Grieving mother’s call for more funding — (The Ipswich Star)

SSRI Ed note: "Popular and lively" young woman put on antidepressants dies by suicide, her mother blames depression and lack of funding.

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The Ipswich Star

08 June 2007 | 16:09


Nicola Duncan

SHE WAS a happy go lucky girl who believed in living life to the full.But today Nicola Duncan’s grieving mother is calling for an increase in mental health funding after her beloved daughter fell into the grip of depression and was found dead at just 34-years-old.Sonia Duncan, 66, of Cotton, Nicola revealed she was suffering with depression around 16 months ago and was recently treated for the condition at St Clement’s Hospital in Ipswich.

Miss Duncan, of Lancaster Road, near St Helen’s Street, went missing on Tuesday May 22 and her body was discovered in a Volkswagen Golf at the Walberswick nature reserve on Wednesday May 30.

Despite some improvement in Miss Duncan’s health during her treatment, her mother said she was upset that certain therapies were not accessible to her daughter because money was not available.

She said: “I know Suffolk is very under-funded in the psychiatric department.

“When we asked about a particular kind of therapy for Nicola – cognitive behavioural therapy – we were told ‘sorry we don’t have anybody for that.’

“I was totally surprised.

“At the time I said I found it incredible that they are prepared to dish out pills and tablets but are not prepared to back it up with other services.”

“When I said this to the consultant he told me it would be good if I could take it up further.”

Mrs Duncan said her daughter was prescribed anti-depressants but because cognitive behavioural therapy counselling was not available she resorted to paying her own money for private sessions.

She said during a seven-week stay at St Clement’s Hospital her daughter began to improve but she was discharged on May 17 – five days before her disappearance – despite asking to stay.

Mental health bosses have revealed they will review Miss Duncan’s case.

Robert Nesbitt, director of community engagement at Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (SMHPT), said his team would always welcome more resources.

He said: “What I wouldn’t want to do is draw a connection between Nicola’s death and resources.

“I think that is for the review to look at.”

Meanwhile Mr Nesbitt conceded that while Suffolk does have trained cognitive behavioural therapists, demand for the service does outstrip supply.

A review of Miss Duncan’s case, which will be shared with the coroner, will lead to an action plan to address any issues raised.

If Miss Duncan’s family are unhappy with the findings they have the option of asking the Healthcare Commission look into the matter.

Do you have a message of support for the Duncan family? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Tribute:  Nicola Duncan’s mother described her daughter as a “happy go lucky” woman who lived life to the full prior to her illness.

Sonia Duncan said her daughter was a popular and lively woman who has friends all over the world – many of whom are attending her funeral on June 15.

She said: “She travelled a lot all over her life and had been to Hawaii, Australia and worked in a ski chalet at a resort for several seasons.

“Even though she was only 34 she had done twice the amount of things any other person that age has done.

“She was always on the go and was a very good sportswoman.

“She was a fantastic swimmer, a snowboarder and had even done a parachute jump.

“She led a very full life. It is just a pity it was so short.

“We are a very close family and she was a very good daughter.”

Mrs Duncan said her family is still coming to terms with news of Nicola’s death but have been consoled by a message she left for them.

She said: “Mental health is something that is horrendous. There is no easy answer.

“She has left us a note and we feel very comforted by that.

“We have found our daughter thank goodness.

“It was the worst part not knowing and, even though the outcome was not what we wanted, we can now put her where she wants to be – at peace.”

n. Nicola’s funeral will be held at Ipswich crematorium, North Chapel on Friday June 15 at 12.15pm. Friends are welcome afterwards at the Spinney, Nicola’s spiritual home. Family flowers only please, but donations can be made payable to MIND and can be sent c/o East of England Co-operative Funeral Service, 47 St Helen’s Street, Ipswich, IP4 2JL.


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Psychological therapies step forward — (The Ipswich Star)

22:56 01 August 2007

SUFFOLK mental health bosses today backed a nationwide government investment in psychological therapies – and said it is heading in the same direction.

The government today announced a £2.2million investment for non-drug and talking therapies for people overcoming mental ill health.

It comes after the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust announced in June that it was recruiting someone to head up its psychology and psychological therapies staff following the death of Ipswich woman Nicola Duncan, whose death is under review by the trust.

The 34-year-old’s body was found at the Walberswick nature reserve days after being discharged from St Clement’s Hospital, where she had been an in-patient treated for depression.

Robert Nesbitt, the trust’s director of community engagement, said; “We’ve always had trained therapists, but we want to make sure we are working as effectively as we can, and develop this further.”

A recent survey of the trust’s service users showed they wanted to have easier access to talking therapies to help them alleviate common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and to elevate their self-esteem.

The government’s investment pilot sites are a at Ealing, Stoke-on-Trent, Hertfordshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, Salford, Buckinghamshire, Brighton and Hove City, Dorset, North Tees and Hartlepool, Derby City, and Bury.

Mr Nesbitt said: “We will be watching these pilot schemes with interest, to see how we can bring their experiences to the benefit of the people we care for in Suffolk.

“Psychological therapies are becoming increasingly important, and indeed it is our experience that, in many cases, people prefer having the opportunity to talk to someone about how they are feeling rather than rely just on medication. It helps us get to the root of the problem and helps people move forward in their lives.

“Our new head of psychological therapies will be an experienced clinician who will provide a clinical leadership to doctors and therapists to help us make it happen. We’re also starting to talk to GPs and to voluntary organisations to make sure our services are better coordinated locally.”