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Highland Resident Spurs National Health Campaign

26th October 2017

A mental health campaign started by a Highland resident has attracted widespread public support within only a week of starting.

Emma Roddick, who lives in the city, started a petition last week calling for NHS24 to add a mental health option to its telephone menu and has already attracted almost 2,500 signatures.

When asked about her motivation, Ms Roddick said:"Those who call NHS24 for mental-health-related emergencies are often met with irrelevant lines of questioning and call takers confused by procedure. Out-of-hours psychiatric services exist, but there is no clear route to access them. All my petition asks of NHS24 is to make it easier for people in a mental health crisis to reach out for immediate help. The hundreds who have commented online, many sharing harrowing personal experiences, show we have a long way to go to ensure calls for help don't go unanswered."

NHS24 is the national telephone service for people seeking medical advice, usually when GP surgeries are closed and when a visit to hospital might not be necessary. Currently, callers with dental problems are given a straightforward choice when they call, but people calling with psychiatric conditions must work through the full menu process and then wait until a call handler processes their call before referring them on to a dedicated section of the health service.

One of the petition's most prominent backers is Highland Councillor Richard Laird. Councillor Laird has recently spoken out about the poor quality of emergency mental health services and endorses entirely Ms Roddick's petition. He said:

"NHS24's current procedure makes it unnecessarily difficult for those with poor mental health to call for help. Emma's petition is calling for a small change that will make a big difference for thousands of people across Scotland. The impressive number of signatures the petition has already attracted shows the tremendous strength of feeling on this issue. It is now time for NHS24 to act."

The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/nhs24-add-an-option-for-mental-health-crises-to-nhs24-s-helpline

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