“I was admitted into Mount Carmel without being allowed the time to inform my immediate family members or pack some clothes or personal belongings. On a cold day in November, I was driven to the facility in my pyjamas and accompanied to a room which already held five other patients. I was shown what would be my bed on top of which was a thin mattress covered in rexine and no pillow.

“I asked to shower but was told that it was already past the time allowed for such needs and had to wait until tomorrow. A nursing aid called us out to receive our medication. I asked what the pills were all about but wasn’t told except that I had to take them using water from the sink. I needed to use the bathroom, thick with dirt and patched with wall tiles here and there. The rest had fallen off and never replaced. 

“I observed the other patients. Some were admitted due to mild depression, as in my case; others were suffering from more severe mental issues, evidently schizophrenic. We were all in the same room! I spent the night awake.

“When morning came, we were each given some liquid soap in the cap of a detergent bottle and directed towards showers. Void of any privacy and in an abysmal state of neglect with cracked tiles all over, and nude next to others, we were expected to shower in the freezing water. I refused. I am also intolerant to certain foods but this is inconceivable in there so I refused eating too. Instead, I just cried.” 

This is the salient part of an e-mail I received from a person I know who was admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital. I have received more.

Publicly, a similar experience was echoed a few weeks ago by well-known personality Toni Busuttil who recounted his “horrific” stay at Mount Carmel and which almost drove him to take his own life instead of being treated for his mental health problems.

Busuttil too underlined that, contrary to Mater Dei Hospital, patients at Mount Carmel are not separated according to their condition and individuals are mixed together in the same place. It should not be like this. Mental health can affect any one of us. But all of us have our own dignity and the right to be treated with respect.

Mount Carmel is not fit for purpose. It is incapable of providing adequate treatment to patients with mental health issues and an urgent reality check was already brought to the fore by the Maltese Association of Psychiatry some years back but which, evidently, fell on deaf ears.

It is a fact that Mount Carmel has been left to rot into a state of disrepair and this to the despair of those patients admitted inside it. Mount Carmel Hospital has clearly failed and this is precisely why the Nationalist Party has pledged that a PN government will put physical and mental well-being on equal footing.

Julie Zahra

About

L-Edukazzjoni, s-Saħħa Mentali u l-Arti huma suġġetti għal qalbha ħafna. Education, Mental health and the Arts are her passion. Kandidat f'isem il-Partit Nazzjonalista għall-Elezzjoni Ġenerali fuq ir-4 u it-8 Distrett.