Mental Health Awareness Week is an important moment to reflect on how far we have come in removing the stigma around mental health and assessing mental health provision within health care.
Broadly speaking, we spend over £130M on health care and only £5M is dedicated to Mental Health provision. It is very much hoped that with the drive-in efficiencies we can change the balance and make sure that mental health along with physical health is properly funded and resourced. For that we need an open and frank conversation about the scope and impact of mental health within our community and acknowledge what needs to be done to ensure that we direct support to those most in need. Without a serious attempt at publishing accurate data, we cannot properly drive resources in the right direction. This week also presents us all with an opportunity to shout out loud about what needs to be done and to support our mental health charity warriors.
This week has a particular focus on anxiety. Anxiety is normal emotion and effects everyone single one of us, but for some people it is a cause of concern that requires clinical and counselling support as it can affect their daily lives. The GSD receives regular feedback from service users, members of the public and people working within the service, and that feedback is almost exclusively critical of the lack of support in counselling and therapy in mental health. In addition, the high incidence of prescribing medication in this area is of considerable concern given the very real possibility that medication is dispensed given inadequate counselling and support and alternative methods to deal with anxiety.
Shadow Minister for Health, Elliott Phillips MP said:
“Last year I discovered from my work in Parliament that Gibraltar’s sick leave rate in the public sector was higher than the UK and our European neighbours. As a result of our questioning, the Chief Minister agreed to publish monthly statistics. More data and more information needs to be forthcoming. The first step has got to be recognising the scale of the problem so that we can target our resources and helping those who really need our support. I know many people within community have a daily mountain to climb and often just getting out of bed seems like an impossible task. Remember you are not alone, thousands in our community are feeling the same way, your voice is heard and more must be done to support you. The GSD understand the critical need to improve mental health provision in an integrated way and we will continue to press this important issue not only on Mental Health Awareness Week, but in any outside parliament and support the excellent work being done by our mental health warriors who are increasing awareness and removing the stigma”