Suicide prevention ‘not a top priority’ in Scotland

Hand on shoulder

A leading charity dealing with suicide prevention has said the Scottish government is not treating the issue as a top priority.

The Samaritans commissioned a poll which indicated 61% of people in Scotland have been affected by suicide.

Almost 40% of those taking part said they would not know who to turn to if they were supporting someone in crisis.

The Scottish government is drawing up a new prevention plan and said it was spending over £1bn on mental health.

In 2016, there were 728 probable suicides in Scotland. This was an 8% rise on the previous year.

Most of those who die are men, 71% in 2016.

Crisis support

The Samaritans poll, which included more than 1,000 people in Scotland, found:

  • 61% of people in Scotland have some experience of suicide
  • 89% would support suicide prevention training for professionals
  • Almost 40% would not know where to turn if they were supporting someone in crisis
  • 29% have either supported a close friend or family member through feelings of suicide, or lost a close friend or family member to suicide

Samaritans executive director for Scotland James Jopling said: “This shows this issue may not be taken as seriously as it should be; that it’s not an issue we are seeing embedded in the Justice Department, in education and how we support young people.

“In other functions of government we are not seeing the reflection of this issue. Our feeling is, it’s not being seen on the levels it should be.

“We have a dedicated mental health minister, she should and can be the person to champion our efforts on this and that’s what we want to see.”

Investing resources

The Scottish government is drawing up a plan for suicide prevention, with the consultation on it closing earlier this week.

Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt said: “We are investing more and more money in mental health every year.

“The past year (2017/18) we saw for the first time £1bn invested in mental health and now we’ve got an extra £150m on top of that for this next year.

“Mental health and suicide prevention is a very important part of the Scottish government’s actions going forward.”

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‘Kindness and compassion’

Four years ago, 28-year-old Nicola Saunders tried to take her own life.

She had been struggling with mental health problems since she was 10 years old.

Nicola Saunders

“Physically, I felt as if there was a ball inside of my stomach, that it would squeeze quite a lot and when it squeezed I couldn’t bear it, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and scream and cry.”

With nobody close who could help her and she says she felt totally alone.

“I was in the psychiatric unit for three weeks. I didn’t have any support, I didn’t really have any familial support.

“I was discharged and I didn’t have any support in place whatsoever. I didn’t have anywhere to live at the time and I was basically told that if I was going to leave I would be homeless.”

Nicola now runs a survivors group, offering help she felt was missing for her at the time. She is calling for a more open discussion around suicide in Scotland.

“Kindness and compassion is what is needed,” she says. “I think we just need to not be afraid to talk about it, openly, then it’s not scary and it’s like, we can solve this.”

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Details of organisations which offer advice and support are available at BBC Action Line or you can call for free, at any time, to hear recorded information 0800 066 066.


Link to BBC News here

24-hour mental health service launched to support police officers on the beat

The service has sparked a fall in the number of times police were forced to hold someone under the Mental Health Act

Triage: (L-R) PC Bond, Selena Cox, Manager of the Single Point of Access, Dr John Lowe, CNWL consultant, Superintendent Mark Lawrence, Joanna Williams, Manager for K&C Acute Home Treatment and Rapid Response,  Robyn Doran, CWNL COO, PC Al-Hagassi, PC Adil, Joseph Odior, Senior Practitioner Home Treatment Team, Claire Bowden, Metropolitan Police
Triage: (L-R) PC Bond, Selena Cox, Manager of the Single Point of Access, Dr John Lowe, CNWL consultant, Superintendent Mark Lawrence, Joanna Williams, Manager for K&C Acute Home Treatment and Rapid Response, Robyn Doran, CWNL COO, PC Al-Hagassi, PC Adil, Joseph Odior, Senior Practitioner Home Treatment Team, Claire Bowden, Metropolitan Police

An emergency mental health hotline has been introduced in west London to provide on-call support for police on duty.

The 24-hour hotline will put officers in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster in touch with ‘rapid response’ mental health professionals who can be deployed to help them.

Police will be able to access the service when they are on the beat in London and come across someone who may be suffering from a mental health episode.

A pilot of the scheme was launched in areas across the capital to help officers deal effectively and appropriately with call-outs about mental health sufferers – which make up a large number of 999 callouts.

Data has already shown that in the first two months of the service, the number of police imposing a Section 136 (of the Mental Health Act) dropped by almost 80 per cent.

In the pilot area, cases of Section 136 dropped from 138 per month to 29 per month within three months. In parts of north west London without the service, the number of Section 136 orders imposed rose slightly.

