How to Control Anger and Jealousy

how to get anger management and how to manage anger and frustration and how to manage anger and anxiety and how to control the anger in relationship
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OliviaCutts,France,Teacher
Published Date:01-08-2017
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Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itExecutive Summary Defi nition: For the purposes of this report we have chosen to defi ne ‘problem anger’ as ‘any dysfunctional way of relating to and managing anger that persistently causes signifi cant diffi culties in a person’s life including their thinking, feeling, behaviour and relationships’. Background Mounting evidence links anger with a range of physical, mental and social problems. Chronic and intense anger has been linked with Coronary Heart Disease, stroke, cancer and common physical illnesses including colds and fl u, and generally poorer health; as well as increased risk-taking, poor decision-making and substance misuse. Higher levels of anger are related to lower levels of social support and higher stress levels. High levels of anger expression have also been associated with less frequent use of positive coping strategies such as actively addressing problems. Anger has also been linked with mental health problems including depression and self-harm. People describe anger as more likely to have a negative eff ect on interpersonal relationships than any other emotion. There is evidence to suggest that societal changes are contributing to a rise in emotional problems. Public polling carried out for this report indicates that a majority of the population believe that people in general are getting angrier. Infl uential authors quoted in this report have examined life in 21st century Western society and stated recently that we are we are getting angrier, and that despite 50 years of economic growth in the UK, we are no happier. However, any changes we are witnessing are unlikely to be in the core structure of our basic emotions. Evolution is a slow process - rapid changes are instead occurring in our social habits, and economic and political circumstances, and how they infl uence our thinking, feeling and behaviour. This report is about problem anger, how it aff ects individuals, families and communities, and what we can do to minimise the harm it causes. Problem anger Anger alone is not the problem. It is one of our most powerful and vital tools. It is necessary to our survival as individuals and communities. The majority of people will experience episodes of anger that are within a usual and healthy range. But a general awareness of more positive ways of expressing and dealing with anger is desirable for the whole population. Learning healthy ways of dealing with anger helps people to look after their mental and physical health, achieve goals, solve problems and nurture social relationships. However, at the more extreme end of the range, anger can become entrenched in everyday life for some people, with destructive eff ects. Some people experience anger frequently and intensely, and it interferes with their thinking, feeling, behaviour and relationships, often creating misery for themselves and others. For this group, who might be described as experiencing ‘problem anger’, getting help could make a massive diff erence to their well-being, as well as the well-being of people around them. It is not within the report’s scope to suggest a set of guidelines or indicators to determine whether someone does or doesn’t need help with problem anger. Anyone who actively seeks help because they feel that anger is causing problems in their life should receive it. Why isn’t problem anger tackled? Anger has received relatively little attention in the mental health fi eld. A fundamental lack of discussion in the scientifi c literature indicates that anger has not been considered an emotional issue worthy of scientifi c conceptualisation and attention. The lack of attention given to anger by researchers naturally has a knock-on eff ect in clinical practice. Problem anger is still barely conceptualised as a mental health issue. 4 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itSadness and fear, emotions which are entrenched in the conditions of depression and anxiety, have been given much attention in psychology because of a drive to treat depression and anxiety, which are recognised as common mental health problems. At each stage the working models, methods and outcomes have been debated very widely. The psychology of anger has been left behind for reasons we explore in this report, including the labelling of angry behaviour as ‘bad’, rather than ‘sad’ or ‘mad’, and therefore unworthy of attention and care. Understanding problem anger and, more often, its outward expression in aggressive behaviour have been attempted largely from a criminal justice perspective. While anger is an emotion and aggression is a type of behaviour, the two are often confl ated. This confl ation is often cited as a reason why underlying entrenched anger goes largely untackled while aggressive behaviour is punished. Given this background, it is not surprising that the options for people seeking help with problem anger are limited. We are intervening too late if we can’t help people with problem anger before their behaviour requires intensive intervention in the criminal justice system. Commendable work has been undertaken in relation to anger and aggression in criminal justice but we should not wait until lives have been irreparably damaged to intervene. Greater recognition of problem anger could off er many opportunities for positive intervention in the lives of individuals and communities to benefi t their physical and mental health and overall quality of life. Anger should be everyone’s business. How can we tackle problem anger? Despite a widespread lack of impetus to study anger as an issue in its own right, researchers say there are approximately 50 published research studies that have tested some kind of intervention for anger with adults and another 40 relating to children or adolescents. They conclude from these that successful interventions exist for adults, adolescents and children and that they are equally successful for all age groups and all types of populations. This suggests that treatment for problem anger can be eff ective. Research commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation for this report reveals that the general public believes anger is an increasing problem in our society, and that we overwhelmingly support the idea that someone with an anger problem should seek help. That help is most likely to be sought from a GP or another health professional. GPs we interviewed report that they have few options for helping patients who come to them with problem anger– NHS-funded anger management programmes tend to be small, limited and infrequent, where they run at all – and psychology services are not geared towards the treatment of problem anger. Patients with problem anger do not fi t the criteria for referral to psychologists in primary care. These tend to focus on people with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. GPs can refer people to the voluntary sector, but many do not feel confi dent to do this, either because they don’t know what’s available or they are not sure the service is suitable or quality checked. Some responsibility for addressing problem anger lies with researchers, clinicians and policy-makers. Problem anger, despite its sometimes frightening visibility, has often been ignored as an area for research and service provision in the mental health fi eld. The result is that people who might benefi t enormously from learning how to manage their anger are not encouraged to come forward, or when they do come forward, they may be off ered little or nothing in the way of useful support . How is problem anger currently being tackled? Some health professionals are taking the initiative to set up their own schemes, and there are some good examples of anger management courses run either within existing services or by agencies contracted by them, but without systematic support, they are fi ghting an uphill battle. A related factor is that people with problem anger often fail to recognise their anger as a problem, or if they do, they are reluctant to seek treatment for it, because they feel ashamed. This is backed up by the Mental Heath Foundation’s survey results, which fi nd that many more people identify problem anger in close friends and family than in themselves. The good news is that there are many schemes, run by a variety of organisations – statutory, voluntary and private - which in one way or another are targeted at helping people deal with problem anger. These provide many pointers to good