Mental health report discloses a staggering lack of Government direction in respect of mental health provision

By 24th November 2020 No Comments

The GSD notes the publication of the Mental Health Situational Analysis Report made available to the Government by Public Health England back in April 2019.

Whilst we thank the Government for finally publishing a report which they have sat on for 19 months and shockingly had in their possession 7 months prior to the General Election, serious questions now remain as to why it has taken the Government 19 months to make available a report that they commissioned on mental health provision and critically why they have delayed in the implementation of the recommendations contained therein.

Very serious shortcomings have been identified by the Public Health England report. Rightly our community is asking what has the Government being doing from April 2019 to the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to implement the PHE’s recommendations so as to improve mental health provision in Gibraltar?

It will be recalled that no longer than a few months ago the former Minister for Health Mr Balban appeared in an uncomfortable GBC interview in which it was apparent that the Former Minister has not fully digested the contents of the report. During the General Election campaign, it will be recalled that the GSD committed to the full integration of the mental health system, a corner stone recommendation of the PHE report. It is remarkable that the GSLP/Liberal Alliance failed entirely to commit in their manifesto to the implementation of the recommendations that were in the Government’s hands 7 months prior to going to the polls.

Amongst a catalogue of shortcoming identified by Public Health England, it is clear that the main thrust of the PHE report focuses on the complete absence of Government direction namely:

  1. (1)  No overarching Government policy or action plan in place to guide the development of the mental health system in Gibraltar (Findings Section 1 Page 4)
  2. (2)  ..A lack of integration across the mental health system […] which in part reflects a lack of a coordinated national plan to improve and support mental health (Findings Section 1 Page 4)
  3. (3)  No national policy for suicide prevention (ibid)
  4. (4)  No formal mental health budget could be identified (ibid).
  5. (5)  A lack of coherent leadership across the mental health services supporting coordination(Findings Section 1 Page 5)

Shadow Minister for Health Elliott Phillips MP said:

“Whilst I thank the Minister for disclosing the report so that we can finally accept where we are going wrong and where we need to be in relation to mental health provision, the failure to set out in full detail the recommendations which the Government accepts, rejects or has already implemented is a shocking indictment on the Government’s handling of mental health provision and the importance it places on mental health in our community.

This report is a public embarrassment in relation to the Government’s management of one of most important areas of healthcare within our community and our people deserve a full explanation as to the lack of action. It is simply inexcusable to publish a 19 month old report only to say that we are putting together “a road map for implementation and a plan” together with conducting an “anonymous public survey on mental health provision”, surely all of this could have been done last year with a roll out of measures to improve mental health services in our community.