Mental health review ordered after deaths at Polmont

Mental health review ordered after deaths at Polmont

The review follows two recent deaths at HMYOI Polmont

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.

Katie Allan
Katie Allan’s parents say she took her own life at Polmont YOI after staff failed to heed their warnings

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”.

Direct engagement

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.

Humza Yousaf
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the review was expected to report back early next year.

“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.

Stuart and Linda Allan with Aamer Anwar
Linda and Stuart Allan, with lawyer Aamer Anwar, 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.”


Link to BBC article here 

VIDEO: Film shown in mental health workshops as Dundee poster campaign launched


A city-wide poster campaign featuring images and words relating to mental health is to be unveiled on the streets of Dundee.

The first group at Arthurstone Library

As part of the Foolish Optimism roadshow, two young women are taking art workshops out into the community, encouraging a range of different groups to talk about and document their mental health stories.

Jacqueline Goodall, 20, a third-year fine art student at Duncan of Jordanstone College, is organising the workshops in conjunction with Jacqueline Whymark, who is a social entrepreneur, project manager, community organiser and arts curator.

They held their first two-day session with a group at Arthurstone Library last month.

After watching short clips from the Foolish Optimism film, members of the group were asked to consider its messages and jot down their own interpretation and perspectives on mental health issues, whether in words or images.

Messages collected from a diverse range of audiences will then be transformed into posters, some of which will be billboard size.

All the posters will then be displayed around the city from mid-November until mid-December.

The posters will also feature unique QR codes which will enable the public to link directly to the Foolish Optimism website.

The workshops and national roadshow follow on from the release of the film which premiered at The Steps Theatre on World Mental Health Day.

Jacqueline Goodall said: “The whole purpose of Foolish Optimism is to get people talking about mental health.

“We want to gather the views and stories of a huge cross-spectrum of society.

“We decided that it would make sense to go out into the communities and encourage debate.

“We all have mental health but everyone has a different interpretation of it.

“Some people find it challenging to express that interpretation.

“Some of us like to write words and poems while others are visual thinkers, preferring to draw or paint.

“We are going to take these varied and unique messages and make posters out of them to display around the city, spreading the word that young people are not alone when facing these challenges and to get people talking.”

All work created in the workshops will be maximised – if not on the posters themselves, then through exhibitions during the Foolish Optimism finale event next month.

Foolish Optimism was made possible by funding from the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund and the Life Changes Trust.

For more information, visit

‘I felt so worthless’: two teenagers on their mental health struggles

‘I felt so worthless’: two teenagers on their mental health struggles

Caitlin Dews, 18, Norton, North Yorkshire

I’ve struggled with my mental health for seven years. I’ve got anorexia, and depression and anxiety. It started at school when I was 11. I don’t remember the root causes. I just started being really anxious and restricting what I ate, and hiding food. I felt so worthless and horrible. I hated the way I looked. I started self-harming, my mood was really low and it all spiralled out of control.

I didn’t understand what was going on. After a while, I thought it was normal to feel like that. It’s only recently that I’ve started realising that a lot of people suffer.

When I was 14 a friend noticed I wasn’t eating and was really withdrawn and told a teacher. I was really angry and annoyed but, looking back, I’m glad she did that because I wouldn’t have said anything. They then told my parents and I was referred to child and adolescent mental health services. I still didn’t think anything was wrong with me.

My parents were heartbroken. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them. I’ve put them through so much. I was in hospital for just under a year and they had to visit me and see me in such a distressed state. I think they found it really tough and still do.

I felt I couldn’t go out for ages. Even now, when I go on public transport I get really anxious. At its worst I used to panic, my heart beat faster and I started shaking. My thoughts would race and I would think that everyone was staring at me and that something bad was going to happen. Everything was exaggerated. Most times, I felt like I deserved self-harming. It was like a punishment for eating or going out.

There are days when I feel more optimistic about my future. Things are still hard but I’m doing a lot better than I was. Quite a few people have told me that they struggle with anxiety. It’s not fair. I know some amazing and lovely people; they don’t deserve to be going through that.

Harvey Sparrow, 16, Badsey, Worcestershire

When I started my GCSEs, my school was really pushing everyone, saying we all had to do well and work hard. I’ve always been the sort of person who is very motivated but the stress started building slowly and I couldn’t handle it. The thought of going to school made me nervous and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. It carried on and I felt a lot of sadness and hopelessness. It was awful.

I started feeling really detached from myself. I didn’t feel in control of my body. It turned out that was a type of anxiety. My stomach felt like it was churning. I’d feel sick when I knew I didn’t have a stomach virus. I lost concentration and if there was even a small doubt about me doing well, I’d lose focus. I couldn’t deal with it. It got really dark at times. I felt there was no point in me being here because I wasn’t bringing anything to the world. I wasn’t making my life any better. I had a lot of suicidal thoughts. I told my dad and we went to see the doctor. It took a few appointments for them to take me seriously.

A lot of my friends have anxiety around school. I thought everyone else was OK because people didn’t show it. Some of them lose out on sleep, some sleep way too much and some are very depressed. They don’t see a point in living. I know what it’s like. But to hear them say things like that is shocking when in my eyes they’re amazing. I guess they would have said the same thing about me. It’s a weird situation.

When I talk to my dad he says he never wants anything bad to happen to me. Now I’m in a good place, I’m like: “Why would I ever think of ever hurting myself?” I don’t want to throw my life away just because I’m in a bad place.

 In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at


Link to Guardian article here 

Permanent base for inspiring Arbroath mental health charity

Permanent base for inspiring Arbroath mental health charity

Sandra Ramsay and her late son, Ross


Link to Courier article here 

Fury as NHS Tayside bosses plan to axe 1,300 jobs

Ninewells Hospital 

Bosses at the health board aim to get rid of 1,300 posts to plug the hole in its finances, official papers revealed.

They say they can do that over several years through “natural staff turnover”, but it is feared cuts to backroom staffing will have an impact on patients.

The decision to shrink the workforce comes as the board benefits from having at least £62 million of debt written off by the Scottish Government.

The plans are revealed in an assurance report to the board from September.

It said there was an “acceptance that staff levels need to reduce by 10%”.

Gillian Murray, who has been campaigning for better mental health services after failings in the care of her late uncle, said the decision shows that “balancing the books obviously means more to them than saving lives”.

“People in Dundee are dying because NHS Tayside is a shambles and to cut the workforce is another slap in the face for all of us,” she added.

Murdo Fraser, the Conservative MSP in Perthshire, said: “Local people will be wondering what impact these massive reductions in staff will have on their already pressured services.”

Annie Ingram, NHS Tayside director of workforce, said no one will lose their job but said spending on the workforce is higher than health boards of a similar size.

She added: “We are carrying out a review of staff numbers, grades and skills, which is being carried out in partnership with our staff and our trades unions, to ensure we have a safe, affordable and sustainable workforce.”



Link to BBC article here