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 father of a young Dundee man who took his own life has welcomed the launch of a petition calling for a mental health crisis centre in the city.
Talented musician Lee Welsh died on August 8 last year. Now, almost a year after his death, a petition has been started in a bid to secure a 24/7 self-refer mental health crisis centre.
Since Lee’s death, his dad Phil has been campaigning for better mental health provision in Dundee under the banner Not in Vain for Lee.
Among his ideas is a crisis centre similar to one in Edinburgh. The centre in Edinburgh is funded by NHS Lothian, Edinburgh City Council and mental health charity Penumbra.
Phil said: “Something needs to change so people having a mental health crisis can have immediate access to support.”
The petition states: “As NHS Tayside reviews local mental health services, it must look to provide a new facility, offering emergency support 24 hours a day, seven days a week where people can self-refer.
“The crisis centre would provide access to counsellors and support in a home-like environment allowing people time and space to seek appropriate help.”
MSP Jenny Marra supports the campaign and said: “It would be designed to support the current system, which is too often unable to offer care quickly enough.”
Robert Packham, chief officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “NHS Tayside provides support for people in Dundee in a mental health crisis 24-hours-a-day.
“The crisis intervention and home treatment service in Dundee assesses all psychiatric emergencies within office hours.
“Any person who attends Accident & Emergency in a mental health crisis would be seen by the liaison psychiatry service. There is also an emergency team based at Carseview Centre which operates out of hours.
“The nursing team is supported by on-call psychiatrists and sees people in crisis directly and referred from A&E.
“NHS Tayside has established an independent inquiry chaired by David Strang to review mental health services in Tayside.
“In the meantime, we are working with clinical, nursing and other staff to identify and act upon any areas which may benefit from improvement.”
Arfon Jones, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner. has made a plea over mental health care
Stop treating police officers as mental health workers and build 24-hour “sanctuaries” for people in need of treatment.
That was the call made by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones at a meeting of Conwy Council on Thursday night.
Police officers were having to act like health care staff on too many occasions because of a lack of 24 hour emergency mental health facilities in the region, Mr Jones said.
“What I want to see is for sanctuaries to be provided because at the moment the only place people suffering with mental health problems can be taken is to hospitals.
“We need crisis centres so they are not having to be brought into police stations,” he added.
He added: “North Wales has three mental health units in Bangor, Bodelwyddan and Wrexham. Community services do not operate outside of office hours; there are no triage facilities or sanctuaries available.”
Numbers produced by the force showed that 13% of police call-outs were related to mental health.
With North Wales Police dealing with 123,381 incidents during 2016/17 this would mean there were 16,040 mental health related incidents in the region in a year.
“Dealing with increased mental health demand has been identified by officers in North Wales Police as the greatest external demand placed upon them and the large numbers of incidents allied to limited available health related options to help deal with them effectively is the single biggest source of frustration for them,” he said.
Mr Jones told a meeting of the council’s economy and place scrutiny committee of two examples where police resources were used to care for people suffering from mental health illnesses.
In one a social worker visited a teenager who was withdrawing from drugs and threatening to self harm.
Police officers detained him and took him to Wrexham’s mental health unit to be told they needed to go to Bodelwyddan only to be turned around and sent back to Wrexham, making a 77 mile journey with a child in a police car.
In another officers had to make a 128 mile journey as they travelled from Bodelwyddan to Bangor to Caernarfon and then to Wrexham in search of a suitable unit for a man who had tried to self-harm.
He added: “There is only so long that North Wales Police can continue to pick up the pieces for other partners.”
Lesley Singleton, director of partnerships for mental health and learning disabilities at the health board said: “We have made improving the support available to people in an acute mental health crisis our first year priority as we begin implementing our integrated mental health strategy Together for Mental Health in North Wales.
“To support this we are working with our partners to develop local alternatives to hospital admission and these include crisis cafes, sanctuaries, and step down services.”
MENTAL health A&E units are urgently needed to provide lifeline treatment during crises, according to a leading MSP.
The centres would provide 24/7 access for people enduring acute depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
Labour MSP Jenny Marra is campaigning for the Scottish Government to green-light the emergency units, and yesterday said: “My surgery is full of families who suffer mental health problems themselves, who have lost loved ones.
“I think there is an acute need now, an urgent need all across Scotland, for mental health accident and emergency services.
“We need to be honest with ourselves that there are probably more people in our communities facing mental health issues than there are broken limbs.
“Given that this is such a big issue in our communities, this is not a situation that can continue.
“We have crisis teams at the moment but we need to look honestly at more accessible provisions round the clock and let people know that there is a place for them to go when they are at crisis point – or way before that to stop that crisis point from ever happening.”
Edinburgh already has a crisis centre operating, where people can text, phone or email for support. It has been credited with saving many lives over the past 11 years. Glasgow also operates an emergency community triage, which works with the police to provide specialist support, but out-of-hours services are in short supply outside of Scotland’s two major cities.
Mental health is increasingly recognised as a major issue for people’s wellbeing, with 728 Scots taking their own lives in 2016.
Scottish charity the Mental Health Foundation already backs implementing a national roll-out of community triage to provide support to people across the country.
And there is cross-party support for the idea at Holyrood.
Last week at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon agreed with Ms Marra’s proposals “broadly speaking”, adding the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy releases extra funding for specialists in places such as police stations and prisons.
