The parents of a man who died following a mental health battle believe a new centre for round-the-clock care will save lives.
Lee Welsh, from Dundee, took his own life aged just 27 in 2017 after nearly ten years of struggles.
His mum and dad believe their son – who was a father and musician – would still be alive today with better care and treatment, which they hope a new project will provide for those in similar situations.
The planned Dundee Community Wellbeing Centre would offer immediate support for people in the city with Scotland’s highest suicide rate.
Lee’s mum Lesley Nicoll said: “If Lee had the chance of a centre like this, I would bet my bottom dollar he would be here today.
“I think he got to the stage where the doctor was just doubling up medication. He needed to see a psychiatric doctor, get assessed properly, which would have helped him.”
Plans for the new centre were drawn up after a damning independent inquiry sparked by families who lost loved ones to suicide.
A report published in February 2020 recommended 51 ways NHS Tayside could improve its mental health services, while criticising a culture of fear and blame, and a lack of accountability.
It heard from patients who claimed they were told to “get a grip” when asking for help.
Crucially for campaigners, the new 24-hour centre wouldn’t require patients to be referred by a GP.
Lee’s dad Phil Welsh said: “It’s a case of phoning up the organisation, having a chat and getting in. At the moment, there is no avenue – it’s through the GP and the police.
“The non-referral part is a big one for us. With this method, you’ll be able to start a conversation right away.
“That imminent threat to your life can last for a short time, so if there is that lifeline that could maybe talk you out of it, it could maybe be enough to save a life.”
It’s hoped the new centre, at the current site of a Hillcrest housing association building, will be operational by the end of the year.
Dundee councillor Ken Lynn said: “An incredible amount of work is going on in the city to improve mental health services and we are already seeing positive outcomes for the people of Dundee who are experiencing mental wellbeing difficulties.
“Improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes continues to be a high priority for a range of partners within the city.
“Plans for enhancement, both locally and pan-Tayside, are ambitious and are being escalated at an unprecedented scale and pace.”