The number of people with mental health issues being readmitted to hospital in Tayside within a month of their discharge is increasing.
More than 16% of Tayside adults discharged from hospital, having been admitted on mental health grounds, were back within a month in 2016/17, according to new figures.
The readmission rate has increased from 11.9% in 2012/13.
NHS Tayside is above the Scottish average for mental health hospital readmissions in the most recent statistics compiled by ISD Scotland.
At 16.3%, it was behind only NHS boards in Dumfries & Galloway and Lothian.
The majority of patients readmitted after an initial stay in hospital were affected by mood disorders (36.9%), delusional type disorders (19.2%) and adult personality and behavioural disorders (15.8%).
North East Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman said the increase in readmissions for depression is “very troubling”.
The ISD figures also recorded NHS Tayside region had the fourth highest suicide rate in Scotland, behind Forth Valley, Highlands and Orkney – 14.4 per 100,000 between 2012 and 2016.
Mr Bowman said: “At some point, one in four people will experience a mental health condition.
“NHS Tayside staff are doing their best to deal with the growing number of people who come to them with symptoms of depression and low mood.
“Because Tayside has such a high suicide rate, NHS Tayside needs resources to dig into why people come back to hospital so quickly.
“If it’s because of underfunding in areas run by councils and community healthcare partnerships, the SNP government needs to assess the potential damage it is doing by making cuts to local authority budgets.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “Mental illnesses can be unpredictable and there are many reasons why a patient may require to be readmitted following discharge from hospital.
“Patients can sometimes experience a new episode of illness for which admission to hospital is the most appropriate course of treatment.
“Patients are discharged following clinical assessment from a consultant psychiatrist and are followed up locally within the community.
“There is no direct relationship between the length of time a patient is in hospital and the need to be readmitted.”
She added: “Anyone can become suicidal; the reasons can be different and very complex and it is not always due to mental illness. Each suicide is a tragedy and the impact on those left behind lasts a lifetime.
“Every suicide in Tayside is comprehensively reviewed by the Tayside multi-agency Suicide Review Group to look at the circumstances surrounding each individual case.
“f people are feeling suicidal, the best thing to do is talk and tell someone how they are feeling. Speak to someone you can trust or call a helpline. If you’re worried that someone else is suicidal, ask them – asking someone directly about their feelings can help them.”
Further help and information can be found by downloading the “Suicide? Help!” app, visiting www.suicidehelp.co.uk or calling NHS 24 on 111, Samaritans on Freephone 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 838587 or www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk
An independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside is currently under way.
Tay Road Bridge chiefs have pledged to tackle the rising number of emergency incidents reported on the crossing after admitting they are “nowhere near where we need to be” on the issue.
Data analysis taken from the bridge’s official twitter account shows an annual rise in reports of police call outs, from 21 in 2016, 23 in 2017, to a peak of 28 this year.
Many of the closures are due to people attempting to harm themselves on the span.
Officials pledged at the start of 2018 to probe whether anything could be done to reduce the number of incidents on the route after campaigners pointed to similar efforts being made in cities around the world.
Stewart Hunter, chairman of the road bridge board, revealed his team have looked at ways of making physical alterations to the crossing but found no structural change could be made without compromising its integrity.
He said: “From my point of view, one person on the bridge is one too many so any trend showing the numbers increasing would be worrying. However, even if it was decreasing, I would still be concerned for those individuals.
“There are a number of reasons why the numbers have increased and mental health is part of it. I think it would be irresponsible to focus on one aspect and ignore others.
“The Scottish Government, Dundee City Council and our partners are working hard to tackle this issue and make sure the people who need help get it. But obviously, there is still a long way to go and we are nowhere near where we need to be.
“As far as what is the best way to tackle the increase, we need to make sure that individuals have all the support they need long before it gets to the stage where they are on the bridge. That is where we will actually make the difference.”
Mr Hunter paid tribute to the “unsung heroes” working on the bridge who respond immediately when emergency incidents are reported.
Figures obtained from the twitter account show motorists were subjected to 132 days of disruption on the bridge this year for police and other incidents, such as roadworks, breakdowns and closures due to high winds.
It appears March’s Beast from the East weather disruption had a significant impact on traffic with the month seeing 18 days impacted by delays, more than any other in 2018.
Mr Hunter said: “We have a planned programme of maintenance and the increase this year is just about where we are in the maintenance cycle. The bridge is inspected regularly and any issues found are fixed very quickly.”
The Dundee Fighting for Fairness report summarises how key issues affecting people in city are being tackled.
It was launched at the Steeple Church following months of research by the Fairness Commission, whose members met with people and families struggling to get by.
