The GSD yesterday launched a mental health survey to gage how current mental health services are performing as the party looks to put the issue at the forefront of its own domestic policy.
The survey was launched to coincide with World Mental Health day and will remain open for two weeks, following which full statistics will be made available.
According to the party, the survey will attempt to obtain a glimpse into the inner well being of members in the community, together with identifying how the mental health service is performing and how it can be improved.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday GSD Leader Keith Azopardi explained that the party aims to place mental health at the forefront of an integral part of its domestic policy.
“We think much more needs to be done in respect of mental health,” Mr Azopardi said.
“The health services have not traditionally been prepared enough for this area.”
“In Gibraltar mental health has been almost the part of the health services that has received less support and resources at least over the last few decades and we’ve got to do more about that.”
“We need to do much more about access to services, support services, awareness and resources and that’s not just health service resources in terms of where there are clinical psychologists, psychiatrists or specialist nurses. It’s also about giving parents the tools to be able to understand mental health, and to be able to support their children.”
Mr Azopardi explained that this initiative was a “first step” in respect of gathering information about mental health as it affects the local community.
“It will be very useful for us in preparing our mental health strategy that we will launch in due course in this very important area,” he said.
Mr Azopardi’s words were echoed by former GSD MP and current executive member Damon Bossino who said it was “absolutely right” that the party has taken this initiative on World Mental Health day.
He added: “It is also a reflection of how we want to place greater emphasis on matters like this.”
“Over the last five or six years there has been an over-emphasis in terms of party policy making on building projects – we’ve seen a lot of that from particularly the governing party – and how much or how quickly they can do it,” he said highlighting the schools project.
“Buildings are fine, they’re good – if you spend money you will get the building – but I think there are other issues that need to be considered.”
“There are many people out there who suffer in silence not only in relation to mental health but I think it’s also important to emphasise those people who suffer from other conditions like autism, generally special educational needs, ADHD, Down syndrome, dementia is also a very important issue that needs to be tackled.”
“We have wonderful facilities but I think we need to consider and plan ahead in terms of how that is going to be a greater issue…”
Shadow Minister for Health, Lawrence Llamas, who is spearheading the initiative, said: “The potential value of carrying out a survey was first floated around in July last year by Dr Ian Banks from the European Men’s Mental Health forum when he visited Gibraltar as part of the GHA Men’s Health Sessions.”
“During the budget this year I stated how I believed it was important for us to focus our attention on mental health and survey the community.”
“We need to have a better understanding of the deeply rooted issues affecting our community and how best to tackle them.”
“I therefore encourage everyone to take part, regardless whether you are a student or health professional, whether you have experience with mental health issues or not, it is a good opportunity for us as a community to share our feelings and experiences as one, for the benefit of all in a completely anonymous way.”
The actual questions are mainly based on a combination of questions used in surveys around the world, in particular by the Care Quality Commission in the UK.
Additionally, the GSD has carried out a consultation exercise with relevant local groups who deal with mental health issues on a daily basis.
These groups have provided a very useful perspective into how we could further adapt or rephrase questions to maximise the results, the GSD said.
The survey has 50 questions and is estimated to take a maximum 10 minutes, depending on the questions you wish to answer.
The first part is to do with general wellbeing, whilst the second part is targeted at service users, families and friends, to identify how Gibraltar currently caters in terms of: care and treatment; care planning; medicines and therapies; support and wellbeing.
The survey will remain open for two weeks, following which, full statistics shall be made available for all to see.
“We hope to compare some of the results with those available elsewhere, but more importantly, we believe the survey should be carried out every two years so we can closely monitor our very own results moving forward,” the party said in a press briefing.
Hard copies of the survey are available at GSD headquarters and can be deposited into a sealed box in order to preserve anonymity.
The online survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/healthymindsmatter