Mental Health Association calls for further development of community-care services

The Mental Health Association Malta said local community services need to be further developed and strengthened, which it says will reduce the need of institutionalisation

The Mental Health Association (MHA), an NGO representing family caregivers of persons with mental health problems, has called for community-based care services currently offered by health authorities to be further developed and strengthened.

In a statement on Monday, the MHA said it was pleased that “government, parliament and all stakeholders were in agreement that the present mental health services need to be improved and integrated into the mainstream medical services”.

“A change in practices and locations need to be endorsed by all, if we seriously want to eradicate the current stigma surrounding mental healthcare, and to embark on providing a comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health services that protect and promote human rights,” the MHA said

The association noted that the World Health Organisations’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for the period 2013- 2020, specifically included the central role of community-based care and support.

"Locally, community services need to be further developed and strengthened and new services introduced to the patients and to support their family caregivers,” the MHA said.

“These community services should not only provide medical care but also act as hostels, drop-in centres, programmes that nurture well-being, as well as workshops of artistic expression such as painting, music, dance and other social services.”

The MHA said that these measures should reduce the need of institutionalisation, which would in turn allow both financial and human resources to be better utilized to provide community services. “We can learn lessons from other developed countries, who have moved away from the wholly medical model and adopted the Human Rights Model in Mental Healthcare.”

MHA said that now was the time for “everyone to get together to ensure that these objectives are achieved”.  

“These types of illnesses affect all persons irrespective of political creed, religion or status, and if we really believe in a society where equality should be the main objective, every measure should be taken to achieve the above.”

Yesterday, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) said it wanted to “disassociate itself from comments by certain NGOs” regarding Mount Carmel Hospital, after the Richmond Foundation last week called for the hospital to be closed down.

The foundation insisted that the hospital was unfit to treat patients given that the building was not conducive to recovery. The NGO also suggested the strengthening of community-based care.

The MHA said that these measures should reduce the need of institutionalisation, allowing resources both financial and human to better utilized to provide community services. “We can learn lessons from other developed countries who have moved away from the wholly medical model and adopted the Human Rights Model in Mental Healthcare.”

It said it was time for everyone to get together to ensure that the above objectives are achieved. “These type of illnesses affect all persons irrespective of political creed, religion, status etc and if we really believe in a society where equality should be the main objective, every measure should be taken to achieve the above.”

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