Among the recommendations are creating a single access point for all financial advice services in the city, preparing positive, anti-poverty messages and helping frontline staff including GP surgeries to raise awareness of the impact of poverty on mental health.
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council and chairman of the Dundee Partnership, said: “People and money, mental health and stigma are three of the main themes we are looking at because they have featured in all of the stories we have heard.
“We know that far too much poverty that exists in the city and this is one way to target some of the root causes of that – by involving people with real-life experience.”
Another recommendation aimed at tackling issues with mental health in the city is to create a 24/7 drop-in service offering clinical, non-clinical, therapeutic and peer support.
The commission had found that people reach crisis point outside normal working hours and cannot self-refer for support when they need it most. It was also found that services did not always treat people in poverty with respect.
The partnership recommended that guidance materials are developed to allow service providers to recruit and train staff with the right values.
On December 12, the recommendations will be presented to Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government.
Dave Barrie, service manager with Addaction, said the new strategy is being put in place following changes in the way people with an addiction to powerful opiates such as heroin are helped.
Previously, all those with heroin addictions would be referred to the NHS for treatment via Addaction.
But now users can go directly to the Tayside Substance Misuse Service, based in Constitution House.
Mr Barrie said the charity is now focusing more on people with problems with other drugs and those whose addiction to opiates isn’t at the stage of a long-term addiction.
He said: “Previously, everyone in Dundee who had an alcohol or drug problem would come through Addaction. That’s changed, and now people can go directly for NHS treatment.
“We are now looking at having a more preventative approach to substance misuse.
“We will be looking at helping people who are starting to have problems with drugs, or are recognising some concerns about their drug or alcohol intake.
“We are really looking to support people much earlier on in their alcohol or drug use.
“With the Dundee Drugs Commission being set up, the spotlight is on services in Dundee, so we really want to help people whose drug problems are less entrenched than the ones we previously helped, some of whom have been drug addicts for decades.
“It may be people with problems with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. Often we find issues with these drugs can lead to problem with other drugs such as diazepam or heroin, as folk start to use these drugs to bring them down following a binge.
“We are starting to go into some hostels, chemists and GP surgeries in Dundee for drop-in sessions. If we can get into those venues, then we think we can access people sooner. What we’ve found is we can help people and point them in the direction of the support they need for other things.
“We previously had a presence in the Carseview Centre and it was received well. We realise people with mental health problems, housing problems and other health problems often have substance misuse problems and can be accessed at these places.”
Dave said another key focus would be supporting the family members of those who have drug or alcohol problems, as well as people who have lost a loved one to overdose.
He said: “We recognise that there is a huge isolation and stigma attached to drug addiction and being the parent or family member of someone who is an addict.
“If you have people around you to support you then it makes it so much easier to deal with.
“When you think of the year we have had for drugs deaths – every one of those people leaves behind extended families who are all left grieving.”
A Dundee charity that offers help and support to veterans through horticulture was officially opened by Lord Provost Ian Borthwick on Friday.
The official opening of the Dundee Therapy Garden came just months after it was damaged by vandals, who smashed windows of one of its potting sheds and spray-painted obscene drawings on the fence surrounding the former bowling club.
Volunteers and staff at the garden repaired the damage and have started donating vegetables and fruit grown there to foodbanks and other charities.
It employs three horticultural therapists who work with veterans of the armed forces and emergency services who suffer from mental health problems.
Charity chairman Alex Lyell said: “Military and armed forces personnel are exposed to many hazards.
“Not all survive. Of those that do many are wounded in body or mind. Our therapists are here to help those with mental health problems and also their families.”
He added: “This place would not work in any way were it not for the volunteer team who put so much effort into supporting this project.
“As well as our multi-talented volunteers, we benefit from the work parties who come from Castle Huntly and Dundee Social Justice. Taken together they bring a range of skills and effort which we could not possibly afford to purchase and without which the job would not get done.”
Mr Borthwick planted a tree to mark the official opening of the garden.
He said: “The creation of this garden is the finest example of the way you are responding to the contemporary needs of our veterans and ex-uniformed service personnel.
“Creating a space where they can improve their resilience provides overwhelming benefits of calm, well-being and positive coping strategies.
“The special features of this garden demonstrate the care and thought that has gone into the planning and design of this project.”
The garden supports up to 16 veterans at any one time.
Guests at Friday’s opening included Dundee City West SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick.
He said he was pleased there had been no repeat of the vandalism that occurred in May.
He said: “This is a fantastic facility and you can really see the effort that has gone into transforming what was a piece of waste ground.
“It appears as if the community has really taken to this as its own.”