The Malta Trust Foundation is this year funding Mental Health First Aid courses in post-secondary, vocational and tertiary educational institutions to empower students to confront mental health issues, following the success of a pilot project for university students.
The Foundation decided to expand this training after the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions revealed that more than one in five young people in Malta, aged 18 to 24 years, are at risk of depression.
The Malta Trust Foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said: “Unfortunately, this is the third highest rate in the EU, which is very alarming. Time and time again statistics have shown us that mental health challenges are very real in children and young people’s lives and they cannot be ignored.”
“Children and youths need to be empowered with the tools to face life’s challenges, so as a Foundation we felt the need to invest in our children and young people to help build strong and resilient communities.”
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Ms Coleiro Preca said the Foundation was taking this initiative in collaboration with the National Youth Council, who highlighted, in their mental health policy document for youths, the importance of having Mental Health First Aid training for young people.
The training in Mental Health First Aid, will be delivered with the technical assistance of the Richmond Foundation, to empower young people with the necessary abilities to identify and support others experiencing mental health problems.
This follows the pilot project carried out with the Kunsill Studenti Universitarji, which proved so successful that it is this training is being offered to students at Mcast, the Institute for Tourism Studies, and Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary, thanks also to the collaboration with the respective student’s councils.
A medical student who benefitted from this training said: “I am more aware than ever of the silent suffering and can better empathise with patients. I will undoubtedly carry this forward into my career as a medical doctor, and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.”
Another university student encouraged fellow students to sign up for this training as it provided a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental elements concerning different types of mental illnesses and issues.
“I believe such training enhances the mentality of the Maltese society to move towards a more holistic approach when dealing with mental health issues, and help reduce the unfortunate stigma we are facing,” she said.
The Malta Trust Foundation brings together experienced academics, professionals, practitioners and members of the business community for tangible impact for the best interest of children and young people facing challenges.
Ms Coleiro Preca said: “The Malta Trust Foundation is socio-economically investing in the diverse communities of our Islands and providing a preventative approach to the mental health challenges our young people and students face.”