PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: “Let us ensure that all individuals experiencing mental health difficulties receive the full respect which is their due, and that the dignity and the wellbeing of each and every person, remains our first prior

President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca delivered the opening speech at the 4th Horatio Festival of Psychiatric Nursing, entitled ‘Working in Partnership’.

The President commended the Horatio team, under the leadership of its President Martin Ward for collaborating alongside other major mental health groups in Europe, facilitated by the World Health Organisation. The combined efforts of the Horatio team and other major mental health groups have developed common strategies, which will be of global benefit.

Through these strategies, the Horatio team and other major mental health groups are prioritising a powerful trans-disciplinary approach by combining diverse disciplines, with many of the practitioners within these disciplines finding new ways to link up with the field of nursing.

Whilst commending this milestone, President Coleiro Preca pointed out that by coming together, the Horatio team and other major mental health groups are building a stronger network of solidarity and support, adding that in a world that is becoming increasingly so interconnected, working in synergy is so important.

Working in synergy has been very central to my Presidency

The President of Malta shared a practical way through which synergy is being achieved in the sector of mental health. The President said that the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, in collaboration with the Mental Health Commissioner of Malta, began by facilitating a mental health platform, whereby all health NGOs have come together to share good practices and strategies for the future.

Moreover, with the active involvement of service users and mental health NGOs, my Foundation has held a series of meetings, to further explore ways of improving the wellbeing of people experiencing problems of mental health, the President added.

During the course of these meetings, President Coleiro Preca visited three of the four Mental Health Community Centres in Malta, in order to listen to service users and to engage with their perspectives on the challenges, which impact their daily lives.

Furthermore, the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society met with different stakeholders, organizations, and NGOs. Following these collaborations, the Foundation will produce a number of tangible policy recommendations that can be used as building blocks to strengthen the existing national mental health policy.

Working together, we can build stronger communities while also sending a powerful message of unity and solidarity

The President reminded those present not to forget the need for active participation within these circles of collaboration, of the individuals and their families, who are themselves experiencing issues of mental health, and said that service-users should be encouraged to be part of respectful processes of dialogue and development.

The involvement of service users around a dialogue table is a very tangible way of empowering people experiencing problems of mental health, the President said.

We must ensure that the voices of all people touched by the effects of mental illness are valued

The President said that we must continue working to promote and to prioritise the essential dignity of individuals experiencing problems of mental health, whilst urging for the stigma and silence which continue to surround issues of mental health, to be broken.

I believe that it is crucial for all of us to be given equal opportunities to share our narratives and experiences, whoever we might be. This collaborative approach is a stimulating source of strength, in the ongoing process of developing innovative and continuous strategies for effective mental healthcare, the President said.

President Coleiro Preca said that it is thanks to the efforts to organize such events as the Horatio conference that the much-needed synergies are being encouraged, and more information is being disseminated about psychiatric and mental health nursing, as such events create an opportunity to work in wider synergies, due to the fact that people from different nations come together to share a wider spectrum of good practices.

Such events also help in building stronger communities and societies, and to share knowledge across all borders

The President urged those present to work together in transcending all borders, to address issues of mental health, which are having such a far-reaching effect across our nations.

In fact, this is our duty too, as stipulated in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, and its Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goal 3.4 which reads, and I quote, ‘reduce by one-third, premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing, President Coleiro Preca said.

The President also asked everyone to be aware of the shocking indicators from the World Health Organisation which tell us that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year-olds, together with another sad indicator that states that over 300 million people are now living with depression, which is an increase of more than 18%, that was registered between 2005 and 2015.

Sustainable Development Goal 3 must be considered a challenge to further commit ourselves to act, the President said, whilst adding that, in line with this, we must do more to tackle these realities, with effective educational strategies among all stakeholders, including our schools and educational authorities.

Lastly, the President of Malta commended the efforts of the Malta Association of Psychiatric Nurses, when they launched an official standards document for mental health specialists last month, a document which has made history within the psychiatric nursing profession in Malta, and is a source of pride and validation for every nurse, working in mental health in the Maltese Islands. The document was launched following an intensive process of development.

President Coleiro Preca encouraged all those present to continue working in synergy, to ensure that we keep up the momentum, united across our nations and in solidarity as one world.

Let us ensure that all individuals experiencing mental health difficulties receive the full respect which is their due, and that the dignity and the wellbeing of each and every person, remains our first priority, the President concluded.

Source: Government of Malta