Matthew Simpson, 23, is currently in his final year studying law at Dundee University, and at the beginning of the year went to his GP surgery looking to be referred onto a psychiatrist as he believed he was suffering with undiagnosed ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
However he claims he was ridiculed and accused of looking to get an unfair advantage at university both at his appointment and in a letter to his doctor written by a locum psychiatrist.
In the letter it said: “There is no evidence from your referral of ADHD, and the fact he insists on a referral, presumably against your better judgement, might say something about his personality, but it does not suggest ADHD.
“If he has managed to get to the third year of a law degree, then presumably he does not have significant cognitive impairment, and is not, of course the duty of the local mental health services to help him get a 2:1 degree in law.
“The best advice is that he works hard.
“I do not want to offer him an appointment and a diagnosis simply as a safety net, just because he might not do as well as he expect in his exams.
“Presumably he has no medical training and is not an expert in psychiatry.”
Matthew has now spoken out about his experiences and said mental health services up and down the country need to be drastically changed if people are to be properly supported.
He said: “I went to the GP very much knowing what I was asking for and the GP didn’t necessarily deal well with someone coming in and knowing what they wanted to get out of the appointment.
“I was rejected and belittled by the doctor and people must know that is not an acceptable way to talk to someone.
“I have never met the doctor who wrote the letter and they made assumptions about my personality in an insidious fashion.
“ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition but a lot of health professionals still look at it like it’s a disorder, which is outdated and dangerous.
“The doctor essentially told me to bury my head and get on with it, but if I had a lump discovered the doctors would not be telling me to do that, it would be taken very seriously.”
Matthew went onto seek private treatment where he was ultimately diagnosed with ADHD and is now receiving treatment to help him.
However he wants to see the whole mental health system overhauled as he believes the lack of support and long waiting list are not actually helping those who need it.
Matthew added: “The conversation about mental health is making sure people can talk about their depression or their anxiety but it is all worthless if we don’t have a system that can support people.
“There are issues in Tayside and I understand mental health support is oversubscribed and the NHS has issues recruiting psychiatrists across the country, but they have to deal with that.
“People are being faced with an 18 month long waiting list and it is abusive because that is not a solution and demonstrates the service is not fit for purpose.
“I am still being refused treatment as the GP would not honour my private diagnosis so I am still paying for private prescriptions.
“But I can’t allow that to go on, I should be allowed the treatment I need.”
Dr Mike Winter, associate medical director for mental health and learning disabilities, said: “We have recently recruited and retained a number of regular locum consultants to cover vacant posts within the mental health and learning disability service.
“As part of NHS Tayside’s ongoing mental health and learning disability service redesign, we are working closely with staff within our inpatient and community services in Tayside to develop new workforce models.”
Meanwhile, Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership encouraged Matthew to raise an official complaint, which he has done already.
Mental health experts in Dundee are urging city residents to stay connected this coming winter.
With Saturday marking World Mental Health Day, Wellbeing Works said the prospect of households not being able to mix indoors would have greater impact in the colder months.
As a result, people across Dundee are being urged to get outdoors – and take advantage of every opportunity to walk and talk with friends.
A recent YouGov survey revealed that more than eight in ten adults across Scotland have already experienced stress because of the pandemic.
And, although Scotland is not embarking on a new lockdown similar to that enforced during the first wave of the pandemic, cases of Covid-19 are again rising, leading to fears that more restrictions could be heading our way.
Social distancing and a ban on households mixing indoors, coupled with uncertainty over job security had already had a marked negative effect in Dundee, said Wendy Callander executive director of Wellbeing Works.
She said: “One concern which we’ve been focusing on is people’s worries about losing jobs and their income, and the impact that has on people when it comes to paying their bills.
“Another concern is for people who were already having issues with their mental well-being, and it seems like the biggest thing for them is just that they miss people.
“For a lot of them, being with family and friends keeps them well, it gives them a reason to get up in the morning and taking that away is always going to cause problems.”
Wendy also claimed that the holiday season, which is already a tough time for people who suffer from issues such as depression or anxiety, will be even tougher this year.
She said: “Anyone who celebrates Christmas is is already thinking to themselves that this is not good.
“I think that by the time we get to Christmas we will have had nine months of not being close with the people we care about, and for many it will be the icing on a pretty horrible cake.”
She added: “It is really hard for a lot of people to get their heads around it, and the other thing which doesn’t help is the confusion over messages, people are really struggling to understand what is going on.
“The best advice we can give people is just to stay in contact. Although you can’t visit people at home you can still meet up for coffee or go for a walk with a friend.
“We’ve been encouraging walking sessions, where you can get together and talk about what’s on your mind while you walk with someone.
“I think we all need to appreciate and understand that it’s okay to feel anxious, worried and scared, especially at this time of year.”
According to the YouGov survey, nearly four in ten people who had experienced stress because of the pandemic said that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as sleeping well and eating healthily, had helped them cope.
Four in ten people (41 per cent) said that doing a hobby was helpful.
Professor Tine Van Bortel, from the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University Leicester, said: “There’s a growing body of strong research evidence about the determinants of our health and wellbeing.
“That is replicated by our findings. Access to nature and safe green spaces, positive social contacts, healthy lifestyles and meaningful activities are all crucial, for us to function well.”
Phil Welsh, a local mental health campaigner who lost his son to suicide in 2017, warned that a socially-distanced winter will be difficult for many people.
He said: “It’s going to be a hard time.
“It’s coming up to those darker nights, and with that and the cold many people are going to be stuck inside.
“It’s really difficult to predict what will happen, but it’s definitely a concern.
“I think that, coming up to the festive season, a lot of people are going to blatantly ignore this advice because they’re going to want to see their families and friends for the holidays.
“It’s a pretty damning thought that a lot of people are going to be stuck, sitting on their own at home for Christmas.”
Libby Emmerson, founder of the charity, launched the organisation in 2018 after she attempted to take her own life and was saved by a footballer.
Through its patrons and ambassadors across Scotland – including local player and Ex-Aberdeen star Jamie Winter – the charity has been working on “changing room chats” to share stories and get people talking.
She added: “Every club we work with we’ve encountered three or four players who are facing problems.
“The service is completely confidential, even if it is just a chat with someone out with their family we are able to assess if they maybe need more support in the form of counselling.
“I thought it was very powerful the post Vicki Cairney had put out there. Around 60% of the folk we are working with just now are in the Dundee area.
“Some of those people are in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with us or just drop in-sessions.
“We will continue to work hard to help day and night to provide that support for those who need it.”
For those who would like more advice they can reach Libby Emmerson on 07528 243 100. If you’re struggling, you can you can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
A Dundee youth mental health charity has launched a new peer coaching and listening service.
Feeling Strong has set up its new service to meet the developing needs of young people in the city, providing a safe space for young people to talk about their mental challenges, as well as any other issues they may be facing.
Peer Coach Errin Mathieson said “We’re so excited to launch this new service, and ensuring we’re equipped to help any young person as best we can.
“We hope to promote the exploration and embracing of challenges, with our carefully tailored service assisting in successful recovery and positive destinations for all who come to our doorstep.”
Developed by young people, for young people, the service is for anyone aged 12 to 26 that lives, works, or studies in Dundee.
They are open Wednesdays from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
Anyone interested in speaking to a member of the charity’s peer coaching staff can click here for a referral form.