Suicide prevention is such a serious subject and I am glad that we have chamber time today to discuss it. I agree with a number of things in the Labour motion; if people have trouble accessing services, that needs to be addressed, and people should never be afraid to call out failings in service and try to get them fixed.
In any sphere, be it international development, a large corporation or a health board, those areas all demand continuous learning in order to improve. We all need to be able to learn from a variety of situations in order to move forward. An important part of any system is constructive challenge. If people have the courage to come forward, they need to be listened to and the feedback that they give needs to be acted upon.
I welcome the fact that the new NHS Tayside chairman, John Brown, has commissioned an independent inquiry into the mental health services that are delivered at Carseview and now also the entire region. The inquiry will speak to the families who have experience of the centre and review the recommendations that have already been set out in reports by Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. If it is found that things need to change, that should be undertaken as a priority. Continuous improvement is what we should all strive for.
I was encouraged to see that the Government has consulted on a suicide prevention action plan with the goal of producing an ambitious strategy that is informed by the views of families with experience of suicide and of the front-line services that work in the area. I am informed that the consultation has received 280 responses, and I look forward to seeing the responses feeding into the finalised action plan.
Part of the plan is the development of a world-leading suicide prevention plan for employers. That is ambitious, but it should be achievable. I know that, in the Parliament, a training session has just been run for staff on the subject of mental health and suicide prevention. My own staff from my office attended the session. That type of thing is useful in itself, but it also has a potentially more important effect: it sends out the wider message that that is something that we care about, that there should be no stigma around talking about mental health or suicide, and that support is available for those who need it, if required.
The new action plan is key but, more than that, we need to ensure that the implementation does justice to the plan. That is why the Government’s setting up of the forum of stakeholders to track the real progress on real actions in the real world is welcome and will provide a vital oversight.
No Government can ever get everything right, but the Scottish Government is committed to doing more and doing better on both mental health and suicide prevention. That was signalled particularly clearly by the First Minister’s appointment of Scotland’s first Minister for Mental Health. If those who have experience can inform the Government’s approach, I have every faith that we will begin to make improvements.
I conclude with a quote from “The Letters of Gratitude” from this year:
“Just a reminder in case your mind is playing tricks on you today: You matter. You are important. You are loved. And your presence on this earth makes a difference whether you see it or not.”