A Nationalist MP who is open about his own mental health issues has demanded that an X Factor Malta judge apologise after the judge was accused of undermining a contestant’s anxiety disorder during the show.
MP Mario Galea said in Parliament that Howard Keith Debono should publicly apologise after he “failed to recognise” a contestant’s mental illness condition, and told her she was just causing “pointless drama” after she had a nervous breakdown.
He said that people with mental health problems should be treated like other patients and shouldn’t be labelled. He said Debono’s comments were extra and had hurt people.
Galea then said he would not be watching X Factor Malta anymore.
Saying that Debono had done a lot of damage due to how influential he is, Galea appealed to the country to promote a national drive to remove any and all stigma related to mental illness in Malta.
After the episode, Howard had defended his actions.
“I honestly think that the questions we should be asking is why do family members, close friends who are aware of certain severe conditions (if that is the case) encourage contestants to be judged on national TV when the career path they want to pursue requires certain boxes to be ticked which might trigger even further the said conditions?” Debono asked.
“At no point did anyone discourage awareness towards social anxiety,” he continued. “In fact in the same program there was a 15-year-old girl who told us her story of social anxiety, wrote a song about it to raise awareness and we encouraged it wholeheartedly.”