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Awturi call for Parliamentary debate on mental health 

It’s time to bring the matter of mental health to the top of the country’s agenda, Awturi says 

Newly formed NGO Awturi has called for an urgent Parliamentary debate on the state of mental health in Malta “in light of recent grievous institutional failures and MP Clint Camilleri’s callous remark with regards to a tasteless carnival float.”

Awturi formally requested the Speaker of the House, in agreement with the Party Whips, to bring the matter of mental health to the top of the country’s agenda.

“This issue affects everybody without discrimination. (Malta Song winner) Christabelle Borg may well be raising awareness on this issue with her bid for the Eurovision, but if members of the highest legislative office will downplay this instead of proactively work to better the situation of mental health in Malta, then it is in vain.”

Citing the recent case of a teenage patient who was left unattended only to be found dead after escaping, Awturi echoed a nurses’ union warning that

the situation in Malta’s national mental health institution had reached “rock bottom”.

Describing a make-shift carnival float which ridiculed Mount Carmel Hospital as “a despicable show of utter insensitivity” Awturi said junior minister Clint Camilleri’s attempt to dilute the outcry over the float is “testament of how badly the problem is deeply rooted in our society. If Malta is to make advances in mental health, then this should be condemned.”

Now, only yesterday, in a despicable show of utter insensitivity, a make-shift carnival float ridiculed patients of Mount Carmel, just a week after a patient of the institution committed suicide. To add insult to injury, amid a national outcry, MP Clint Camilleri has lent his support to the float, rather than his condemnation. This is a testament of how badly the problem is deeply rooted in our society. If Malta is to make advances in mental health, then this should be condemned.

Awturi applauded Camilleri’s colleague Julia Farrugia Portelli who denounced the float but added mental health is often regarded as a social taboo.

“To any form of life, its health is of fundamental importance. It is an oft-quoted cliché that without our health, we have nothing. In the past couple of decades, the subject of mental health has been recognised as being just as important as physical; however, the taboo on mental health often means that there is not enough dialogue to combat this pervasive and insidious problem that causes the death of millions worldwide. Because of a lack of dialogue, misconceptions remain rooted in public opinion. This in turn perpetuates the idea of mental health as a social taboo.”

As a result, Awturi said, “many fall victims to their illnesses. People who could be leading better lives are scared to speak up in fear of repercussions on their relationships and on the workplace. But mental illness can cause irreparable harm to the sufferer, sometimes even pushing them to commit suicide.”

“Individuals who have been to the institution have often spoken out about the abhorrent situation inside the Mental Care hospital. These same people have dared to speak up, asking for a solution, for a safe haven with adequate solutions, and measures for 2018. Yet this never happened. Their appeals have reached President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and have been heard time and time again in many stories of hardship and sorrow about the situation in this hospital. With all this said, it is unfortunate that not only has the situation in Mount Carmel maintained its pitiful status quo, but over time has aggravated, when the solutions are clear and within reach.”

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