In July 2019, the Government launched its Mental Health Strategy for the 10 years between 2020 and 2030.
This strategy promotes mental wellbeing and improvement of Mental Health Services. The aim is to have services that are based mainly in the community. Hospitalisation will be the last resort and for the shortest possible time.
The changes in the Mental Health Services in line with this strategy have started last year and are already at a more advanced stage than was predicted. This was despite the difficulties that the COVID-19 Pandemic has imposed on both the Government Health Services and Mental Health Services themselves.
The Community Services have been strengthened with increase of staff, services, and premises.
Parallel to the changes in the community care, there are improvements happening at hospital care. The goal is to have an Acute Psychiatry Hospital within the grounds of Mater Dei Hospital. In the meantime, changes are happening at Mount Carmel Hospital so that improvements will not occur only once the new hospital starts functioning.
The aim is to have services that are based mainly in the community. Hospitalisation will be the last resort and for the shortest possible time.
The improvements happening at Mount Carmel Hospital are both structural and in the service being provided. There is an ongoing process of refurbishment of wards. Last May a new ward ‘Sala Tabiba Maria Sciberras’ was opened. This ward provides inpatient care for female patients who have both mental health problems and substance abuse problems. This ward is equipped with high standard and appropriate furniture and equipment. There are other wards being refurbished to similar standards.
Also, Mount Carmel Hospital is focusing more on providing help to patietns with acute psychiatric problems. To ensure this, there is an ongoing process of finding alternative and better accommodation to patients who have been living at Mount Carmel Hospital for many years. Due to various reasons, Mount Carmel Hospital became their home.
A significant step in this process was the opening of the Residence ‘Casal Nuovo’ in Paola on 10 June. Persons suffering from Intellectual Disability or Huntington’s Chorea that were residing at Mount Carmel Hospital will be discharged from the hospital and start living in this residence.
Both Intellectual Disability and Huntigton’s Chorea are not psychiatric illnesses. But in both conditions the rate of mental illness is higher than that of the general population. In both conditions, persons suffering from the severe typewill be unable to live independently, and require 24/7 care. In the past, several persons suffering from Intellectual Disability or Huntigton’s Chorea that were admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital for psychiatric reasons and required 24/7 care even after the psychiatric condition was resolved, remained to live at Mount Carmel Hospital. This was due to lack of alternative care.
Unfortunately, they became institutionalised.
With this new residence, these persons are going to have another chance of living within the community and with the 24/7 care needed.