Health chief ‘totally committed’ to creating 24-hour mental health crisis centre in Dundee

Health chief ‘totally committed’ to creating 24-hour mental health crisis centre in Dundee

A Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership chief has pledged his ‘total commitment’ to establishing a new 24-hour mental health crisis centre in the city.

Councillor Ken Lynn, vice chairman of the joint board, said he envisaged the hub would be separate from existing facilities such as Ninewells Hospital or Carseview, to be “more central, more in the community and staffed by mental health professionals”.

It comes after a commission set up to tackle poverty and deprivation in Dundee recommended the creation of a 24-hour drop-in service offering clinical, non-clinical, therapeutic and peer support.

The commission found people reaching crisis point outside normal working hours were unable to self-refer for support when they need it most and some campaigners have criticised policy makers for a perceived lack of action on the issue.

Councillor Lynn rejected any suggestion proposals have been “kicked into the long grass” and said he intended to speak to the new chairwoman of the integrated joint board, Trudy McLeay, about moving the project forward.

“There are a number of hoops we would need to go through before this comes to fruition,” he said.

“But I am very supportive of the idea – in fact, I don’t know anyone who is not.

“I have spoken with representatives of the mental health sub group of Dundee City Council and we agreed to set up an event to make a presentation to councillors. I expect that will happen over the next few weeks.

“I’m totally committed and willing to do whatever it takes to get the money for it, even if it means moving resources from other areas.”

Dundee-based MSP Jenny Marra called for the creation of a dedicated 24-hour emergency unit last year after Tayside’s most senior police officer revealed mental health was the force’s “greatest challenge”.

The call received the backing of a number of leading mental health charities and a petition by Ms Marra urging the Scottish Government to back the plans has now received more than 6,500 signatures.

© Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Jenny Marra MSP.

A number of those pledging support also left personal messages outlining how such a facility would have helped them or a loved one in their time of need.

Ms Marra said: “There is an urgent need in Dundee for a mental health crisis centre where people can refer themselves and get support any time of day or night.

“There is widespread support for this type of service in the city and it was recently recommended by the city-wide poverty commission.

“When I called for a crisis centre for Dundee in parliament last year, the First Minister said she agreed that there should be a crisis centre in Dundee but I’m not aware of any progress on this so far.

“There is a crisis centre that serves people in Edinburgh. There is no good reason why there should not be the same level of service in Dundee.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We’re committed to ensuring that we have the right support available in our NHS and care services for those who need it.

“An independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside is currently ongoing and we will ensure its findings are shared across Scotland and help shape service delivery in Dundee.”


Link to Courier article here 

Dundee warned of “imminent mental health storm” following string of violent and shocking crimes

A series of horrific incidents in the city over recent months have had mental health identified as a potential factor. 

Dundee could be facing an “imminent mental health storm” in the wake of a string of shocking and violent crimes, a leading charity has warned.

A series of horrific incidents in the city over recent months have had mental health identified as a potential factor.

On Thursday, Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Stephen Brisbane, 32, who is accused of using a knife to chop off a disabled pensioner’s hand, will undergo psychiatric assessment to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

Just days earlier, Charles Little, 31, accused of murdering Gordon Diduca with a knife and crossbow last September, was told he must also undergo psychiatric evaluation, raising fears he too may never face justice.

A 44-year-old man remains under hospital supervision following the alleged murder of Mark Johnston in Broughty Ferry last October. No one has been charged.

The incidents have raised concerns over the way mental health is managed across the region and whether enough is being done to intervene when issues are identified.

Toni Giugliano, policy and public affairs manager for Mental Health Foundation Scotland advocates a community-based treatment model but urged policy makers to show a united front on the issue.

Toni Giugliano (left) and Liam Kerr MSP have both raised concerns

He said: “We are facing a situation throughout Scotland where when people are in crisis; they don’t know where to turn for help.

“Increasingly, we are seeing people reaching crisis point and going to A&E, which can often be the worst place for them due to long waits and a shortage of mental health professionals available.

“They go there because they’re used to it but often they aren’t getting the help they need. When that is the case, the worry is that they will just stop trying altogether.”

