Psychiatrists are urging people suffering from the onset or relapse of a mental disorder to seek help as soon as possible, after the number of people admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital doubled in one week.

“If you feel you are struggling to make it through the day because of stress or a decline in your mental well-being call the 1770 helpline or contact your GP or health centre,” the Maltese Association of Psychiatrists (MAP), whose members work at the hospital and within the community, are appealing.

“Do not wait until a disorder is too serious to be managed safely in the community. Every life is precious and as mental health professionals we do not wish anyone to lose their life or battle to mental health.”

Do not wait until a disorder is too serious to be managed safely in the community

The stress and uncertainty of the past weeks have seen the number of admissions at Mount Carmel Hospital increase significantly. Just last week, 50 people were admitted for treatment with a severe mental disorder - double the usual number, association president Nigel Camilleri said.

He said mental well-being had been dealt a blow by the COVID-19 pandemic, with everyone scrambling to deal with the stress in their own way.

Some were enjoying the luxury of getting off the treadmill of life and catching up with hobbies, spending more time with their children or enjoying their own personal quiet time.

However, for others, the crisis has led to a state of discomfort and uncertainty and a sense of feeling on edge.

Losing one’s day-to-day routine could lead to a chronic state of inner tension and worry which in turn could lead to an anxiety disorder, he said. At the same time, those living with the fear of infection for themselves or loved ones or who could not properly care for ill relatives could be suffering from the stages of grief or moral injury.

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And those already suffering from mental disorders who were doing well pre-COVID may have found this crisis to be the last straw.

He said mental disorders did not discriminate, with the WHO reporting that one in four people will, throughout their life, suffer from a mental disorder requiring treatment.

“Asking for help does not make us any weaker. It takes more courage to ask for help than to refuse it. Help is available through Mental Health Services and Richmond’s 1770 helpline,” he said.

“The earlier that help is sought, the more we can prevent a mental health tsunami.”

What to look out for

● Inability to sleep.

● Not eating, or overeating.

● Loss of function: opting to spend days in bed instead of working.

● Change in behaviour, such as becoming withdrawn, losing     interest in hobbies, feeling demotivated or tired all the time.

● Seeking comfort in alcohol, substances or self-harm. 

● Expressing thoughts of ‘not wanting to be here’.

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