Young man opens up: “The stigma against mental health in Gozo is enormous”
A young man from Gozo has started a crusade agains the stigma which he has been facing because of his mental and physical condition. He said that from his school days and even at his workplace he has suffered injustice because of this stigma, although he said that he has now found an employer who understands him and they work well together.
Mario is 24 years old. He suffers from both mental and physical conditions as he is bipolar and also has cerebral palsy. Mario explains why he felt the need to speak up:
“The stigma in Gozo is tremendous and since there is not enough awareness, I wanted to do something about it.”
Mario says that his bipolar condition is devastating as his mood swings can shift from night to day. “One minute you are feeling so down you cannot even get out of bed. Then, you swing to the other extreme, where you are very high and cannot control your own emotions.”
Because of his cerebral palsy, there are days when Mario simply feels broken. “My muscles become very rigid, so I cannot make any type of movement”.
Mario said that this condition severely limits him even in more intimate matters. “For example when it comes to sex, I agree that in Malte we should introduce sex workers, as suggested by the Commissioner for the Rights of People with a Disability, Oliver Scicluna.”
In order to re-build his life, Mario found work with a private company in Gozo. However, despite receiving training, he was let go after two weeks. “I had one of my depressed episodes and as a result of this they fired me as they said that I am not cut out for work.”
This threw Mario into further anxiety until he found employment as a clerk in Gozo. “I found an employer who understands me and gives me all the support I need for my condition.”
He explained why he did not wish to show his face. “If I show my face I will have to go through an even further ordeal than I have already passed through during secondary and primary schools.”
Despite what he has been through, Mario hopes to serve as an example for those people who suffer from mental and physical conditions like him and appealed to them not to be afraid to fight against every injustice.