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 fact that more adults in Dundee have a mental health condition than the Scottish average might not come as much of a surprise.
Poverty, addiction and unemployment – three things the city struggles with – are all associated with poor mental wellbeing.
But what might be surprising is that according to new data, women are more likely than men to have a mental health condition.
According to Dundee’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan, which will be discussed by councillors next week, the highest rate for adults reporting a mental health condition in Dundee is among women aged 39-45.
Ash Mullen, 37, a student mental health nurse and founder of mental health group Let’s Talk Tayside, said: “We’re taught in our training that women are more likely to speak about their problems than men.
“I think mental health touches everyone at some point in their life but maybe it’s easier for women generally to talk about it – to their friends or their doctor. I have anxiety and after I started speaking about it I realised it will never go away, but you can develop tools to cope with it.
“Ultimately it depends on the individual but there’s a reason groups like Andy’s Men’s Club are there to get more men to talk about how they’re feeling.”
Another men’s mental health group is Art Angel, based at Enterprise House, which runs art, drama and film sessions.
Manager Rosie Summerton said: “Because of the increase in suicide in young men, and if you look through the mental health strategy, the figures are appalling for Dundee.
“There is a huge amount of people and young people turning up with mental health issues and I think we need to really address that.
“I think young men have found it more difficult to seek help than young women might.
“I think the reason why we are starting young men’s groups is that young men find it difficult to speak out and ask for help when things aren’t going well.
“To be able to offer them something which is almost like an alternative form of communication is really useful.”
Dundee’s mental health strategy outlines a number of measures aimed at increasing good mental wellbeing, including an emphasis on the social aspects of recovery, and delivering more mental health and wellbeing short courses in community settings.
Art Angel member Dylan Hood, 21, said: “It gets you doing things you want to do and seeing people you want to see. It’s a distraction from your own mind, because I can get trapped in my own mind sometimes.
“It’s about people who have had similar experiences to you and if you want to speak about it they will happily speak to you about it, and encourage you to come out your shell.”
Aaron Third, 24, added: “It’s just nice being around people who share the same experiences as you.
“I come to the art group on Fridays, and when I do, I feel like nothing else takes my focus away from drawing.”
Group co-ordinator Becca Greig added: “We don’t ask them what their mental health problem is.
“It gives them the freedom to just work without being judged or worrying about being judged.”
Art Angel will be holding a group exhibition at 5pm on Thursday, at Enterprise House on North Lindsay Street. To attend, email email@example.com or call 01382 228383 December 19.
A former Abertay University student has urged people struggling with mental health issues to speak out this Christmas after support given to her helped her graduate.
Laura Jackson graduated last month with a Masters in International Human Resource Management.
It was a proud achievement for the 23 year-old, who says it wouldn’t have happened without the support provided by Abertay’s Mental Health Advisor and Student Services team throughout her studies.
“A few years ago, I was at a really low point in my life. I had just started a business degree in Glasgow but, due to health and mental health issues, I felt so isolated that I dropped out after only a few weeks and had to go back to living with my mum,” she said.
“If you’d told me then that I’d soon be graduating with a Masters with Distinction, I would never have believed you.”
Throughout her three years at Abertay – two completing a BA in Business Management, and one at Masters level – Laura attended regular sessions with its mental health advisor David Cameron.
“Because I’d had a few months out after leaving Glasgow, when I started at Abertay I wanted to see what was available to help support my studies,” she said.
“The Advisory Service not only provided me with practical resources, including a study plan and a laptop with special dyslexia software that helped with my coursework but, because I’d informed them I had been diagnosed with anxiety, they also referred me to David.”
This ongoing support ended up being key to Laura’s progression through her degree as she engaged with the service when she felt overwhelmed juggling coursework deadlines, a part-time job and a spate of health issues, including an underactive thyroid and learning difficulties dyslexia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia.
“There were so many times, when things were tough and my mental health was suffering, that I was close to giving up,” she said.
