The demand and need for mental health services has been growing in Iceland each year. The wait times for services are too long and not in line with government aims, a new report from the Icelandic National Audit Office indicates. According to the report, mental health services need to be better coordinated so that fewer people fall through the cracks in the system.
“Gray areas where individuals end up between services and do not receive the appropriate services need to be eliminated,” the report states. “Many of these areas are well known, but attempts to eliminate them have not been successful.”
Staffing is a challenge
One of the challenges the report pointed out was a need to ensure a sufficient supply of qualified staff in mental health services, an issue that must be addressed by examining wages, working conditions, and housing issues. Ensuring study programs and residencies is also key in counteracting the shortage within specific mental health professions, according to the report.
Equalising access is important
When it comes to ensuring people have equal and timely access to mental health services, improvements are needed. The report’s authors suggest such issues could be addressed by concluding agreements with self-employed psychiatrists and psychologists and by ensuring services are available in languages other than Icelandic.
The National Audit Office also points out that many mental health teams currently operating within the public healthcare system only have temporary funding. Permanent funding would ensure they could continue their work, while ensuring a social services representative on such teams would help better coordinate health and social services.