The next leap in mental health care

Over the next three years, Mount Carmel Hospital will be phased out to reduce the stigma associated with institutionalisation.
  • Around 120 stable patients currently at Mount Carmel Hospital will be relocated to community homes.
  • A psychiatric ward that can accommodate 30 patients will be established at Mater Dei Hospital.
  • The introduction of an Acute Psychiatric Unit, with an investment of around €33 million, will create a state-of-the-art facility accommodating 128 patients at Mater Dei Hospital.

“Mental health in our country is a priority. This I firmly believe in and is central to my policy. Problems in this regard, namely mental health challenges, will be considered as any other acute illness, and therefore I believe the patient should be recovering at Mater Dei Hospital. This will eliminate the stigma where a patient has to go to other places and be labelled with a particular condition. This has to stop.”

Minister for Health and Active Ageing, Jo Etienne Abela, expressed these sentiments to The Journal last April. Staying true to his words, the minister announced a comprehensive reform in mental health care, structured into three phases.

During a recent media conference, he explained that discussions have been ongoing with stakeholders in the mental health care sector, including unions representing workers, reaching a peak during the week dedicated to mental health awareness.

Over the next three years, Mount Carmel Hospital will be phased out to reduce the stigma associated with institutionalisation. In collaboration with the private sector, some 120 stable patients will be relocated to community homes, with government employees moving with their patients to these new sites.

The second phase of the reform will see the acute psychiatric service relocated to Mater Dei Hospital, establishing a psychiatric ward capable of accommodating 30 patients.

The final phase will introduce an Acute Psychiatric Unit, involving an investment of around €33 million. This state-of-the-art facility will accommodate 128 patients at Mater Dei Hospital. Minister Abela explained that this model of treatment, already in practice at the Gozo General Hospital, provides all types of treatments in one hospital, without distinction. The Foundation for Medical Services (FMS) is in the advanced stages of applying for the construction of this unit, which is expected to be completed in about four years.

“The Government recognises and agrees with the advice of experts in the mental health sector and is determined to bring about a radical change in infrastructure and services for mental health care. We are committed to offering modern care in a welcoming and healthy environment,” stated Minister Jo Etienne Abela.

He added that every individual deserves indiscriminate treatment if they are experiencing these types of problems. “To achieve this, we also need to strengthen our trust in the professionals working in this sector. And we are already doing this,” said the Minister.

In fact, last February, a sectoral agreement was signed between the Government and the Malta Chamber of Psychologists to improve working conditions for psychologists in the public sector, ultimately enhancing the service offered to the public.

“We will continue to work and ensure ongoing investment in this crucial sector for individual well-being. We need to ensure that people going through difficult periods in their lives receive the necessary support. We are committed to continually improving the health services offered to patients,” affirmed Minister Abela.

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