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.
The Scottish government has ordered a review of mental health services for young people in custody.
It follows recent deaths at Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
Sixteen-year-old William Lindsay died while on remand there in October and 21-year-old Katie Allan took her life in June while detained for a drink-driving offence.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the review would involve a mental health expert and HM Inspectorate of Prisons.
The review is expected to report back early next year.
It will look at mental health provision for young people entering custody, including background information ahead of their admission, reception arrangements, and ongoing support and supervision while in custody.
Mr Yousaf announced the review in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s justice and health committees.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has also confirmed that NHS Forth Valley has already engaged with the Scottish Prison Service to assess and increase provision for people living at Polmont.
In his letter, Mr Yousaf said that although fatal accident inquiries would be undertaken into the deaths of William Lindsay (also known as William Brown) and Katie Allan “I have reflected on some of the more immediate questions raised particularly around the provision of mental health support and services for young people in custody”.
He said the review would look at relevant operational policies, practice and training and where practical, would also look at comparisons between the support and arrangements in place in secure care accommodation and HMP&YOI Polmont.
He added: “As with current formal inspection and independent monitoring arrangements for prisons, the review will include direct engagement with young people in custody about their experiences.
“The review will not consider the specific circumstances of recent cases which are the subject of current or future mandatory fatal accident inquiries.
“We are also aware of issues being raised about the information that is available about a young person’s history before decisions are taken that can lead to them being sent to custody or secure care. Separate consideration is being given to how best to look at these issues.”
Ms Allan, a 21-year-old geography student at Glasgow University, was convicted in March of a drink-driving offence which saw her injure a pedestrian and she was sentenced to 16 months in jail.
Stuart and Linda Allan said their daughter was bullied in Polmont YOI near Falkirk and lost more than 80% of her hair due to the state of her mental health. She died there in July.
They had called for a review of the Scottish prison system.
Mr Lindsay, who was also known as William Brown, was one of four deaths in the space of two days at Scottish jails last month.
An entry on the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) website states he was remanded at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday 4 October.
He died on Sunday 7 October.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing the families of Ms Allan and Mr Brown, said they cautiously welcomed the announcement of a review.
“The deaths of Katie and William were never inevitable, the system and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) failed them,” he said.
“The families of Katie Allan and William Lindsay expect and demand a lot more to happen in the days and weeks ahead.
“Today is a good start, but the families hold Polmont responsible for suicides which took place, ultimately they failed in their duty of care.
“If this review is independent then the families wait to see the proof of that as they must be fearless in the questions they ask.”
Scotland still has the worst suicide rate in Britain – despite long-term improvements from a record high.
Official figures yesterday revealed 13.9 deaths for every 100,000 people in Scotland last year, compared with 9.2 in England.
The high level of suicide was published a month after the Scottish Government set a new target for reducing the rate by 20 per cent by 2022.
The SNP had been under pressure to tackle the country’s suicide rates after a previous strategy lapsed.
Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The high rate of suicides in Scotland, especially among young men, is devastating. The SNP dawdled for 586 days before introducing a suicide prevention strategy after the last one expired. That means for 2017 there was no strategy. That is unforgivable.
“The Government must make improving mental health services and access to them a top priority.”
In Scotland, the rate has fallen from 17.5 deaths for every 100,000 people when records began in 1981. The rates in Wales fluctuated from year to year but experts said there has been no apparent downward trend over time. Northern Ireland, where figures have been the worst in the UK, was not included in the latest Office for National Statistics report.
The figures differ from earlier Scottish official figures, which suggested a rate of 12.5 for 2017, because of a different approach to ages and definitions.The Samaritans charity warned in May that the Scottish Government had not treated suicide as top priority.
Last month, Glasgow North Labour MP Paul Sweeney warned suicide is a “ticking time bomb” in the forces as the Daily Record revealed Ryan Smith had become the sixth soldier to take his own life in just over a week.
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.”
Chairwoman Jill Scott said it was a “scandal” that sufferers were having to “sort out their situation” themselves following the shutdown of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.
Angus Health and Social Care Partnership hit back at the criticism and said it was “encouraging” that a local group of people had come together to support one another and address mental health stigma.
Mrs Scott said: “It is a very sad reflection on Angus Health and Social Care Partnership that at a time when the mental health of our community is a growing concern that the first rate Mulberry Unit is being hived off for alternative use.
“Members of the public, sufferers of depression and people of influence in Angus Health and Social Care Partnership all recognise the problem but it comes down to the patients themselves who are having to sort out their situation.
“I am full of admiration, as an individual, as is Brechin Community Council, for these people but I despair for the future.
“It is a scandal that mental health is treated as a poor relation. Patients have been hung out to dry.”
The Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital in Angus was finally closed earlier this year and patients were transferred to the Carseview Centre in Dundee.
Richard May, 45, who suffers from depression, set up Stop Mental Health Stigma three weeks ago and his ultimate goal is to eventually put in place a 24-hour mental health facility.
“There is just not enough being done for people struggling with mental health issues,” he said.
“Too many suffer in silence and feel alone but we are getting people out of their houses and it’s changing lives in a very positive way.”
The group meet in Montrose on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Brechin on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Mr May, who lives in Montrose, started the group after being overwhelmed by the response when he put up a Facebook post admitting he was suffering from depression.
Bill Troup, Head of Mental Health Services, Angus Community Health Partnership said “self-management” is an element of mental health treatment.
He added: “Other local services that are available in Angus include self help groups, listening services, health and wellbeing, befriending and community mental health.
“Multidisciplinary Community Mental Health Teams are available in every town in Angus.
“It is important to remember that only six out of every 100 people who access mental health services each year need hospital care.
“With a greater focus on recovery and improved mental wellbeing in communities most people with a mental health problem are treated at home or in the community.