First conference held by the Mental Health Association Gozo (MHAG) in Gozo
A better future for me...would you help me? was the theme of the first national conference held in Gozo with the collaboration of the Mental Health Association Gozo (MHAG) and the Ministry for Gozo. This conference was held at the Sannat Primary School hall and discussed the mental health of children and adoloscents.
In the opening speech, the Ministry for Gozo, the Hon Giovanna Debono expressed her satisfaction for the continuous work held by the MHAG, that is commemorating its first year from its foundation. She stated that this conference is a proof of the progress done during this year and the commitment of all those involved in adapting their work to suite the Gozitan society. She sustained that the MHAG is working to increase the awareness of mental health problems and the operations of the association. As one of the initiatives taken by the MHAG, during last week, an information booklet on mental health services and general information to the public was distributed to every Gozitan household.
The Hon. Giovanna Debono also explained how the Ministry for Gozo will help in the purchasing of Psychological Assessment Tools to be used in the Child Guidance Clinic in Gozo. This means that the assessing of children will be conducted in Gozo and no longer in Malta. In the continuous work done by the Ministry for Gozo related to the eco-Gozo action plan, we are sustaining the Gozitan society to be a healthier one and providing help to all those in need in order to have a more inclusive society.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly and Community Care, the Hon Mario Galea stated that the public sector has at heart the mental health of the population, including minors. Mental health is a priority to this government, irrespective of the global economic crisis, the cost in this sector increased by 15% this year said the Hon. Mario Galea. He explained how the Government is offering a wide range of community services so that citizens will be better served in a personalised way without the need to visit the hospital. These services include the Child Guidance Clinic and a clinic for children suffering from mental health problems, service which is also being offered in Gozo.
The Parliamentary Secretary Galea also recalled that the governments work involves also schools where with the help of teachers and non-governmental organisations, a promotional campaign on mental health will be launched. This is also being promoted through PSD teachers. Galea insisted that it is useless to invest a lot in new services for those in need if these persons do not make use of such services. He reminded that around 70% suffering from depression do not ask for the necessary cure. Mental problems are curable, but as every other illness, this has to take the necessary cure. Parliamentary Secretary Mario Galea reminded that mental health problems do not only effect the individual health, but also lead to social and physiological problems in the family. Most of the time this happens because of fear and stigma.
At the end of the conference was communicated a message by Ms Catherine Gonzi that couldnt attend due to other commitments. Other speakers were Ms Helen DAmato Commissioner for Children, Pauline Camilleri President of the MHAG, Dr Joseph R. Saliba who talked on the mental health of children and adolescents, Dr Anton Grech talked on the Significant Conditions in Children and Maria Brincat on Coping with learning disabilities.
The program includes also a mime by children attending G'ajnsielem Primary school coordinated by choreographers Maria Theuma and Mary Grace Xuereb, interventions from the audience and experiences from parents.