practice. The bad news is that much (though not all) of what is currently on off er are post hoc interventions, to which people are referred because Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 5 they have already got into some considerable trouble – at home, work or school, or with the police and criminal justice system. We are waiting too long if we can’t help people address problem anger before this has happened. What needs to be done next? Our research indicates that as a society we are aware of the problems that poorly managed anger can create, and are in favour of people who experience such problems seeking help. If we can persuade them to seek help, we must also ensure that the help is there for them to take advantage of. This means taking a number of steps. We need a clearer conceptualisation of problem anger as an issue to which psychologists and others should address themselves. Investment in further research would help, as would anger awareness campaigns addressed at both health professionals and the general public. We also need a broadening of referral criteria, which would mean improved pathways to treatment for patients who have problem anger. We need greater training of health and social care professionals to identify, empathise with and treat problem anger among their existing patients or clients to ensure that, when it manifests as part of a complex range of mental health issues as it sometimes does, problem anger can be identifi ed and dealt with as part of any treatment plan. We need greater acknowledgement of problem anger as a valid reason for referral to health care and greater use of anger screening tools as part of the assessment process. There appears to be some progress being made with this through programmes such as Improving Access To Psychological Therapies, but there is much more to be done. Anger is still too often dealt with as a sub-set of anxiety disorders, meaning that people who do not fi t the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders won’t fi nd their way to the help they need. We need greater provision of specifi c programmes of treatment - individual and group, so that everyone who takes the courageous step of presenting themselves to their GP or another health or social care worker with problem anger can receive support for it. This might take the form of anger management groups, or individual/group therapy and might be within the NHS or provided by the voluntary or private sector. For those whose anger has led to an aggression-related criminal off ence, anger management treatment could be made available as a matter of course. Similar programmes could be more widely available for children whose aggressive behaviour has led them into trouble at school. We also need greater provision of information about and education related to problem anger in schools, in the workplace, in other community settings and in the media. This could be aimed not just at those who have problem anger but all those who come into contact with them, and could include measures to reduce stigma and fear related to anger. Evidence outlined in this report shows that the sorts of interventions we need to help people with problem anger already exist. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and other interventions are already used widely for depression or eating disorders and evidence shows that they can also help people with problem anger. While more research is needed to establish the best methods and how to apply them, we already have the means to help many people. But problem anger is not currently a ‘way in’ to psychological help – either because the general population doesn’t recognise it as a legitimate issue for which they can get help, or there isn’t a clear route via which health and social care workers and other relevant groups can recognise problem anger and off er the help that is needed. By making eff orts to step up research into the eff ectiveness of diff erent treatments for problem anger, and to create a wider range of specifi c pathways to services for people seeking help with their anger, we could begin to bridge this gap in investigation and provision. The possible benefi ts, which might include increased well-being, a reduction in fear, less crime, improvements in social cohesion, reduced aggression, improved relationships and greater individual and collective emotional literacy, are surely worth making such an eff ort. The publication of this report marks the beginning of a public awareness campaign by the Mental Health Foundation. The Foundation is providing information materials for individuals and signposting them to further help. 6 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itMethods A range of research methods were used to compile the data for this report, including: • A review of existing literature on anger, anger problems, aggression and clinical approaches to problem anger • A survey completed by a nationally representative, quota-controlled sample of 2000 people carried out by YouGov • Site visits to and interviews with key stakeholders including providers of anger management courses and therapies; psychologists; GPs; charitable organisations providing advice, guidance and other services to the general public and individuals who have experienced and sought help for problem anger Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 7 Key findings • GPs report that they have few options for helping patients who come to them with problem anger • There are some good examples of NHS-funded anger management courses and others being run by voluntary organisations, as well as private sector providers • Where NHS services do not exist GPs can refer people to voluntary sector providers and others, but often aren’t confi dent to do so • There are approximately 50 published research studies that have tested some kind of intervention for anger problems with adults and another 40 relating to children or adolescents, and researchers have concluded that successful treatments exist for adults, adolescents and children • Almost a third of people polled (32%) say they have a close friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger • More than one in ten (12%) say that they have trouble controlling their own anger • More than one in four people (28%) say that they worry about how angry they sometimes feel • One in fi ve of people (20%) say that they have ended a relationship or friendship with someone because of how they behaved when they were angry • 64% either strongly agree or agree that people in general are getting angrier • Fewer than one in seven (13%) of those people who say they have trouble controlling their anger have sought help for their anger problems • 58% of people wouldn’t know where to seek help if they needed help with an anger problem • 84% strongly agree or agree that people should be encouraged to seek help if they have problems with anger • Those who have sought help were most likely to do so from a health professional (such as a counsellor, therapist, GP or nurse), rather than from friends and family, social workers, employers or voluntary organisations • Generational diff erences are striking. Older people are less likely to report having a close friend or family member with an anger problem or to be worried about how angry they sometimes feel or that they have trouble dealing with their own anger, than younger people • There are striking regional diff erences in responses to our anger polling – especially between Scotland and other parts of the UK 8 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itRecommendations Anger studies and interventions for problem anger are in their infancy. Research, analysis and an established evidence base are critical in relation to problem anger before a detailed strategy can be developed. At this stage the Foundation recommends: 1. Action : Carrying out a meta-analysis of evidence on problem anger and related interventions Who should do it : This should be done by a respected institution such as the Cochrane Collaboration or the York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination 2. Action : Carrying out an economic analysis of the impact of problem anger covering health, social care, criminal justice and quality of life Who should do it : A number of research institutes, universities and charitable trusts have the potential to make this happen 3. Action : Undertaking an evaluation of existing anger management resources Who should do it : This should be commissioned by the Department of Health in concert with the Department of Justice and the Department for Children, Families and Schools. 