Dundee Needs a Mental Health Crisis Centre

As NHS Tayside reviews local mental health services it must look to provide a new facility, offering emergency support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where people can self-refer.

The Crisis Centre would provide access to counsellors and support in a home-like environment allowing people time and space to seek appropriate help. Other cities have modern and personal services like this. Dundee needs a Mental Health Crisis Centre, urgently.




Link to petition here

Petition calls for mental health crisis centre in Dundee


Link to Evening Telegraph article here 

New mental health charity hopes to help young people in Dundee

Brook Marshall started Feeling Strong after seeing “gaps” in mental health treatment.


Link to Courier article here 

Agenda: Scottish Government must make mental health a priority

Mental health services for children and young people are under pressure.

Mental health services for children and young people are under pressure.

IT was heartening to see one of the first actions of the new Scottish Government Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, being to recognise as “completely unacceptable” the fact that one in five children and young people seeking mental health treatment are having this rejected.

As an organisation that campaigns to improve mental health services, we have previously expressed our concerns over the increased demand on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and that fact that such a high number of these children and young people who are referred for treatment have it rejected, often with no explanation or with no alternative support provided. This leaves many thousands of vulnerable children and young people in a state of limbo.

An audit commissioned by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and NHS Information Services Division was undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government to review this situation. What is clear from the recently published report is that for many of these young people their needs are not viewed as being severe enough to warrant CAMHS; however appropriate alternative support is lacking.

Many children, young people and their families highlighted that they have received a rejection letter within a very short timescale, and feel angry, aggrieved, cheated and let down due to a feeling that no proper assessment process has been undertaken.

More disturbingly, it appears that some clearly require treatment but this is being rejected, often without any face-to-face meeting with a specialist. In fact, only 31 per cent of those who undertook an online survey got a face-to-face assessment, and the majority were rejected on the basis of a written referral.

It was disturbing to read the harrowing first-hand accounts of the experiences of young people and their families. This includes some believing that they would not be seen unless they were suicidal or at risk of harm, and the impact that failure to get good enough treatment has on mental health, often with the situation for them worsening and then entering a crisis situation. There was evidence also of those who were self-harming, but whose condition was not deemed severe enough to warrant treatment. Situations such as this are wholly unacceptable.

It is pleasing to see the Cabinet Secretary fully accepting the 29 recommendations outlined in the report on these rejected referrals and create a new CAMHS Taskforce, headed by mental health expert, Dr Dame Denise Coia, backed with £5 million of investment to reshape and improve CAMHS.

One of the key recommendations in the report was the requirement for increased investment in CAMHS and the provision of alternative support services, for those who may not require CAMHS, with mandatory signposting to these. And yet we have seen cuts to these support services over the years. If we are to deliver the support these children and young people need we need greater investment not only in CAMHS, but in such alternative services.

It was heartening to also note the desire for a nationwide provision of schools-based services recognised. Investing a fraction of the mental health budget on school-based counselling services, for example, helps to keep children in school and avoid unnecessary and often stigmatising mental health diagnoses.

Issues around mental health represent one of the greatest public health challenges of our time and we urge the new Cabinet Secretary to put mental health at the very heart of the Scottish Government health agenda, providing the high quality mental health support that our children and young people deserve.


Link to The Herald article here. 

Call for ‘crisis measures’ at Carseview mental health unit

Jenny Marra
Jenny Marra said allegations made in the documentary were “horrifically worrying”

An MSP has called for a Dundee mental health unit to be put into crisis measures following revelations in a BBC Scotland documentary.

Former patients at Carseview told the Breaking Point programme they were pinned to the floor and bullied on wards where illegal drugs were rife.

Dundee-based Labour MSP Jenny Marra said the allegations were “horrifically worrying.”

NHS Tayside has said it will investigate the patients’ allegations.

Following the documentary, another former Carseview patient told BBC Scotland that she felt “traumatised” following her time in the unit and said it should be closed.

The Scottish government said the accusations were “very concerning” and that they had “been clear” that NHS Tayside must “swiftly investigate any allegations of mistreatment or breaches of patients’ rights.”

Patients have alleged they were bullied on wards at Carseview

Ms Marra said she had been given “cast-iron assurances” two years ago during a visit to the unit that “everything was fine” and that “these problems don’t exist.”

