The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society (GMWS) says it would like to echo Teresa May's comments on the need to focus on children and young people when it comes to improving responses to mental health.
As it has previously said, the GMWS considers that providing a team of specialised counsellors to service children and adolescents in Gibraltar schools, “would play a significant role in helping to prevent the unnecessary escalation of problems in this field.”
A statement continued: “Statistics in the UK show that over 50% of mental health problems start by the age of 14, and 75% of mental health issues manifest themselves by age 18. It would therefore make sense to invest in the necessary resources to ensure that these matters are dealt with adequately at an early stage.
"Basically, an investment in early responses to both short term problems, and the diagnosis and treatment of serious mental health conditions would, in the long run, make economic sense and more importantly ensure that people's lives are not disrupted more than is necessary.
“The GMWS recommends that all teachers be given the opportunity to receive training in first aid for mental health, in the same way that they receive training for first aid in physical health. We agree with the Mental Health Foundation in Britain when it says that “ the Government must recognise that the answers to creating a mentally healthy society are held within our schools”.
“This does not mean that we should burden teachers with greater responsibilities than they already have but that the necessary financial investment should be made to ensure the required training of individuals can take place to meet these demands.
“It is vital too that community support and integrated care and services be formalised and set in place. There are many vulnerable members of our community receiving little or no support and indeed many service users who have been institutionalised for many years would benefit from a structured programme leading to community reintegration.
“The Gibraltar Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry Society, just recently established, has suggested that at present there are 74 beds occupied by adults with mental health issues when the figure should be no higher than 30. A commitment must be made as a matter of priority to ensure that issues are addressed as early and effectively as possible throughout schooling, and that provision is made for adult treatment and support within the community to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, the consequences of long term hospitalisation, and to assist proper recovery and social integration.
“The GMWS is disappointed that though Government has once again stated that there is a multidisciplinary team addressing the issue of mental health and young people, we still see no evidence of any progress in this regard or any increase in provision. The Society looks forward to discussing these and other issues with Minister Costa at the end of the month when it attends a meeting called by the Minister.”