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.
The number of university students in Scotland seeking support for mental health issues has increased by two-thirds over five years, analysis shows.
The BBC asked universities across Scotland for the numbers of students seeking some form of support.
It found more than 11,700 students asked for help in 2016-17 compared with about 7,000 in 2012-13.
The 68% increased among students in Scotland was higher than the 53% total for the UK over the same period.
University counsellors and wellbeing staff told BBC Scotland that they deal with cases ranging from anxiety, depression, gender-based violence and body dysmorphia.
The figures – obtained by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit through freedom of information requests – showed that only 12 of Scotland’s 19 universities recorded how many students sought help for their health help over the five-year period.
The data shows:
The number of students seeking help for their mental health at the University of Edinburgh doubled over five years
The University of Glasgow experienced a 75% rise in students seeking help for their mental health between 2012-13 and 2016-17
The University of Stirling had a 74% rise in students seeking help for their mental health between 2012-13 and 2016-17
Glasgow School of Art experienced a 72% increase in students seeking help for their mental health over the same period
‘Not being able to return the favour had a toll on me’
Connor Smith was in his third year studying computer games development at the University of the West of Scotland when his close friend, who was also a student, took his own life.
“I was really shook up and didn’t know what to do with myself,” he said.
“I had struggled with my mental health before but the person who took his life was able to help me out of that, so not being able to return the favour had a toll on me.”
The university’s counselling team quickly offered to help Connor.
“I couldn’t speak to my family because I felt like I was burdening them,” he said.
“I couldn’t speak to my close friends either because they were going through the same thing.”
Connor said that he was struggling not only with the death of his friend but also his future prospects.
He said: “One evening I sat down and thought ‘what am I doing?’.
“I forced myself to work at university but I wasn’t in a good mind space. I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing.”
Connor said he did not know what would have come of his life had it not been for the university’s support.
He said: “I wouldn’t have done so well.
“I might’ve quit university and if I did that, I don’t know what I would be doing.
“I had nothing lined up as a fall-back.”
Connor returned to counselling for a second time during his final year of studying. He was struggling with stress, overeating and had money worries.
He said: “[The support] wasn’t immediately available like before but, when I did get it, being able to speak to someone was so helpful.
“University was the best stretch of my life but easily the lowest I have been as well.”
‘I don’t like the term snowflake’
Ronnie Millar, director of counselling at the University of Edinburgh, said there is a “pernicious perfectionism” among students, which can affect their mental health.
He said: “When I was at university, there were no fees and we had student grants.
“Nowadays, more students have to work in part-time jobs and study, which puts a lot of pressure on them to succeed.”
Mr Millar said it was not helpful to label young people seeking help with terms such as snowflake, which imply they are less resilient than previous generations and too emotionally vulnerable.
He said: “I don’t like the term snowflake. I think it is a pejorative.
“In terms of resilience, some students struggle more than previous generations – but that’s not pointing the finger of blame.”
Mr Millar said that while there’s been a doubling in the male students coming forward for help for their mental health, the “proportion” has stayed the same over the five-year period.
“We say to students that [counselling] is not activity just for women, it’s for everyone.”
Social media bubble
Dr Phil Quinn, head of counselling and psychological services at the University of Glasgow, said that while there was greater awareness of the help available, a “saturated” NHS had resulted in fewer community services for students to access mental health support.
He said: “We have had a record year in terms of referrals to the service, of students starting their university careers with already diagnosed mental health conditions.”
The University of Glasgow employed 20 staff in 2016-17 – ranging from cognitive behavioural therapists and a consultant psychiatrist to a counselling manager – to assist with the 2,330 students that came forward that year.
Quinn believes that staff numbers are sufficient to meet demand, and that the increase in students coming forward for help is partly down to a “24-hour social media bubble” where they are exposed to “criticism, bullying, and abuse”.
Jackie Main, who is the director of student life at Glasgow Caledonian University, said it was not just the volume of students seeking support that was increasing but the complexity of the issues they presented with.
“We see a lot more crisis students than before,” she said.
“That could mean a student is actively self-harming, threatening suicide or requires being sectioned or hospitalised.
“Crisis students experience severe emotional distress, including panic attacks.”
At Glasgow Caledonian University, the number of students seeking support in 2016-17 hit 661, up 69% since 2012-13.
Ms Main added: “Anxiety and depression are the two big issues we’ve see increases in.
“We are not a crisis support service. We don’t have the resource and it is not our job. But we don’t let students fall through the net.”
Eight of Scotland’s universities provided the BBC with their total budgets for mental health services – which in some cases included services that don’t just support student mental health, such as a disability service – in the five years to 2016-7.
It revealed an increase of 31% from £2.4m to £3.1m.
The University of Strathclyde (which did not provide complete figures for the number of students seeking help between 2012-13 and 2016-17) was the only institution to report a decrease in its overall budget over the five year period, down by 18%.
