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Mental Welfare Society calls for audit results to be published

The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society has called for the results of a Mental Health Audit by the Gibraltar Government to be published, as it welcomed the recent discussion in Parliament regarding mental health.

The Society noted the questions raised by the Opposition over the number of people to psychiatric medication in Gibraltar to be of “great importance”, and added although considerable, the figures seemed to mirror statistics in other Western countries.

“This is not to say that this figure should not concern us, but it reflects the problems that people are contending with everywhere in the Western world, and not specifically in our community,” the GMWS said in a statement.

The Society added the reasons why people are accessing psychiatric medication would need a study in its own right.

“What is required, as both Leaders in Government and Opposition accepted, is to ensure that individuals are receiving the help they need, not just in terms of medication, but in terms of talking therapies,” the GMWS said.

“It is generally acknowledged by mental health professionals that a combination of both strategies yields the best results.”

The GMWS said waiting times to see a consultant psychiatrist or a counsellor are down to between four to six weeks, according to the GHA Board Report and the Society remarked “this can still be a very long time for somebody with a pressing need”.

“Still, the fact of the matter remains that we will only know exactly how much more provision needs to be put into place, when we have a clear assessment of the current situation,” the Society said.

“And this will only be possible, if the facts are laid in front of us.”

The GMWS underscored the need for the Mental Health Audit results to be published.

The Society stated that the Minister for Health Paul Balban said the report was still under review.

“After seven months, this does not seem a convincing reason to hold back publication,” the GMWS said.

“The Minister for Health also said that although the report had not been published ‘quite a few recommendations had been put into effect.’ It would be very useful to know which these are.”

“We feel that the Government can carry on rolling out recommendations, at the same time as it allows stakeholders, and the community in general, to know what the findings of the audit are.”

“As an NGO campaigning for better mental health provision, and as one of the many contributors to the audit, the GMWS would certainly like to know the contents of the report so that it can be clearer about its objectives.”

“For this reason, we welcome the Chief Minister’s unequivocal commitment to the publication of the report, but would like this to be done without further delay.”