Linda Fabiani MSP

Welcome to Linda Fabiani MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Appointed Member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Search for other Speeches made by Linda Fabiani

Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Although I was very pleased to hear that the Scottish Government is working alongside so many others, we are very much talking about a reactive situation, and there have been discussions about whether the international community was caught a bit off guard on this issue.

I recognise that it is always better to take a preventive approach to such issues in developing countries. With that in mind, I am interested to know about the collaborative international research that is going on, and the information and training programmes that are being put in place in affected countries. What discussions are taking place on that just now? There are many reasons, to do with cultural practices as well as health infrastructure, why such diseases cannot be contained quickly when they break out.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

This is an important debate on something that matters every day of our lives, but the motion mentions 10 October because that was world mental health day. It is an important day to reflect on—a day of global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.

We all have physical health and mental health to some degree. Just like physical health, mental health does not discriminate when it sends problems. Much is linked to someone’s mental health and sense of wellbeing.

I welcome what the Parliament has achieved over recent years. In 2005, the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 came into practice. It was set in motion by the previous Labour and Lib Dem Government and its implementation was carried through by the Scottish National Party minority Government. However, the act was backed by absolutely everyone in the Parliament. It was regarded as one of the most progressive pieces of mental health legislation in the world.

Under the current Government, there has been a big focus on mental health, with the mental health strategy for 2012 to 2015 setting out key commitments on improving the nation’s mental health and wellbeing.

Like good physical health, good mental health cannot be assumed. Anyone at all can be diagnosed with a mental illness but, unlike those with many forms of physical illness and problems, those with mental health problems clearly suffer from discrimination and stigma. Prejudice and misguided stereotyping about mental illness must be tackled, which is why charities such as those behind the see me campaign are important. They tackle the stigma and all the disadvantages that are put on people who suffer poor mental health.

Of course, sensationalist media stories do not help, either. We have all seen those, and I will not dignify them by repeating any of the terrible headlines that we have seen over the years. If we are honest, we must all admit that there are times when our language is not as good as it could be. I know that I am guilty of that now and then. However, times move on and terminology that was normal and accepted years ago is no longer perceived in that way. That is a way of moving on.

That subject raises the issue of common misconceptions around mental health. World mental health day 2014 shone the spotlight on schizophrenia. Around one in 100 Scots experience schizophrenia at some point in their lives. It is reckoned that 26 million people worldwide have that illness. Major symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and fatigue. Of course, the word “schizophrenia” does not mean that someone has a split personality or multiple personalities, although that is how the condition has been depicted over the years in real life and on television, in novels and in films. It is an important illness to raise awareness of. It is widely misunderstood.

Sensational stories in the media exacerbate the problem of discrimination against people with schizophrenia. For example, there is a common misunderstanding that people with schizophrenia are violent. However, the reality is that people with mental illness are much more likely to be the victim of a crime.

Health inequalities for people with schizophrenia are alarming—[Interruption.]

Sorry, Sandra. I heard a wee voice in my ear, and it was you.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Linda Fabiani

That is right. There is institutional bias against people who have mental health issues. That has to be tackled. It feeds into the inequalities that exist. The health inequalities mean that someone with schizophrenia is expected to die 20 years younger than the average life expectancy, and poor physical health is a major issue facing people with schizophrenia and associated mental health problems. There is also an issue around employment. Nine in 10 people with schizophrenia are not employed, despite the fact that most are able to work. That is because of direct discrimination and misconceptions in institutions and on the part of the general public.

Another issue is the fact that, sometimes, people with schizophrenia are reluctant to seek help. Over the years, I have dealt with constituents who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and are suffering the institutional discrimination that we are talking about but, because of the terrible stigma that attaches to the condition, they do not want to say the word or talk to professionals who could help them. There are big issues there.

There is an issue around early diagnosis. The minister can tell us more about the waiting times for child and young adult mental health referrals. I have concerns about that in relation to early diagnosis.

In my motion, I mention the charity Support in Mind Scotland, which focuses on supporting people with severe mental illness and their supporters. In my constituency, East Kilbride, there has been a support group for more than 35 years; I give a big shout-out for Sheila McLeod and Elinor Gardiner, who have headed the East Kilbride branch of the organisation for all those years. I have attended many of its events in the years for which I have represented that area. As I said, often people do not want to speak to professionals. That is where the voluntary sector comes into its own, because it can gain the trust of people who really need a bit of help.

I want to mention another constituency organisation, Theatre Nemo, and the importance of the confidence and relationship building that can come from drama, culture and the arts.

Let us celebrate Support in Mind Scotland’s 30th anniversary and support its one in 100 campaign, which has just launched. Let us make yet another pledge here in this chamber that wherever we come across stigma and discrimination on mental health issues, we will stand against it.