4. Action : Mapping out local anger resources including anger management courses, psychology services that take anger referrals, and any other sources of information and advice. This must be done at a local level using a multi-agency approach. This information must then be provided by Primary Care Trusts to GP practices and by the Probation Service to probation offi cers. Who should do it : Local authorities; local health commissioners and providers; social care providers, education providers, probation workers and local voluntary sector organisations, including those involved in youth work and neighbourhood renewal, with support from local and national funding providers 5. Action : Provision of pathways for people who seek treatment for problem anger, however they engage with services. Problem anger should not be tackled only as a subset of depression or anxiety, and screening tools and treatment programmes must take account of this. Who should do it : Improving Access to Psychological Therapies; psychology services; mental health providers 6. Action : Provision of more information about and education related to anger management in schools, in the workplace, in other community settings and in the media. This should include measures to reduce stigma and fear related to anger and admissions of problem anger. This should be included in general approaches to mental health and wellbeing, for example as part of a PSHE curriculum in schools, but a stand alone awareness campaign about seeking help for anger is also needed. Who should do it : A public awareness campaign should be co-ordinated by the NHS, but other stakeholders in information provision and awareness-raising include the Department for Children, Families and Schools, the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as individual employers and education providers Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 9 Section 1: Background 1.1 Introduction Human emotions are vital to our survival but they can also do us harm. Emotional problems contribute enormously to the burden of human suff ering, and learning to cope with our emotions is not straightforward. Anger is one of the most basic emotions. Alongside happiness, sadness, fear and disgust, it has played an important part in our evolution. It is pervasive and powerful. It is also widely misunderstood and ignored. Mounting evidence links anger with a range of physical, mental and social problems. Anger has been associated with problems 1 in relationships, including social, family and working relationships. People describe anger as more likely to have a negative eff ect 2 3 on interpersonal relationships than any other emotion. Chronic and intense anger has been linked with Coronary Heart Disease , 4 5 6 stroke , cancer and common physical illnesses including colds and fl u, and generally poorer health ; as well as increased risk- 7 8 taking, poor decision-making and substance misuse. People who are chronically angry die younger and are six times more likely 9 than others to die of a heart attack. The most visible consequences of anger are aggression and violence. Higher levels of anger 10 11 are related to lower levels of social support and higher stress levels. High levels of anger expression have also been associated 12 with less frequent use of positive coping strategies such as actively addressing problems. Anger has also been linked with 13 14 mental health problems including depression and self-harm. In the United States, most murders are committed because of or 15 during arguments. Anger alone is not the problem. It is one of our most powerful and vital tools. It is necessary to our survival as individuals and communities. It has been and can be a powerful force for good in the world. But evidence suggests that it can do harm to individual and community health and well-being, and it can contribute to violence and tragedy. We can and should look for help with anger when it is causing us or others harm. 1.2 When is anger a problem? Outward expression of anger in modern life seems to be commonplace. According to surveys, 45% of us regularly lose our temper at work, with half of us having reacted to computer problems by hitting or screaming at our PCs, or screaming at or abusing our colleagues. More than 80% of drivers claim to have been involved in road rage incidents, while the incidence of ‘air rage’ went up by 16 400% between 1997 and 2000. At the more extreme end of the range, aggression can become entrenched in the everyday lives of some people, with destructive eff ects. According to Department for Education and Skills fi gures, the total number of school suspensions rose by 45,000 (13%) in 17 2005. Suspensions for physical assaults on pupils increased by more than 11,000 and on adults by nearly 2,500. According to the 18 TUC, one in fi ve workers is subjected to violence at work. The estimated total cost of domestic violence to society in monetary 19 20 terms is £23 billion per annum , and every third day a woman is murdered at home, often by her spouse. 1 Tafrate and Kassinove 2002; Kassinove, Roth, Owens and Fuller 2002, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 2 DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 3 Williams, Paton, Siegler, Eigenbrodt, Nieto, et al., 2000, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 4 Everson, Kaplan, Goldberg, Lakka & Sivenius, 1999 Stroke 30, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 5 Butow, Hiller, Price, Thackway, Kricker, et al., 2000, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 6 Adams, 1994; VanderVoort, 1992 Psychology and Health, August, 2005, 7 Kassinove, Roth, Owens and Fuller, 2002, Aggressive Behaviour 28, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 8 Awalt and Reilly 1997 Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 29, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 9 Quoted at http://www.jeanniehorsfi eld.com/anger.htm 10 Awalt and Reilly 1997 Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 29, DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 11 Diong and Bishop 1999, Psychology and Health, August 2005 12 Ibid 13 Clay, Anderson and Dixon, 1993, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol. 43, 1996 14 Mental Health Foundation, Truth Hurts, 2006 15 Source: FBI, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976- 2005.http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/circumsttab.htm 16 The Sunday Times Magazine, July 16 2006, quoted at http://www.angermanage.co.uk/data.html 17 The Independent 14 April 2007 18 TUC, June 2001, quoted at http://www.angermanage.co.uk/data.html 19 Quoted at http://www.womensaid.org.uk/landing_page.asp?section=000100010005 20 http://www.steppingstonesuk.com/anger.htm 10 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itIt is important to recognise however, that not all anger is ‘problem anger’, and that not all ‘problem anger’ necessarily leads to aggressive acts. For the purposes of this report then, we defi ne ‘problem anger’ as ‘any dysfunctional way of relating to and managing one’s anger that persistently causes signifi cant diffi culties in a person’s life including their thinking, feeling, behaviour and relationships’. The majority of people will experience episodes of anger that are within a usual and healthy range. For these people, learning how to deal with anger more eff ectively is desirable. Evidence outlined above suggests that learning ‘healthy’ ways of dealing with anger helps people to look after their mental and physical health, achieve goals, solve problems and nurture social relationships. However, some people experience anger frequently and intensely, and relate to that anger in a way that interferes with their relationships, often creating misery for themselves and others. It is this group that could be described as experiencing ‘problem anger’, and getting help with dealing with their anger could make a massive diff erence to their well-being, as well as the well- being of people around them. “Anger is a response to a perceived threat,” says Jeannie Horsfi eld, director of the Manchester-based organisation Steppingstones UK, which specialises in anger management. “But anger itself is not the problem; the problem for most people is the inappropriate expression of their anger and the damage this causes in their own lives and to the people in their lives. It can manifest itself in physical, mental and verbal assaults, relationship break-ups and bullying, frequent irritability and social withdrawal.” 