances in research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) –  the brain is having a media-sexy moment. But that doesn’t mean everything you read about it is true. At least, not entirely. This is what prompted editor of the renowned British Psychological Society’s Research Digest Christian Jarrett to write Great Myths of the Brain, published...
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How I Fell in Love with a Dog

How I Fell in Love with a Dog

I didn't see this coming, this puppy love. If truth be told, I agreed to my teenage daughter's pleas for a dog because (a) I thought it would provide company for her in the evenings so that my husband and I could go out more easily,  and (b) I realised that I was never going to extricate myself from my desk without being forced. I could blame welldoing.org for that - launching a website is beyond hard work, and as long as you're sentient you will be sitting at a desk, gazing at a screen. Having done some research on the internet, we drove to Norfolk where a...
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How Meditation Cured Dan Harris's Panic Attacks

How Meditation Cured Dan Harris's Panic Attacks

US journalist Dan Harris’s on-screen meltdown radically altered his life. Before his nationally broadcast panic attack on ABC news, Harris was your average over-worked, professionally anxious reporter. He’d joined the network at the extremely young age of 21, and was  thrown into the deep end when he was sent to Afghanistan to cover the Taliban. After a long stint dodging bullets in Afghanistan and then Pakistan, he returned home to a studio-bound job  with a severe case of undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. He dealt with this by dosing himself up on...
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What to do about Back Pain

What to do about Back Pain

Are you sitting comfortably? Probably not. From the age of 20 we are all slouching towards problems with  back pain, as a result of the way we sit to work, watch TV, even play computer games. In any one year around 49% of us will suffer back pain lasting for at least 24 hours. And research has shown that those who suffer from back pain are more than twice as likely to also suffer from depression. The results are not unconnected. Back pain is seriously bad news. I have some personal experience of this. When we were first developing welldoing.org it involved many, many...
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Andrew Solomon's Ode to Identity

Andrew Solomon's Ode to Identity

Andrew Solomon spent 10 years talking to more than 300 families about their children to discover what it means when your child is radically different to you, when the apple does, to contradict the saying,  “fall far from the tree”. This incredible project has won him the Wellcome Book Prize 2014. He was drawn to this subject following a journalistic assignment at a dwarf convention, but it was also because he felt so different from  his own parents. First of all as a seriously dyslexic boy whose mother worked tirelessly to get him help; secondly, as a gay man,...
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Culture Tip: Her

Culture Tip: Her

People either love Spike Jonze or hate him. Some focus on such films as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and praise his quirky, ironic view of the world. Others wonder about the model-chasing photographer character in his former wife Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Based on him, perhaps? So to watch Her, a romantic film Jonze wrote and directed, feels more personal than many filmmakers’ work. It is the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a writer for hire in a slightly futuristic time and place where finely-tuned technology and sun-lit leisure time...
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What To Do When a Friend Dies

What To Do When a Friend Dies

I have lost a dear, old friend. And as my mother said, “you don’t find new old friends”. What can you do when a friend dies? We were probably never very obvious soulmates – Georgina Henry was intensely political, I spent years working on glossy magazines. But over the last 20 years we became very close, and she was one of the few people I felt safe sharing my secrets and vulnerabilities, disappointments and dreams with. As well as lots of laughs, gossip and shopping expeditions. Two years ago George was diagnosed with cancer of the sinus. Treatment was brutal...
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What You Should Know About Sleep

What You Should Know About Sleep

Don’t smoke, cut back on the booze, try to stick to a healthy diet, get some exercise --- that’s enough health rules to be getting on with surely?  But there’s one essential element that many people forget about. Sleep is as important as any of those in keeping us on the rails. This was one of the main messages I took away from a visit to Champneys Tring recently. I was at the well-known health spa to sample a Lifestyle Improvement Plan, for which food and drink intake, exercise levels and daily activities are monitored in advance. The aim is to illustrate that...
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Why Carmel Allen Founded Kiss It Better

Why Carmel Allen Founded Kiss It Better

Cosmetics can get a bad rap from serious-minded people, but sometimes a lipstick is much more than an indulgence. Carmel Allen has used lipsticks to help raise £800,000 for research into childhood cancer with her charity Kiss It Better, which celebrated its 10th birthday today. I remember where the whole thing started.   Carmel was a much-respected beauty director on the glossy magazine that I was editing. One morning she didn’t turn up for work – and phoned to say that she didn’t know if she could ever work like that again. Her baby Josephine, who was not even one, ...
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Culture Tip: The Circle

Culture Tip: The Circle

I was racing through Dave Eggers' The Circle over Christmas and enjoying it so much, I just had to tweet something about it. But what? "Am loving the way this book makes social media sound like a totalitarian state #1984"  Or "Mister Cool Dave Eggers is acting like a technophobic dinosaur" Or simply "Step away from the screens!"? To explain. This novel is about a young woman, Mae Holland,  who gets a job at a Google-(or is it Facebook?)like company and gets drawn further and further into a technological takeover of her life. What starts out as social...
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CULTURE TIP: The Luminaries

CULTURE TIP: The Luminaries

Not everyone is going to love the Man Booker Prize-winning blockbuster, The Luminaries. But I did. And not only because the author is a New Zealander (as I am), and the youngest person to ever scoop the £50,000 jackpot. It’s a deep, rich treasure of a book with an empathetic heart. Perfect for the longeuers of Christmas in front of a fire. Set in the 1860s, it starts with a mysterious combination of occurrences: a rich young landowner has disappeared, a prostitute has tried to kill herself, and a large sum of money is found in the house of a dying man. A dozen locals...
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Malcom Gladwell on his Experience of Therapy

Malcom Gladwell on his Experience of Therapy

Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink and David and Goliath; he recently spoke with Louise Chunn about his experience of psychoanalysis. “My mother is a psychotherapist, she deals with children. As an adult I was in therapy for a few years.  How did I find it? I don’t think you can spend a lot of time in guided introspection with someone who is a trained professional and not emerge in some way wiser about yourself …. though I don’t know if I was any  happier. “I live in New York where it seems that everyone is in therapy, so I...
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Looking into The Examined Life

Looking into The Examined Life

When Hampstead psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz sat down to write The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, he could not have predicted the success it would become. This selection of  life stories he has heard in his consulting room has sold more than 40,000 copies in the UK alone, and been translated into 20 different languages in 23 countries. When I interviewed Grosz he explained that there were a number of reasons he had wanted to write his patients’ stories.  He listed everything from leaving a legacy for his school-age children to expressing his life-long...
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So, This is What it Feels Like to Launch a Website ….

So, This is What it Feels Like to Launch a Website ….

I’m writing near the end of a fairly frantic day in the office with my assistant Claudine (pictured). I’ve been working on the launch of welldoing.org for many months, and yet just before going live, it suddenly seems like there are a million things I want to add, change, write, delete, describe. And, because it’s a website, I can. Tomorrow’s another day, with a fresh screen, more ideas, users’ suggestions, the day’s news. Having worked for a long time on magazines and newspapers, I’m used to the definitive finished product. People paid to see what the editorial team...
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