A man whose entire adult life has been plagued by mental health difficulties believes a 24-hour crisis centre for those suffering in Tayside would be a “great idea”.
Marc McLeish backed the Not in Vain for Lee campaign aimed at setting up a round-the-clock self-referral service, warning vulnerable people desperately need more support resources across the region.
The 33-year-old, from Perth, said: “If something like that existed in Tayside, it would be great.
“I have probably had about 40 emergency assessments in total but in almost 90% of these, I have been sent away with no treatment.
“If there was somewhere that was 24 hours, then it could be the case that I would not have self-harmed as much as I have.
“It would be great to have one in Perth as well but Dundee would be a good start.”
Marc, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder aged 23, has spent his entire adulthood battling his demons and the years since his school days have been marred by repeated incidents of self-harming and multiple hospital stints.
He said: “When I was in my teens and early 20s I attempted suicide quite a few times by taking an overdose.
“I have been a prolific self-harmer since I was in my teens and I have probably done it up to 100 times in 17 years.
“I always felt like I was a bad person because I was gay and I believed I needed to be punished, so that’s what I have done.”
Marc’s struggles with his mental health have had a profound impact on his day-to-day life and he admits he has difficulty coping. He added: “I really don’t have a very good quality of life.
“For me right now, it’s not a day at a time but rather two hours at a time and that’s what’s getting me through.”
Marc spoke about his mixed experiences with health services throughout his struggles, having been admitted to hospitals in both his hometown and Dundee.
“The first inpatient treatment I had was probably about 10 years ago in the Murray Royal Hospital and I had no issues with the treatment there,” he said.
“My GP practice has been fantastic, but there is definitely a lack of resources in Tayside.”
Marc’s most recent stint in hospital was just last month, when he spent five days in the Carseview Centre in Dundee after being admitted following an appointment with his GP.
He also raised concerns that his time at the Dundee unit was spent unsupervised – so much so he claims he was able to harm himself twice during his stay.
He said: “In Carseview, I felt people were left to their own devices.
“I asked my named nurse for a razor, saying I wanted to shave and I was told that as long as I wasn’t going to harm myself, I could have it.
“I then severely harmed my right arm with the razor and the wounds were gaping wide.
“I discussed with my family whether I should leave and we came to the joint decision that I should.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment on matters relating to individual patients.
“However, we can confirm we are in direct contact with the patient’s family.”
A mum and dad who have been campaigning for a 24-hour crisis centre after their son took his own life have revealed their plans to raise thousands for a mental health charity.
Dad Lee Welsh tragically took his own life in August 2017 leaving behind a seven-year-old daughter, Poppy.
Lee, who was just 23, had battled mental health issues for almost a decade before he committed suicide.
In the years since, Phil and Lee’s mum Lesley Nicoll have been raising money for local mental health charities while continuing to campaign for a self referral crisis centre to help people who find themselves with nowhere to turn.
In only two years they have raised more than £10,500 for city charities and this year they hope to raise thousands more, topping the total amount raised last year. All the money is raised under the banner Not In Vain for Lee.
Phil said: “Our aim is to raise more money than last year for Haven and we already have three main events lined up.
“We will once more hold our soup and pudding lunch in May, there is a charity football match in June, and we will take part in the university abseil in August.
“We will also continue to hold a number of other small fundraising events and initiatives throughout the year all in Lee’s name.”
Phil said: “The Hearing Voices Network Dundee (Haven) is a small, service user-led charity which seeks to create acceptance that hearing voices is a valid experience.
“Haven provides support to voice hearers through a variety of projects, self-help groups, activities and supported volunteering.
“Our main aim continues to be a crisis centre. We were encouraged that in his independent inquiry report into mental health services, Dr David Strang spoke in favour of such a centre.
Almost half of Dundonians who have died by suicide sought help from crisis services in the year leading up to their death, according to official figures.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database (SSID) report shows that 45.5% of the city’s 198 suicide victims between 2011 and 2018 contacted one or more unscheduled care services in the 12 months prior to taking their own lives.
NHS Scotland’s latest update to the SSID comes after it emerged tragic TV star Caroline Flack had been visited by an ambulance crew at her London home less than 24 hours before her death on Saturday.
Two-thirds of those who sought unscheduled help in Dundee did so by calling for an ambulance – and half attempted to get support from the NHS 24 telephone service.
Just over a quarter of those who sought help from Tayside’s out of hours service, which currently operates from Dundee’s Kings Cross Health and Community Centre.
Researchers who compiled the SSID noted that people who went on to take their own lives were six times more likely to have had at least one contact with the ambulance service in the year leading to their death.
The out of hours service can make referrals to NHS Tayside’s Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) for cases of mental health crisis in Dundee.
However, staff working for the CRHTT have reported feeling undersupported as NHS Tayside focuses on inpatient services such as those offered at the Carseview Centre.
NHS Tayside is reviewing the SSID report, along with the final report published by the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside two weeks ago.
Mike Winter, associate medical director for mental health, said reducing suicide attempts was “a priority”.
He added: “NHS Tayside and partner organisations have been reviewing our crisis care and home treatment centres and working to develop a Psychiatric Emergency Plan.
“It should however be recognised that a key aspect of suicide prevention is the opportunity for people in despair to talk about their problems, whether this is to a work colleague, a friend or family member, or to a volunteer from Samaritans.
“The Independent Inquiry report will guide our further work on suicide prevention and other improvements we wish to progress.”
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said opportunities for health and care services to refer people for mental health treatment “cannot be allowed to be missed”.