17:41  

Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

I, too, associate myself with everything that has been said. I am glad that Jackie Baillie brought the debate to the chamber and that Robert Watson and his colleagues in the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign have raised this huge issue, which Jackson Carlaw enunciated very well.

I came to the issue because of a constituency case, when someone’s father came to see me about it. I must admit that I was pretty ignorant about the facts. I did not know much about what was happening with CHAS. Although I know that there is a much wider issue about respite breaks for people who are transitioning into adulthood, I will use my time to concentrate on the circumstances of those who find that, following the transition period, they can no longer go to a children’s hospice for respite. I think that that is a really big deal.

An upper age of 21 has now been set. I totally get why it has been set—I understand it. Evidence from CHAS states:

“service users have identified ... themes as being particularly important at transition stage to enable them to ‘live life to the full’”.

The main themes that jumped out at me, because of the experiences that I had heard about from my constituent, were social connections and short breaks. Jackson Carlaw talked about some of those issues.

We are talking about people who have been going to CHAS all their lives and who have suddenly found that, in a very short time, that is not going to happen any more. They have formed relationships over all the years of their lives and they want to keep them up. That is not an issue for people who are fortunate enough to get about on their own and who have a huge degree of personal independence. We form relationships and we keep them going. However, for someone who is not what we call able bodied and who cannot get out and about completely independently, that becomes very difficult. That is where respite is so important.

People gravitate to others with shared and similar experiences and they want to keep up those relationships. CHAS has estimated that it currently supports 41 young people over the age of 21 and their families. I think of those young people as a specific group who will find their lives and relationships very changed by the policy. That is why, just over a year ago, having learned about the issue, I wrote various letters to people about it and got the facts. I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and, when I looked out the letter again, I was really struck by something that I had put in it about the lad in East Kilbride. His father told me that his son had come to think of CHAS as a “second-home”. He went on to say that his son felt

“penalised for living too long”.

We can all say that that is not true and that everybody is trying really hard. Of course they are, but if that is how that boy feels, we have a responsibility to try to take the feeling away.

I see that my time is running out.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Linda Fabiani

I will, if that is okay, Presiding Officer.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Linda Fabiani

I would hate to have given the impression, if I did, that CHAS was acting badly in some way. I do not mean that at all.

I return to the fact that we are talking about only 41 young people. I think that we can separate them out from the bigger argument, which is about the fact that we need those services. Surely health boards and local authorities across the country, and those who have responsibility for the wellbeing of their citizens, along with the health minister, can come up with some solution that allows relationships to be maintained while we are looking for better services in the round for everyone.

18:10  

Welfare Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Mark Ballard was talking about different timescales and so on. What are people’s experiences of the way in which the initial application is dealt with—gate keeping would be the catch-all phrase—and how the application moves through the system? Are there great variations between local authorities in that regard? From what I hear locally and from my discussions, it seems that there is a degree of confusion around how people go through the system.

Following on from that, I would like to hear people’s impressions of how the initial contact with the local authority leads on to other departments in the local authority being involved, along with external agencies, if required. I know that the system is fairly new, but we have had two years of it now. Are we starting to see a joined-up approach?



Welfare Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Linda Fabiani

I do not know whether I am asking the right people, but a couple of things that have been said struck a chord with me. Lynn Williams talked about assumptions being made. It seems that quite a lot of assumptions are made about the operation of such a fund. One that bothers me is the assumption that people who will try to utilise the fund may, to some degree, already be in the system. I see from Derek Young’s submission that there is a view that not only are elderly people much more reluctant to approach such a fund but some of the language might well be off-putting. I just want to put that on the record so that the committee can look at it. In the language that we all use, is there an assumption that folk are already in the system? What can we do to make sure that those who hit hard times perhaps for the first time in their life and have never been involved with any agencies know that they might be able to tap into something that could help them with that one-off crisis?



Welfare Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Linda Fabiani

Last week, we discussed the idea of loans being made available in addition to grants. A couple of local authorities were particularly keen on clawback, but we should make it plain that those things would be separate. The idea of setting up some kind of loans system that would be completely separate from the bill is fine, but the bill talks about amounts requiring to be repaid. In its submission, Citizens Advice Scotland asks for clarification that the provision in the bill is for dealing specifically with fraud and suggests that we look at the wording to ensure that it does not muddy the waters if there is a move back to loans, which should be a separate matter.



Welfare Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Linda Fabiani

I have jotted down some things about this subject. I cannot remember who said what, but two things in particular were mentioned in written submissions. The first was a suggestion that the term “application” be defined somehow, and the second was the question whether there should be a legislative duty to accept and record all applications to reduce the incidence of pre-application discouragement. Could we explore those points a wee bit further?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
NoDefeated

 
NoDefeated

 
YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11065: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10869: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10802: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10778: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10560: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10408: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10344: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10265: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10078: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09974: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03558: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21704: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21705: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21706: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21703: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03247: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03159: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03116: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20456: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20198: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/03/2014 Show Full Question >>