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.
As NHS Tayside reviews local mental health services it must look to provide a new facility, offering emergency support 24 hours a day, 7 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. Other cities have modern and personal services like this. Dundee needs a Mental Health Crisis Centre, urgently.
Dundee-based Labour MSP Jenny Marra said the allegations were “horrifically worrying.”
NHS Tayside has said it will investigate the patients’ allegations.
Following the documentary, another former Carseview patient told BBC Scotland that she felt “traumatised” following her time in the unit and said it should be closed.
The Scottish government said the accusations were “very concerning” and that they had “been clear” that NHS Tayside must “swiftly investigate any allegations of mistreatment or breaches of patients’ rights.”
Ms Marra said she had been given “cast-iron assurances” two years ago during a visit to the unit that “everything was fine” and that “these problems don’t exist.”
She said: “Now clearly that just wasn’t true.
“I am calling today on the cabinet secretary for health to put NHS Tayside mental health services into crisis measures because this is about public confidence.
“People in Dundee and Tayside need to know that their loved ones are being properly cared for.
“And from what we have seen on the documentary, people are being failed, there is clearly no doubt about it.”
David Strang, the former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, will chair an independent inquiry into mental health services across NHS Tayside.
The allegations made in the BBC documentary will be included in the inquiry.
Ms Marra, who has called for a new team of doctors to be brought into Carseview, said: “It’s supposed to report in September, they really need now to speed up this process.”
Former patient Daisy Stewart, who was first admitted to Carseview aged 17, said she could “totally relate” to many of the accusations in the programme.
She said: “I felt like the restraints were kind of like punishment rather than the other hospitals I’d been in.
“They’ve tried to make it supportive, whereas in Carseview it feels like you’re a nuisance and they just want to quieten you.”
Miss Stewart said she was mixed in with “a lot of people who were taking drugs or had taken drugs.”
She said that her time in the unit did her “no good at all” and called for Carseview to be closed.
She said: “I’d say it nearly killed me.
“I’m surprised I got through it and I still feel really traumatised from it to the point where I still don’t really trust mental health professionals very much.
“I definitely felt more traumatised from Carseview than the trauma I had when I originally went in.
“The whole place has a vibe that is not healthy for a person without mental illness, never mind someone with depression.”
Miss Stewart’s mother Lisa said that on one occasion her daughter had left Carseview and phoned her from a shop after taking an overdose.
Ms Stewart called Carseview and was told that her daughter was sleeping. After checking, staff discovered she was not there.
She said: “I said, is someone going to get her? “No. we’re too busy for that.”
“So I had to go and the police were there and they said this happens all the time, nobody comes to get them.”
Ms Stewart said she could not take her daughter from the unit as she had been admitted under section.
She said: “I wanted to get her out because I felt she was more in danger in there than she was out.”
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “I will be expecting an early update from NHS Tayside on their investigation and the action they intend to take.”
The minister said Mr Strang’s appointment marked the independent inquiry’s “first key milestone” for families.
She said: “I also note NHS Tayside has today appointed Prof Keith Matthews as a new associate medical director for mental health services.
“His background and clinical leadership will play an important part in working to transform mental health services across the region.”
More than 5,000 young people in Scotland have been denied mental health treatment during the wait for a national probe into rejected applications.
Nicola Sturgeon was challenged repeatedly at First Minister’s Questions on her government’s progress in tackling mental health issues.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the SNP administration has let down vulnerable children by taking more than a year to complete an investigation into why so many youngsters are not getting the treatment they seek.
In Tayside and Fife alone, 816 young people have been knocked back by Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services since last March, when the government promised to launch the review.
Labour’s analysis of the Scottish Government figures showed the national figure was 5,410.
“Nicola Sturgeon once claimed she had a sacred responsibility to make sure every young person gets the same chance to succeed,” Mr Leonard said.
“She has abdicated that responsibility to some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland.”
Ms Sturgeon said the results would be published on June 12, adding there are legitimate reasons why children are not offered CAMHS treatment.
“We announced an audit, we had to plan how that audit was going to happen so that we get it right,” she said.
“The work is now underway and I’ve given the progress report on that.
“It’s important that we get that work right in order that the action that flows from it are the right actions.”
She added that the 2017/18 budget for mental health exceeded £1 billion for the first time, while the CAMHS workforce has increased by 65%.
Meanwhile, Jenny Marra, the Labour MSP, asked what progress had been made towards setting up an emergency mental health unit in Dundee that provides 24-hour support.
A number of leading charities have added their names to a growing list calling for a dedicated emergency mental health unit in Dundee.
MSP Jenny Marra has called for the new service to be established following a revelation from Tayside’s most senior police officer that mental health is the force’s “greatest challenge”.
The Scottish Government has faced renewed pressure from campaigners to implement the proposal following a string of shocking and violent incidents in Dundee where mental health was identified as a potential factor.
The incidents have raised serious questions over the way mental health is managed across the region and the quality of services available for people reaching crisis point.
Robin Murphy, from the mental health and wellbeing charity Penumbra, said it causes further distress and anxiety when those in crisis are unable to access support quickly.
He added: “In some parts of the country crisis provision is good. In other areas though, people are unsure how to access dedicated services, if they exist at all.
“There is clearly a need for better crisis support and we are keen to be part of the conversation about the possible options for Dundee.”
Ged Flynn, chief executive of the charity Papyrus, which specialises in prevention of young suicide, said people attending regular A&E at the time of a mental health crisis often find the environment is “not conductive to their needs”.
“In some cases they feel worse or are misunderstood in an emergency department which is busy, noisy and is often hugely pressurised for staff,” he said.
“There is a definite need for an alternative safe space for young people and others who experience suicide crisis to attend somewhere where they and their caregivers and parents can find professional and timely support in a suicide safe environment.”
Mental Health Foundation Scotland’s Toni Giugliano warned Dundee is facing an “imminent mental health storm” unless it finds a way to cope with the increasing number of people reaching crisis point.
Speaking after raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Marra said the present system of mental health crisis care is “simply not enough”.
“I hear stories time and time again of police seeking care for people and being turned away,” she said.
“It’s time that Dundee had a mental health A&E so that those in the most desperate need of care can present themselves, be assessed and given help, care and assistance.
Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said Dundee had “a number of mental health facilities that can respond to psychiatric emergencies and provide admission or community-based support as required.”
She added: “As part of our mental health strategy, and to better support mental health crisis across Scotland, we are investing £35 million over five years to provide 800 additional mental health workers in key settings, including police custody suites and A&Es.
“We are also testing an innovative ‘distress brief intervention’ service in four areas across Scotland, to better manage and support people presenting in distress to a wide range of services. These include A&Es, ambulance crews, the police and primary care.”
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.”