Tributes have flooded in for a talented Dundee junior footballer who has tragically passed away.
Downfield FC player Ryan Blair, 25, was found dead in the morning on Hogmanay.
His mum Tracey Samson has paid tribute, describing the dad-of-one as “football daft”.
She added: “Football and his family were his world.”
The huge Glasgow Rangers fan was considered one of the best defenders at junior level in the city.
Hundreds of people who knew Ryan have spoken of their shock and sadness after hearing the news.
The jovial left-back played for various sides in the city including Broughty Athletic, Lochee United, and most recently Downfield.
His former clubs have paid tribute to the self-employed steel fixer who worked alongside brother Paul.
Friend Sean Donaldson, who is the club photographer and social media manager at Broughty Athletic, said Ryan was the “cheeky guy in the team”.
Sean, 47, said: “He was always up for a laugh. He was the guy tripping people up and throwing balls at the back of his team mate’s heads.
“He had such a great smile and was likeable and lovable. He was just such a great young laddie.
“He had his whole life ahead of him and will be tragically missed.”
He added Ryan was “probably the best left back in the city” at junior level.
“He should have been professional. I remember when he signed for us. The manager at Broughty, Keith Gibson, spotted his potential when he was playing for NCR Amateurs.
“He made the jump up and was just such a natural footballer. We knew straight away we had one of the hottest properties.”
Downfield Juniors paid tribute online, saying: “All at Downfield JFC are devastated to hear the sad news of defender Ryan Blair passing away. Although not long with the club Ryan became a treasured team mate and friend of all at the club. Our thoughts are with Ryan’s family.”
A spokesperson for Lochee United added: “Everyone at Lochee United are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of former player Ryan Blair.
“Ryan was a well respected teammate and friend to everyone associated with the club. Our thoughts are with his family at this extremely sad time. RIP Ryan…Thanks for the memories.”
He leaves behind mum Tracey, girlfriend Becky Wilson, six-year-old daughter Ava, brother Paul, and sisters Ellis and Grace.
He also leaves behind many friends at his former clubs including close pals Kevin Milne and Greig McNaughton.
He attended Brackens Primary School and St Paul’s RC Academy.
The ambition of the new plan is to make sure everyone has equal access to support, and to ensure those with mental health disorders, substance misuse issues or learning disabilities experience the same mortality and physical health as the whole population and to make sure they are able to achieve education, employment and social goals.
A full life free from stigma and discrimination
This new redesigned service will be “needs-led” and “person-centred” to make sure the person with mental health issues is able to see the right professional at the right time and place.
The report states: “Mental health and wellbeing has a profound impact on quality of life.
“This strategy advocates a holistic approach and is fundamentally about achieving better mental health and wellbeing for all, where people in Tayside can live a full life free from stigma and discrimination.”
Work will be done to try to reduce the prevalence of common mental health problems through social prescribing and by promoting self-management of the condition with options for treating
mental health illnesses aside from taking medication.
Despite the high numbers on medication, the report details that medicines do not work for everyone.
Support 24 hours a day, including at weekends
Work will also be done to improve suicide prevention by making sure those struggling with suicidal thoughts are given the right help first time round, and to ensure support is available 24 hours a day, including at weekends.
For children and young people, they themselves as the patient will be put at the centre of planning their care, and a new perinatal and infant mental health team will be introduced in Tayside in 2021.
Crisis and urgent care will also be reviewed, wards will be improved to make sure they are safe and therapeutic, and treatment for those with emotionally unstable personality disorders will be improved.
A range of measures will also be introduced to improve staffing and staff morale in NHS Tayside’s mental health service after a culture of bullying was exposed.
The report states bullying and harassment will not be tolerated with conflict resolution to be improved.
More support will be offered to junior doctors and consultants on-call, training will be improved for junior doctors and more will be done to attract trainee psychiatrists to Tayside.
Furthermore, GPs and patients will be more informed on what mental health conditions can be managed in the community, and what conditions require hospital care.
Speaking at the meeting, Grant Archibald, chief executive of NHS Tayside, said it was clear changes had already been made to mental health services in the region.
He said: “When I first started the priority was mental health services.
“We recognised this was an area we wanted to demonstrate improvement for the whole population and we have involved people who bring in specialist skills and we have worked hard over many years.
“This was a commitment to change and to let our population know we really meant what we said.
“This is not just about inpatients, this is a far broader emphasis on the whole of Tayside because we can genuinely transform the landscape of mental health and wellbeing for the whole population.
“We said we would listen, we said we would learn, and now it is time for us to change.
“We need to let people know why this is better for the person sitting in Lochee, or the person in Montrose, who needs community-based mental health services, or hospital care, or just support to get their lives to a place where they are living well.”
