The Malta Independent 24 September 2018, Monday

Richmond Foundation turns 25; new app to be created for people with mental health issues

Rebecca Iversen Wednesday, 21 February 2018, 19:48 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Richmond Foundation is celebrating 25 years since its inception as an NGO that provides community services for persons with mental health difficulties and promotes mental health and the prevention of mental illness amongst the public.

Having reached this milestone, the NGO plans to hold a number of activities whilst also introducing, psychological support services and an app that allows people with mental health issues to contact the foundation.

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A press conference was held on Wednesday morning at one of the NGO’s most recently converted hostels in Attard.

CEO Stephania Dimech Sant revealed future plans for this year, which include the introduction of mental health first aid for youths. The foundation is also venturing into the technological world and is working with Vodafone to introduce an app with Vodafone. There are also plans to set up a psychological support service and even a residential programme for youths who suffer from mental health issues.

Dimech Sant clarified that the biggest challenge this year was raising enough funds to move the foundation’s children’s residential programme from Zejtun into a new place in Hamrun.

She thanked former minister and Speaker Louis Galea for his work in creating the Richmond Foundation.

Galea gave a detailed description of the journey involved in setting up the Richmond Foundation and the work achieved in setting awareness, education, personal assistance and networking of services. He emphasised the importance of “solidarity, participation and autonomy”, explaining how he had planned to decentralise the system and have the people running the hostels make the decisions, like what happens today.

Galea noted that although Malta has improved, that the pace is maybe too slow and that more needs to be done. “We know what needs to be done because we can see that other countries are doing it. We just need to organise ourselves better.”

Social Solidarity Minster Michael Falzon addressed the stigma of mental health, stating that some almost see it as a semi-joke since it does not have a physical appearance. He explained how mental health can have huge effects on families, work and friends, causing complex realities. He also mentioned the European statistic that 1 in 4 will experience some sort of mental health illness during their life, emphasising how everyone will be affected directly and indirectly by mental illness at some point in their life.

Richmond Foundation Chairperson Anthony Guillaumier explained how proud he was of the steps Richmond Foundation has taken in the last 25 years, reminding those present that 25 years ago there was nothing in society to address mental illness except Mount Carmel Hospital.  

Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima, speaking on behalf of Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, said the event was an emotional one for him as a former CEO for mental health services.

For information regarding Richmond Foundation visit http://www.richmond.org.mt/contact-us/

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