Mental health centers proving very effective but struggling with lack of funds

In the wake of worrying reports regarding the quality of care for patients in Czech mental hospitals there is a push to expand the existing network of mental health centers, which help people to avert the onset of serious problems requiring hospitalization.

Reports of inhumane practices in mental hospitals, including overuse of mechanical restraint, tranquilizers and isolation, have resulted in experts on mental health ringing alarm bells regarding the need for reform. While that goal may take years to implement there is a faster solution at hand – expanding the network of mental health centers around the country, which would serve as an important first tier and prevent many patents from reaching a stage where hospitalization is inevitable. It would also help overburdened mental hospitals who are struggling with a shortage of staff.

The mental health centers in different parts of the country were established several years ago as a pilot project aimed at addressing the lack of psychiatrists in Czechia which resulted in patients having to wait long months for an appointment.

Mental health centers provide help much faster but also work in an environment that builds trust and offers all-round support in dignified conditions. They speak of “clients” instead of “patients”, and meet with them in surroundings they consider safe – their home, a café or workplace. Clients are given counselling by multidisciplinary teams including a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker  and a peer counselor.

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Authors: Daniela Lazarová, Petr Král