I spent eight days at Mount Carmel Hospital. The psychiatric hospital is located in Malta, an island nation in Europe, south of Italy. It was founded as “Crazy Refugees” in 1861, with the aim of keeping mentally ill people out of society rather than helping them reintegrate into their communities. Nearly two centuries later, not much has changed.
At 7 a.m., the lights came on and everyone had to wake up immediately. You go to the bathroom, with old cabins and chipped brick floors. The only time I saw bathrooms that looked like this was in the German concentration camp history book. Usually, showers are shared and you have to bathe naked close together.
Halfway through my stay, I was transferred to Nu Ward 1. I was in the hospital for several days and was internally transferred by a nurse, but still had to get naked to check for drugs – which was frankly demoralizing .
In three words, it is hell. Now I believe this should be a prison. The common area was a drab, dirty room with chairs lined up against the wall as if the people in the hospital were prisoners. With few windows, no natural light. Two televisions simultaneously display cartoons and news.
The heavy metal doors were shut down all day. The doorbell was ringing continuously by the guests and the staff, a shrieking sound still imprinted in my mind. You don’t have the freedom of movement you want. Most of the doors were locked, and it is not uncommon for a few civilians to aggressively pound and scratch the door.
Meanwhile, I was drugged into the state of a zombie. The medicine was passed in chaos in the hallways and seemed to be on purpose to paralyze us. I vividly remember a woman wandering like Roomba, entering the walls as if she were just a ghost embodied with a human being.
Unfortunately, I am just one of the many people who have had a traumatic experience at Mount Carmel. Other people limited to this organization have recently spoken out about being put in solitary confinement for a week. “I was having a mental health crisis, and their decision was to put me in solitary confinement.”
Joshua * explains: “I’m alone in the box. I would wash my clothes in the toilet, literally a hole in the ground. Others have repeatedly slammed into their walls.
No wonder he felt completely alienated: “I have lost my senses. I forgot the whole time. It’s hard to get attention there. I needed attention, to talk to people, so I started screaming and screaming. “
He continued: “I just wanted to talk to someone, but they said they were trying to calm me down. In the process, they broke me. The worst thing I have done is get naked in front of some nurses ”.
Finally, he recalls: “I was still traumatized by those seven days.”
Mount Carmel is anything but a place for healing. If you do not experience a mental health condition in the first place, the condition there is sure to negatively affect your mental health.
An organization that is supposed to protect and heal people with mental health problems does nothing more than deteriorate their experience. Deprivation of liberty and coercion do not contribute to a healthy recovery.
In fact, the lack of voluntary and community-based mental health services causes immense suffering for those already severely affected by mental health.
Mount Carmel residents are in need of community support, but the way they are treated only adds to the stigma and fear surrounding mental and mental health care.
In addition to the complete lack of proper care, Mount Carmel Hospital violates human rights by keeping patients in solitary confinement against their will, when it is the last thing they need. The compulsion is not concerned, and Mental health problems now more than ever.
“Various investigations over the years show we have sufficient evidence of continued human rights violations in psychiatric facilities”, Jonas Bull said, Research and Policy Officer at Mental Health Europe. “Instead of using slow legal reforms as an excuse, policymakers should take inspiration from positive examples around the world that have succeeded in reducing and ending coercion. picture in mental health care. The formulation of such commitments should be the primary goal for 2021, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the urgency of adequate mental health care in the face of distress. morale “.
Mental health care coercion silences those with a mental illness, isolates those in need, and harms those in need. Time to listen to them and their experiences. It’s time to end coercion in mental health care.
* Names have been changed for personal protection.