Glasgow & West Scotland

'Where is the action?' overdose Mum asks mental health minister

Annette McKenzie and her late daughter Britney Image copyright Annette McKenzie
Image caption Annette McKenzie's daughter Britney took her own life after suffering online bullying

A mother who is fighting to improve mental health services for young people after her daughter took her own life wants Scotland's new mental health minister to fast-track changes.

Annette McKenzie believes young people are dying because they are not getting the right treatment.

She wants changes to the way drugs are prescribed and more use of counselling.

On the second anniversary of her daughter's death, Annette begs Clare Haughey to make this a priority.

Britney Mazzoncini's body was discovered in her Glasgow bedroom on 7 July 2016 by her father Raymond.

Image copyright Annette McKenzie
Image caption Britney died after taking an overdose

The 16-year-old died after taking an overdose of a beta-blocker.

She had been prescribed a month's supply of the drug without the knowledge of her parents.

Her mother Annette, 36, launched a petition and told MSPs parental consent should be needed to prescribe strong mental health medication to under 18s.

She thinks her evidence, and submissions from other families and agencies, opened a "can of worms" and highlighted failings in the current service for vulnerable young people.

'Not any better'

In June, the public petitions committee ordered an inquiry into how young people can access mental health services.

Annette wants the topic to be a priority for the newly-appointed minister for mental health, Clare Haughey.

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption The new mental Health Minister Clare Haughey

Annette told the BBC: "It feels like every day there is another suicide in Scotland and every day mental health treatment is not any better. It is great that the petition is being taken seriously and the committee is concerned. But where is the action?"

She has watched in despair at reports of other young people taking their own lives and thinks Scotland cannot wait any longer to have the services young people need.

"I would like to see counsellors in schools. I would like to see places open for people suffering to walk into and be heard," she said.

"I would like to see a new training programme for not just GPs but the schools and the wider public sector.

"Every time I hear someone else has taken their life, I think, could that have been prevented? Were they on medication, were they given it on their first visit to the GP?"

Image copyright Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Image caption Annette McKenzie addressed the petitions committee who have now ordered an inquiry

Annette hopes the minister, herself a former mental health nurse, will champion her petition.

She admits that as she prepares to mark the second anniversary of losing her daughter, the petition and the desire to stop it happening to anyone else is what keeps her going.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: "Watching a loved one struggle with their mental health can be harrowing and too many families are telling us how the services that should be supporting them failed to do so.

"I welcome the committee's decision to hold an inquiry on how young people can access mental health services and we have written to GPs with information about consent, support and treatment for young people with mental health problems, as part of our response to the complex issues raised by the petition."

'Distressing issues'

She added: "We are acting on the recommendations of the recently-published audit of rejected referrals and have appointed internationally-respected authority on mental health Dr Dame Denise Coia to look at how we reshape mental health services for children and young people, with £5m initial funding behind it.

"Our Youth Commission on Mental Health will also help us understand the views and experience of young people in relation to service provision."

MSP Johann Lamont sits on the petitions committee. She agrees more should be done: "Annette McKenzie's courage in raising the issue of support for young people with mental health issues has been immense.

"The tragic loss of her daughter Britney has been devastating for her family and friends. I do hope the Minister Clare Haughey will respond to Annette's call for urgent action with care and compassion.

"Annette's bravery and all those young people still suffering deserve no less. Given her own background I am confident the minister will look closely at the work of the public petitions committee and rise to the challenge these distressing issues merit."

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