Recognising how crucial it is to look after one’s mental health, especially in such challenging times, the Health and Wellness Centre within the University of Malta has entered into an agreement with Mental Health Services, the latter of which will provide free psychiatric services to all members of the University over the next five years.
Mental Health Services, which is part of the Ministry for Health, is the umbrella government entity which assists persons with mental health problems to address their various psychiatric needs to continue living as independently as possible.
Thanks to this new collaboration between the Ministry and the University, the UM community will now have access to a wider range of mental health services enhancing those currently offered by the Counselling Team within the Health and Wellness Centre.
As outlined by Pro-Rector for Student & Staff Affairs and Outreach, Prof. Carmen Sammut, the University promptly responded to the needs of its community as brought on by the pandemic, even launching a Student Solidarity Fund and a series of Health and Wellness Talks, both aimed at relieving some of the adversities faced.
Present at the signing which took place on Thursday, 14 January 2021, Dr Joan Camilleri, Head of the Counselling Services at the University, spoke about how, with the onset of the pandemic, the requests for assistance by members of the UM community increased considerably. “This is not something that was experienced just at the University – the effects of the pandemic were felt globally, and reported on widely, and so I am very happy that the wide and diverse community will now be better catered for”.
Dr Anton Grech, who is both a member of the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery within the University, and the Chairman of Mental Health Services, called this agreement “a timely enactment of a person-centred approach by the University” and “a much-needed net of support in trying times, which will ultimately leave a good impact not just on the wellbeing of these individuals, but on the Maltese society as a nation”.
In fact, Malta’s Mental Health Strategy for 2020-2030, Building Resilience, Transforming Lives, acknowledges mental health as a major aspect of a population’s overall quality of life, and in turn mental disorders have a substantial impact on a nation’s wealth, productivity and well-being.
University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella welcomed this agreement with open arms. Using the adage mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body), Prof. Vella said that any university has a duty of care towards its members if it wants to be successful in reaching its goals.