Mental health workers say they are seriously concerned about the effect the current political instability in Malta is having on people, especially those who are already vulnerable.
Gertrude Buttigieg, spokesperson for the Officer of the Commissioner for Mental Health says: “A time like this, when everyone is feeling very emotional, can act as a trigger for those who already suffer with mental illness.”
“There is so much information – and misinformation – readily available that people need to try and act rationally, not emotionally. I urge people to read the facts and make up their own mind, instead of moving along with the crowd.”
Ms Buttigieg also recommends that those who feel anxious after reading media reports or comments on social media, should consume technology less or avoid it altogether.
It's advice that CEO of the Richmond Foundation Stephania Dimech Sant, strongly agrees with.
“For the younger generation they have never experienced this kind of turmoil in Malta. No matter how you feel politically, this is a difficult time. If you support the Government, you may be very worried about the future of your party. You may also have lost faith in the institutions you used to trust, so that can be concerning. Events such as the nightly protests in Valletta, can also make people feel insecure. Some, who already feel vulnerable, might believe that things could get more aggressive if the protests take a turn for the worst.”
“People need to understand that what is happening now is different from other national events, such as a recession for example. While money is important, it’s just one aspect of our lives, but when people have concerns about the structure of governance it’s a more wide-ranging problem, as people don’t have as much control."
While neither of the organisations have seen a spike in calls to their helplines in recent weeks, they say that doesn't mean people are not feeling the mental pressure.
"It may be a case that people are too taken up with developments at the moment to realise the impact that the situation is having on them," adds Ms Dimech Sant. "There may well be an increased demand for support when things slow down and people have more time to think about how they are actually feeling."
“We are monitoring the general situation as there is a lot of anticipation going on at the moment. We are trying to assure those with mental health problems, that a lot of people in Malta are struggling right now, even if they don't have issues. But we are also encouraging anyone who feels alone to seek out help, because if people have a relapse in the short-term, it can have long-term effects."
If you need help contact the Richmond Foundation on 1770.