During the first eight months of the year the helpline 1770 that offers help and support to persons with mental challenges received 2,400 telephone calls. The CEO of the Richmond Foundation, Stephania Dimech Sant, said the calls received reflected the anxieties of the pandemic developments.
In a message transmitted by social media, President Dr George Vella spoke of the need for a clean environment and a policy of inclusion so that mental health related problems are not regarded with negativity and distaste. He mentioned the need to achieve a balance between work, studies and the family and a balance between progress, the preservation of open spaces and a clean environment because these collectively help to promote mental health.
The new reality brought about by the Coronavirus is being reflected not only in physical problems but also psychologically. During the past months helpline 1770 has offered professional help to those suffering solitude and anxiety and has received a substantial number of telephone calls.
Richmond Foundation CEO Stephania Dimech Sant said this increase reflects the new challenges being presented by the pandemic as well as the greater awareness of mental health problems.
She said this year the helpline has already registered 2,700 calls as compared to the number of 1,800 over the years. Two or three years ago the annual numbers of calls received were 600 and 400. This therefore reflects a strong increase This is primarily because of greater awareness of mental health problems but this year has been extraordinary.
She added that at first the calls were mainly related to the anxieties and possibilities of people becoming infected with Covid but over a period this increased with people already experiencing mental health problems as well as solitude. She said that commercial companies had also requested help for employees working from home and then having to return to work.
During a visit to to the Richmond Foundation Centre in commemoration of the World Day for Mental Health Awareness, the Prime Minister’s wife Dr Lydia Abela maintained the need of greater awareness regarding the importance of mental health.
She stressed on the importance that this awareness should continue to help dialogue with persons that need to resort to help.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Dr Chris Fearne, together with Dr Abela, inaugurated new mental health clinics at the Qormi Health Centre.
A number of psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists have began offering services from these centres in what is one of the new changed strategies included in the national strategy for mental health.
Minister Fearne said the mental patients needing care and treatment no longer have to resort to Mater Dei Hospital or St Luke’s Hospital to obtain professional services but can now receive the same treatment within their same community.
Dr Lydia Abela praised this initiative because it enables a person to remain integrated in the community while receiving the required treatment.