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.
The festive season might seem to fill everyone else might be full of excitement and anticipation, but you can’t shake the nagging feeling that your mental health is about to take a turn for the worse.
It might feel counterintuitive that a period of family, time off work and eating your body weight in chocolate could make you feel low, but many people find exactly this in the run up to Christmas.
The reasons for this can be very personal (perhaps you’ve lost someone close to you and the holidays remind you of this) but there are lots of common things that might be triggering this feeling too.
So HuffPost UK spoke to experts who specialise in anxiety, depression, and more general mental health to ask why these things can be triggered at this time of year.
Why does my mental health get worse at Christmas?
It’s no surprise that many people worry about being able to afford all the extra expenses the season brings, especially as the costs just keep racking up, and knowing that this will continue into the new year can make the problem even worse.
A spokesperson for Anxiety UK says: “Financial difficulties may cause a great deal of anxiety at Christmas with presents to buy, outfits to pick out and all the festive ‘essentials’, such as tree decorations and gift-wrapping that need to be considered.
“Navigating your way through crowded shopping centres can also prove to be a nightmare.”
A 2015 survey by Mind found that 20% of people have felt lonely during Christmas as not everyone has family or friends to spend it with, and those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one may find Christmas particularly difficult.
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, says: “At Christmas existing problems can seem even bigger – if you are lonely, it can highlight how lonely you are and make you feel that you should be socialising.
“Although loneliness itself isn’t a mental health problem, the two are often strongly connected and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health.”
More Social Engagements
This might seem ironic given that many people struggle with loneliness, but those people who do have active social lives might find this doesn’t solve the problem either, as this party season can be overwhelming.
The Mind survey also found that 19% of people had pretended to be sick to get out of staff Christmas parties and 25% of adults in UK feel anxious about social gatherings during the festive period.
If you do make it out of the house, the amount you are drinking at this social occasions (and just about anywhere else around Christmas) can make mental health worse as well, as it exacerbates anxiety.
Chloe Brotheridge, an anxiety expert at Calmer You, says: “Despite its association with merriment, alcohol is actually a depressant, it lowers our sleep quality, and many people experience hangover anxiety (hangxiety) the day after a big night on the booze.”
Everyone knows that social media can be the perfect catalyst for perpetuating feelings of low self-esteem and self-comparison, as it encourages us all to believe we should have a perfect Christmas.
The Anxiety UK spokesperson added: “Those of us with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may feel even more pressure to have a ‘perfect holiday’ as our feeds continually update us on the developments of other peoples’ lives.”
Darker evenings and colder weather can have an impact on our daily lives, and going for days without seeing any sunlight may lead to feelings of sadness.
What can I do to improve my mental health at Christmas?
Share Your Feelings
Whether it is with family, friends, or a trained counsellor, sharing how you are feeling is the first step towards making things better at any time of the year.
Stuart Hill, senior digital lead for the Mental Health Foundation, says: “It’s hard to admit that at such an exciting time of year you don’t actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. It’s part of taking charge of your mental wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.”
Get Out Of The House
It can be tempting just to hibernate, avoid social engagements, and not leave the house, but Hill says that you shouldn’t let the cold weather put you off.
“It’s no surprise that cold weather and short days are not the greatest motivation to get you out of bed and on a 5k run! But research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate, sleep and feel better,” says Hill.
Take A Break From Social Media
If you think that social media could be playing a part in how you’re feeling (it is likely to be doing so) then why not take a digital detox and step away for a little while. It can be 24 hours or days, depending on how you feel, but you might be surprised by the difference.
Buckley says: “If you are feeling bombarded by external pressure to be spending money, socialising and having a good time over the festive period, you could consider taking a break from technology and set aside some time each day to do something else you enjoy like reading a book or watching movies.”
Give Some Thought To Self-Care
As soon as our mental health suffers, we can all be guilty of not taking the time to address our own self-care (especially around Christmas when we are so busy with other commitments).
Botheridge says: “If it’s not scheduled in, it often doesn’t happen so I believe we need to schedule our downtime and self-care to ensure we make it our priority. Several times a day, check in with yourself and ask yourself – how am I speaking to myself right now?”
Eat Well And Drink In Moderation
Of course we want to stuff our faces completely overindulge, but actually this can just contribute to an all-round ill picture of health (not just mentally).
Hill says: “For example, too much sugar can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and wellbeing in the short and long term.
″[And] some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary. It’s great to catch up with friends or colleagues in the pub – spending time on good relationships is essential for good mental health – but know your limits. It’s important to maintain your wellbeing, too.”
The gap in life expectancy between men from poorer and more affluent areas of Dundee is the worst in Scotland.
Figures from the National Records of Scotland revealed men living in the city’s most deprived areas will die, on average, at the age of 68, but men in the city’s least deprived parts will live to 82.
