In developed countries like Malta, one in four persons experiences a mental health problem at some point in their lives. This means that 150,000 people in Malta will be affected at any given time.
Research has shown that 6.8% of the Maltese population reported it had dealt with chronic depression (roughly 32,000 people). People generally show signs of mental illness before the age of 25, but it will take them anywhere between four and ten years to seek help. Either because of a lack of information available, or because they’re aware of the social stigma and prejudice against mental illness.
And this is a problem.
In Malta, 17% of adolescents between 10 and 17, and 13% of 18 to 24-year-olds have at some point attempted self harm (non-suicidal self-injury)
And 50% of all persons with an eating disorder show symptoms before the age of 18. If they are not provided with the right help at the right time, the consequences can be detrimental. Treatment for mental illness comes in a variety of shapes, from medication to rehabilitation to simply building a support system.
The Richmond Foundation has been at the forefront of this fight for years now, and are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
Their work started through the Villa Chelsea rehabilitation programme, which helps patients learn the necessary skills to care for themselves and live comfortably.
But they now offer a variety of services such as Mental Health First Aid, a programme for children with problematic behaviour, and a Short Intervention service that provides people with the necessary information on services such as therapy. This service alone received around 1,600 telephone calls last year, many of which were followed up by professional appointments.
The Richmond Foundation have just launched a new campaign to call on youths to ask for help when experiencing mental health problems
Instead of feeling like they have to hide it. Unfortunately, locally we have very few mental health services for young persons, which is ironic considering the bulk of mental health issues arise at a young age. Although attempts to remedy the issue have been made in the past, much is still left to do.
The foundation will be extending its Short Intervention service to young people and their families, and have also launched a new freephone (1770) to facilitate this process.
Richmond are calling on all parties interested in helping this project to get in touch; whether this be voluntary or financial help – anything to help the Foundation continue offering these services to persons at no cost.
To donate, you can send an SMS to 50618903 (€4.66) or 50619235 (€11.65), or follow the instructions on their website
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts and needs urgent help, please call the local suicide hotline at 179.