Triage: The new service is being rolled out in London boroughs

Officers are trained in detail about mental health and have the on-call service where they can speak with professionals and describe the symptoms or behaviour of the member of the public they are dealing with.

They are given advice by the specialist triage team, who can make a referral to the Mental Health Crisis Resolution Team or deploy immediate on-scene help from a member of the Rapid Response Team.

The service, launched by Camden and North West London (CNWL) trust is not the first of its kind in the capital but differs in the sense that, instead of having mental health specialists on the streets with beat officers, they are accessible any time over the phone.

Met mental health lead Superintendent Mark Lawrence said the issue “places a huge demand on police” and said officers attend mental health calls on average every 12 minutes.

“This collaborative approach to policing mental health will enable officers to provide a more informed and effective resolution, and signpost people in mental health crisis to the appropriate service,” he said.

Dr John Lowe, CNWL consultant, added; “By reaching across traditional boundaries in a supportive and constructive way … Street Triage shows how closer inter-professional working between Mental Health Services and the police can be of huge benefit to users, staff and services.”

He added that the advice received by officers has allowed them to consider alternatives to a section 136 – the Mental Health Act which allows police to hold members of the public.

“According to our preliminary data from the project, the use of section 136 has already been reduced across Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster which is great news,” Dr Lowe added.

The Single Point of Access Team already take calls from people in a mental health crisis, and organise mental health support such as making an urgent referral or calling a triage team who will head to the scene to intervene in person.



Link to the Evening Standard article here 

‘Mentally ill’ man left in cell at Dundee police HQ after transport dispute between Tayside and Fife officers

Police headquarters in Dundee.

A man who is said to have mental health issues was left languishing in a police cell for an extra night amid an argument over who should transport him to hospital.

Kyle Forbes told police he had taken an overdose of his medication but when he was taken to A&E at Ninewells Hospital he became aggressive and committed a breach of the peace.

Forbes, 25, of Acorn Court, Cellardyke, admitted at Dundee Sheriff Court that on December 23 he behaved in a threatening or abusive manner.

Fiscal depute Joanne Smith told the court that police had received a call from Forbes saying he had taken pills and they attended with an ambulance crew.

He became aggressive at Ninewells and swung a chair around and called a doctor a “cow”.

He was placed in the cells that day and was due to appear in court on December 27.

However, a police doctor was of the opinion that Forbes was a danger to himself and he was not brought up from the cells to appear before a sheriff. Instead, it was arranged for him to stay at Stratheden Hospital in Cupar.

His solicitor Sue Williams told the court there was a dispute between police from Tayside and Fife divisions over who should transport him to the hospital so he remained in the cells overnight.

Mrs Williams said that on Thursday December 28 the same doctor had seen Forbes in the morning before his court appearance and was now of the opinion that he did not need to be medically assessed, as the opinion of NHS Fife was that his problems were drug or alcohol-related.

She added: “He is quite clearly unwell and he is on medication for depression, so he has obviously been assessed as having a mental health issue.

“This doctor thought there should be an order for him to be assessed and there was a bed for him on Wednesday night but now today he has changed his mind.

“I’m very disturbed about this because he has been in a police cell since December 23.”

Sheriff Lorna Drummond said she was concerned about the situation but had been told by the Crown that Forbes doesn’t have a medical disorder.

Mrs Williams moved that Forbes be remanded in custody for three weeks for a medical assessment and Sheriff Drummond agreed.

Sentence was deferred on the breach of the peace matter until January 17.


Link to Dundee Tele article here 

‘You’re not alone’: Aaron Lennon urges people with mental health issues to seek help as he breaks silence on ‘tough times’

The Everton winger was detained under the Mental Health Act in May after suffering from a stress-related illness.

Aaron Lennon has opened up about his mental health problems in an emotional New Year’s Eve message.

The Everton winger was detained under the Mental Health Act in May after suffering from a stress-related illnes

England international Lennon returned to pre-season training in the summer and has made 17 appearances for the Toffees this campaign.

And he wrote on Twitter: “2017 has been a year I’ll never forget and there’s so many people I wanna thank for making the year end in such a special way. I can’t name everyone individually but a lot of you know who you are.

Lennon in action against Arsenal earlier this season 

“Again I want to thank my family and friends, everyone at Everton Football Club, the fans and everyone at the hospitals.

“I’d especially like to thank every at The Priory for being there for me through some tough, tough times and everyone who send me get well messages.