The Edinburgh Crisis Centre provides immediate support for people of 16 or older with overwhelming mental health difficulties, such as extreme anxiety or depression, and who may be considering suicide.
Staffed by 13 people, it is open 24/7, 365 days a year and is unique in Scotland in offering quick-access one-to-one and short-stay residential mental health crisis support.
People initially contact the service by email, text or telephone. Centre staff then work with the person to support them through their distress.
A person may be offered a one-to-one session, with meetings set up for the same day. Extended or overnight stays are also available for up to four people at any one time.
Around four people per day contact the centre, in Leith, with numbers up 300% compared to when it opened in August 2006. Binal Lanakhi, who has used the centre on several occasions, says her life has been saved by the service. She added: “They talk to you before things get really bad.”
The mental health of Scottish children in care has not been assessed by the SNP since it came to power, according to campaigners.
It has been 14 years since the last survey was carried out, when the Office for National Statistics found that almost half of looked-after young people had mental health issues.
Who Cares? Scotland called for everyone who is taken into care to be given a mental health assessment within the same time it would take to get a GP appointment.
Duncan Dunlop, the charity’s CEO, said: “We know that care-experienced people face trauma, either before they enter care or through the process of entering care. Many then go without any form of mental health support or can wait over a year to get it.”
The last assessment was in 2004, when the Labour and Lib Dem coalition government at Holyrood examined the welfare of five to 17-year-olds in care.
It found that 45% of those who were assessed had mental health issues.
Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said that the government-funded Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice published a research paper on young people in secure care last October.
She added: “The paper presents key messages and calls for action about secure care from care experienced young people.”
But Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “There is an urgent need to carry out more research into the mental health issues surrounding looked-after children.”
The most magical time of the year? TV adverts show perfectly joyful families, and Facebook posts give the impression that Christmas for everyone else is a blissful utopia of laughter, games, roaring fires and food that looks like Nigella just cooked it.
The reality for many is quite different. One in ten people feel unable to cope at Christmas, and this increases to a staggering one in three for people with a mental health condition. Worries about money, loneliness, and stress and anxiety over the pressure to have that ‘perfect’ Christmas are common.
I’ve found the last few years pretty difficult – a huge pressure to make everyone happy and ‘get it right’ on a limited budget as a single parent, together with the inevitable post-Christmas self-reflection. So much so that on the 28th December last year, I was minutes away from ending my life and ended up in the care of the mental health crisis team.
Here’s my alternative festive to-do list for a mentally healthy holiday season:
1) Let go of all expectations and don’t even try to make it ‘perfect’
This year I’m just going to ‘be’ rather than ‘try’. So what if I don’t get round to cleaning the patio doors? (I just laughed as I wrote this, that’s so not going to happen). So what if I forget gift tags? (I can improvise). So what if some people don’t want to join in family games? You’ll find that if you let go you will end up having a less anxious time than usual anyway. If anything goes wrong, so be it. Accept it and move on.
2) Don’t overdo it on gifts, food or alcohol
Finances are more difficult than ever this year for so many, overspending is common, debt increases stress. Drinking alcohol exacerbates many mental health conditions. So much of the food and silly gifts we buy at Christmas ends up in a landfill. Make sure you eat healthily and don’t feel the need to fill the fridge with food you will likely end up throwing away. Instead, why not give some gifts of your quality time in the form of a Christmas ‘cheque’?
3) Be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority
Make a pact to not beat yourself up for anything this Christmas. If you need to take time out alone to read a book, or have a soak in the bath, do it. Remember in a plane crash you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on first before your child’s, so you are more able to help them. Self-care is the same as doing this.
4) Keep active and go outside every day for at least five minutes
I’ve found over Christmas that some years I can go days without spending any time outdoors or being active. Exercise is key for keeping mentally healthy (I’m not suggesting going for a ten mile run on Christmas morning, that’s pretty hardcore) but make it a priority to get outside for a walk in a park or garden for at least five minutes. This scientific study proves that even that short time is optimal for reducing stress and anxiety.
5) Take just one minute several times a day to deep breathe
Doing good definitely does you good. Giving time to others has a huge impact on our own self-esteem and mental well-being, as well as benefitting the recipient. Go visit an elderly neighbour or offer to help at the local food bank with packing or deliveries.
7) Ask for support and talk about how you feel as soon as you feel low
Don’t put on a brave face. Don’t assume people are too busy to listen over Christmas. If you need to talk to friends or family, do so. Don’t be ashamed of saying you feel anxious, depressed or overwhelmed – it’s common and the more we all talk about it, the easier it will be. For crisis support for yourself or someone you may be concerned about, see your GP, go to your local A&E dept, or contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
8) Get in touch with people you don’t see often
This doesn’t have to be in person if this will add to your overwhelm and to-do list. Text or email someone to let them know you are thinking of them, and it will make you feel better too.
9) Don’t feel guilty about saying no
If you are tired and can’t face another social invite, don’t be afraid to say no. Equally, don’t isolate yourself either. Think carefully about your reasons. Am I hesitant to go because I feel under-confident, and as if I will be a burden? How many times have I socialised over the Christmas period already? Am I just tired? Think mental health first, always.
10) Remember what’s important and practice gratitude
Write down three things every morning that your grateful for. This could be as simple as the way your daughter told her Christmas cracker joke, or the Michael Buble song on the radio. Remember what’s important to you this time of year, and put peace and mental health at the top of the list.