A WEST of Scotland MSP has called for improved access to mental health services, particularly among young people
To mark World Mental Health Day last week, Labour’s Mary Fee lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament calling for greater support for people who need help with their mental health.
Ms Fee’s motion says every individual who experiences poor mental health should have access to well-funded and adequately resourced support services within their local communities.
It is estimated that one in four people in Scotland suffer from poor mental health.
This year’s annual theme for World Mental Health Day, that took place on October 10, is young people.
Research conducted by Stonewall Scotland in 2017 found that 58 per cent of lesbian, gay or bisexual pupils and 96 percent of transgender pupils have deliberately harmed themselves.
Ms Fee said: “It is important that politicians, public servants and public bodies help to raise the profile of mental health.
“I believe that in order to break the stigma around mental health we must widen the conversation and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the range of mental health issues that people may experience throughout their lives.
“I am unequivocal in my belief that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health.
“It is a scandal that nearly one-third of young people are waiting longer than 18 weeks for vital mental health treatment. It is simply unacceptable.”
In marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Scottish Labour outlined a 10-point plan in which they pledged to provide access to a mental health counsellor for every school pupil in Scotland and improve the access to crisis mental health services.
The Scottish Government has since promised to invest in extra mental health services in schools, though Ms Fee warned that any dilution of the pledge will cause greater difficulties for children and young people accessing much needed treatment and support.
Clydebank MSP Gil Paterson added:“Most families will have known of someone with a mental health problem who has kept it hidden.
“The Scottish Government have done a lot of work on raising awareness of mental health and tackling the stigma associated with it.
“This work has resulted in a lot more people coming forward for treatment and the Government recognises that this puts added demands on the service, which is why the SNP Government has allocated an extra £250 million for mental health services, which includes £60m for schools to support 350 counsellors and 250 extra school nurses so that every secondary school will have a counselling service.
“I have asked a series of questions at the parliament about exactly what has been done to support mental health services in the past and the Post will be first to know when I get the answers.”
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.
Scottish Labour is renewing calls for a public inquiry into mental health services in NHS Tayside.
At First Minister’s Questions this week, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard quoted comments by the Samaritans that suggested the Scottish Government was not taking suicide seriously enough, following research by the charity that found 61 per cent of Scots have been affected by suicide.
Leonard also raised the case of 50-year-old David Ramsay, who took his own life in 2016.
Ramsay killed himself after being twice rejected for treatment by the Carseview Centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, despite having made three suicide attempts in the space of a week.
Leonard said: “As the First Minister will know, Scotland’s suicide rate is more than twice the rate for Britain as a whole, and that in Dundee the suicide rate has increased by 61 per cent in a year.
“Behind those statistics are real people and real families who have lost loved ones, including the family of David Ramsay.”
He added: Tragically, David Ramsay’s story and the experience of his family is not unique in Dundee, so when I was in Dundee in March I backed the call by families for a public inquiry into mental health services at NHS Tayside.
“Why has the First Minister’s Government remained silent on this crisis and silent on that demand for a public inquiry?”
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the Scottish Government’s record.
She said: “Richard Leonard has raised issues about the Carseview centre in NHS Tayside.
“It is not right or fair to say that the Government has ‘remained silent’.
“I know that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has visited Carseview on a number of occasions.
“I understand that the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland carried out an unannounced inspection of Carseview in March, and made a number of recommendations.
“Let me make it very clear today, as the health secretary and the mental health minister have already done, that we expect NHS Tayside to respond fully to the recommendations within three months.
“The recommendations have also, I understand, been shared with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
“We will pay very close attention to NHS Tayside’s response, and if we consider that further action is required, that action will be taken.”
The Scottish Government has recently consulted on a draft suicide prevention action plan, with the final version, taking account of feedback, expected to be published in the summer.
Tayside health chiefs say their focus is on treating mental health patients at home – despite calls for improved hospital provision in Dundee.
The family of David Ramsay, who killed himself in October 2016 after he was reportedly rejected for treatment at psychiatric unit Carseview, have led calls for a facility similar to the now-closed Liff Hospital to be opened for those fighting mental health issues.
They have also campaigned to have a public inquiry launched in to the suicides of several people who have come in to contact with the centre.
The topic was brought up in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, when Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for the inquiry.
He asked the First Minister: “Why has your government remained silent on this crisis and on this demand for a public inquiry?”
Nicola Sturgeon, sending her condolences to Mr Ramsay’s family, said it was “not fair or right” to say the government had been silent.
She said her administration would “pay very close attention” to NHS Tayside’s response to recommendations made by the Mental Welfare Commission, following an unannounced inspection in March.
Now, Robert Packham – chief officer for Perth & Kinross Health And Social Care Partnership, which runs adult mental health services across the area – appears to have ruled out the creation of a new facility.
He said only six out of every 100 mental health patients needed hospital treatment, adding: “We have been redesigning mental health services to adapt to the changing needs of our population and new services have been introduced to manage people in crisis and support people to remain at home.
“Healthcare is changing rapidly, with a greater focus on recovery and improved mental wellbeing.
“Specialist hospital services will always be needed for those who are most unwell and, when people are in hospital, they should receive the highest possible quality of care in buildings which are fit for the delivery of modern healthcare.
“It is important to remember that most people with a mental health problem are treated at home or in the community. When it is no longer possible to do this safely, a patient will be admitted to hospital.”