Mental health experts in Dundee are urging city residents to stay connected this coming winter.
With Saturday marking World Mental Health Day, Wellbeing Works said the prospect of households not being able to mix indoors would have greater impact in the colder months.
As a result, people across Dundee are being urged to get outdoors – and take advantage of every opportunity to walk and talk with friends.
A recent YouGov survey revealed that more than eight in ten adults across Scotland have already experienced stress because of the pandemic.
And, although Scotland is not embarking on a new lockdown similar to that enforced during the first wave of the pandemic, cases of Covid-19 are again rising, leading to fears that more restrictions could be heading our way.
Social distancing and a ban on households mixing indoors, coupled with uncertainty over job security had already had a marked negative effect in Dundee, said Wendy Callander executive director of Wellbeing Works.
She said: “One concern which we’ve been focusing on is people’s worries about losing jobs and their income, and the impact that has on people when it comes to paying their bills.
“Another concern is for people who were already having issues with their mental well-being, and it seems like the biggest thing for them is just that they miss people.
“For a lot of them, being with family and friends keeps them well, it gives them a reason to get up in the morning and taking that away is always going to cause problems.”
Wendy also claimed that the holiday season, which is already a tough time for people who suffer from issues such as depression or anxiety, will be even tougher this year.
She said: “Anyone who celebrates Christmas is is already thinking to themselves that this is not good.
“I think that by the time we get to Christmas we will have had nine months of not being close with the people we care about, and for many it will be the icing on a pretty horrible cake.”
She added: “It is really hard for a lot of people to get their heads around it, and the other thing which doesn’t help is the confusion over messages, people are really struggling to understand what is going on.
“The best advice we can give people is just to stay in contact. Although you can’t visit people at home you can still meet up for coffee or go for a walk with a friend.
“We’ve been encouraging walking sessions, where you can get together and talk about what’s on your mind while you walk with someone.
“I think we all need to appreciate and understand that it’s okay to feel anxious, worried and scared, especially at this time of year.”
According to the YouGov survey, nearly four in ten people who had experienced stress because of the pandemic said that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as sleeping well and eating healthily, had helped them cope.
Four in ten people (41 per cent) said that doing a hobby was helpful.
Professor Tine Van Bortel, from the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University Leicester, said: “There’s a growing body of strong research evidence about the determinants of our health and wellbeing.
“That is replicated by our findings. Access to nature and safe green spaces, positive social contacts, healthy lifestyles and meaningful activities are all crucial, for us to function well.”
Phil Welsh, a local mental health campaigner who lost his son to suicide in 2017, warned that a socially-distanced winter will be difficult for many people.
He said: “It’s going to be a hard time.
“It’s coming up to those darker nights, and with that and the cold many people are going to be stuck inside.
“It’s really difficult to predict what will happen, but it’s definitely a concern.
“I think that, coming up to the festive season, a lot of people are going to blatantly ignore this advice because they’re going to want to see their families and friends for the holidays.
“It’s a pretty damning thought that a lot of people are going to be stuck, sitting on their own at home for Christmas.”
Libby Emmerson, founder of the charity, launched the organisation in 2018 after she attempted to take her own life and was saved by a footballer.
Through its patrons and ambassadors across Scotland – including local player and Ex-Aberdeen star Jamie Winter – the charity has been working on “changing room chats” to share stories and get people talking.
She added: “Every club we work with we’ve encountered three or four players who are facing problems.
“The service is completely confidential, even if it is just a chat with someone out with their family we are able to assess if they maybe need more support in the form of counselling.
“I thought it was very powerful the post Vicki Cairney had put out there. Around 60% of the folk we are working with just now are in the Dundee area.
“Some of those people are in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with us or just drop in-sessions.
“We will continue to work hard to help day and night to provide that support for those who need it.”
For those who would like more advice they can reach Libby Emmerson on 07528 243 100. If you’re struggling, you can you can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
Tonight at 8pm I will have Big Welshy (Phil), Lesley & Kirsty on the Show!These guys tragically lost a beautiful son & an amazing brother Lee 3 years ago to suicide!This inspiring family are coming on to tell their personal story & share some special stories about Lee as well as the struggles he went through in his life.This along with what they are up to now & campaigning to get a Crisis Centre set up right here in Dundee.This has actually been planned for a few weeks & I didn’t even realise it was landing right in & around this time!I’ve know these guys & Lee from I was just a wee laddie growing up on the Tap O’ the Hull & it’s an honour to have them on & really try to share their message & help save lives ❤️🙏🏼❤️http://www.notinvainforlee.co.uk/