People react to van poking fun at mental illness during Nadur Carnival

While many Maltese politicans, organisations and citizens felt that the van was unnecessary and insensitive, Labour parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri first defended the 'joke' and then removed the Facebook post

The van was in Nadur over the Carnival weekend
The van was in Nadur over the Carnival weekend

A van which poked fun at mental health appeared in Nadur over Carnival weekend, causing outrage on social media. 

The white van had 'Mount Carmel clinic', 'dimensia', 'crazy sick people' and 'Mount Carmel taxi' painted over it. 

People were seen on top of the van drinking and enjoying the Gozo carnival festivities. 

The van stirred outrage on social media, with many politicians, Maltese people, and organisations saying that there was nothing funny about mental illness.

Many called for more awareness on such issues, while others recalled recent events when a Mount Carmel patient died after breaking out of a window. 

In a Facebook post, former PN MP Franco Debono noted that it was somewhat ironic that while a rusty van, which poked "inappropriate" fun at Mount Carmel hospital, received a lot of attention and criticism, something much more serious - the death of a patient who had been seeking treament at Mount Carmel - received almost no attention at all. He also remarked that almost nobody had reacted to photos showing the same hospital flooded after heavy rainfall.

Former PN MP Franco Debono
Former PN MP Franco Debono

Reforms Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli also commented on the van, saying "There's simply nothing funny" about mental illness. 

The Richmond Foundation said in a statement that jokes about serious physical illnesses were just not done and as it asked why would jokes about mental illnesses be okay.

"Stigma needs to be addressed. People need to be educated about mental health and its consequences. People should be taught to respect mental health difficulties, and that making jokes about it contributes to the harm and suffering of people who experience them."

On the other hand, Animal Rights Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri, a Gozitan MP, defended the van in a Facebook post. He deleted the post within an hour of posting it after facing backlash.

Camilleri said that he was sure that it was just an innocent carnival activity. "After all, this is Nadur Carnival," he said, noting the spontanous and outragous aspects that characterise the street carnival in the Gozitan village. 

Clint Camilleri posted a Facebook post but quickly deleted after facing backlash
Clint Camilleri posted a Facebook post but quickly deleted after facing backlash

The organisation Awturi commented on Camilleri's post. "Dear Clint Camilleri, in case you've forgotten, this week, a teenager climbed out of Mount Carmel's window unsupervised, killing himself, because under your party's administration, Mount Carmel Hospital has been allowed to deteriorate to "rock bottom"," the group said on Facebook.

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