The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society was happy to meet, on Thursday 3rd March, with Government Ministers Dr John Cortes, Mr Neil Costa, and Ms Samantha Sacramento, whose ministries cover the issues they are campaigning on. The main areas which were touched on were benefits, sheltered accommodation, care in the community in general, early diagnosis and crisis intervention.

Those present agreed that it was necessary to put a system in place whereby reasonable benefits were made available to those who, as a result of mental health problems, could not be in employment.

The society also discussed the need for a Welfare Officer employed exclusively to handle GHA service users. This is deemed to be crucial in ensuring that patients and their family have access to whatever support is available to them and it fits in with a manifesto commitment to look at patient advocacy. This would help prevent people being “lost” in the system, as they often are now. A welfare officer would ensure that on discharge, all relevant referrals were in place, information was made readily available, and a non medical link was established between the service and the user.

Dr Cortes confirmed that the Mental Capacity Act was being drafted, an important document that would help safeguard patients rights, and that he would share the contents with the Society in due course.

The importance of early detection was raised by the society once again and Dr Cortes explained that a multi-disciplinary team was looking at ways of making progress on this issue. The GMWS maintains that schools are best placed to be a first port of call and will continue to push for a school's counselling service to be put in place.

The ministers will now look at the issues raised at this meeting and will arrange to meet with the Society as soon as they can report back with concrete proposals.