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In 1861, Mount Carmel Hospital or the “Lunatic Asylum” as it was then known, received its first patients from Villa Franconi in Floriana. At the time, psychiatric treatment was still in a rudimentary stage and patients suffering from mental health​ problems received little therapeutic care. Back then, the main aim of the hospital was to keep psychiatric patients away from society rather than support them towards reintegration in the community. However, during the past 150 years psychiatry has come a long way. Not only was there a quantum leap in the quality of care but the approach used for the delivery of mental health services underwent a complete transformation.

Although medical and technological advances did have a positive impact on the psychiatric sector, the greatest asset still lies in the professionalism and capabilities of human resources. Today, the multi disciplinary approach is the backbone of all psychiatric services delivered at the hospital and in the community. A multi disciplinary team consisting of a psychiatric consultant, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and occupational therapists is assigned to each patient on admission to hospital. The multi disciplinary aspect of the service delivered to patients ensures that the patient receives holistic and customised psychiatric, psychological and social care. The therapeutic treatment given to patients during their rehabilitation phase reduces the length of the patient''s hospital stay and prepares the patient for independent living in the community.

Besides general psychiatry, the Mental Health Services also offer specialised psychiatric services such as child and adolescence, rehabilitation, old age, learning disability and forensic psychiatry. Recently the hospital has diversified its portfolio of services and included new services related to the care of the elderly.

Although psychiatric services within the Mental Health Services are continually being improved, it is important to switch the prevailing culture from custodial to therapeutic care. This change occurred among professionals working in the community sector and more effort is now required to bring about a similar change among all hospital-based professionals. Such a change in the workers'' mindset would improve dramatically the quality of life of patients and would prepare them better for life in the community after discharged from hospital.

Our strategy for the future aims at increasing the community services network so that patients would have access to curative and preventive care near the place where they live and work. Our strategy also aims at improving and developing further hospital-based care, especially rehabilitation services. It is most unfortunate that the psychiatric sector is influenced so badly by stigma. Stigma is the result of misinformation and intolerance and can be eradicated through public information and awareness campaigns. Stigma not only discourages people from seeking professional help when they most need it, but it also discourages young people from choosing psychiatry as their career. Present and future challenges can only be overcome if all the stakeholders within the psychiatric sector work and collaborate together to foster greater public awareness of mental health issues. Our aim should always be the welfare of the patients and together we have to devise ways to work together, share experiences and design future services.​