An independent review of the mental health services development blueprint "A Vision for Change" has found that its implementation has been "slow and inconsistent".

This is the sixth annual and final report of the Independent Monitoring Group on the Government strategy, which was published in 2006.

It says there are 1,500 vacant posts in mental health teams around the country.

The report says that the effects of the HSE recruitment embargo and the public service moratorium have disproportionately and indiscriminately reduced the availability of professional mental health service staff.

It also criticises the absence in the HSE of a national mental health service directorate with authority to control resources.

The report says that a positive development is the continued closure of unfit-for-purpose facilities in favour of modern community-based services.

The Government commitment was for €50m a year in funding for capital developments to be recouped from the sale of old buildings and lands.

But the report notes that the collapse in property and land prices has meant that just €37m has been recouped so far.

The report says it is impressed with the range of initiatives in the area of suicide prevention. It calls for a comprehensive, time-lined and costed implementation plan for the strategy.

It says there needs to be ''a cultural shift'' in how mental health services are delivered and a move from a largely medicalised and maintenance approach, towards one based on recovery.

The report finds that little attention has been given to the proactive involvement of family members in the provision of mental health services and there is an inconsistent approach to the development and support of consumer panels.

It wants the mandate of the Independent Monitoring Group to be extended to the end of 2013, to allow it conduct a comprehensive seven-year review of the strategy.

The report says that specialist mental services need to be developed as a matter of urgency for older people in the areas of rehabilitation and recovery, eating disorders, intellectual disability and co-morbid severe mental illness and substance abuse problems.

A Vision for Change 2006 called for an investment of nearly €1bn over seven years, mostly to build new facilities, the closure of old Victorian psychiatric hospitals and the development of community services with community mental health teams.

Today's report says that since the 2006 strategy was published, the HSE has spent €190m on mental health infrastructure and has further contractual commitments for €57m in spending.

It puts the total funding for mental health last year at €708m.