Labour MSP Jenny Marra led calls for a dedicated mental health unit in Dundee after Tayside’s divisional commander Chief Superintendent Paul Anderson said tackling such issues is the force’s “greatest challenge”.

Mr Giugliano said he would back calls for a roll-out of centres across Scotland because “people need to know where to turn”.

Chief Superintendent Paul Anderson

“We are facing an imminent mental health storm if we don’t reduce the number of issues people are facing,” he said.

“The number of people reaching crisis point is increasing and our focus has to be on reducing those problems and encouraging people to seek help.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said mental health has proved a “huge challenge” for police.

“Officers are coming into contact with people with mental health difficulties every day and it puts huge pressure on police resources,” he said.

“We believe there should be parity between mental and physical health, and that more needs to be done to improve capacity and staffing within our NHS.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “long-established” that individuals who cannot appreciate the nature or wrongfulness of their actions are not held responsible by criminal law. However, she insisted the government “fully recognises that mental health is a public health issue”

The spokeswoman added: “We are committed to ensuring people receive appropriate care and treatment that meets their individual needs, no matter the setting, with specific attention given to mental health.”


Link to Dundee Courier article here 

Ombudsman to probe Dundee medical practice over treatment of tragic Lee

Phil Welsh with a photo of his son Lee

The family of tragic Lee Welsh confirmed today that their complaint against a city medical practice is to be investigated.

Lee’s dad Phil said he had been told that the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) had agreed to look into their complaint against Coldside Medical Practice, in Strathmartine Road.

Lee, 27, was under their care at the time he took his own life on August 8 last year.

Speaking just days after what would have been Lee’s 28th birthday on Wednesday, Phil, 48, told the Tele he hoped that the probe by the SPSO might provide some answers.

He added that by highlighting what might have gone wrong in Lee’s treatment and care, the family could possibly help prevent someone else’s child taking their own life.

Lee was found dead at his Peddie Street home, in the city’s West End, by his girlfriend Leigh Gibson.

Lee Welsh

At the time, Phil and Lee’s devastated mum Lesley Nicoll paid tribute to their “funny, talented and happy-go-lucky” son.

But his dad said the family was upset and frustrated that troubled Lee, a musician who played with rock band Modern Culture, was not given enough help.

He said: “He talked about them [Coldside Medical Practice] and he asked for help from them.

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe that enough was done to help our son.”

Phil vowed at the time to fight for better support for young people suffering similar problems and since then he has led a high-profile campaign in Dundee.

“If anything comes out of this, I want it to be that no other young person does what Lee did,” Phil said.

After Lee’s death, Phil lodged a complaint against Coldside Medical Practice, where Lee was treated as a patient.

He added: “Because Lee wasn’t under the care of mental health services in Dundee at the time, the complaint had to go to the practice that treated him. The case was then referred to the SPSO.

Phil said: “It will be about nine or 10 months before we get a conclusion to the investigation but we feel it is important to go down this road to get answers.

“We are firmly of the opinion the practice could have done more and we want that looked into at a higher level.

“Before he died, Lee was going to the doctor and asking for help but he wasn’t getting it. That needs to change.

“No one in particular is to blame. The resources are just not there to help young people like Lee.”

Lee’s parents said their son had never been given a final diagnosis, with Phil adding: “Bipolar was talked about but that was never confirmed. If he had got better support then this might never have happened.”

Phil and Lesley have set up a website in memory of Lee, which they hope will lead to action on mental health issues.

The website,, aims to provide a platform for people, young and old, to share their experiences of mental health.

Phil has also written to politicians and councillors throughout the region, urging them to put political differences aside and address mental health provision.

He is keen to see a mental health crisis support centre, similar to a facility opened in Edinburgh, established in Dundee.

Phil said: “If through this focus we can prevent one family from enduring the heartache we as a family are currently suffering, then Lee’s death will not have been in vain. We miss Lee so much.”

A spokesman for Coldside Medical Practice declined to comment.


Link to Evening Telegraph article here  

We need A&E for mental health and we need it now: Campaigners call for crisis centre to help save lives

Phil Welsh said few people knew his son Lee had mental health issues (Kris Miller / DC Thomson)

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.

Overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, suicidal…and saved

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.”


Who Cares? CEO Duncan Dunlop

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.”


Link to Sunday Post article here