During this year´s Mental Health Awareness Week, the GMWS would like to take the opportunity to remind the public of some of its ongoing concerns.
To begin with, we call on the Government, once again, to publish the 2020 Medical Health Board Report, which was submitted to the Minister of Health at the end of March 2020. This is a report which specifically focusses on Ocean Views and onsite provision for service users.
We also ask the Government to publish the Mental Health Strategy Plan, sometimes referred to as the 5yr road map, which Minister Sacramento asked the External Clinical Advisor, Karen Buckley, to develop. In an interview on GBC, on the 12th February this year, Karen Buckley, spoke about the need for transparency which had been highlighted in the Audit. She said that the Action Plan would be published, showing exactly how the 48 recommendations in the Mental Health Audit would be implemented. Just as publication of the Audit was crucial, so is it equally important to publish the road map so we can have a clear indication of how the system is being improved and know that the necessary reqirements are actually being met.
The GMWS is extremely concerned by the increasing number of service users and relatives who approach us for help. We do what we can but in many cases we can only refer people back to the system and when that system doesn`t deliver, there is very little to be done. We are aware that as a result of this, those who can afford it, turn to private practice to see the professionals they so desperately need to see, and who are not available for them in the GHA. Those who can´t pay for a service are left to langour in their misery.
The fact that a number of key professionals, who were under contract to the GHA , have left in the last year or so will have worsened the situation. These include the Psychologist, Louise Barber, who was contracted a few years ago to be based in OV. A recruitment which was long awaited and warmly welcomed by the GMWS. This post is no longer in existence. To have a psychiatric unit, with no psychologist on site, is unacceptable.
The posts held by Dr Chimene Taylor and Dr Morisson, both with experience and post graduate qualifications in substance misuse, have also disappeared from the service. Moreover, there is now only one child psychologist seeing patients, where once there were two. Clearly, this reduction of major posts will have had a very detrimental effect on a service that was already finding it difficult to meet the needs of service users. Serious questions need to be asked about the circumstances leading to these job losses.
Apart from the need to restructure the service, as set out out in the 2019 Mental Health Audit, the GMWS considers that the Government, and the community as a whole, must realise that many factors in modern society appear to be contributing to an increasing number of mental health problems. For this reason, we need to be prepared to make much more of an investment in the best mental health provision possible. Although, no system can put right all the many problems which afflict some individuals, it can certainly aim to do a lot better than it`s doing at the moment.