She said: “Now clearly that just wasn’t true.

“I am calling today on the cabinet secretary for health to put NHS Tayside mental health services into crisis measures because this is about public confidence.

“People in Dundee and Tayside need to know that their loved ones are being properly cared for.

“And from what we have seen on the documentary, people are being failed, there is clearly no doubt about it.”

David Strang, the former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, will chair an independent inquiry into mental health services across NHS Tayside.

The allegations made in the BBC documentary will be included in the inquiry.

Ms Marra, who has called for a new team of doctors to be brought into Carseview, said: “It’s supposed to report in September, they really need now to speed up this process.”

Daisy Stewart
Daisy Stewart said she felt “traumatised” from her time in Carseview

Former patient Daisy Stewart, who was first admitted to Carseview aged 17, said she could “totally relate” to many of the accusations in the programme.

She said: “I felt like the restraints were kind of like punishment rather than the other hospitals I’d been in.

“They’ve tried to make it supportive, whereas in Carseview it feels like you’re a nuisance and they just want to quieten you.”

Miss Stewart said she was mixed in with “a lot of people who were taking drugs or had taken drugs.”

She said that her time in the unit did her “no good at all” and called for Carseview to be closed.

She said: “I’d say it nearly killed me.

“I’m surprised I got through it and I still feel really traumatised from it to the point where I still don’t really trust mental health professionals very much.

“I definitely felt more traumatised from Carseview than the trauma I had when I originally went in.

“The whole place has a vibe that is not healthy for a person without mental illness, never mind someone with depression.”

Lisa Stewart
Lisa Stewart said she felt that her daughter was “in danger” at the unit

Miss Stewart’s mother Lisa said that on one occasion her daughter had left Carseview and phoned her from a shop after taking an overdose.

Ms Stewart called Carseview and was told that her daughter was sleeping. After checking, staff discovered she was not there.

She said: “I said, is someone going to get her? “No. we’re too busy for that.”

“So I had to go and the police were there and they said this happens all the time, nobody comes to get them.”

‘Key milestone’

Ms Stewart said she could not take her daughter from the unit as she had been admitted under section.

She said: “I wanted to get her out because I felt she was more in danger in there than she was out.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “I will be expecting an early update from NHS Tayside on their investigation and the action they intend to take.”

The minister said Mr Strang’s appointment marked the independent inquiry’s “first key milestone” for families.

She said: “I also note NHS Tayside has today appointed Prof Keith Matthews as a new associate medical director for mental health services.

“His background and clinical leadership will play an important part in working to transform mental health services across the region.”



Link to BBC article here

Anger as under-fire mental health unit offers staff counselling after BBC documentary alleges abuse

The mums of two suicide victims say they received no help but under fire staff did 

NHS staff have been offered counselling to cope with the trauma of watching a BBC documentary criticising an under-fire mental health unit.

Experts have been put on standby to support doctors and nurses at the Carseview Centre, in Dundee , who may be adversely affected by the hard-hitting programme.

Last night relatives of young patients who either committed suicide or were bullied at the unit reacted furiously to the decision
Dale Thomson committed suicide while being treated at Carseview

One mum told us: “It’s one rule for one and one rule for another – what about support and counselling for relatives and family of those who died or were bullied there? There’s nothing for the real victims.”

The BBC Scotland programme – that aired last night – interviewed patients who alleged they’d been pinned to the floor and bullied on wards where illegal drugs were rife.

They claimed Carseview staff used face-down restraints violently and repeatedly over the past five years.

The centre has about 80 beds and is the biggest mental health unit in Tayside treating hundreds of patients every year.

It is the subject of an independent inquiry into mental health services after families of suicide victims campaigned for changes.

Last week NHS bosses sent an email offering support to any staff affected by the programme.

Harry Hawes also took his own life while being treated at Carseview

It said: “The BBC has advised us that they have spoken to 29 patients and families and the programme will contain patient testimonies which allege bullying, inappropriate use of restraint and widespread use and sale of illegal drugs.

“This is obviously going to be an upsetting time for staff and so the Mental Health Leadership team, along with staff side representatives, will be meeting with staff at Carseview over the coming days to discuss the programme and offer support to anyone who may be affected by this.”

