Health Minister Clare Haughey condemned for “crass” remarks on mental health

The SNP Health Minister, and Rutherglen MSP, Clare Haughey has been criticised after saying the Scottish government is a “victim of its own success” in dealing with the stigma of mental health.

Clare Haughey remarks on mental health have been branded "crass"

Clare Haughey’s remarks on mental health have been branded “crass”

Holyrood Magazine’s Jenni Davidson reported the comments on Twitter from the SNP conference in Glasgow.

Commenting on the reported remarks, that increased demands on mental health services show the Scottish Government is a “victim of its own success” in reducing stigma, Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said:

If the Minister for Mental Health made these remarks they are jaw-dropping and worrying.

The idea that the government is somehow a victim of its own success in reducing stigma is not only insulting – it’s wrong.

Just this week I brought my constituent Karen McKeown to meet the Minister, whose partner experienced horrendous stigma before taking his own life last Christmas.

Karen’s partner, Luke Henderson, killed himself between Christmas and New Year having sought treatment eight times in six days.

Despite medics noting that Luke was “hearing voices in head”, was “experiencing delusions”, “an immediate risk to himself” and wanted to kill himself he never got the help he needed.

it’s a crass remark that should be withdrawn as soon as possible

Monica Lennon MSP

After her meeting with Clare Haughey, The Sunday Post reported Karen saying:

I appreciate that the minister listened to me, but that is really all she did.

I don’t want sympathy, I want action, answers.

Smiling and nodding your head just isn’t good enough.

Monica Lennon is Labour's Shadow Secretary for Health and Sport

Monica Lennon is Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Health and Sport

Monica Lennon, who accompanied Karen to the meeting, said of today’s remarks made by Haughey:

If Clare Haughey seriously believes this then she is completely out of step with what is happening in our health service – or maybe she is willing to accept that the NHS isn’t fully equipped to cope with demand. 

Either way it’s a crass remark that should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

Ms Lennon has said she will continue to seek answers to why Luke Henderson was let down so badly.

Karen has now joined forces with Gillian Murray – whose uncle, David Ramsay, also killed himself two years ago just days after being turned away twice by Dundee’s Carsview Centre – to campaign for a national inquiry and help establish better safeguards for vulnerable, and potentially suicidal, patients.

The Carsview Centre, Dundee

After a public campaign, an  inquiry into the Carsview Centre in Dundee was expanded to cover all of NHS Tayside’s mental health provision

An inquiry into the Carsview Centre was announced in response to Mr Ramsay’s death and was later expanded, following a campaign by families who had lost someone to suicide, to cover all mental health services across NHS Tayside.

Speaking to The Sunday Post, Karen said: “This isn’t just happening in one place. Gillian and I are covered by two health boards and very similar problems happened with our relatives.”

Gillian added: “I know there are problems happening all over Scotland, that’s why we want an inquiry nationally.”

Haughey’s remarks come on the back of revelations that some people are resorting to paying for mental health treatment because of excessively long waiting lists.


This article has been amended as it originally stated that Karen McKeown and Gillian Murray both met Clare Haughey together which was not the case.

Posted by HLSLabour

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