1.3 Anger as a mental health issue The last century has seen a turnaround in the way that we understand health and illness in Western societies. The focus of healthcare has shifted to accommodate mental as well as physical ill-health. We are more aware of the damage that mental health problems can do to individuals and families. One in four British adults experiences at least one mental health problem in 21 any one year, and Mental Health Foundation research has put the overall cost of mental ill-health at almost £100 billion a year 22 in the UK. But the fi eld of mental health is not devoted solely to identifying and managing mental illness. The Mental Health Foundation believes strongly in the promotion and protection of good mental health for all. Keeping people mentally healthy is every bit as important as helping them when they experience mental health problems. Working to prevent mental health problems represents a sound and sensible investment of public money. Despite this, comparatively little emphasis is placed on promoting mental health and preventing mental illness in the UK. Getting help with managing anger is a good example of how individuals might protect and promote their own mental health. But anger has received relatively little attention in the mental health fi eld. A systematic search of one scholarly database by two anger researchers revealed 1,267 articles in the area of ‘diagnosis and depression’, while they found 410 similar articles relating to anxiety, and just seven related to anger. According to the academics DiGiuseppe and Tafrate: ‘The almost complete lack of discussion in the scientifi c literature indicates that psychology has not considered anger to be an emotional problem worthy of 23 clinical conceptualisation and attention.’ 24 Similarly, there are relatively few assessment instruments for anger, and little treatment-outcome research. So, according to DiGiuseppe and Tafrate: ‘Although research…affi rms the negative infl uences of anger on one’s health, work, eff ectiveness, interpersonal relationships and propensity to aggression, anger is rarely regarded as a debilitating emotion to the same extent as 25 anxiety and depression.’ While the Mental Health Foundation would argue that anxiety and depression are clinically constructed illnesses and anger is an emotion, there is an important point being made here. Sadness and fear, emotions which are entrenched in the conditions of depression and anxiety disorders, have been given much attention in psychology because of a drive to treat depression and anxiety, which are recognised as common mental health problems. Gold-standard research has been invested in to establish and grow the evidence base for treating depression and anxiety, and empirical evidence is mounting all of the time. At each stage the working models, methods and outcomes have been debated very widely. Anger, on the other hand, with ‘problem anger’ as its entrenched, dysfunctional form, has not received anything like the same amount of attention. 21 Singleton N, Bumpstead R, O’Brien M, Lee A, Meltzer H. Psychiatric Morbidity Among Adults Living in Private Households, 2000 London: The Stationery Offi ce 22 The Economic and Social Costs of Mental Illness, The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2003), updated and extended from England to UK in The Fundamental Facts, The Mental Health Foundation (2007) 23 DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 24 Ibid 25 Ibid Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 11 The psychology of anger has been left behind for reasons we will explore later, including the labelling of angry behaviour as ‘bad’, rather than ‘sad’ or ‘mad’, and therefore unworthy of attention and care. Understanding of anger and, more often, its outward expression in aggressive behaviour, is usually attempted largely from a criminal justice perspective. Given this background, it is perhaps not surprising that the options for people seeking help with anger are limited. But we are intervening too late if we can’t help people with anger before their behaviour requires intensive interventions in the criminal justice system. Greater recognition of anger problems could off er many opportunities for positive intervention in the lives of individuals and communities to benefi t their physical and mental health and overall quality of life. Anger must be everyone’s business – including primary care workers. This report is not designed to argue for new diagnostic categories to take account of anger as a ‘disorder’, although some 26 researchers and clinicians are strongly in favour of this. But problem anger contributes enormously to mental health problems, whether or not it constitutes a formal diagnosis in itself. We also want to understand the role that healthy expression of anger plays in mentally healthy individuals. Research commissioned by The Mental Health Foundation for this report reveals that as a general public we believe anger is increasing in our society, and that we overwhelmingly support the idea that someone with an anger problem should seek help. That help is most likely to be sought from our GP, or another health professional. And yet, because problem anger has received relatively little attention as outlined above, pathways to help are few and far between. GPs report that they have few options for helping patients who come to them with an anger problem – NHS-funded anger management programmes tend to be small, limited and infrequent, where they run at all – and psychology services are not geared towards the treatment of anger. The result is that problem anger may frequently be left unaddressed, perhaps until the person experiencing it loses their job, experiences a breakdown in their relationship or in extreme cases, harms someone else and comes to the attention of the criminal justice system. According to Mike Fisher, from the British Association of Anger Management: ‘You have a desperate population whose only way of dealing with these strong feelings is by addictive behaviour or taking medication for depression. We get hundreds of enquiries daily by email, as well as calls from local councils, doctors, youth off ending teams, social services, court services, HR departments and of course from private individuals, and they’ve got nowhere to turn. Nobody wants to fund it or invest in it. It only ever gets dealt with when someone who’s committed a crime or beaten someone up is actually found guilty, and then they’re on a six-month waiting list for programmes within the probation service – if they’re lucky.’ Clinical psychologist Jeff rey Deff enbacher says: ‘We have too long ignored or avoided treating clinical problems of anger, particularly those in the mild- to-moderate range. These are often the anger reactions that infl uence health, relationships, vocations and a sense of self, but do 27 not necessarily force people into therapy.’ Anger is not of course a subject solely for clinical psychologists. We should be aiming for a broader understanding of problem anger and need to enable a much wider audience across the health and social care spectrum to take it in. 1.4 What can be done about problem anger? This report has two related aims – to raise awareness about anger and how to deal with it among the population as a whole, and to encourage the development of more options and pathways for those people who might benefi t from help with problem anger. There are grounds for optimism with regard to both of these aims. Our poll results (set out in detail in section 3) indicate that we as a society are aware of anger as an issue to be addressed, and are keen to see it tackled in a positive, rather than just a punitive, manner. Meanwhile, our interviews with both professionals and patients reveal an enthusiasm for dealing with problem anger, and support for help being off ered on a much wider basis. However, for now, studies on anger interventions remain in their infancy, services are few and far between, and awareness about how to access the services that do exist is low. Widespread concern about problem anger revealed by our research is a strong indicator that the time has come for those in health and social care and the general public to develop a better understanding of how to deal with anger in the healthiest ways possible. This report aims to kick-start that process by revealing the public sensibility towards anger and the treatment of problem anger, examining the academic literature on anger, exploring how problem anger is currently addressed by health professionals, and off ering examples of good practice in the fi eld. Our guiding principle is that everyone can benefi t from taking account of how they deal with anger and how they can do it better. And that anyone who seeks help because they feel that anger is causing problems in their life should receive that help. 26 Di Giuseppe and Tafrate, 2007, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 27 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 12 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itAt the same time as launching this report the Foundation is running a public awareness campaign to encourage people to learn to cope better with anger. It is aimed at: 1. Anyone who feels anger more frequently and more intensely than they would like 2. Anyone who is worried about their own or a loved one’s anger and how they behave when angry 3. People who have recently been through an incident where their anger got out of control and they did something they regretted 4. Anyone who has suff ered a ‘loss’ in their life due to their own or someone else’s anger 5. Anyone who may be on the verge of seeking help for any mental health problem or is concerned about the mental health of a loved one. Improving awareness of anger and how to deal with it could lead to many benefi ts. We have already seen how anger is linked to many of the most pressing social problems we face, and so it seems logical that by learning how to manage anger appropriately, we might reduce the enormous cost – personal, societal and economic – of those problems. By providing improved access to support for those people whose anger is most troublesome, and by encouraging everyone to learn to manage anger st appropriately, we might be better equipped to cope with, and live well despite, the inevitable stresses of 21 century life. Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 13 Section 2: Theories on anger 2.1 What is anger? Anger is usually considered to be one of the core human emotions. While there are hundreds of emotional states, researchers have posited a few universal ‘basic’ emotions that have helped the human race survive. According to one infl uential pair these emotions 1 are happiness, anxiety, sadness, anger and disgust. Emotional states (sad, happy, angry, afraid) describe the way we feel, a result of a combination of physical, mental and social factors. These emotions help defi ne our reactions to situations - if we feel unsafe we may be afraid and fl ee, if we feel cared for we may be happy and sociable. The emotions help us decide how to act at every turn. Emotions are products of mind and body, and are extremely sensitive to our environment. Emotions have a strong physical basis: some experts argue that, because each emotion has evolved for a diff erent survival 2 strategy, each has a separate physiological response consistent with a particular strategy. In other words, each feeling prepares the body for a diff erent action. The physical, psychological and behavioural aspects of our emotions cannot be separated. While they have a powerful physiological presence, emotions are infl uenced by thoughts - our reasoning and deduction can cause anger, fear or excitement to increase or dissipate. Anger is closely linked to the ‘fi ght, fl ight or freeze’ mechanism that we employ in response to a threat. It is the emotion that predominantly allows us to select ‘fi ght’ from these three basic options. 3 Anger keeps our bodies and minds stimulated and ready for action, due to its arousal of the sympathetic nervous system. The resulting increase in heart rate, blood pressure, blood fl ow to voluntary muscles, blood glucose level, breathing rate, sharpness of the senses, and sweating, are needed for an alert or emergency. 4 Researchers have found that anger results in more sympathetically-aroused sensations than any other emotion except fear. This means it enables us to work very hard physically and mentally to put right a perceived ‘wrong’. This has been described by 5 behavioural psychologists as our ‘biological attack system’. 2.2 Why do we get angry? Anger has evolved for good reason. Throughout our individual and collective history, survival has depended on the energy and motivation generated by feelings of anger, triggering our desire to fi ght for change. It is important to note that ‘fi ght’ and ‘attack’ do not in this context mean acts of physical aggression, but any response to a stimulus that is designed to right a perceived wrong. The spurs for anger that we have today are much the same as the ones our ancestors had: we or our loved ones may be under physical threat, we may have suff ered a blow to our self-esteem or place within a social group, we may be losing a battle for resources, someone may have violated a principle that we as individuals or in a group hold to be valuable, or we may be thwarted or interrupted when we are pursuing a goal. 6 In groups and communities, anger has a ‘policing’ function. This is why it is often referred to as ‘the moral emotion’. Collective 7 rules of anger have been found to serve societies – and there are strong dictates collectively for what we can justifi ably get angry 8 about. A major function of anger in society is maintaining order and codes of behaviour. However, some of the emotional responses that our ancestors developed to enable them to cope with their everyday situations can seem confusing when we experience them in our everyday situations, especially if we don’t understand their origins, or why 1 Oatley, K. & Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1987). Towards a cognitive theory of emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 1, 29–50. 2 Di Giuseppe and Tafrate, 2007, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Beck. AT. Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence 6 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 7 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 8 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 14 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itthey are triggered in particular situations. For example, the feeling of overpowering rage some people experience when public transport lets them down and they are on their way to an appointment. Or the impotent frustration we may experience when our computer repeatedly crashes and thwarts our progress with a work assignment. Every individual has a diff erent set of triggers that may have been primed in our history to deal with a diff erent situation. An angry response can thus be activated in ‘inappropriate’ situations, causing what may seem to be an irrational emotional reaction. How we process our thoughts and feelings are key factors in dealing with the challenges of life. If we learn negative ways of coping this can create a vicious circle, as we are likely to teach these to our children. 2.3 What makes us angry? Several researchers have looked at which stimuli tend to result in anger. S Mabel in 1994 constructed one of the widest studies to date. After reviewing 900 stimuli and reducing these to 360, he administered a questionnaire to a cross-section of people. His 9 resulting analysis produced 10 distinct stimuli: 1. Interruption of goal-directed behaviour when time is important 2. Experiencing personal degradation or unfair treatment and being powerless to stop it 3. Being treated unfairly, unkindly or in a prejudicial way, whether or not one is present 4. Being the object of dishonesty or broken promises, being disappointed by others or oneself 5. Having one’s authority, feelings or property disregarded by others 6. Being ignored or treated badly by a signifi cant other 7. Experiencing harm because of one’s negligence towards oneself 8. Being shown by others’ behaviour that they do not care 9. Being the object of verbal or physical assault 10. Being a ‘helpless victim’ 2.4 Are we getting angrier? Many observers believe that societal changes are contributing to an overall rise in emotional problems. Oliver James and st Professor Richard Layard are two infl uential authors who have both examined life in 21 century Western society. James has 10 recently stated that we are we are getting angrier and Layard that despite 50 years of economic growth in the UK, we are no 11 happier. However, any changes we are witnessing are unlikely to be in the core structure of our basic emotions. Evolution is a slow process - rapid changes are instead occurring in our social habits, and economic and political circumstances, and how they infl uence our thinking, feeling and behaviour. According to researcher Carole Tavris: ‘The stresses of urban life are highly stimulating: frustration, noise, crowds, alcohol and sports do not instinctively generate anger, they generate physical arousal which, when coupled with a psychological provocation, can become the feeling of anger. Most of us don’t realise how often we are agitated by 12 the background stimulants of our lives’. “The pressures of modern day life put enormous stress on families, relationships, individuals and organisations,” says Jeannie Horsfi eld. “The result is we increasingly witness and experience greater levels of anger, frustration, irritability and stress.” 9 Mabel S, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13 (2) Di Giuseppe and Tafrate, 2007, Understanding Anger Disorders 10 Observer, 18 March, 2007 11 Layard, R, Happiness, Penguin, London, 2005 12 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 15 2.5 Are some people more angry than others? 