It added that an expert from the Wellbeing Centre at the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital, would also be on hand to offer any “additional” support.

But last night Mandy McLaren and Jackie Hawes – whose sons Dale and Harry committed suicide while being treated by Carseview – demanded to know why victims’ relatives weren’t offered help.

Carseview patients claim staff used face-down restraint method violently and repeatedly

Mandy said: “There has been nothing whatsoever for the families from NHS Tayside. All they’ve done is say sorry, pay expensive lawyers to defend FAIs and let us get on with it. Start doing your jobs properly and sort these issues out.”

While Jackie added: “We’ve had no support since Harry died, we’ve just been left to get on with it. It’s not fair. It’s fine to support the staff, but offer help to the grieving families too. “


Link to Daily Record article here 


Carseview patients ‘pinned to the floor’ and ‘bullied’

Carseview Centre
Carseview Centre is already the focus of an independent inquiry

Patients at a mental health unit have told the BBC they were pinned to the floor in agony and bullied on wards where illegal drugs were rife.

Former patients at the Carseview Centre in Dundee claimed staff had used face-down restraint violently and repeatedly over the past five years.

They said the practice was used for prolonged periods and patients were also mocked and shouted at by staff.

NHS Tayside said it would investigate the claims in full and “will act”.

The allegations have led to calls for the unit to be closed down.

Systemic failures

Carseview is the biggest mental health unit in Tayside, with about 80 beds over five wards. Hundreds of patients a year are treated there.

The unit is already the subject of an independent inquiry into mental health services, after families of suicide victims campaigned for change.

Fatal Accident Inquiry published last week into the death of Dale Thomson said there were “serious systemic failures in the care” he received at Carseview.

The latest allegations against Carseview centre feature in a BBC Scotland documentary, Breaking Point, which will be broadcast on Monday.

The BBC has spoken to 24 people who have been in the Carseview in the past five years.

Sixteen of them said they saw that illegal drugs were available at the unit.

Eleven patients said they had been unreasonably restrained face-down.

A further seven said they had seen this happening to other patients.

Guidelines say face-down restraint, which can restrict a patient’s breathing, should last no longer than 10 minutes and should only be used as an absolute last resort.

There have been calls for it to be banned because of the risk it can physically harm patients, as well as re-traumatise people who have been victims of violence and abuse.

Presentational grey line

‘It was like he was taking his frustration out on me’

Adele Douglas
Adele said the way she was held down caused bruising and swelling to her knee

Former youth worker Adele Douglas, from Forfar, was admitted to Carseview last year, after experiencing depression and anorexia.

She was on 24-hour suicide watch, and, after a serious attempt to take her own life, staff pinned her to the ground.

Adele said she shouted about being in pain and one member of staff reacted badly.

She said: “At this point I was going absolutely mad, then he’d lifted his hand and slapped me really hard on my thigh.

“When he slapped me he said, ‘That’s enough of that’.

“The guy was really rough with me. It was like he was taking his frustration out on me.”

Adele, who is asthmatic, said she was struggling to breathe and that her knee was badly bruised by the way she was restrained.

She said a nurse later told her she had been held down for 45 minutes to an hour.

She said some of the staff were very professional but that she was pinned down in this way three times during her time in Carseview.

Presentational grey line

Illegal drugs on the ward “all the time”

Marnie Stirling
Marnie Stirling said she saw patients selling drugs to other patients

Adele was one of the 16 patients who told the BBC that drugs were available inside the unit.

Marnie Stirling, who had two stays in Carseview, with anxiety and depression, also said she saw illegal drugs on the ward “all the time”.

“It was rife,” she said.

“Everyone was offered them. Cannabis was the easiest one to get.”

Presentational grey line

‘The restraints felt like punishments’

Marks on David Fong's face
David Fong says this photo, taken in 2013, was a result of being restrained in Carseview

David Fong spent a month in the unit after experiencing psychosis in 2013.

He claimed staff used restraint violently and repeatedly during his time there.

David said: “The restraints in Carseview definitely did feel like punishments. I think it was also the nurses wanted to maintain their authority above the patients.”

“It does cause trauma,” he added. “Things you’ll never forget.”