“Knowing that support was there and available was what kept me going. Some of my friends have mental health issues of their own which meant they weren’t always able to help when I needed them. David was a constant.”
Following Graduation, Laura has moved back to Glasgow and is currently an intern at a women-only HR practice, while she thinks about her next move.
By sharing her story, Laura hopes she can help inspire others to keep going, even when mental health issues try to stand in their way.
Laura said: “My advice to anyone out there who feels like I did is to not put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Speak to someone, get a study plan and let people help you. You’re not letting anyone down by focusing on yourself now and again.”
Abertay’s Mental Health Advisor, David Cameron, said: “I am pleased I have been able to contribute a little and help Laura. She had a lot to cope with, both with her physical health and mental health, therefore her achievements deserve great credit.”
A number of organisations will be available over the festive period for those seeking support or help:
Breathing Space Scotland – provides telephone counselling. Open: Weekdays – Monday to Thursday 6pm to 2am; Weekend -Friday 6pm to Monday 6am. Their phone number is 0800 83 85 87.
Insights Counselling – a counselling services that provides confidential, non-judgemental, 1-2-1 counselling by appointment. For further details you can phone 01382-305706 or visit them online.
Samaritans – provides a 24/7, 365 day a year telephone service – Their phone number is 116 123 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suicide rates in Dundee are higher than any other city council area in Scotland, according to a new report.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database also shows that men accounted for three-quarters of suicides across Tayside in the last seven years.
According to the report, there were 164 deaths caused by suicide in Dundee with an average of 16.7 per 100,000 population between 2011 and 2017.
Angus along with Perth and Kinross Councils recorded 98 and 126 suicides respectively.
For Tayside as a whole, 388 suicides were recorded with an average per 100,000 population of 14.1.
Men were more likely to take their own lives, with the rates across Scotland highest among those aged 35-54 and in deprived areas.
Nearly three-quarters of those who died had contact with healthcare services in the year before their death.
An inquiry is currently under way into NHS Tayside’s mental health services after a number of concerns surrounding the Carseview Centre.
Phil Welsh, whose 28-year-old son Lee took his own life last year, said the latest statistics were “damning”.
He said: “It’s clear that there’s a situation here that isn’t working.
“I think the fact there is an inquiry shows there’s something amiss.
“Mental health is a discussion point now but it’s all well talking, we need support for people afterwards and that is why we badly need a crisis centre.”
A spokeswoman from NHS Health Scotland said: “National suicide prevention programmes need to incorporate a comprehensive public health approach which seeks to reduce stigma, improve mental wellbeing in the whole population and address the underlying causes of poor mental health.”
A grieving mum has demanded an overhaul of mental health services after it emerged dozens of people have taken their own lives in Dundee despite seeking help.
The proportion of suicide victims in the city who have attended a psychiatric appointment in the year leading up to their deaths is higher than in any other part of the country, official data revealed.
Mandy Mclaren, whose son 28-year-old son Dale died in 2011 shortly after discharging himself from the Carseview Centre in Dundee, said the new figures were evidence that people are being let down by NHS Tayside’s mental health services.
“To me the whole system is failing,” she said.
“That amount of people committing suicide is absolutely shocking. It does not get any easier.
“You hope they will learn by their mistakes, but they’re not.”
In nearly half (46%) of the 164 suicides in Dundee between 2011 and 2017, the victim had a psychiatric outpatient appointment in the 12 months before their death, which is the highest rate in the country.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database, which was published on Tuesday, showed there were 769 probable suicides in Tayside and Fife during that period. The national total was 5,204.
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said every suicide was a tragedy and was “comprehensively reviewed by the Tayside multi-agency Suicide Review Group to look at the circumstances surrounding each individual case”.
Rose Fitzpatrick, chair of the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, said: “The Scottish suicide rate fell by 20% between 2002-06 and 2013-17, and we are committed to reducing this by another 20% over the next four years.”
People have until December 14 to give evidence to an independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
Visit www.suicidehelp.co.uk or phone Samaritans on Freephone 116 123.