She added: “Reducing mental health stigma needs our collective efforts, proper funding for health and social services, and joined up working so that there is no wrong door.”
Responding to the report, mental health minister Claire Haughey said £3 million of funding was supporting the Scottish Government’s existing Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Ms Haughey noted: “This report represents a significant contribution to the growing evidence base around suicide in Scotland which will inform current and future policy and activity.”
Support is available by calling Samaritans free 24 hours a day on 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parents of two young men who committed suicide after perceived failures of care by medical staff in Tayside have said they hope the deaths of their sons will not be in vain.
Dale Thomson took his own life in 2015 after spending time in Dundee’s heavily-criticised Carseview Centre, used to house and treat patients with mental health problems.
Dale’s heartbroken mum Mandy McLaren, a vocal critic of the health board and a campaigner for better mental health provision in Dundee, claims NHS Tayside “killed her son” and said she will “never forgive” the board and staff for the treatment Dale received.
She sat down for an interview with Tele, joined by Phil Welsh and Lesley Nicoll, who are also from Dundee.
Their son Lee Welsh took his own life in August 2017 after what the couple say were failings by his GP.
In 2016, while saying she could not comment on specific cases, the then-health minister at Holyrood, Shona Robison, apologised for any care which fell below the expected standard.
Ms Robison, who was replaced in the role by Jeane Freeman in June 2018, said: “If a service or part of the health service doesn’t meet the standards it should meet, then of course I would apologise to their family — whether that’s in mental health services or any other service.
“Obviously I can’t comment on individual cases to any great extent, because I’m not party to the full clinical information.
“Most of the time, our services are of a very good quality – sometimes services do fall short of where they should be.”
Mandy, however, said at the time the apology was “too little, too late” and should have been made to her personally.
Phil received an apology from the NHS after what was described as a “callous” response to Lee taking his own life.
Phil said he and Lesley were “disgusted” with the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership’s statement in the wake of Lee’s death.
They later received a personal apology from then-chief executive of NHS Tayside, Lesley McLay.
The website aims to share stories relating to mental health issues which can be shared with politicians, charities, and other people, in the hope that “funding and a fresh approach to the subject of mental health will finally be discussed and implemented”.
The family say that if they can prevent one family from enduring the same heartache they are currently suffering, Lee’s death will not have been in vain.
They are also campaigning for a crisis centre for people who can access acute mental health services without referral.
In the Trust and Respect report, it states that the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has been working with various agencies and bodies in Tayside “to support the drive to increase access to preventative and short-term interventions”.
A young woman pulled from the River Tay on Monday has died in hospital.
The woman, who has not been named, is understood to have been in the Tay at the south side of the road bridge for around 15 minutes before she was rescued.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Around 11.35am on Monday, 10 February officers responded to a report of concern for a woman in the River Tay near Dundee.
“A 32-year-old woman was recovered from the water and taken to Ninewells Hospital where she later died.
“There are no apparent suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
A statement from Broughty Ferry lifeboat crew said: “Broughty Ferry RNLI crews responded with both lifeboats to a report of person in river near to Tay Road Bridge.
“The call came in via coastguard at 11.37am. By 12pm the first lifeboat had arrived on scene to find the casualty had been removed from the water on to a local work boat.
“The casualty was then transferred to the all-weather lifeboat where crews provided emergency care during rapid transfer to lifeboat station, where the casualty was passed into the care of waiting ambulance crews.”
The spokesman said the conditions for the crew were difficult during the rescue.
He added: “This was a difficult rescue and the crew are all understandably subdued.”
The statement continued: “If you are worried about something or know somebody who needs help but don’t know how to approach things then call Breathing Space on 0800 838587.”
Controversial Carsview Centre has come in for more criticism after a barrage of complaints by former patients.
A number of former patients have contacted the Tele following reports of a death at the centre and criticised their treatment.
Now MSP Monica Lennon is calling for a probe into the claims.
She said: “It’s clear that there is something deeply wrong at Carseview and that NHS Tayside is failing to rebuild public trust and confidence in crisis mental health care.”
“These are very serious allegations and the former patients who have come forward should be commended for their courage.
“This is not an easy thing to do and they must get the right support if they decide to formalise their complaints. The Health Secretary wake up to what is happening and take urgent action.”
Meanwhile, two more ex-patients have come forward to voice their concern at the conditions they endured during spells in the centre.
One man, aged 52, from Dundee, said: “There should be some kind of inquiry.
“Are they waiting until someone dies or is seriously hurt before they are going to act?
“I was in Carseview back in 2013 for three weeks after a breakdown and was basically made to feel like a prisoner when I was escorted about the place.
“There seems to be no management structure in place. You get a little brown pill, or a little blue pill to calm you down. But you hardly meet any doctors and after you do then there is no follow up.
“You are like a case study, a guinea pig.
“You are brought in, escorted to your room and then the journey begins down hill.”
He added: “There is no segregation so there are patients who are psychotic mixing with others who are suicidal and others who have had a slight breakdown. It’s not right and it is time someone stepped in and did something about it.
“I actually made an official complaint when all my clothes that had been brought in disappeared. Nobody could find them and I kept complaining and tried to phone them up but they said they were too busy, or I just got fobbed off with emails and nothing much happened.
And another ex-patient from Dundee, a 60-year-old man, said he was admitted four times as a voluntary patient after feeling suicidal.
He said: “I witnessed lots of things going on that were wrong. And one time I saw four male staff who were trained, pinned down a young girl and stick a needle into her thigh.
“There should be a full investigation into what has been going on.”
NHS Tayside said it was unable to comment on individual cases, but urged former patients with complaints to contact them.