The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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TMID Editorial: Mental wellbeing

Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 10:05 Last update: about 13 months ago

Mental wellbeing is something which many people don’t really pay enough attention to. We tend not to realise the toll that our surroundings and every day experiences have on us.

This week is mental health week, and it’s about time that we start taking this seriously.

We must all pay attention to our work-life balance. Our lives must not just revolve around work. We all need to spend time with our families, friends, and take part in activities where we can unwind and relax. A work-life balance is important for our mental health.

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There are other factors which affect our mental wellbeing.

Take a moment and look around. How many of us are deprived of direct sunlight into our homes due to ever rising buildings? How many of us are deprived of having some green area nearby where we can go to unwind. How many of us are stuck for hours in traffic each day? Well, this is all due to a lack of government vision.

Commissioner for Mental Health Denis Vella Baldacchino told this newsroom that the mental health wellbeing in the country is being eroded by too many buildings, cars, pollution and a lack of greenery.

There is zero planning in Malta, and here a big thanks must be given to various planning officials and minister over the years. Thank you for having no foresight, no vision, no care as to what the effects of policies implemented would have. As for current planning officials and ministers… get your act together.

It is not just adults who suffer from mental health issues. Both Vella Baldacchino and Children’s commissioner Antoinette Vassallo brought up the challenges children face.

Vella Baldacchino named several issues which educators are seeing before their eyes, such as anxiety in children, depression, an element of deprivation of open spaces and bullying, which are all “real problems and feelings children are facing at such a delicate age”.

Taking care of our children’s mental health must be a priority, and we must teach them the tools to best deal with such issues. We must also make sure they understand that its ok to open up, to talk about it and if needs be, seek some support. We must also make sure they understand that bullying is not ok, and that it could cause serious harm to others.

Vassallo also said that children are asking for time management skills. “There should be a balance between their school life, their extra-curricular activates and their time with their family” she said. Children have also expressed their wish for more personal, social and career development classes, apart from time management, a focus groups which varied from year 3 to form four children, would also like more job exposure and financial classes.

We should listen to what our children are telling us. Are classes too big? Are we not focusing enough on social activities which are an important part of a child’s development?

Although not a mental health provider, the children’s commissioner’s office has come up with several mental health recommendations which it is currently working on to be developed into strategies to be implemented in the near future. One of the recommendations is for children and educators alike to receive mental health first aid training, so that they can help in early identifying those who are struggling with mental health issues. This could prove to be very useful in getting students the support they need.

In addition, we need to take into consideration any possible effects that social media could be having. It is a great tool for communication, but could also be used for cyberbullying and isolation. Children need to spend time with other children, and not spend all their time in front of screens, as that could hamper future social skills.

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