Malta’s government has launched a 10-year Mental Health Strategy with the country finally looking to make the growing issue a priority. This will include not only closing down Mount Carmel to make way for a new department at Mater Dei, but also looking to grow community services substantially, raise awareness and combat early indicators.
“Mental health is an indispensable element of health and well-being that we all possess and need to nurture and protect through a proactive and preventive approach that goes far beyond the confines of the health sector,” Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said today.
The overall vision for the strategy is focused upon a combination of initiatives to prevent mental ill-health where possible, investment in resources, and the creation of a new service network which revolves around the patient’s needs and facilitates their active participation in society.
A new hospital is due to be set up, with the government conceding that Mount Carmel can no longer fulfil the purposes of an acute mental health facility.
The new hospital will be set up within the Mater Dei Hospital and will hold 120 beds.
With significant investment, Mount Carmel will be repurposed into a care centre for persons who need a medium to long-term support.
This all means that mental health services will now be streamlined with mainstream health facilities, while community mental health services will be set up in Paola and a new primary care hub in the north of Malta.
One facility will offer 24/7 support. Meanwhile, emergency service at the national level will also be set up.
Beyond immediate care, the strategy also looks to grow support for persons living with mental disorders, whether that’s through incentives for employers or building community support networks.
Most recent figures show that 4.2% of all deaths in Malta are attributed to mental or behavioural disorders, with men being almost seven times more likely to die from intentional self-harm.
However, it is women who are more likely to suffer from depression.
The strategy aims to address the wider social factors that could lead to mental disorders, namely victims of abuse, income inequality, poverty, poor education and unemployment. A specialised unit will be set up that will focus on recognising and raising awareness of early symptoms of mental ill-health.
The broader campaign of promoting mental health will extend to several other sectors, including education, employment, and the elderly.
It will also look to tackle issues concerning substance misuse and its effects on mental health, particularly with younger groups.
The full strategy can be found here.
Featured Image Chris Fearne Photo by Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE)