Return to homepage Skip to navigation Skip to site search Skip to main content Skip to footer


Scottish Government’s mental health policymaker speaks at Abertay

2 June 2014

L-r: Derek Barron, Geoff Huggins, Mark Batho, Andrea Cameron, Scott Kane

The man behind the radical shake-up that is currently taking place within Scotland’s mental health services spoke at a special event in Dundee today (Monday, June 2).

Geoff Huggins - Acting Director of Health and Social Care Integration at the Scottish Government - is one of the most influential people when it comes to mental health services in Scotland, being in overall charge of the nation’s mental health policy.

He was invited by Abertay University to deliver a one-day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course for registered mental health nurses from across Scotland, and spoke on the subject of leadership, change and innovation.

The changes he has brought about so far include moving the focus away from the idea of 'curing' mental health problems to focusing instead on recovery and self-management, and moving the location of mental health services from being hospital-based, to now being based within local communities.

Also speaking at the event was Derek Barron, who is Associate Nurse Director of Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board.

He spoke about leadership from a clinical nurse perspective, narrowing the focus down to how nurses can act as leaders within their day-to-day working lives.

Emma Lamont – a Mental Health Nurse and Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Abertay University – explains:

"Nurses are on the front line when it comes to health care, but everything they are required to do is driven by policy.

"Within mental health services at the moment, there are a number of big changes taking place, and it is the mental health nurses who are in charge of putting these changes into practice.

"We need to empower them so that they feel capable of implementing this change, and that's what Continuing Professional Development is all about. The idea behind this course was to give mental health nurses the opportunity to hear from two different mental health professionals about their experiences, to exchange ideas of best practice, and to provide them with new knowledge that could then inform their day-to-day working lives."

This course was part of a new suite of CPD courses that are being run by the Mental Health Nursing Division at Abertay University.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E;

Notes to Editors:

Geoff Huggins was Head of Mental Health at the Scottish Government from 2004 until earlier this year.

He is also on the WHO and EU expert groups on mental health; is a member of the Republic of Korea’s International Reference Group on Dementia; and is a Board Member of the International Initiative on Mental Health Leadership.

From 1993-2008, Derek Barron worked in community nursing, initially as a Community Psychiatric Nurse before becoming a locality manager. He managed two community mental health teams and their associated crisis teams and primary care teams.

He is currently Associate Nurse Director of Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board, as well as Chair for the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland and a member of the editorial team for the British Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

Back to News