A man whose entire adult life has been plagued by mental health difficulties believes a 24-hour crisis centre for those suffering in Tayside would be a “great idea”.
Marc McLeish backed the Not in Vain for Lee campaign aimed at setting up a round-the-clock self-referral service, warning vulnerable people desperately need more support resources across the region.
The 33-year-old, from Perth, said: “If something like that existed in Tayside, it would be great.
“I have probably had about 40 emergency assessments in total but in almost 90% of these, I have been sent away with no treatment.
“If there was somewhere that was 24 hours, then it could be the case that I would not have self-harmed as much as I have.
“It would be great to have one in Perth as well but Dundee would be a good start.”
Marc, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder aged 23, has spent his entire adulthood battling his demons and the years since his school days have been marred by repeated incidents of self-harming and multiple hospital stints.
He said: “When I was in my teens and early 20s I attempted suicide quite a few times by taking an overdose.
“I have been a prolific self-harmer since I was in my teens and I have probably done it up to 100 times in 17 years.
“I always felt like I was a bad person because I was gay and I believed I needed to be punished, so that’s what I have done.”
Marc’s struggles with his mental health have had a profound impact on his day-to-day life and he admits he has difficulty coping. He added: “I really don’t have a very good quality of life.
“For me right now, it’s not a day at a time but rather two hours at a time and that’s what’s getting me through.”
Marc spoke about his mixed experiences with health services throughout his struggles, having been admitted to hospitals in both his hometown and Dundee.
“The first inpatient treatment I had was probably about 10 years ago in the Murray Royal Hospital and I had no issues with the treatment there,” he said.
“My GP practice has been fantastic, but there is definitely a lack of resources in Tayside.”
Marc’s most recent stint in hospital was just last month, when he spent five days in the Carseview Centre in Dundee after being admitted following an appointment with his GP.
He also raised concerns that his time at the Dundee unit was spent unsupervised – so much so he claims he was able to harm himself twice during his stay.
He said: “In Carseview, I felt people were left to their own devices.
“I asked my named nurse for a razor, saying I wanted to shave and I was told that as long as I wasn’t going to harm myself, I could have it.
“I then severely harmed my right arm with the razor and the wounds were gaping wide.
“I discussed with my family whether I should leave and we came to the joint decision that I should.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment on matters relating to individual patients.
“However, we can confirm we are in direct contact with the patient’s family.”
The parents of two young men who committed suicide after perceived failures of care by medical staff in Tayside have said they hope the deaths of their sons will not be in vain.
Dale Thomson took his own life in 2015 after spending time in Dundee’s heavily-criticised Carseview Centre, used to house and treat patients with mental health problems.
Dale’s heartbroken mum Mandy McLaren, a vocal critic of the health board and a campaigner for better mental health provision in Dundee, claims NHS Tayside “killed her son” and said she will “never forgive” the board and staff for the treatment Dale received.
She sat down for an interview with Tele, joined by Phil Welsh and Lesley Nicoll, who are also from Dundee.
Their son Lee Welsh took his own life in August 2017 after what the couple say were failings by his GP.
In 2016, while saying she could not comment on specific cases, the then-health minister at Holyrood, Shona Robison, apologised for any care which fell below the expected standard.
Ms Robison, who was replaced in the role by Jeane Freeman in June 2018, said: “If a service or part of the health service doesn’t meet the standards it should meet, then of course I would apologise to their family — whether that’s in mental health services or any other service.
“Obviously I can’t comment on individual cases to any great extent, because I’m not party to the full clinical information.
“Most of the time, our services are of a very good quality – sometimes services do fall short of where they should be.”
Mandy, however, said at the time the apology was “too little, too late” and should have been made to her personally.
Phil received an apology from the NHS after what was described as a “callous” response to Lee taking his own life.
Phil said he and Lesley were “disgusted” with the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership’s statement in the wake of Lee’s death.
They later received a personal apology from then-chief executive of NHS Tayside, Lesley McLay.
The website aims to share stories relating to mental health issues which can be shared with politicians, charities, and other people, in the hope that “funding and a fresh approach to the subject of mental health will finally be discussed and implemented”.
The family say that if they can prevent one family from enduring the same heartache they are currently suffering, Lee’s death will not have been in vain.
They are also campaigning for a crisis centre for people who can access acute mental health services without referral.
In the Trust and Respect report, it states that the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has been working with various agencies and bodies in Tayside “to support the drive to increase access to preventative and short-term interventions”.
