Sheriff calls for increased mental health provision in prisons after Dundee man dies in custody

Just after the prospect of mental health provisions being reduced is in the news, see previous post, we have a Sheriff’s verdict on services in Tayside. In particular, mental health training for prison nurses. Read the full Evening Telegraph article HERE

A sheriff has urged NHS and prison bosses to redouble their efforts to recruit mental health nurses.

Sheriff Alistair Carmichael made the comment in a report on the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Dundee man Mark Smith.

The 23-year-old hanged himself while in custody in Perth Prison in October 2015. Despite the efforts of medical staff at Perth Royal Infirmary, Mr Smith, from Kirkton, couldn’t be saved.

Mr Smith had spent several years struggling with depression after his sister Kim died aged just 15 from an asthma attack in 2005.

Prison officers who gave evidence at the inquiry at Perth Sheriff Court heard Mr Smith was “unhappy” following an appearance at Dundee Sheriff Court to plead not guilty to seven charges, including one of domestic assault.

After bail was refused, Mr Smith was remanded in custody and was found dead in his cell several hours later.

Prior to this, the court also heard Mr Smith was upset following a phone call with his partner.

In his determination following the inquiry, Sheriff Carmichael did not believe there were any precautions that could have prevented Mr Smith’s death.

The sheriff added there were no defects in any system that could have contributed to the death.

NHS Tayside and the Scottish Prison Service were, however, urged to increase mental health training for prison nurses.

Sheriff Carmichael said: “I heard evidence that over half of prisoners have some sort of mental health history and I heard evidence that prisoners continue to take their own lives while in the care of the SPS. It is self-evident that if such a high percentage of prisoners have a mental health history, then SPS must be properly equipped to deal with this.”

He added: “I do not think that the lack of a nurse who was qualified in mental health nursing contributed to Mark Smith’s death.

“However, I strongly encourage SPS/NHS to redouble their efforts to recruit nurses who are qualified in the treatment of mental health, and to provide specific training in mental health to nurses who are in the SPS and who are not so qualified.”

Both NHS Tayside and the Scottish Prison Service were approached for comment, but the Tele has yet to receive a response.


Protesters demonstrate at potential closure of Perth psychiatric unit

Mental health provision needs to be enhanced, not cut. To see the full article, including a video, go HERE.


Relocating mental health services from Perth to Dundee will cost lives, campaigners have claimed.

Almost 50 protesters gathered outside Murray Royal Hospital to stage a demonstration against NHS Tayside’s bid to move services from the Fair City.

© Supplied
Protesters at Murray Royal Hospital

The health board is holding a consultation on a proposal to close the Moredun ward at Murray Royal Hospital, which treats acute adult psychiatric inpatients, and move operations to Carseview in Dundee.

The protesters included people who use mental health services, carers, service providers and the general public, and the group was given support by passing motorists, who tooted their horns as they drove past.

Susan Scott, manager of local mental health charity PLUS Perth, which organised the demonstration, said: “Scotland’s most recent Mental Health Strategy is really disappointing. It’s not innovative enough.

“It is in NHS Tayside’s interest to listen. They need to let go of a bit of the power because they are not getting it right.

“We see a lot of people in crisis and it’s going to get worse with people having to travel to Dundee for help. If Moredun does stay we have a better chance of having locally-based crisis response.

“It’s awful to be in mental distress and to be plucked from your safe environment and taken to some place like Carseview which has struggled to keep people safe.

“We are getting feedback, through our questionnaire, to say that people would take their own life, or would not survive, if they had to go to Dundee.”

Philip Stott, of the Socialist Party, said planned NHS Tayside budget cuts would equate to £1million a week over the next four years.

He said: “NHS Tayside calls it savings but we would call it cuts.

“The concern is that if this unit closes then it means a long journey to Dundee to a psychiatric hospital there. It means having to pay out money to travel because services that were available in Perth are no longer available.”

Campaigner Tracy Swan, whose daughter was treated in the Moredun unit prior to her death, welcomed the protest.

She said: “It’s been a great response. We’ve also had a lot of emails from people that couldn’t be here because of work but support us.

“Today has given me hope, whereas before I had none.”

Chief Officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, Robert Packham, said: “Since the consultation started at the beginning of July, we have already attended more than 50 engagement events in locations across Tayside talking with a wide range of groups and organisations with an interest in mental health and learning disability, the public and our staff.

“There are further opportunities for the public to find out more information and provide feedback at drop-in sessions being held this week and next week in the foyer areas of Ninewells Hospital, Carseview Centre and Murray Royal Hospital.”


Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival

View the original article and get more information HERE


Now in its fifth year, Out of Sight, Out of Mind is a collaborative exhibition of over 100 artworks in various media, created by people who are using the arts to express themselves in relation to their experiences of mental health issues.

