With the number of people seeking help for mental health issues continuing to rise those qualified to offer support are needed more than ever.
Around a quarter of all GP consultations in Forth Valley now concern mental health, in line with the national average.
Seeking help is the first step towards recovery and improved services are being created to meet demand.
“Anyone can feel down or depressed from time to time but it’s important not to let problems get out of hand,” said an NHS spokeswoman.
“So if you are worried about how you, or someone you care about, is coping then get help and support as soon as possible.”
Patients will now be able to take advantage of a one-stop shop for services following the opening last week of a new integrated mental health centre at Falkirk Community Hospital.
Anyone can feel down or depressed from time to time but it’s important not to let problems get out of handNHS spokeswoman
The Woodlands Resource Centre brings together a wide range of services previously provided at Westbank and Dunrowan day hospitals.
The facility, which was officially opened by NHS Forth Valley chairman Alex Linkston, is housed in two former hospital wards which underwent an extensive £2 million programme of refurbishment to create a bright and modern environment for patients and staff with a variety of group and individual therapy rooms, as well as garden areas and courtyards.
Around 70 health and council staff are based in the facility, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, dieticians, mental health officers and social workers.
They will work together to provide a wide range of assessment, treatment, therapeutic and educational services for local patients and their families.
These include individual, group and family therapy and a range of educational courses on managing mental health issues.
The centre also provides a range of classes such as gardening, art therapy and music to help support recovery.
NHS bosses are confident it will offer a much improved service to patients.
“Bringing separate mental health services and teams together in the one place makes it easier for staff to work together and provide a more joined-up and co-ordinated service,” said Kathy O’Neill, community health services manager.
“It will also help speed up the referral process to ensure people are seen and assessed as quickly as possible.”
Chairman Alex Linkston said: “The development of Woodlands Resource Centre represents a significant investment in local mental healthcare and enables us to provide a wide range of important services in more modern accommodation.”
Patients and staff will also have access to a number of gardens within the new centre, as well as the woodland areas surrounding the Community Hospital, which have been restored by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Both the Dunrowan and Westbank centre are no longer required by the NHS and will be marketed for sale. Falkirk Council has expressed interest in building its new headquarters on the site of the latter
Falkirk mental health charity is busier than ever
A Falkirk-based charity says it has witnessed a huge rise in demand for its mental health support services in recent years.
Falkirk & District Association for Mental Health (FDAMH) runs counselling and befriending projects which help recovery from mental ill health such as depression and anxiety.
When FDAMH opened its purpose-built centre in 2008, it had approximately 800 service users.
By last year this number had almost trebled to just under 2200.
“I think part of this growth is due to our increased profile in Falkirk,” said Stuart McCallum, fundraising manager.
“As we improve our working relationship with other people services – such as primary health care providers, especially local GPs and health centres – far more people become aware of our services.
“For example, three of our staff are based in local GPs surgeries, and as health centre staff become more familier with our work they gain more knowledge and confidence in the high quality professional services we offer.
“We have seen an increase in the number of their patients that they refer to us for social support to address their mental health needs.”
Mental health professionals are reluctant to identify individual causes for the rise in number of people seeking help.
“In terms of a specific issue that is much harder to quantify – there is some evidence that we are getting more referals on behalf of women and young adults,” added Stuart.
An NHS spokeswoman said: “Mental health and wellbeing can be affected by many different factors. These include relationship problems, money worries and bereavement which can lead to common mental health conditions such as depression, stress or anxiety.”