In an official statement released this morning, Malta’s Alliance For Mental Health have reiterated “the need for a national strategy” which would effectively act as a new approach to mental health care in Malta. A4MH’s statement was a reaction to last weekend’s tragic events which lead to a Mount Carmel patient being found dead after he escaped the hospital through a bathroom window.
“Every unnecessary death is devastating for all involved, primarily family members,” said A4MH, which is an alliance of patient representatives, carers, families, and mental health professionals. The alliance went on to say that these unexpected deaths are also traumatic for health care workers.
“In light of this, the A4MH would like to reiterate the need for a national strategy that does not simply focus on replacing the psychiatric hospital, but instead focuses on replacing the current approach towards mental health care, with a holistic plan for mental health care which places community care and crisis services in priority and channels adequate funding towards their development.”
Recognising that tragic events like last weekend’s would lead to investigations about what might have gone wrong, A4MH called for a more preemptive measures. “The aim of a suitable national mental health service should be to maximize prevention of mental illness, increase access to care within schools, homes and community centres, and to eventually limit the need to resort to hospitalization,” the alliance said.
A4MH went on to say that, “unfortunately, premature deaths remain a terrible reality of severe mental illness and that ongoing efforts should be made to minimise the risks of such deaths by focusing on changing the system as a whole.”
“A4MH recognises that hospitals contain a concentration of ill people and that the goal of the response to the recent tragedies should be to understand how the overall system can continue to improve and become safer,” the alliance said, going on to say that it should not “scapegoat any individuals for the failings of an archaic setup.”
The Alliance For Mental Health was setup by major stakeholders in mental health care services to lobby for improvement in standards in mental health care. “All stakeholders, as represented in A4MH, should be roped in to contribute towards the drafting of a national strategy for the improvement of the mental health sector aimed to achieve appropriate standards of care.”