Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society comments on election manifestos

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© GMWS Facebook page

The following press release received from the GMWS is repeated in full below. “The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society is disappointed to see that neither of the 2015 political manifestos has taken on board the serious concerns presented to both Parties, regarding the present, woefully inadequate, benefits system. 

The Society started a series of meetings with the current administration in May, this year. To date it has met with the Social Security Department, as well as with the Minister for Health, Dr John Cortes, and Minister for Employment, Mr Neil Costa. It has also met with the Leader of the opposition, Mr Feetham, and Ms Nahon-Hassan and Ms Karnani, from the GSD executive.

Although, when in dialogue with them, the response to our concerns has been positive, the fact that their manifestos have not mentioned the matter, appears to belie any serious intention to increase benefits for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community. 

Although the GSLP/Liberal Manifesto says it will “continue to support the activities of mental health charities”, we would have preferred a clear commitment to specific objectives. A commitment to provide a benefits system, enabling people who cannot work because of mental health problems to live with dignity, is one of the Society’s priorities.

On a positive note the Society welcomes the commitment in both Manifestos to “Community housing” [GSLP/Libs] and “supported housing” [GSD]. We hope this project will be given priority because there are many individuals in our community who desperately need this kind of care.

‘Another issue which concerns us’, said Conchita Triay ‘is the fact that the present Government has failed to deliver on its commitment in the 2011 manifesto, to “set up a counselling service for schools.” Instead of making this a priority now, the proposal has been dropped. However, the 2015 manifesto claims, in its section on Special Needs, that mental health issues will be specifically focussed on. 

Why then are the GSLP/Libs no longer intending to set up this service in schools? The Society agrees that early detection and diagnosis of mental health problems can prevent more serious issues later on in life. Schools are in an ideal position to pick up on these matters but they need to have access to the right kind of help. We would urge whichever Party comes into power to give this proposal serious consideration.’

 The GMWS will continue to work towards its objectives, not just regarding benefits, sheltered housing and employment, and a schools’ counselling service, but towards all the others it published in its Summary of Main Findings, which can be found on the GMWS page on Facebook. 

It is also pleased to announce that its advocacy service has now been running for two months, on the last Thursday of the month, 6.30 to 7.30, in Ocean Views. This is open to any service user in the Ocean Views facility, or to relatives of the former.”

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