A fresh report into the Bailiwick’s mental health services has been published by the Committee for Health & Social Care – which includes interviews with service users, staff, and politicians.
David Gedze, a UK-based mental health practitioner, was invited back to the island at the start of this year to take a wider look at all mental health services offered locally, from statutory provisions to third sector organisations and service users.
He previously produced a review of secondary care mental health services in 2018 in which he determined that Guernsey’s services are “well resourced”, with “very low waiting times” and a “sufficient number of in-patient beds” at the Oberlands.
Mr Gedze has reaffirmed these findings, saying there is “no doubt that Guernsey is multiple times better” than other jurisdictions; beds are always available unlike in the UK, and waiting times for psychological therapies offered by the NHS have, in some cases, “worsened” since the authoring of the initial review.
Mr Gedze also evaluated if progress had been made within services off the back of his 2018 recommendations. In most cases he found that implementation had been completed, save for some outstanding but ongoing areas that were noted as being disrupted by the pandemic.
HSC has immediately rebranded services delivered at the Oberlands to ‘Guernsey Specialist Mental Health Services’ to better signpost the secondary service to the acute and complex cases which require them.
A steering group comprising a wide range of cross-Bailiwick stakeholders will be set up to refresh the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and to continue to address gaps in services, whether they are delivered by the States or not.
You can read the 2022 report in full HERE.
Pictured: Services delivered at the Oberlands Centre will now be known as ‘Specialist’ to make them distinct from other less complex interventions.
Mr Gedze said: “Mental health and wellbeing services in the Bailiwick are well resourced but I have identified some duplication in areas and gaps in others. Guernsey also benefits from a rich network of voluntary sector organisations that provide services in addition to the statutory services provided by the States of Guernsey.
“As I expected, the experiences of service users and their families varied with some people feeling that services had failed them completely. Others had more positive or mixed experiences.
“I am pleased to see that all the recommendations I made in 2018/2019 have been implemented or are underway - with only those delayed by the covid-19 pandemic outstanding.”
He strongly recommended that HSC rebrand secondary services after he completed the 2018 review. This was delayed by the pandemic but has now been realised.
“The services based at the Oberlands provide a highly specialised time-limited service for people with the most complex needs and those experiencing an acute crisis. This is appropriate and is what the States of Guernsey should be providing for Guernsey and Alderney, but there is sometimes an assumption amongst islanders that these services should be providing support for all mental health needs,” he said.
“This is not the case and, in my view, not necessary.”
Pictured: Dr Dominic Bishop spoke to the island about mental health wellness during the covid pandemic.
Dr Dominic Bishop, Clinical Director of Specialist Mental Health Services (pictured above) echoed that view, saying mental health provision is wider than the Oberlands, which should not be regarded as a “one stop shop for all those issues”.
He added that secondary services are primarily for those experiencing a “major mental health crisis” or those with a “degree of functional impairment”, such as housing at a social level.
Dr Bishop claimed that anyone experiencing “lower level anxiety and depression” would be better served by primary care, such as Healthy Minds and the third sector, such as Guernsey MIND.
He evidenced that 25% of people will experience mental health issues in their lifetime, and it is therefore “not necessary” to cater all those cases through secondary care.
It is hoped that the rebrand will mean a large number of affected individuals are correctly signposted to the appropriate service, particularly for those using services for the first time.
Jo Cottell, Chief Executive of Guernsey MIND, said people often approach her organisation as they are not sure where to go for their needs, and that the “community need more information” to access the correct services.
Pictured: The membership structure for the strategy steering group.
A Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Group will also be set up, following a recommendation from Mr Gedze. They will meet for the first time before the end of 2022 and must report back to HSC.
The group will address service gaps across Guernsey and Alderney and implement the strategy – including oversight of Mr Gedze’s recommendations. Its membership can be viewed above.
A member with lived experience will be sought soon, to provide service user level insight to the group, and representatives from the three private GP practices have also been included.
Deputy Al Brouard, President of HSC, said the group would act as an “overall umbrella” for services even if they are not offered by the government.
“Mr. Gedze has done a fantastic job working with colleagues to build and develop a Mental Health & Wellbeing Services Map which clearly shows the breadth and depth of services provided in the Bailiwick, alongside the statutory provision, by independent and third sector providers.”
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard, President of HSC.
Deputy Brouard added: “On behalf of the Committee I would like to thank Mr. Gedze for another comprehensive review of our mental health and wellbeing services.
“As a Committee we are acutely aware of the range of views on the provision of mental health services. Mental health and wellbeing services represent an extremely challenging area of work. We employ around 250 dedicated staff who provide services to around 1,850 service users. For these staff it is a true vocation, and we must not underestimate the complexity, difficulty and stress of providing mental health services generally, but especially within a small community.
“Whilst Mr. Gedze has identified further recommendations, I am pleased to note that staff in this service area have put in place (or plans are in progress) measures to address the recommendations Mr. Gedze made in 2018. We will continue to work with senior staff to support them in implementing the remaining recommendations as soon as they are able.’
“We do have good Mental Health services as an island and all providers will do their best to help their patients. Mental health is a difficult and challenging area both for staff and patients and we need to do all we can to support both.”
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