A spokeswoman for the university put the drop down to “re-structuring” and emphasised that significant investment – about £400,000 – had been made since 2017, including the creation of three full-time and 12 part-time posts on the mental health and wellbeing teams.
She said: “We have also introduced an online mental health support programme, which works hand-in-hand with our dedicated advisers and therapists, to ensure support is available for all.”
‘Finding out you’ve failed all your classes is horrible’
Hannah Moles was in her third year of studying maths at the University of Strathclyde when she approached student services for help.
Not only had she failed her first set of exams but she was also caring for her grandmother who had dementia.
She said: “My brother and I were going over three times a week to make my gran dinner, get the shopping and keep her company.
“She was really lonely.”
Hannah said that when she wasn’t caring for her gran, working in a part-time job which paid for her flat, or sleeping, she’d be in the library trying to study.
“I was really tired and had things on my mind constantly,” she said.
“So I went along to support services to see if I could calm myself down. I wanted to improve my mental state before my next set of exams.”
Hannah said that eight weeks after approaching student services, she received her first counselling appointment.
However, by this point Hannah had failed her second round of exams – meaning she wouldn’t be allowed to return for the fourth year of her degree.
“Finding out you’ve failed all your classes is horrible especially when you have put in the work but it is still not enough,” she said.
Hannah said that she was grateful to her university for providing mental health support but more counsellors would help meet the increasing demand.
“I am lucky that I got the support I needed,” she said.
“But there are lots of students who seem to need help with their mental health. I just hope that universities can keep up with the increasing demand.”
’80 new counsellors’
The Scottish government’s most recent Programme for Government promised to provide more than 80 additional counsellors in further and higher education institutions over the next four years, with an investment of about £20m.
However, there is no indication yet how the funding will be split or which universities will receive more counsellors.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said every student “should have access to emotional and mental well-being support”.
“We will work closely with the university and college sectors, NUS Scotland and other partners, on the implementation of the additional counsellors, and to ensure an integrated and wrap-around approach to student wellbeing in higher and further education.”
Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health issues are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 0800 888 809.
A Dundee couple who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary have donated all the money given to them in lieu of gifts to a charity set up in memory of a young city dad who tragically took his own life.
Anton, known as Dode, and Anne Dolderer, celebrated their golden anniversary with a party in the Taxi Club.
Instead of gifts, the Coldside couple asked family and friends to contribute to the Not in Vain for Lee charity.
Lee Welsh took his own life, aged only 27, claims he had not been given enough support for mental health issues.
Since then his family have been raising funds in his memory.
Lee’s childhood friend Steve Martin, 27, organised the first Lee Welsh Memorial Match which was held at North End Park in June. It will be played again next year.
Lee’s dad Phil said: “Our friends Dode and Anne requested that their guests contribute to the Not in Vain for Lee charity events which will take place again in the summer of 2019.
“They raised a massive £750 at their special party and have donated this to us.
“This fantastic gesture will enable us to buy a second set of strips for the memorial match next year and still leave money to go towards our chosen mental health charity.
“We cannot thank them enough for this amazing gesture.”
More lives will be lost because of “ridiculous” delays to a new training programme in the Scottish Government’s suicide prevention strategy, says a Dundee campaigner.
Minsters unveiled their long-waited plan to reduce the number of the tragedies by 20% within four years on Thursday.
One scheme is for the SNP administration to fund improved mental health and suicide training by spring next year.
Gillian Murray, who lost her uncle to suicide in Dundee, said that target date will be too late for many.
“Refreshed suicide prevention training by May 2019 is ridiculous,” Ms Murray said.
“The suicide strategy is already two years late. How many have died and how many will still die as a result of this delay?”
She also criticised claims in the report there has been “real progress” in tackling suicide, with figures published this summer showing 32 people killed themselves in Dundee alone last year.
She said: “The rate of deaths by suicide has increased by 61% in Tayside. How on earth can this be classified as progress?”
However, she welcomed £3 million of extra funding for suicide prevention and strategies to break down stigma and support those who have been bereaved.
Ms Murray’s uncle David Ramsay was found dead at Templeton Woods in October 2016 following a mental breakdown. He had been rejected twice for treatment by NHS Tayside.
An independent inquiry is being held into suicides connected with the Carseview Centre and wider mental health services in Tayside.
The Scottish Government has been criticised for delays in publishing the strategy, which comes nearly two years after the previous one expired.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Lib Dem MSP, said that delay is unforgivable, but welcomed the strategy as a chance to be a “success and save lives”.
Scotland will have a dedicated team called the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group to implement 10 new measures to cut the number of the tragedies.
It will be chaired by Rose Fitzpatrick, the recently-retired former deputy chief constable of Police Scotland.
NHS workers will be required to receive training in mental health issues and suicide prevention as part of the proposals, while ministers are also pledging “timely and effective support” for those affected by suicide.