13 The psychologist CD Spielberger has suggested making a distinction between emotional ‘states’ and ‘traits’ . States are individual episodes of an emotion, whereas trait refers to the tendency to experience the emotion frequently and intensely. Spielberger applied this distinction to anger and developed a measure that assesses anger as state and trait. His theory predicts that people who score high on trait anger will (a) experience the state of anger more frequently and more intensely, (b) experience anger at a wider range of provoking stimuli, (c) express anger more negatively and cope poorly with anger and (d) experience more dysfunction and negative consequences of anger in their lives. In short, some people are far more likely to react with anger to a range of situations and experiences. In one US study separating individuals into high-trait anger and low-trait anger people, anger-prone individuals were more than 14 twice as likely to have been arrested and three times as likely to have served time in prison. It is a common assumption that there are gender diff erences when it comes to anger. However, research suggests that men and women experience and express anger at a similar frequency, with similar intensity, and for similar reasons. It may be, however, 15 that men are more likely to display aggression, which is sometimes confl ated with anger. 2.6 What is the relationship between anger and aggression? Anger and aggression can exist independently of one another. Anger can be described as an emotional state, while aggression is a type of behaviour. In most other areas of psychology and health we distinguish very clearly between feelings and behaviours, 16 but there remains a widespread tendency to confl ate anger and aggression. We wouldn’t confl ate the behaviour of withdrawal (i.e. avoiding people and situations) with the feeling of anxiety, for example, but anger and aggression are often considered together. However, you can be very angry in the short and long-term with few or no outward displays of aggression. This confl ation is often cited as a reason for why anger goes largely untackled while aggressive behaviour is punished. Aggression is often adopted by an angry person in order to put right the situation they’re angry about. But feelings of anger are much more 17 common than aggressive actions. 13 Di Giuseppe and Tafrate, 2007, Understanding Anger Disorders 14 Di Giuseppe and Tafrate, 2007, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 15 Ibid 16 Ibid 17 Ibid 16 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it2.7 Are we developing new forms of anger? The media has developed a tendency to invent new angry emotional states to match social trends or technological inventions. The past decade has seen ‘road rage’, ‘air rage’, ‘parking rage’ and ‘net rage’, as outlined in section one of this report. None of the basic behaviour described is new, nor does it indicate that individuals are changing in their emotional responses to problems. st Similar provocations for anger have long been prevalent. Circumstances that are more common in the 21 century are causing us to look at them from particular angles and sometimes, to think they are new. We believe that common understanding of the forces behind current trends and daily events is limited by a lack of discussion of emotions in public debate. Following are three such examples, with some background information about what behavioural, evolutionary and social psychologists have suggested about them: Rage The idea of ‘rage’ attached to common, everyday annoyances is commonly off ered up in news stories. Shopping rage, trolley rage, PC rage, call-centre rage, even ‘pavement rage’ have been presented as modern-day plagues. In fact the patterns of anger and aggression that underlie these phenomena have been around for thousands of years, and have been explored and understood by theorists and clinicians. The triggers for many of these types of rage are well understood thanks to the frustration-aggression hypothesis presented by researchers before the 1 second World War. This proposed that frustration was the cause of all aggression, although there have been a number of revisions to the theory since the 1930s. It is the most widely accepted method of explaining the anger and aggression that ensue if we are interrupted while trying to achieve a goal. It stands to reason that humans need a powerful mechanism to help them overcome obstacles that get in their way, especially when trying to meet basic needs such as fi nding food, shelter or a mate. How else would our ancestors have been able to save themselves from becoming distracted, and where would they get the energy for removing or overcoming obstacles? It’s useful to remember that the same powerful mechanism that allowed our ancestors to remove the boulder or tree blocking his path is at work when our train breaks down and we are on our way to attend an appointment. The same frustration pathways alert our nervous system and physically arouse us. 1 Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer and Sears, (1939). Frustration and Aggression. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 17 Threats to ego and status In the 1980s, Harry Enfi eld, when playing one of his most popular characters, wore a t-shirt that read ‘Did you spill my pint?’. Catherine Tate plays a character today who asks: ‘Are you disrespecting me?’ Both of these capture a recurrent phenomenon: anger-provocation caused by insult; disparagement, or transgression of a boundary. Gang-related violence among teenagers has led to media speculation about a ‘respect’ culture dominating street behaviour codes. But anger related to the demand for respect is not unique to current generations of young people. Aaron T Beck’s work has been devoted to the evolution of cognitive (thinking) patterns, and why groups have such strong behavioural codes. Says Beck: “Disparagement, domination and deception, which represent threats to our status in a group and diminish our self-esteem, do not in themselves constitute dangers to physical well-being or survival. Yet we often react just as strongly to a verbal attack as we would to a physical one, and become just as 1 intent on retaliating.” At the centre of this is the tension between the egocentricity that has been necessary to individual survival and the thinking patterns we have developed to co-operate and live in communities. At one time, anyone who was excluded from their band would have risked attack from predators and denial of basic necessities such as food. Within groups our standing is therefore very important, as perceived slights may alter our position in the ‘pecking order’. According to Beck, the very capabilities we developed to protect ourselves - self-esteem and notions of group ‘standing’ - can hinder us if they are overactive in the modern age. He proposes that a further extension of this is what we would now view as a ‘code of the streets’, which means individuals need to be able to ‘respond promptly to any insult, real or imagined, to forestall being regarded as too soft to resist a more aggressive attack.’ Another well-known anger theorist, RS Lazarus, proposed that, when threatened, people appraise whether they have the resources to overcome the off ence by attack. If we believe that we are strong enough to repel the off ender, 2 then anger and attack are more likely to occur. If the off ender is perceived as stronger, then anger is less likely, and fear and escape more likely. This off ers an explanation for why an angry incident might be more likely to occur if the perpetrator is carrying a weapon. They are less likely to choose ‘fl ight’ when they are armed for a fi ght. 1 Beck, Aaron T, Prisoners of Hate, The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence, 2000, Perennial 2 Lazarus, RS. Emotion and Adaptation, 1991 Moral outrage Anger is not unique to individuals. Studies have looked at group anger, and how we adopt collective feelings of 1 outrage. Theorists have often presented anger as the ‘moral’ emotion , and a body of literature exists on the anger that results from a perception of immorality, or an individual going against a fervently held or sacred code. Evolutionary psychologists have written extensively about the moral codes that we have adopted as groups to 2 ensure survival. This ability to adapt and hold as sacred particular types of behaviour has been inherited from our ancestors and gives us the ability to abide by rules, laws, religious and moral codes, or professional practice guidelines. Revenge against people who break the rules and codes that we hold to be sacred are punished in the criminal justice systems of most societies, while the breaking of a moral code has been one of the stimuli for anger throughout evolutionary history. 