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Deliver 24-hour mental health crisis centre to tackle Dundee ‘unemployment disaster’, says councillor

Michael Marra MSP
Michael and Jenny Marra.

Dundee mental health bosses must fast track a 24-hour centre to help young people facing an “unemployment disaster”, a councillor has said.

Labour councillor Michael Marra has written to Dundee City Council chief executive Greg Colgan to share his fears about the “gathering storm” likely to affect the mental health of thousands of young people across the city.

City mental health campaigners believe a 24-hour centre – where a person in mental health crisis can go for help without a medical referral – could save lives.

Councillor Marra called on officials to deliver the centre without further delay.

He said: “Recent reports indicate a surge in suicide attempts as Scotland’s mental health crisis gains pace as a result of lockdown and the looming long-term impacts of the pandemic.

“We know – not suspect but know – that we have an unemployment disaster on the way.

“Unemployment spikes typically impact on the young. This time the impact on the young will be even greater as jobs losses in hospitality and retail will be particularly acute.

‘Why not in Dundee?’: ‘Concerns’ over much-anticipated 24-hour mental health crisis centre

Loss of hope could be huge

Dundee’s Labour group put demands for the centre of the heart of their budget proposals earlier this month.

“The impact on mental health of the loss of prospects and hope will be huge. We know that we needed a crisis centre before this gathering storm.”

Councillor Marra said more than 100 lives had been lost to suicide in the city since MSP Jenny Marra – Mr Marra’s sister –  raised the issue with the first minister in 2018.

“You will understand my frustration that in spite of specific instructions the policy is simply not being delivered,” he told Dundee Council’s top official.

‘No crisis centre is being provided’

Despite cross party political support, there is confusion around the timeline for delivery over such a centre.

Chief social work officer Diane McCulloch last month updated the integration joint board of the city’s health and social care partnership on mental health and substance misuse services.

She addressed the issue of crisis response, including setting up a 24-hour centre.

She said there were “good bits and not so good bits” about similar projects already operating in other Scottish cities.

“We want to get this as right as we can,” she told the meeting,

“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?”

Councillor Marra said: “Every elected member backs a crisis centre yet, to collective dismay, no crisis centre is being provided.

“Can I ask you to reflect on the proceedings of the IJB, the discussion at the budget meeting, and tell me how we can secure this crisis centre for Dundee?”

A Dundee City Council spokeswoman said: “The chief executive will respond to councillor Marra directly.”

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