A community-based mental health project for young Gozitans, led by the Malta Trust Foundation, has been so successful in its first year that a quarter of service users have found a job or are in training.
Since The Sunrise Project started operating in February 2019, 25 young Gozitans have sought help, and of these just four percent had to be readmitted to hospital, marking a drastic drop of 96 percent in readmissions.
In Gozo, there are just two mental health professionals working in the healthcare system at the island’s state hospital, which makes it difficult to handle the increasing demand in the community.
This is why The Sunrise Project — a collaboration with psychiatrists, the Mental Health Association Gozo and the Richmond Foundation — was born.
Malta Trust Foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said: “This project, which is tailored to help young Gozitans suffering from mental health difficulties and empower them to lead an independent quality of life, was immediately oversubscribed; a clear signal that more needs to be done.”
Research shows that 7,800 individuals out of a Gozitan population of 33,000 individuals, will at some point in their lives, experience mental health difficulties, and the service, which runs with just one professional, was inundated.
With World Mental Health Day being marked today, October 10, the Malta Trust Foundation is seeking to engage a second professional following a surge in demand exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Foundation — which brings together businessmen, academics and professionals to create collaborations that make a tangible impact to youngsters facing difficult situations — is also seeking to attract private investment to pump €130,000 into group sessions and other occupational therapy sessions, among others.
“The stigma of mental health in Gozo is even more challenging than in Malta, which is why we’re so grateful for the 11 Gozitan-based businesses investing in this cause. Young people find it harder to seek help in hospital because of the associated stigma, so this community service helps them manage their lives in their own environment,” Ms Coleiro Preca said.
The service provides practical and emotional support; rehabilitative care at home; liaison with primary and secondary health services; and psychosocial education among others.