A Dundee health chief has questioned whether a single 24-hour centre is the best way to help those experiencing a mental health crisis in the city.
Chief social work officer Diane McCulloch told members of the Dundee health and social care partnership’s integration joint board there could be “other” solutions to crisis response.
She said: “I know we’ve had lots of conversations about do we need a centre. I know Councillor [Ken] Lynn has been out and looked at a centre in Glasgow. All of these things have good bits and not so good bits.
“We want to get this as right as we can. So part of that work will then be what is that crisis response – is it a centre? Is it a centre and other things? Or is it other things?
“But we need to do that. I know there is a commitment to go some place and we want to get that right. It may be one; it may be more than one, but we need to do that work,” she added.
She was responding to a question about the Tayside mental health and wellbeing strategy and discussion about a timeline for delivery of improvements to mental health services, including a potential crisis centre.
Centre at the heart of campaigner’s demands
Mental health campaigners have made the demand for a physical 24 hour, non-referral, mental health crisis centre a key part of the fight for better services in the city.
Campaigner Phil Welsh, father of Lee Welsh who died by suicide, said the facility was “the raison d’être of our entire campaign.”
He said: “I would be concerned if she wasn’t committing to a dedicated 24 hour centre
“The centre in Edinburgh works incredibly well. You can phone these guys up and they’ll get you in and you can stay overnight if you feel that’s helpful. You can get access to professionals to discuss whatever it is that is going on in your life.
“At the moment, you can’t get that. That point of crisis can be over quite quickly if you get the right support.
“The 24 hour non-referral mental health crisis centre is essential for people who are at that point.”
‘Nothing been done’
Councillor Ken Lynn, SNP, chair of the Integration Joint Board, said he was “committed” to the idea and had schedule a meeting with council leader John Alexander and health and social care partnership head Vicky Irons.
Dundee MSP Jenny Marra, Labour, suggested the comments showed little or no progress had been made on creating a centre since the idea was mooted several years ago.
She said: “The comments from the council officer confirm what I have long suspected, that there is absolutely nothing been done whatsoever over the past three years by the SNP to open a crisis centre in Dundee.
“No centre will be perfect and will meet all needs, but it is a vital start. They managed it in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Why not in Dundee?”
Partnership promises ‘always open’ safe spaces
A spokeswoman for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Providing a safe and compassionate response to people experiencing emotional distress remains a key priority in Dundee.
“Our response will include the provision of ‘always open’ safe spaces in a number of community locations to supplement the broader developments of Distress Brief Interventions and peer support in order that people can be fully supported to address the reasons behind their distress.
“This work will develop in tandem with the Tayside wide revision of crisis care for those people who require access to mental health treatments.”