The gap is the widest in Scotland.
For women, those living in the most and least deprived areas have a life expectancy of 76 and 83, respectively.
Jimmy Black, who chaired Dundee’s Fairness Commission, said the disparity was a “scandalous statistic”.
He said: “There are a lot of factors that contribute to that — such as when young men commit suicide or die as a result of the misuse of alcohol or drugs in their twenties, thirties or forties.
“There are a lot of problems that tie into poverty, such as people not being able to live as well as those in better-off areas, but I know the council is working to do something about it.”
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said the council was “absolutely determined” to improve life chances for people in the city through the newly launched City Plan.
He added: “We are acutely aware of the issues of low life expectancy in the city and we are working hard to tackle the causes, which are many and varied. There are no easy answers. We know there are huge challenges in our city and we do not underestimate the tasks that we face.”
As a whole, Dundonians are expected to live longer now than they were at the turn of the millennium. Average life expectancy across the city is 74.5 years for men, based on analysis carried out in 2014-16 and 2016, up from 71.9 years in 2001-03. Women are expected to live for 79.6 years on average, up from 77.7.
However, the almost entirely urban council area is near the bottom of the national tables and far below the Scottish averages of 77 years for men and 81 years for women.
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “Across Tayside, in those areas where there is higher deprivation, people have a much higher chance of poorer health. There are a number of ways people can better their health, giving up smoking being the most significant.
“Smoking makes the biggest difference to life expectancy.”
At a time of year when most people are enjoying themselves there are many who cannot join in, but despite the challenges services face, help is available.
Christmas is a time for joy, celebration and bringing together family and friends to share this merriment. While taking nothing away from this much needed festivity, spare a thought for those who are less advantaged – particularly those with mental health problems.
Mental illness transcends all ages and backgrounds. Almost one in four adults have a mental illness at some point in their lives, such as stress, anxiety, depression or psychosis.
An individual’s emotional health can also have a great impact on physical health, and poor mental health can lead to problems such as alcohol and drug abuse.
And so, at a time when the rest of the nation is busy celebrating, there are many who just cannot, rather than will not, be able to do so because of their mental ill health. Indeed their inability to join in on the fun can exacerbate their isolation.
The environment we live in plays a crucial role in the genesis of mental illness. Austerity is certainly not good for mental health; it affects those in lower income brackets, and those at particular risk of mental disorders, the hardest. Public spending cuts have hit some of the most vulnerable sections of society – those in receipt of social care or on pension credits, and disabled and unemployed people.
So where might someone go, if their mental health is failing? NHS commissioning for mental health services has been nothing short of a disaster and an abject failure in many places.
But here’s the double whammy. In austere times, commissioners do not pump more money into the system; rather they tend to raid mental health budgets to plug the growing deficits in the acute hospital sector.
Despite the crucial importance of mental health services, they have always been the poor relation in any health system in general and the NHS in particular. These services, which are underfunded, demoralised and struggling with demand, are not to be seen and preferably not to be heard.
This may sound dramatic, but the reality is that there has been long-term neglect in addressing the many problems that most NHS mental services and their patients are faced with – access to timely appointments, access to local beds, services that are joined up and in one place like other NHS services are, and enough doctors and nurses in the system. The list goes on.
The scale of the mental health challenge has been underestimated. NHS England has set out its plan for achieving recommendations made in its Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (pdf) to improve mental healthcare by 2020-21. It has committed to transforming mental health services with an extra £1bn a year. Those at the coalface know this is yesterday’s money – demand is ever increasing, and the historic deficit in funding can only be addressed if politicians and senior managers can have frank conversations.
Back to Christmas then. Though this is a challenging time for those with mental illnesses, statutory and voluntary organisations are there to support these individuals and therefore it is vitally important to ask for help.
Despite the pressures on the system, services are there for those who need urgent help or are facing a crisis – the doors won’t close to them.
And for those with less serious issues, there are measures that can be taken without resorting to statutory and voluntary services. Family, friends and individuals can watch out for abnormal behaviour, such as panic attacks, and try to restore calmness by getting away from noisy, busy places and doing breathing exercises.Avoid having an argument, the tension will almost certainly ease.
Finding a place for shelter, a warm meal, and ensuring youngsters are protected are not impossible goals, though at times it might seem like that.
Depression and stress can make one unnecessarily pessimistic, although simple measures such as not indulging in alcohol and drugs or spending within means can reduce the plight of those who are not in a good place.
An uplifted spirit will bring back that joy and hope, and trigger off a feelgood factor that can be the springboard to happiness. Good mental health brings with it a whole lot of goodies in Santa’s stocking, because after all, physical fitness and wealth are meaningless without it. And let’s hope Santa has something for struggling mental health services.