The Government has launched its Mental Health Strategy for the next ten years between 2020 and 2030. This will come into effect as from the coming year and is based on four main aspects: promotion; improvement of mental health services; support for family carers who normally have to carry the burdens of mental health problems as well as support for employees in the sector.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne declared that every person residing in Malta and Gozo has a right to access to proper mental health just as much as a right to good physical health.
He said the aim is to create an environment to enjoy a better lifestyle, even mentally. Groups are being identified such as youths, the elderly, immigrants, persons affected by drugs or alcohol abuse as all these need help and support to avoid mental health problems. The community also has to be strengthened and there are plans to provide home care. New medicines also have to be introduced in the Government’s listing.
The Government’s main aim is that where possible support necessities can be dispensed without involving hospitalisation.
Minister Fearne explained the strategy that mental health care should not be isolated as it has been for many years by being consolidated at Mount Carmel Hospital. He said care should be integrated with physical health care.
The Consultant for Mental Care, Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, said the strategy has aroused public interest and the vision originally presented in December was changed to reflect public consultation. She said more attention is being given to family support as it is relatives that have to shoulder the problems of mental health as well as care workers. Digital information will be utilised.
Dr Azzopardi Muscat continued by stating that an emergency service has already been established at Mater Dei Hospital. In her opinion the new hospital on the Mater Dei campus will be a future symbol of mental health strategy because this will remove the stigma from an institution that provide mental health care.
Asked about the role of Mount Carmel Hospital in this strategy, Minister Fearne said that currently infrastructural works are being undertaken to provide improvements that will be required over the coming years.
He said that as a result of a new hospital and the provision of community services, the role of Mount Carmel hospital will change into one providing long-term care for persons requiring rehabilitation and similar services.