Rise in self-harm 999 calls lead to call on government for better handling of COVID-19 mental health spill-over

MSP David Stewart.

SELF-HARM incidents have increased since lockdown prompting Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart to call on government to address the mental health spill-over from Coronavirus.

Dr Martin McKechnie, the national clinical lead from the Scottish Trauma Network, told MSPs at a virtual meeting of today’s heath and sport committee in Holyrood “people have struggled”.

Following questions from Mr Stewart, Mr McKechnie said: “We have unfortunately seen a lot of serious and violent self harm and harm to others and a lot of it is lockdown or pandemic-related. People have struggled.

“That has been, I wouldn’t say unpredicted, but a new feature of some of the cases that we are seeing during this last year.”

He added however that the ongoing after-care of these patients is “much improved now”.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Stewart, who is Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Health, said: “It was shocking to hear the evidence from the front line practitioners today. A rise in self-harm is one spike we probably could have expected, but nevertheless it is just another element of the sad nature of the Covid pandemic.

“We truly are facing another epidemic, which is an epidemic of mental health and emotional problems, following the Coronavirus epidemic. The government must not lose sight of this when they are concentrating their efforts a public health response to the pandemic. That must include attention to the psychological aspects of care for patients, families, and staff affected by COVID. This is evidence that comes from the front-line today.”