While addressing those present at the launch of the #StopStigma campaign via a recorded message, President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca commended the continuous work of both the Department of Mental Health within the University of Malta and that of the Office of the Commissioner for Mental Health, in their efforts to disseminate essential information regarding mental health issues in the Maltese Islands.
The President stated that each year “we are learning just how important it is to afford more resources and energy to promote the mental and emotional wellbeing of our families, our communities, and our society as a whole”. She continues by quoting indicators from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which suggest that one in four people around the world will be affected by either mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The same organisation also indicates that around 450 million people are currently living with such conditions.
The President pointed out that “these same indicators state that by 2020, mental health condition will be a leading cause of ill-health and reduced wellbeing worldwide.”
Research is showing us that nearly two-thirds of people who are living with a mental health condition never seek help from a health professional
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca stated that research also shows us that some of the major obstacles holding people suffering with mental health issues back are stigma, feelings of shame and fear of discrimination, which still unfortunately surround such issues.
Reference was made to a report drawn up by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, entitled ‘Mental Health in Malta: Wellbeing through a Shared Strategy”, which was published on the occasion of this year’s International Day for Mental Health. The President said that one of the most important areas highlighted in this report is the need for people with mental health difficulties to receive more specialised services so as to ensure that they are not left to handle their problems alone.
The President continued by stating that “we must never forget that our society can only continue to develop and flourish when the most vulnerable individuals amongst us are being respected and given their much deserved dignity.”
In conclusion, the President encouraged everyone to keep reaching out to their friends, colleagues and family members who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, and reiterated her appeal for everyone to do their utmost to convert stigma into solidarity “for the benefit of our families, our communities, and the whole society.”