Spending on mental health constitutes 4% of GDP

A 10-year mental health strategy unveiled for public consultation proposes various measures that go beyond institutionalised care

The mental health strategy also focusses on the promotion of physical activity to promote mental wellbeing
The mental health strategy also focusses on the promotion of physical activity to promote mental wellbeing

Malta will adopt a broad approach in addressing mental health problems as part of a long-term strategy unveiled for public consultation on Wednesday.

The strategy will run from 2020 through to 2030 and aims to raise the bar in the services provided by the State and also the awareness required to tackle the issue, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said.

“In our lifetime, we will all suffer from mental health problems. Some manage to over-come that hurdle, while some fall back. We will address factors that lead to poor mental health like poverty, financial instability and substance abuse,” Fearne said.

One of the proposed actions is the establishment of four well-staffed community based multi-disciplinary teams able to tackle mental health issues. Other proposals target issues such as increased physical activity in schools and policy actions to reduce the consumption of alcohol and drugs.

Fearne said Mount Carmel Hospital would receive a well-needed refurbishment, which will also repurpose the hospital’s facilities.

“Despite the funding allocated to the hospital, the improvement in services will not only target institutions, but also the work done within the community," he added.

Consensus on the need for a revamp in the mental health sector is broad, Fearne said, adding that a large number of NGOs will be involved in the implementation of the strategy. 

World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson Dan Chislom said that the draft strategy abides by many of WHO’s world action plan. 

Natasha Azzopardi Muscat said that right now there is a lack of studies on mental health, and part of the strategy will concentrate on data retrieval. “Spending on mental healthcare constitutes 4% of our GDP, yet there are lack of studies on mental health,” she said. 

Azzopardi said that through the strategy, a coordinated approach will be vital for positive results. 

Some of the proposed actions include: 

  • The enhancement of collaborations between mental health services, health promotion and civil society to raise awareness on mental health
  • Educational campaigns which will teach the public about the recognition of early symptoms of mental disorders
  • An expression of interest for NGOs, unions and employers to introduce initiatives aimed at reducing work-related stress by also providing counselling and support services 
  • The possibility of increasing time spent on physical activity in school, since this contributes to mental well-being 
  • Adopting regulatory approaches that minimise consumption of alcohol and drugs 
  • The use of online platforms to support and promote mental health 
  • The establishment of four well-staffed community based multi-disciplinary teams which are able to tackle mental health issues (three in Malta and one in Gozo). 
  • Offering care in a beautiful and purposely designed therapeutic environment which offers the patient privacy and dignity  

Anyone wishing to contribute to the consultation can contact the ministry on: [email protected]

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