Presentational grey line

‘Not an acceptable approach’

Joy Duxbury
Joy Duxbury said restraint should be used as a last resort to prevent patients getting more agitated or violent

The programme showed the testimony gathered by the BBC to two independent experts.

These individuals have never worked at Carseview and are not witnesses to conditions there but they described the allegations made by the patients as abusive.

Joy Duxbury, professor of mental health at Manchester Metropolitan University, is an expert on how the rules on restraint should be carried out in practice in the wards.

She said patients should not end up with burn marks like David’s if restraint was carried out properly.

“Rubbing of a face in to a carpet is certainly not an acceptable approach and would never be taught as part of prevention and management of violence and aggression,” she said.

Presentational grey line

‘Once you get a culture like that, it’s very difficult to move it’

Professor Peter Tyrer
Professor Peter Tyrer chaired the group which wrote the guidelines on how to handle mental health patients

Professor Peter Tyrer, who co-wrote the guidelines on how to handle mental health patients, said he was concerned the culture at Carseview had become so toxic it should be closed.

“I know that there are various changes going on there but I think once you get a culture like that which has been there for a long time, it’s very difficult to move it,” he said.

“What really concerns me is that if this unit persisted, it would represent a continuing scandal in mental health care.”

Presentational grey line

‘We will listen and we will act’

NHS Tayside said it was very concerned by the nature of the allegations.

It did not respond to the call for Carseview to be closed down.

It said it could not discuss “individual cases due to patient confidentiality” and would not be interviewed.

The health board said it would like to include the allegations in an ongoing independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.

Chairman John Brown said: “We take any concerns raised with us very seriously and we want to be able to investigate people’s experiences in detail and take any appropriate action.

“That is why I would encourage patients to come forward and share their own stories with us. We will listen and we will act.”

Breaking Point will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland at 20:30 on Monday 9 July, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.


Link to BBC article here 

‘More young people are going to die’ Grieving mum hits out at report on depressed son’s death

Mandy McLaren (left) has slammed the FAI on her son Dale Thomson’s death as a ‘whitewash’


Dale Thomson’s mother Mandy McLaren feels let down after her son’s death was ruled “unavoidable” despite systemic failures at the Carseview psychiatric centre in Dundee.

A grieving mum has branded the inquiry into her depressed son’s death a whitewash “covering people’s ­backsides”.

A sheriff ruled Dale Thomson’s death was “unavoidable” despite systemic failures at the Carseview psychiatric centre in Dundee.

“It is a box-ticking ­exercise for the health boards. It’s all about covering backsides.”

A sheriff ruled Dale Thomson’s death was “unavoidable” despite systemic failures at the Carseview psychiatric centre in Dundee

It’s the second time this year Carseview has been criticised for its treatment of patients who took their own lives.

It emerged in May that David Ramsay, 50, was found dead in October 2016 after being sent home and told he should walk his dog.

It has also emerged that 44 patients had to wait a year to begin therapy at the unit. Dad-of-one Dale, 28, had told his GP in January 2015 of suicidal thoughts and was sent to Carseview for an emergency assessment.

He was sent home but taken back in by police after he threatened to burn down houses.

Dale Thomson’s mum Mandy McLaren with Jackie Hawes, mum of Dundee footballer Harry Hawes

Again he was allowed out and went back to his GP on January 22, reporting the same symptoms. Dale was given an urgent ­assessment at Carseview the following day but was put on medication and told to go back to his GP if he felt worse.

Four days later, on January 27, he was dead.

During a fatal accident inquiry this year, ­procurator fiscal depute Steven Quither claimed a “chance was missed” by NHS Tayside staff to prevent the tragedy.

Mandy McLaren criticised the sheriff’s report

He said: “Further assessments should have been considered as Mr Thomson was exhibiting a wide range of bizarre behaviour and had a ­background of ­depression. But there was a lack of assessment and a chance missed. It may have led to a different outcome.”

Yesterday, Sheriff George Way released his report in which he said “there were no reasonable precautions whereby the death of Dale Thomson might have been avoided”.

But he listed a string of “relevant” factors relating to his death.

The sheriff said there were “serious systemic failures” in Dale’s care and added: “Whilst I cannot establish a causal link to his death, they are indisputably relevant facts.”

