Calls for 24/7 drop-in service to help Dundonians tackling mental health issues

Calls for 24/7 drop-in service to help Dundonians tackling mental health issues



link to Evening Telegraph article here 

Niece of Dundee suicide victim says delays to prevention strategy will cost more lives

                           David Ramsay


Link to Dundee Courier article here 

‘Listen to patients’ – plea for mental health support

Inverness central councillor Richard Laird.

Disappointed: Richard Laird.

CRISIS talks to improve mental health support in the Highlands have been branded “disappointing”.

A seminar was held to help councillors understand the challenges these services are facing but it has been criticised for a lack of input from patients.

Councillor Richard Laird, who called for the event last year, said another meeting must be held so those effected can share their experiences.

The deputy opposition leader and gained unanimous support for a seminar to be held, when he raised the issue at a full Highland Council meeting in September and recounted the lack of help he received when he sought treatment for his own depression last year.

The meeting was held at the council’s headquarters in Inverness last week and although representatives from mental health support services Advocacy Highland and Highland Users Group attended, they were not invited to give a presentation.

Instead, councillors heard from NHS Highland, council staff and the police.

Councillor Laird, who represents Inverness Central, said: “To me and those support groups I have spoken to, the seminar was disappointing. “The most important voices are those belonging to the patients of mental health services but they went unheard at this seminar.

“While it was useful to hear from the council, NHS Highland and Police Scotland, I wanted councillors to also hear from the people who rely on these services.

“If more people living with poor mental health are not invited to the next meeting to share their experiences with councillors and those same agencies that attended the seminar last week then my motion will have been for nothing.”

Cllr Laird’s push for the event came just a month after a cut in the number of places at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital in Inverness. Bed numbers were temporarily reduced from 54 to 48 in August last year due to “extreme staffing pressures” but this was made permanent in December, when health chiefs decided to give more places to people with age-related illnesses such as dementia.

During the council debate last year, Cllr Laird said people suffering mental health conditions feel they are not taken seriously and that some have been turned away for treatment despite numerous suicide attempts.

Council leader Margaret Davidson said the seminar had been a success and that another one will be held to hear from more organisations.

“This excellent seminar was arranged today because councillors acknowledged that the provision of adequate mental health services in the Highlands is of the utmost importance,” she said.

“Today was a great awareness raiser and we had outstanding presentations from NHS mental health services, child and adult mental health and the police.

“We will be following this up with a second event so that we get a clear understanding about how we can improve and plan services together with partner agencies and the voluntary sector.”

Last year a report revealed NHS Highland was falling short of target times to treat people with mental health illnesses.

Performance indicators showed 78 per cent of patients waiting for child and adolescent mental health services were treated within 18 weeks of referral, falling far short of the Scottish target of 90 per cent, although other health boards in Scotland fared only slightly better with an average of 80.7 per cent.

NHS Highland’s rate of psychological services was better, with 87 per cent of patients treated within 18 weeks of referral, compared to the Scottish average of 72.4 per cent, both missing the 90 per cent target.



Link to The Inverness Courier article here 

Support offered after student, 24, found dead in Dundee halls of residence

An Abertay University student has been found dead in a halls of residence in the city.

Police were called to an apartment in Parker House near to Parker Street following the death of a man.

Police Scotland advised there was “no suspicious circumstances” following the death.

Staff working within the student accommodation declined to comment on  the incident that is understood to have left a number of students “shaken”.

The housing complex caters for both Dundee University and Abertay University students.

A number of students residing in the complex were unaware of the incident that happened last Thursday.

A spokesman from Abertay University advised that they were liaising with the family of the male whist offering support to students affected by the incident.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We can confirm that it attended at a student residence in Dundee on February 15 in connection with the death of a 24-year-old man.

“There were no suspicious circumstances, and a report was sent to the procurator fiscal.”

A spokesman for Abertay University said: “We can confirm an Abertay University student was sadly found dead at a student residence on Thursday.

“Our Student Services team is liaising with the family and additional support is being offered to all students at this time.”



Link to Evening Telegraph article here 

Dundee warned of “imminent mental health storm” following string of violent and shocking crimes

A series of horrific incidents in the city over recent months have had mental health identified as a potential factor. 

Dundee could be facing an “imminent mental health storm” in the wake of a string of shocking and violent crimes, a leading charity has warned.

A series of horrific incidents in the city over recent months have had mental health identified as a potential factor.

On Thursday, Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Stephen Brisbane, 32, who is accused of using a knife to chop off a disabled pensioner’s hand, will undergo psychiatric assessment to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

Just days earlier, Charles Little, 31, accused of murdering Gordon Diduca with a knife and crossbow last September, was told he must also undergo psychiatric evaluation, raising fears he too may never face justice.

A 44-year-old man remains under hospital supervision following the alleged murder of Mark Johnston in Broughty Ferry last October. No one has been charged.

The incidents have raised concerns over the way mental health is managed across the region and whether enough is being done to intervene when issues are identified.

Toni Giugliano, policy and public affairs manager for Mental Health Foundation Scotland advocates a community-based treatment model but urged policy makers to show a united front on the issue.

Toni Giugliano (left) and Liam Kerr MSP have both raised concerns

He said: “We are facing a situation throughout Scotland where when people are in crisis; they don’t know where to turn for help.

“Increasingly, we are seeing people reaching crisis point and going to A&E, which can often be the worst place for them due to long waits and a shortage of mental health professionals available.

“They go there because they’re used to it but often they aren’t getting the help they need. When that is the case, the worry is that they will just stop trying altogether.”

Labour MSP Jenny Marra led calls for a dedicated mental health unit in Dundee after Tayside’s divisional commander Chief Superintendent Paul Anderson said tackling such issues is the force’s “greatest challenge”.

Mr Giugliano said he would back calls for a roll-out of centres across Scotland because “people need to know where to turn”.

Chief Superintendent Paul Anderson

“We are facing an imminent mental health storm if we don’t reduce the number of issues people are facing,” he said.

“The number of people reaching crisis point is increasing and our focus has to be on reducing those problems and encouraging people to seek help.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said mental health has proved a “huge challenge” for police.

“Officers are coming into contact with people with mental health difficulties every day and it puts huge pressure on police resources,” he said.

“We believe there should be parity between mental and physical health, and that more needs to be done to improve capacity and staffing within our NHS.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “long-established” that individuals who cannot appreciate the nature or wrongfulness of their actions are not held responsible by criminal law. However, she insisted the government “fully recognises that mental health is a public health issue”

The spokeswoman added: “We are committed to ensuring people receive appropriate care and treatment that meets their individual needs, no matter the setting, with specific attention given to mental health.”


Link to Dundee Courier article here