AnxietyFigures out in the last few weeks have shown that the NHS spent more than £3,000,000 extra on prescriptions for anti-depressants in the last year. The 5 million medicines used to treat people with a variety of mental health issues. This comes on the back of a BBC investigation that showed that some people with mental health problems who attempted suicide had to be held in custody for their own safety, either because there was no bed for them in a hospital or that their assessment did not merit admission. In terms of numbers there were nearly 800 suicides in Scotland in 2010, and in a recent survey Tayside police reported as many as 150 in one month.

Scotland has a widely recognised reputation for being progressive in terms of treatment to mental health with a range of initiatives and health care professional. The Choose life campaign has made progress in tacking Scotland’s unenviable reputation as the home country with the highest suicide rate. The programme aims to reduce suicides in Scotland by 20% by next year and sets objectives for closer working relationships between agencies.

Yet, organisations like Scottish Association for Mental Health have identified a gap in the provision of services. In an article published on their website Kirsty Keay (National Programme for Suicide prevention Manager at SAMH) said “Suicide devastates Scotland’s communities and there is clearly a gap in the services that are available.” Essentially if someone is feeling suicidal there is not a clear course of action open to them. There are plenty of people to talk to but no single process that people can turn to when in crisis.

While there is room for optimism with suicide rates falling on a 3 year rolling average, there is still much to be done. There can be little doubt that someone who is in mental distress can derive little cure from being locked in a police cell for the night, yet it can be difficult to assess those under the influence of drink and drugs so developing protocols and resources may take time.