The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society strongly welcomes the Government’s initiative to create a database for mental health statistics in schools. As in other fields, it is essential for data to be collected systematically in order to be able to assess the reality of a given situation. At the moment, one has to keep referring to statistics in the UK and assume that these will reflect what is going on in Gibraltar. Although it is often the case that trends in mental health are similar across countries in the Western world, it would be very useful to have data on what exactly is happening in our own community. Once this information has been interpreted, the necessary steps can be taken to find solutions.
In order to create a database which is as accurate as possible, it will be necessary to establish a scientific method for assessing pupils’ mental health, across the sectors. Having a database of this nature will provide schools with an objective assessment of what the salient mental health problems are and what resources are required in order to deal with them. The GMWS agrees that ongoing basic training on mental health for all teachers is essential, and as such welcomed the training week that took place in June. There is clear evidence of how mental health promotion in schools has positive effects on pupils.
However, the Society believes that the Government will also need to make further investments in ensuring that adequate professional help is available for the referrals that schools will continue to make. It also considers that the GSLP 2011 Manifesto commitment to provide counsellors specifically for schools should be resurrected. The implementation of such a policy would go a long way in helping pupils deal with more transient mental health issues within the school environment.