1 Tavris C, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Simon & Schuster, 1989 2 Beck, Aaron T, Prisoners of Hate, The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence, 2000, Perennial 18 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itSection 3: The Mental Health Foundation survey 3.1 Introduction In order to fi nd out more about our attitudes towards and understanding of anger, The Mental Health Foundation commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey of adults aged 18+. This took place in January 2008 among a sample size of 1,974 people. The poll asked respondents about their experience of anger and how well they are able to manage it, about problem anger in people close to them, about their perception of anger in our society as a whole and about their knowledge of support available for people who have diffi culties with problem anger. The results are presented below: 3.2 Survey results (Table of results see appendix 1, page 32) Our experience of anger in ourselves and those around us: • Almost a third of us (32%) say we have a close friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger. This is higher among women (35%, compared to 29% of men), young people (36% of those aged 18-24, compared to 29% of those over 55), people in social grade C2DE (34%, compared to 31% of ABC1s) and people living in the Midlands and Wales (36%, compared to 29% of people living in London). • Less than one in eight of us (12%) say that we have trouble controlling our own anger. This is higher among women (13%, compared to 12% of men), young people (20% of those aged 18-24, compared to 7% of those over 55) and people living in Scotland (17%, compared to 9% of those living in the South of England). • More than one in four of us (28%) say that we worry about how angry we sometimes feel. This is higher among men (31%, compared to 25% of women), younger people (38% of those aged 18-24, compared to 17% of those over 55) and people living in Scotland (38%, compared to 24% of those living in the North of England). • One in fi ve of us (20%) say that we have ended a relationship or friendship with someone because of how they behaved when they were angry. This is higher among women (26%, compared to 14% of men), middle-aged people (25% of people aged 45-54, compared to 14% of those aged 18-24), people in social grade C2DE (22%, compared to 18% of ABC1s), and people in Scotland (24%, compared to 18% of those living in the North of England). Anger in society: • 64% of us either strongly agree or agree that people in general are getting angrier. This is higher among older people (68%, compared to 50% of those aged 18-24), people in social grade C2DE (66%, compared to 63% of ABC1s), and in London and the North of England (67%, compared to 56% of people living in Scotland). Only 6% of us disagree or strongly disagree that people in general are getting angrier. Getting help for anger problems: • Fewer than one in seven (13%) of those people who say they have trouble controlling their anger have sought help for their anger problems. Those who have were most likely to seek help from a health professional (such as a counsellor, therapist, GP or nurse), rather than from friends and family, social workers, employers or voluntary organisations. • 58% of us wouldn’t know where to seek help if we needed help with an anger problem. This is higher among women (61%, compared to 54% of men), young people (70% of people aged 18-24, compared to 40% of those aged 35-44), and people in social grade C2DE (61%, compared to 55% of ABC1s) • 84% of us strongly agree or agree that people should be encouraged to seek help with their problems with anger. This is higher among women (87%, compared to 81% of men), older people (87%, compared to 82% of people aged 18-24), and people in social grade C2DE (86%, compared to 83% of ABC1s). Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 19 3.3 Analysis These results suggest that diffi culties and fears around problem anger loom large in many of our lives, with the majority of us of the opinion that society as a whole is getting angrier (64%) However, they also indicate that while we recognise and are concerned about problem anger in others – almost a third (32%) of us saying that we have a friend of family member who has diffi culty controlling their anger – far fewer of us believe we have anger problems of our own – less than one in ten (12%), even though many more of us admit to worrying about how angry we sometimes feel (28%). This bears out the testimony of clinical practitioners, who report that people with problem anger sometimes fail to recognise that their anger is an issue that requires 1 attention. The results also show that we are overwhelmingly in favour of people with problem anger seeking help (84% of us strongly agree or agree that people should be encouraged to seek help for problems with anger). However, most of those who identify as having an anger problem (58%) do not know where to go for help, and only a very small percentage (13%) have actually tried to get help for their problems. Again, this bears out the testimony of people working in the fi eld, who report that pathways to help for people with problem anger are either non-existent or unclear, while many people are reluctant to seek help, perhaps because anger is a problem of which the person is not aware, or is not willing to do anything about, or because of the sense of shame they feel about having a problem with anger (see section 4). This suggests that much work needs to be done on encouraging people with problem anger to seek support, through awareness campaigns to help people identify their anger and appreciate the potential benefi ts of learning to manage it, though reducing stigma, through improved provision of services for people with problem anger, and through improved signposting of services in health and social care and the voluntary sector. It is interesting to note that most people who seek help do so from a health professional, suggesting that health service settings are those most likely to attract suitable candidates for services (as opposed, say, to employers or social services, with whom potential candidates for treatment may be less willing to engage). The results also reveal some signifi cant variations among diff erent sections of the population. Women are more likely to say they have a friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger (35%, compared to 29% of men), and slightly more likely to report an anger problem of their own (13%, compared to 12% of men). Women are also more likely to have ended a relationship or friendship because of how the person behaved when they were angry (26%, compared to 14% of men), and to agree that people should be encouraged to seek help with their problems with anger (87%, compared to 81% of men). However, men are more likely to worry about how angry they sometimes feel (31%, compared to 25% of women). This suggests that men are less able to recognise and talk about angry behaviour in themselves or others, even though they are much more likely to be worrying about the strength of their angry feelings. Generational diff erences are striking. In general, the older you are, the less likely you are to report having a close friend or family member with an anger problem (36% of 18-24s, 29% of over 55s), the less likely you are to be worried about how angry you sometimes feel (38% of 18-24s, 17% of over 55s), and the less likely you are to say you have trouble dealing with your own anger (20% of 18-24s, 7% of over 55s), but the more likely you are to say that people are becoming angrier in general (68% of over 55s, 50% of 18-24s). All of which appears to reinforce the position commonly articulated that anger is especially a problem for the younger generations. Meanwhile, people in the middle age ranges (25-54) are more proactive when it comes to situations relating to anger, with those in this age group with an anger problem more likely to have sought help (14-17%) than either the eldest or the youngest (7-9%), and most likely to have ended a relationship or friendship because of how the person behaved when they were angry (21-25 % of 25-54s, compared to 14-18 % of 18-24s and over 55s). This has been borne out generally in many studies which have found that we experience anger less frequently and intensely as we get older. There are interesting regional diff erences too. People living in Scotland are almost twice as likely to report having trouble controlling their anger as those living in the South of England excluding London (17%, compared to 9-13% in the rest of England and Wales), while those in Scotland also say they are far more likely to worry about how angry they feel (38%, compared to 24- 29% in England and Wales), and to report having ended a relationship or friendship with someone because of how they behaved when they were angry (24%, compared to 18-20% in England and Wales). However, people living in Scotland are much less likely than the rest of us to say that people in general are getting angrier (56% strongly agree or agree, compared to 63-67% in England and Wales). It’s tempting to argue that people in Scotland are angrier than those in England and Wales, but it could also be that they are simply more aware of their relationship with anger than those living further south. The Government in Scotland has made more signifi cant investment in recent years in promoting mental health and positive attitudes to mental health than the rest of the UK and this fact may be linked to our fi ndings. 