Report reveals opinions of Valencians on the state of mental health care

SUICIDE, eating disorders, work-related anxiety, stress, autism and gaming addictions, are the main mental health worries among Valencians, according to a survey published by the Generalitat on Sunday.

Participants in the survey also asked for better care and a reduction in waiting times to get an appointment with a mental health specialist, as well as greater prevention systems in place to avoid suicides.

The survey was carried out on behalf of the regional government in the first weeks of January with a total of 3,287 people taking part.

The government’s commissioner for the Valencian Plan of Action for Mental Health, Drug Addiction and Addictive Behaviour, Rafael Tabarés, thanked those who had taken part and said that more than 500 comments had been submitted which would be taken into account in the Convention on Mental Health to be held in the coming months.

Tabarés stressed that the fundamental concern of the public “is to receive quality care as soon as possible and that there should be a sufficient number of professionals from a multidisciplinary perspective as locally as possible”. He also referred to the interest shown in finding out how people with drug addiction problems, screen addiction, suicidal behaviour and eating disorders are treated.

The consultation has made it possible to specify some aspects that will be addressed in the citizens’ convention, such as suicides, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, gambling addiction, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, as well as stress and anxiety related to working life.

Waiting lists

Another concern is the current waiting lists and the lack of continuous care. In addition, respondents asked for help in accessing private care and bridging the inequality in care provided when one doesn’t have sufficient funds.

Among the demands of those surveyed, were activities aimed at raising awareness as well as prevention of mental health issues, such as educating and informing children and adolescents, as well as guidance and assistance for patients’ families.

The consultation also received suggestions aimed at improving the situation and the rights of people with mental illnesses. These included giving greater visibility to mental health and breaking down stigmas, as well as encouraging integration in society and the world of work.

Finally, the survey noted a “widespread concern” about the effects on mental health in childhood and adolescence from the excessive use of screens, social networks and internet games, while studies and face-to-face social relationships are neglected.

According to Tabarés, “this is an issue that appears as one of the problems that is beginning to emerge among the youngest of the population, and we will have to watch it carefully and tale clear action.”

Action plan

The commissioner said that the Generalitat has set out an action plan for mental health in children, adolescents and young people and is hiring 69 professionals from March. This will make it possible to set up three community intervention teams which will visit homes and schools to solve problems in this population group, as well as the opening of three day hospitals for children, and a further 50 mental health professionals will be hired during 2022.

Tabarés also mentioned the new ‘Health promoting schools’, within the Ariadna Plan, with the aim of intervening “from the beginning” in the educational environment and that children “receive the tools to manage stress and violence and avoid dramatic situations”.

He also highlighted that the Generalitat, along with Labora (the regional Employment and Training service) and the Health Department, will be recruiting health agents who will join the community intervention teams to assist young patients who present a serious mental illness for the first time.

Convention on mental health

The different issues raised in the survey will be addressed during the Convention on Mental Health in which 70 citizens living in the Valencia region will be chosen to participate. They will be selected at random and must be over the age of 15 to take part in the convention which will be held during the first months of 2022.

The organisers hope to get contributions and recommendations about the care given towards mental health issues, drug addictions and addictive behaviour, which will be passed on to political groups and experts to be taken into account in the development of a new plan specifically for mental health.

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