Dr Donald Macgregor, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the plan “gives a clear signal that the Scottish Government is serious about supporting everyone, including children, who may develop a mental health problem”.
He called on the training to be compulsory for all staff – not just those in the NHS.
Claire Haughey, the Mental Health Minister, said: “Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide, but we have far more to do.
“This plan sets out how the Scottish Government and our partners will achieve this and it makes clear that suicide prevention is everyone’s business.”
Mandy McLaren, whose Dundee son Dale Thomson killed himself in 2015, said: “They can put any strategy they want in place, but until these psychiatrists and mental health nurses start listening to the patients, and the patients’ families, nothing is ever going to change.”
Relatives of a dad who took his life were set to quietly remember him as a family yesterday – a year on from his tragic death.
Lee Welsh died on August 8 last year aged 27 at his West End home.
Since his death, dad Phil has been campaigning for better mental health provision in Dundee and started a website to share stories and information – Not In Vain For Lee.
Phil said he’d been kept busy in the year since his son’s death but today was due to be a more sombre occasion.
He said: “It will be a day for the family of quiet memories and reflection.
“Myself and Lee’s mum Lesley, along with his sister Kirsty and her boyfriend Jay, have just returned from a break to Paris, which was lovely.
“Now we just want to have a couple of quiet days to remember our son.
“We’ll be going to the graveyard with flowers and just to be with each other.”
Phil said he felt Lee would be proud of all the work the family have done in the past year to raise awareness of mental health issues in the city.
“Lee never really spoke about his problems but we have been working hard to try to get people to speak about them in a bid to prevent another person taking their life,” said Phil.
“This has definitely kept us busy and it’s all done to ensure that Lee didn’t take his own life in vain.
“Although we have kept busy we have obviously had some very dark days during the past year.
“First anniversaries are always the most difficult.
“His birthday was hard and so will the anniversary of his death be.”
Phil said one thing that kept them strong was spending a lot of time with Lee’s daughter Poppy, now eight. “We have her every weekend which is just great,” he said.
“She talks about her dad a lot.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to listen to her but it keeps his memory very much alive for us.”
Phil said that over the next year they would continue to raise money and awareness of the issues people face with their mental health.
He said: “One of the main things we are supporting just now in Lee’s name is the formation of a mental health crisis centre in the city.”
A number of families back the creation of such a facility, which would differ from existing ones by allowing people to self-refer when they need immediate help, rather than waiting to be referred by a professional.
In both the UK and US, services for young people are being cut, leaving those from marginalised groups at greatest risk of suicide.‘Whatever the language deployed to describe the scale of mental health challenges facing Britain’s young people, it has to be addressed immediately.`
One recent report called the problem a “silent catastrophe” while a survey of teachers labelled it an “epidemic”. But, whatever the language deployed to describe the scale of mental health challenges facing Britain’s young people, it has to be addressed immediately.
Of course, an increase in referrals over time may be, in part, an indication of more young people self-reporting and GPs being more receptive to it. Nevertheless, the warning flares on children and young people’s mental health have come thick and fast lately. In June, the NHS England boss, Simon Stevens, said a major expansion of serviceswas needed to deal with growing demand. A few days earlier, a report from the Association of Child Psychotherapists warned of “a serious and worsening crisis” following a survey of staff in child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs). Underfunding on top of service reorganisation was an ongoing threat to specialist services, it concluded. “There was never a golden age of funding” for young people’s mental health, as Andy Bell of the Centre for Mental Health explains, but help must include a concerted focus on groups that face additional inequalities, such as LGBTQ youth who are much more likely to experience common mental health problems. Research shows that almost twice as many young LGBTQ people in the UK (44%) have considered suicidecompared with heterosexual non-trans young people (26%).
In the US, concerns about young people’s mental health have come to the fore lately, too, including for common problems like anxiety, depression and suicide. Suicide is the second biggest cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds in the US and 90% of those who die have a mental health condition. And research shows the proportion of young people treated at children’s hospitals for suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts more than doubled between 2008 and 2015.
The 2018 State of Mental Health in America report tells a story similar to Britain’s. “Rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015,” it reports. And again, access to treatment is a problem as budget cuts put pressure on insurance coverage and services. “Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment.”
And, as in Britain, for youngsters from marginalised groups the picture is especially challenging. Amit Paley, chief executive of the Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention and crisis intervention support for young LGBTQ people in the US, points out that the rate of gay, lesbian and bisexual young people who have seriously contemplated suicide is around three times that of heterosexual young people. The evidence tells us that early identification and intervention can mitigate damage to young people’s mental wellbeing. We know, for example, that if children’s centres and young people’s services and schools are better equipped to promote wellbeing they can make a difference.
When it comes to young people in extreme distress or at risk of suicide, effective crisis services and access to support are utterly essential. But so too is preventing youngsters from reaching a crisis in the first place.
• In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.