1 DiGiuseppe and Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford, 2007 20 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about itThere are variations in the results from those in diff erent social classes, although these are small. People in social grade C2DE are more likely to report having a close friend or family member with an anger problem (34%, compared to 31% of ABC1s) and more likely to have ended a relationship or friendship because of how someone behaved when they were angry (22%, compared to 18%). They are more likely to think that people in general are getting angrier (66%, compared to 63% of ABC1s) and more likely to advocate encouraging people with an anger problem to seek help (86%, compared to 83% of ABC1s). Those in social grade C2DE with an anger problem are also less likely to know where they could go for help (39%, compared to 45% of ABC1s). However, while one might expect that those people at the less privileged end of the social spectrum might have more reason to feel angry, the impression from these results is that the experiences of and attitudes towards anger are not greatly diff erent across the social spectrum. 3.4 What do these results tell us? We know that one in four of us will experience a major mental health problem at some point in their life, most commonly depression and/or anxiety, and there is now general agreement among health practitioners, academics, the voluntary sector and government policy-makers that this is an area that requires urgent action – hence the considerable extra funding (£170 million 2 in 2010/11) recently allocated for improving psychological services for common mental health problems. These results indicate that although problem anger is less well identifi ed and is not necessarily framed as a mental health condition, it aff ects a similar number of people, and is a cause of concern for many more of us. Moreover, as a society, we are broadly in favour of encouraging people with problem anger to seek help. In the next section, we will examine what options are available to them. 2 http://www.mhchoice.csip.org.uk/ Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it 21 Section 4: Approaches to working with problem anger 4.1 Problem anger and how it is tackled at the moment Among those the Mental Health Foundation interviewed for this report, there was general agreement that options for helping people with problem anger are limited. As we saw from our survey, the most likely fi rst place for people to seek out help is their doctor’s surgery. And yet, according to Dr Caroline Chew-Graham, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ mental health clinical champion, there are few options open to GPs for helping patients who seek help with their anger. She says: “There is currently little anger management treatment available to patients who consult their GP. Patients with anger management problems do not fi t the criteria for referral to a Primary Care Mental Health Team. These tend to focus on people with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. GPs can refer people to the voluntary sector, but many do not feel confi dent to do this, either because they don’t actually know what’s available or they are not sure the service is suitable or quality checked.” This view is backed up by Jonty Heaversedge, a GP based in Southwark, South-East London. “When people ask for treatment because they’re angry, there’s nothing that I’m aware of that will specifi cally help them with that. It isn’t the same as someone coming in and saying: “I’m feeling low or depressed” or if they were having panic attacks – I’d be able to fi nd something individual for them there and then. So where people have identifi ed that they’re getting very angry at work or at home and they’re unable to cope with that, I feel at a bit of a loss. Either I’ve got to try and unravel it and see that they might benefi t from some form of therapy and hope that will help them to deal with their anger, or I can try to work with it as a GP. And even if you say: “I could send you to a counsellor to deal with some of the other things you’ve got going on and you might benefi t, they won’t necessarily understand that”. It would be great to have a specifi c referral for the anger so you could refer them for the problem that they had identifi ed.” Even when GPs refer patients on to Mental Health Teams, perhaps for other conditions, there may also be little they can off er specifi cally to help them address their problem anger. Indeed, the lack of available services was what inspired one team, based in North Essex, to set up an anger management programme of its own (see also pull-out interview in section 5). “We felt there was a gap in the service,” says Adewale Ademuyiwa, of the Waltham Abbey Community Mental Health Team. “We were getting a lot of referrals for anger problems and we didn’t have anywhere to send them.” It is encouraging that some health professionals are taking the initiative to set up their own schemes, and there are some good examples of anger management programmes run either within existing services or by agencies contracted by them (see section 5), but without systematic support, they are fi ghting an uphill battle. For example, the Waltham Abbey anger management programme is of short duration (7 weekly classes) and runs only 2-3 times a year. It has not been easy to recruit participants - “initially we were expecting a fl ood of referrals, but it’s been quite the opposite,” says Ademuyiwa – and participants “need more follow-up than we can aff ord to give them”. Ademuyiwa thinks the low attendance may be caused by the sense of shame people feel around having anger problems, but it could also be due to the inevitably limited nature of the service off ered and lack of awareness about its existence. Certainly having an anger management programme available on an occasional basis is better than nothing, but it may not be enough to encourage an often-resistant group into treatment. “We’ve had a couple of posters up in the surgery for both anger and stress management groups,” says Dr Heaversedge, “but they’ve been on specifi c dates so unless your problem happens to coincide with the particular course that’s running, you’re stuck. Courses are less fl exible both in terms of timing and in terms of the style in which they’re done, and not everyone is open to working within a group. I know that that can be a good way of running anger management, but I’ve still got to get a patient to do it. With anger, people must reach quite a signifi cant point to come to their doctor and say: ”I have a problem”, so I hate the fact that I have to say: “Well done’ for coming in, I’m not sure what we’ve got available, I might be able to off er you something in about 6 months”, or “Let’s wait and see if a course comes up some time next year on anger management.” 1 Dr Chew-Graham highlights a useful NHS self-help guide (‘Controlling Anger’) which contains local contacts for patients, and the NHS direct website includes information on a range of self-help methods for anger management (exercise, breathing techniques, relaxation), plus details of help that might be available via the health service (counselling, CBT, anger management or domestic violence programmes). It also recommends that ‘if you are unable to deal with your anger issues, speak to your GP for advice or 2 a referral for treatment’. But that referral is unlikely to be specifi cally for treatment tailored for dealing with anger, and, unlike for commonly recognised mental health problems, there are no NICE (National Institute For Clinical Excellence) guidelines to aid health professionals and policy makers. As Mike Fisher says: “Often you’ll get referred directly to your GP so there is an assumption that the GP is going to sort you out but then he says: “Sorry, I can’t help you”. That reinforces the desperation.” 1 Available at www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/27001309/ 2 www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=1890 22 Boiling Point Problem anger and what we can do about it

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