Crisis intervention for persons with mental health issues should be tackled by public health officials and not the police force, who currently deal with emergency situations, Malta’s Chamber of Commerce has said.
In a policy paper on the issue, the Chamber flagged major concerns with the emergency response, early intervention, and treatment of mental health patients in Malta.
While making it clear that Malta’s police must be trained to support mental health crises and effectively manage emergency situations, a specialised unit within the emergency department at Mater Dei Hospital should be first on the scene.
The department would include specialised psychiatric nurses, psychiatric doctors, social workers, and psychologists.
First-line emergency at Mater Dei should be the norm, the Chamber says, but it should be coupled with alternative community-based facilities to catch mental illness early and before they even reach crises.
Police engaging in intervention should also not be uniformed, amid concerns that wearing a uniform could exacerbate the situation at the emergency response stage.
The Chamber did acknowledge the work being done to bring Mount Carmel Hospital into the 21st century. However, it was insistent that more work and investment should be of a high property to address the glaring issues in the short term.
It said that emergency services should be available at more than one location.
“Mount Carmel Hospital should NOT be the first entry point to mental health interventions, to avoid its stigma exacerbating a patient in crisis as well as the family members,” the Chamber said.
Meanwhile, it added that improvements in community-based services, to the treatment of patients, and patients’ access to friends, family, and a healthy diet.
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