“With all your help I’ve managed to get myself in a great place and [I’m] loving each day like you should, and learning so much about myself and learning how important the mind is and what I need to do to look after it.

 “Also I want to say again that anyone needing help or not feeling right, there’s so much help out there; you are not alone.
The winger has made 17 appearances this term 

“Please seek this help and believe the tough times are not forever. I’ve also been asked a lot why I haven’t spoken out or done more things on the situation. I will be doing in the near future, I just haven’t yet as the time hasn’t been right.

“Lastly, I just want to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018, it’s going to be a great year.”

Lennon, 30, joined Everton from Tottenham for £4million in September 2015 after a successful loan spell at Goodison Park.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article you can freephone the Samaritans on 116123 at any time of the day or night.



Link to The Mirror article here 

‘Being sectioned, I felt shame’ Frank Bruno speaks about battling with his mental health

BOXER Frank Bruno has spoken of the “shame” he felt after being sectioned for mental health issues and told how “ego” can stop men from seeking help.

Frank Bruno

Frank Bruno says he felt ‘shame’ after being sectioned for mental health issues

The former heavyweight also said prescription medication made him suicidal. And he compared his battle back to health to fighting an “opponent” in the ring.

He now credits regular exercise and appreciating the simple things in life for restoring his health and bringing him contentment

Frank, 56, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2003 when he suffered a nervous breakdown and twice again in 2012 after concerns over his bipolar disorder.

In a moving interview, Frank said: “Being sectioned, police coming down to my house and an ambulance taking me away. What was going through my mind was shame, all the neighbours know what you’re going through.”

The father-of-four added: “To be able to overcome mental health, you need to take control and have the support of others, too. It’s a man’s ego thing, if someone says go get help, you don’t, you refuse to and you refuse to go to the doctor.

“I can be stubborn. The first thing was me admitting it. The more you keep it in the more you explode when it comes out.

“So, if you’ve got something wrong with you, there are people to see.”

Although he had been struggling before his divorce from wife Laura in 2001 and retirement, a lack of routine and fights to prepare for hit Frank hard.

His life spiralled out of control and his behaviour became unpredictable, suffering hyperactivity and insomnia.

He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed strong medication, leaving Frank battling the biggest fight of his life.

He said: “Your brain is the most important thing out of anything in your life to look after. The medication they gave me, the side-effects kick in.

“They are filling up people with these [drugs] like zombies. The medication made me suicidal, they mess up your head and you can’t sleep. I’m up walking around, breakdancing, so much energy, like superman, and going in the gym all the time.”

Frank added: “We’re all under pressure…it’s how you handle it. How you really take it in mentally and are strong enough to take the mental opponent on and beat it with your willpower.

“I go to the health club quite a lot. I go there in the gym, use the sauna and go for a swim. I eat healthy food and get the right environment around. That relaxes me.

“Exercising the body makes the mind better. Always look after yourself, watch your diet. You go to the gym, get your heart working, heart rate up, you feel so much better. Physical activity can have a profound impact on your mental well-being.

“Some days you have more energy than others, but you’ve got to learn to survive. You may have a mortgage and you can’t pay the mortgage, you’ve been kicked out of your house, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and keep ducking and diving.

“I’m content for what I’ve got and I’m grateful for what I’ve got. I used to have more things than now, but I’m grateful now. Having health, physical and mental, gives me contentment.

“As long as I put food on the table and I get out of the house,” he admitted.

“I’ve got some nice suits, got a nice car, but there’s only one suit you can wear, only one car you can drive. So, as long as you’ve got your health, that’s the most fascinating thing. And contentment when you wake up in the morning.”

“Family life is good, everything’s fine, I can’t grumble one little bit. I wake up in the morning and breathe and be happy, just duck and dive. What else can you ask for? I’m grateful.”

Frank now runs The Frank Bruno Foundation, a charity which runs boxing and wellbeing programs to boost mental health among children, young people and adults.

He also paid tribute to fellow charity campaigner Prince Harry, who he has met on a number of occasions “The royal wedding is coming up soon. Prince Harry is a very nice lad. I met the Queen several times.

 “I’m a supporter of Prince Harry, he’s done a good job for racial equality and good luck to him. I wish him the best.”
Frank also admits that he suffered racism and bullying during his life.

“I did suffer bullying and racism, but everybody suffers that in some shape or form, but I dealt with it.

“[Bullies] feel brave with their crowd. I’ve been in situations and there’s been a crowd of people chanting different things, but as soon as you confront them one on one they back down.”

Frank’s boxing career ended in 1995, but he remains one of Britain’s best-loved sports stars.

He won 40 out of 45 professional fights and was crowned champion of the world in 1995.

His boxing career may be behind him, but we may see him turn to training boxers instead, hints Frank.

“I’m not making a comeback in the ring, by the way,” said Frank, adding: “I do have my trainer’s licence now.”




Link to The Express article here 

Pupils suffering from anxiety and depression to receive counselling in schools

Critics say 2019 launch of vital mental health plan is not soon enough

Sad girl on stairs
 Some children have been waiting up to 18 months for support from NHS child and adolescent mental health services. 

Children suffering from anxiety and depression will be offered counselling at school under government plans to tackle a widely reported crisis in young people’s mental health. Pupils in England will be able to attend sessions with therapists at school or college in an attempt to stop any psychological difficulties deepening into lifelong issues.

Every school will also be required to appoint a teacher to co-ordinate improved support for the fast-growing number of children who are struggling mentally, many self-harming as a result of bullying, exam stress, dissatisfaction with their body shape, troubles at home and other factors.

The plans are included in a government green paper to be launched on Sunday by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and education secretary Justine Greening.

A new guaranteed maximum four-week waiting time for children with more complex problems to access NHS child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) will be phased in. That is a response to concerns that many vulnerable under-18s, including some who may be suicidal, are being forced to wait for care or even denied help because Camhs care is overloaded.

“Around half of all mental illness starts before the age of 14 so it is vital that children get support as soon as they need it – in the classroom. If we catch mental illness early we can treat it and stop it turning into something more serious,” said Hunt.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the charity YoungMinds, welcomed the plans. “We are facing a crisis in our classrooms and far too many children are not getting the support they need. Too often we hear from young people who have started to self-harm, become suicidal or dropped out of school while waiting for the right help,” she said.

The improvements will begin in 2019 and be backed by what the government says is £300m of new funding over several years, which is on top of the £1.35bn the coalition government allocated to children’s mental health up to 2020.

The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents most primary school heads, welcomed the four-week Camhs waiting time as an “extremely important step forward”. Under-18s are currently enduring waits of as long as 18 months, the NHS regulator said recently.

Around £215m of the £300m will fund the creation of mental health support teams in schools. Ministers intend that several thousand new “children and young people’s wellness practitioners”, therapists providing mainly cognitive behaviour therapy, will undertake most of the work with pupils, but with school nurses and educational psychologists also involved. Ministers hope that this increase in early intervention will reduce the number of children who go on to struggle mentally as adults.

However, the initiatives will initially be piloted to assess their effectiveness, so the new forms of support envisaged will not be available across England until an unspecified time in the 2020s. The government’s ambition is only that they have been put in place in a fifth of the country by 2022-23.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, a children’s psychiatrist who chairs the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent faculty, said she was frustrated that more help would not be put in place sooner. While welcoming the four-week treatment pledge, she also queried where the extra mental health professionals would come from to provide speedier Camhs care. Official figures show that the number of specialist children’s psychiatrists working in the NHS in England has fallen since 2013.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, chair of the health select committee, welcomed the announcement but said she was keen to see more details. “We need to have a much greater focus on early intervention and prevention. Any money going into that is a good thing,” she said.

She welcomed better coordination between schools and the NHS, but said that some schools were already working well with the health service and others should learn the lessons from those places. “It’s often down to resourcing,” she said. “Most young people prefer to have these services delivered in a setting of school because it’s much easier to access. Children don’t necessarily want to feel stigmatised by a referral to psychiatric services.”

Catherine Roche, chief executive of the national children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said: “We welcome the commitment demonstrated by the green paper, and are heartened to see recognition of how vital it is to provide mental health support in schools. We believe that a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health is essential to build a culture of openness and understanding, with appropriately qualified mental health professionals available when needed.”

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, the coalition’s mental health minister, said: “We published the Future in Mind report in March 2015. It was a blueprint for modernising children and young people’s mental health services. They have failed to drive the implementation of that blueprint. Why should we have any expectation that this will be any different? They should have just implemented it. At its heart it was all about linking schools much more closely with mental health services. Two years on, deja vu.”

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister for mental health, said that the plans left “many unanswered questions”, including over funding and whether every school would be able to help every pupil who needed it. “The Tories’ record on children and young people’s mental health has been shocking, with a postcode lottery of provision across child and adolescent mental health services and many long waits for treatment,” she said.



Link to original Guardian article here