Exhibited work is produced by both groups and individual artists with a range of motivations, including personal expression, development of artistic practice, experiencing the therapeutic benefits of working in a group or solo, formal art therapy and political activism.

Some artists make work for the exhibition each year, and some bring their artworks in response to an open call for submissions. Expect to see installations, paintings, films, photography, drawings, sculpture and much more.

Most of the work will be installed within the expansive gallery spaces at Summerhall, as well as other venues around Edinburgh.

At Summerhall

Secret Places

Works reflecting experiences of isolation and marginalisation by young people with a diagnosis of mental ill health. By Positive Steps for Young People.

No Less a Traveller

Work from individual artists will be displayed alongside patchwork wall art created by community members of MECOPP’s Gypsy/Traveller Project.

Art Builds Bridges

Inspired by constructivism, members of the TollX Art Group have worked collaboratively to create a body of art that expresses how important learning and art is to their everyday lives.

Moving Forward

Using individuals’ own experiences, these works by Contact Point Art Group show how art and creativity can have a positive impact on mental health, helping to break the stigma.


PENUMBRA’s Edinburgh Self Harm Project and the Crisis Centre present a show of work exploring the theme of Reclaim, using art to express difficult emotions in positive ways.

Space to Be: Drop-In History Project

Service users, volunteers and staff have created a thought-provoking collage of stories, artworks and photographs that chart and reclaim the history of NHS Lothian’s Spiritual Care Community Mental Health service.

Student Mental Wellbeing Poster Campaign

Posters developed by digital media students at Edinburgh Napier University, highlighting struggles faced by the student population with regard to mental wellbeing.

No Head Clutching Please

Visual representations of mental wellbeing, mental health and recovery, avoiding clichéd depictions like the head clutching image. By Creative Industries students at Edinburgh Napier University.

Stories of Changing Lives 3

Artwork, writing, film, photography and testimonies from people who have experience longer stays at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. By the Patients Council in partnership with CAPS, Outlook, and Chiaroscuro, funded by NHS Mental Health and Wellbeing Team.

Exhibitions across Edinburgh

The Stafford Centre Exhibition

Ranging from painting to craftwork, these artworks were created by members developing their own arts practice at The Creative Group’s open studio.

Persimmon Tree

Bury me amid nature’s beauty and I will reclaim a sense of self. Photography by Denise McNulty will be installed within this patients and community garden.

Creative Reclaim

Stimulating canvas-based artworks in a variety of media by members of The Alma Project, exploring the theme of Reclaim.

Central Library Exhibition

This space will show an exhibition of work selected from the open call for submissions.

Space to Be: Reclaim

Three painted glass door panels, created by service users, volunteers and staff who access NHS Lothian’s Spiritual Care Community Mental Health service.

Break Every Chain: Breaking Chains Through Art

Paintings by Margaret Ramsay, whose art has helped in her healing process, breaking chains in her own life and in others who see her work.

OOSOOM: Uncovered

Each Wednesday afternoon different artists will talk about their work. Spaces are limited, so booking is essential.

To book a place or for further information about the exhibition, call 0131 273 5116 or email


Graffiti tribute to Lee

SYKE Graffiti has created a tribute to Lee in Dundee. Lee was a huge Oasis fan and the family are over the moon that this has been done for Lee. You can see images of the murals below, however. we’ve also added a Tribute page to the site where these are featured and we’ll also be putting images of other tributes & fund raising events.


Local councillor who tried to take his own life tells depressed students they ‘are not alone’

Evening Telegraph article, original HERE

An Angus councillor who battled depression and attempted suicide has told students they “are not alone”.

Monifieth Liberal Democrat councillor Ben Lawrie, a fourth-year student at St Andrews University, was speaking following a YouGov survey suggested that as many as 25% of students have a mental health problem.

Two years ago Mr Lawrie went public about his personal struggles when he revealed he attempted to take his own life in 2013. He struggled with depression while studying at Dundee College, despite doing well in his coursework and being in a happy relationship.

His own battle with his demons seems to be over, but for fellow students who have just returned to university after the summer break, exams, essays and debts can often make campus a gloomy place.

Mr Lawrie said there are always ways of getting help. He said: “As someone in their fourth year at university, I know the stress that’s involved in being a student.

“Coursework can be demanding, living costs are high and, for a lot of students, part-time employment is essential to sustain themselves through their course, which is an additional drain on time and energy.

“It’s important to look after your mental health to keep up with these demands but this is far easier said than done. If things are building up and it’s all getting too much for you, talk to someone.

“There’s usually counselling services available at university and they’ll be familiar with the trials and challenges faced by students. There are also helplines you can call during the night if you need someone to talk to.

“Nightline is a service specifically for students and you can get in touch with them over the phone, by email or through their instant messaging service.

“Things can feel overwhelming at times but you are not alone. There are always ways of getting help.”