The leader of Dundee City Council has responded to an independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
John Alexander has today posted a statement on Facebook, stating that the capacity of the services “needs to increase” and that there are “too many people spread too thinly”.
An inquiry to examine the accessibility, safety, quality and standards of care provided by all mental health services in the region was commissioned after concerns were raised in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Alexander wrote: “Last week in a 136-page document, Dr David Strang set out the results and recommendations stemming from the independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
“I spent the weekend pouring over the entirety of the document, considering it’s contents and thinking about what kind of service could be provided if those 51 recommendations are adopted.
“It’s vital that each word on those page is taken in. It was hard hitting, honest and to be frank, painted a deeply worrying picture of where things were.
“Mental health and it’s impact on too many people is an issue very close to my heart, even closer more recently but it’s also something that isn’t talked about enough – between family members and friends. I spent my Sunday morning with friends and one of the things we were talking about was the battles with mental health.
“I defy anyone to find someone that doesn’t have a family member, friend or someone that they work with who hasn’t suffered from issues related to mental health.
“We need to continue to remove any stigma associated with it and support those who need support. There is of course, a wide spectrum and the impacts can often be unseen, sometimes until it’s too late.
“There continues to be a significant number of people in crisis, at the end of their tether and struggling to manage daily life. What this report says very strongly and clearly is that people have been let down by services in Tayside. What it also says is that going forward, the services must change.
“The bottom line for me is that the capacity of those services needs to increase. There are too many people spread too thinly and too many silos that don’t allow for sustained collaboration.
“The Chief Executive of NHS Tayside has, to his credit, apologised for those failings and has said that his “…personal commitment to the people of Tayside is that I will work with them to address all the recommendations made by Dr Strang in his report.”
“I’ve already discussed the matter with officers and look forward to meeting with NHS colleagues to see what actions have already been taken forward and hear how they intent to address the 51 recommendations.
“This report has been long anticipated and whilst I think there was a general expectation that there were issues, the fact that it has done such a thorough analysis and 1,500 interviews during that process should provide the evidence base required to make some big and necessary changes.”
Life “felt hopeless” for Brook Marshall at the tender age of just 17.
He had been thrown into what doctors then thought was depression, triggered by the death of his grandpa, dropped out of high school and began a long stint of unemployment.
Brook’s life continued on a downward spiral as he sampled ten different types of anti-depressants before finding one that worked for him and wrestled with intense mood swings.
The 27-year-old, who lives in the city centre, said: “My behaviour was inconsistent and completely erratic.
“One day I was the happiest person in the world, the next I would spend all day in bed because I was depressed, the next I would be paranoid and suspicious of everyone and not talk to anyone
“Sometimes it wouldn’t even be every day, sometimes it could switch from hour to hour when it was at its most intense.”
The mood swings became unbearable for Brook, to the point where he attempted suicide and was admitted to the Carseview Centre.
Through his own research into mental health, Brook stumbled across a condition called borderline personality disorder and recognised himself.
He said the realisation that he had this condition was like a “light bulb moment” of how he had been feeling his whole life.
An official doctors’ diagnosis soon followed and the appropriate medication has stabilised his behaviour.
Brook said: “I felt like I had been failed by the system.
“I suffered a lot of referral rejections, long waiting lists, my experience at Carseview was extremely negative and I was misdiagnosed for eight years.”
Through Book’s experiences he spotted a gap in the services provided, particularly a lack of peer one-on-one support and a holistic approach to mental health.
This led him to set up Feeling Strong around 18 months ago in an attempt to bridge the gap.
The mental health charity for young people focuses on supporting individuals with all aspects of life instead of solely relying on medication.
It has gone from strength to strength, now with six members of staff, 30 volunteers and ten projects under its belt, including running the Scottish Government’s ASSIST Suicide Prevention program.
And this month Feeling Strong opened a new “one-stop-shop” on Albert Street, where youngsters can access the charity’s services, receive referrals to partnership projects and simply hang out in the chill out zone.
Robbie Matthews, 24, services and impact manager at Feeling Strong, said: “There is a real vacuum when it comes to information and signposting.
“Young people don’t feel like there’s a place they can go for peer to peer support and they often say that mental health professionals don’t understand how they are feeling.
“The hub offers a safe place for them to come together and talk about mental health and to meet other young people who are experiencing similar issues.”
The centre can make referrals to green projects such as organised park walks, gardening and other outdoor activities.
Staff are also organising events such as a short cooking course and gaming events to encourage those with common interests to come together.
For more information see Feeling Strong’s Facebook page or download the app, which can be found by searching Feeling Strong in the app store.