Last updated 9.40pm with President's condemnation
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has hit out at Nadur carnival revellers who made fun of people with mental health problems, hours after a Gozitan parliamentary secretary sprang to their defence.
Clint Camilleri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Animal Rights said the joke should be seen in the context of the traditional Nadur carnival.
A battered white van used by individuals at the Nadur Carnival, had words like 'Mount Carmel Clinic', 'Beware Mental Driver', 'Dimensja (sic)' and 'Crazy', sprayed on.
The Nadur carnival is known for its black humour, but many felt the joke had gone too far.
In a Facebook post, Mr Camilleri said he was convinced that the people behind the joke had no intention of hurting anybody and there was no need to stir controversy over a spontaneous carnival float.
Clearly, many posting on social media failed to see the joke, including Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli who called the stunt "utterly disgusting".
“Let’s put these despicable Neanderthals to shame,” one reader said.
“Last week you reported on the tragic death of an 18-year-old patient suffering from mental health problems. His family and nurses at Mount Carmel are devastated. Yet in 2018 some still think mental health is a joke and something to make fun of.”
One other reader who saw the picture wrote on Facebook: “This is beneath contempt.”
Another wrote “whoever made it should spend one week mandatory in Mount Carmel instead of prison… We see who will laugh…”
People were also upset when they saw the Mount Carmel 'joke' extended to a sign above a building in Nadur.
But one woman who at 15 was going to be admitted to Mount Carmel and spent two months in the Psychiatric Unit at Mater Dei said that although she did not find the van funny, urged people not to be cross or angry and to take life with a pinch of salt.
“I’m sure as offensive as it is, it is meant as a joke. I was shocked at first but then I said what the hell who is normal in this world... I'm sure they were a few people trying to have harmless fun and did not mean to offend anyone..."
PRESIDENT: THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca in a late-evening post said that it was 'unacceptable' that some people had fun by offending people suffering mental health problems. She, therefore, condemned the 'irresponsible and insensitive' actions of the Nadur Carnival's participants.
The President expressed solidarity with those going through mental health problems and their families and said all should unite in helping them while helping to erase the stigma associated with mental health problems.
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