Dale was found dead four days after leaving the Carseview psychiatric centre

He wrote: “It seems to me that a window of opportunity closed when Mr Thomson realised nothing was ­actually happening.”

But he concluded: “The failures of Carseview are perfectly clear. They should not have occurred.

“I, however, accept that all these issues have been addressed and corrected. I have, therefore, no recommendations to make for the future.”

Mandy hit back: “This report is one contradiction after another. It’s a joke.

“Until things change, more young people are going to die – it’s as simple as that.”


Link to Daily Record article here 

NHS Tayside staff offered support ahead of Carseview documentary





NHS Tayside staff are being offered support before a BBC documentary is aired claiming to ‘lift the lid’ on a troubled Dundee mental health facility.

Former patients at the Carseview Centre tell the makers of Breaking Point they were “pinned to the floor in agony and bullied” on the hospital’s wards as well as claiming illegal drugs are rife.

It comes as an inquiry into the state of mental health services in Tayside is launched after claims the psychiatric care unit failed suicidal patients.

It also comes just a day after a fatal accident inquiry into the death of Dale Thomson, who committed suicide after discharging himself from Carseview in 2015, concluded his death was “unavoidable”.

NHS Tayside’s chairman John Brown and chief executive Malcolm Wright have now alerted staff to the documentary, which airs on Monday, and offered support to “anyone affected”.

The pair, who replaced Professor John Connell and Lesley McLay respectively earlier this year amid revelations of financial mismanagement, issued a joint statement sent out by email to all NHS Tayside staff.

In it, they pay thanks to all staff who are making “difficult” and “sensitive” decisions.

The email states: “Thank you for all the work you do every day.

“We know you are making difficult and balanced sensitive decisions and we want to offer you our support as you continue to develop and implement improvements across your services.

“If there is any assistance we can provide, please speak to your line managers and they can alert the mental health leadership team.”

Meanwhile, Dale Thomson’s mother, Mandy McLaren, has vehemently disagreed with claims the inquiry is ignoring patients.

She has implored anyone who wishes to share their stories — good or bad — to come forward.

The 50-year-old said: “I’m worried that people might not come forward, and that’s the last thing we want.

“We’re not traumatising people in this inquiry — everyone will be listened to. It’s emotional of course because of the stories but nobody is being excluded.

“About 90% of people sitting around the table have been affected in some way by issues at Carseview.

“Don’t be scared. Things can change.

“This inquiry could stop someone else dying the way my son did.”

Anyone who wishes to attend the next meeting, the date of which is yet to be announced, can contact the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland who are leading the inquiry.

Breaking Point airs on Monday July 9 at 8.30pm on BBC One Scotland.



Link to Courier article here 

Scots students face mental health crisis


Student exam

Exam stress and debt coupled to lack of support is creating increased stress and depression

University students face a mental health crisis due to exam pressures and spiraling debts.

Student body NUS Scotland issued the stark warning as new figures reveal that students seeking counselling has nearly doubled in the past five years.

There were 8,180 requests for counselling support in 2016/17, up from 4,541 in 2012/13/

Although greater awareness of mental health support partly accounts for the rise in those seeking help, NUS Scotland says student mental health is worsening because of exam stress, part-time working and debt.

There are now 55 part time counsellors in Scotland’s universities compared to 21 in 2012.

The body is calling for increased resources from the Scottish Government to tackle the problem.

Liam McCabe, president of NUS Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, universities are seeing demand rocket, while resources are increasingly stretched.

“While everyone can experience mental ill-health, student life comes with huge pressures – from balancing study with part-time work to finding a new home or a job come graduation time.

“While it’s vital to tackle the causes of these pressures it’s also crucial that counselling services are in place to help those students whose mental health is affected.”

Andrew Reeves, chair of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, called for better support for students in universities.

“It is deeply concerning if universities are considering downgrading or reducing counselling services within their institutions, particularly surrounding complex mental health needs amongst students,” he said.

David Lott, deputy director of Universities Scotland, said the welfare of students was a top priority.

“We want to help our students with their problems as early as possible and students in need should speak to staff,” he said.

“We are aware that the demand for mental health services is rising at our institutions and that, more broadly, there are challenges faced by these type of services.

“We also know that poor mental health does not discriminate when it comes to age, status or background.”

Link to TFN article here