New mental health service for young Gozitans drastically reduces hospital admissions

A community-based mental health project for young Gozitans led by the Malta Trust Foundation has been so successful in its first year that only one of the 25 who sought its help had to be readmitted to hospital

Since The Sunrise Project started operating in February 2019, a quarter of those making use of the service have found a job or are in training.

The project came about in view of a lack of mental health resources in the island. Only two mental health professionals work in the healthcare system at the Gozo General Hospital, making it difficult to handle increasing demand in the community.

In light of this, The Sunrise Project – a collaboration with psychiatrists, the Mental Health Association Gozo and the Richmond Foundation – was born. It seeks to empower young Gozitans suffering from mental health difficulties and to lead an independent life.

But in a clear sign of the need for such services, the project, which runs which just one professional, has been inundated with requests for help, a situation exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With World Mental Health Day being marked on Saturday, the Malta Trust Foundation is now seeking to engage a second professional to boost its service.

The foundation is also seeking to attract private investment to raise €130,000 for group sessions and other occupational 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,” former President and the foundation’s chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said.

”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.”