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Woman who lost partner to suicide calls for mental health services review

The petition calls for a full review of mental health services in Scotland (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The petition calls for a full review of mental health services in Scotland (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A woman whose partner died by suicide has said she wants “fit for purpose” mental health services, as she called for provisions to be fully reviewed.

Karen McKeown appeared before the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee at Holyrood on Wednesday.

She submitted a petition to the committee – which has garnered 1,326 signatures – and told MSPs she wants to ensure other families do not have to go through what hers did.

Ms McKeown’s partner Luke Henderson died in December 2017 despite having sought help eight times in the weeks before his death.

The petitioner called for a full review of services, suggesting that work involves speaking anonymously to health staff.

She also raised the possibility of implementing mental health triage hubs in hospitals in a bid to relieve the mental health burden in accident and emergency departments.

“I would really like to see a fit for purpose mental health service,” she told the committee.

“That’s my aim, it’s not out of anger.

“I don’t want any other family member to feel the pain that we have to feel every day, because it’s horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

“We need a fit for purpose mental health service so this stops happening.”

Monica Lennon
Monica Lennon backed Karen McKeown’s calls (PA)

Ms McKeown was supported by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, with whom she has worked for several years.

The MSP said she hopes the Scottish Government is not “defensive” about the issue.

“We owe it to everyone in Scotland, including the workforce, to really step back from this,” she told the committee.

“I hope the Government won’t be defensive, because I think we all recognise there are very good intentions, but it’s that gap between the high level strategy and policy and the resource and the experience on the ground.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf will appear before the committee at its next meeting, convener Jackson Carlaw said.