MP Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! platform said on Friday, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, that the number of psychiatric patients in Croatia had been growing due to the coronavirus pandemic and that there was no national strategy to improve medical and social services for those patients.
“The number of mental disorders has been growing increasingly but despite that, since 2016 we have not had a strategy for the improvement of mental health that would envisage implementation instruments and funding for medical and social services,” Tomašević told reporters.
He recalled estimates by the World Health Organisation saying that depression would become the most widespread illness in Croatia and the rest of the world by 2030, noting that this problem was not discussed enough.
“Because of the stigma that goes with mental disorders, people hide their problems… and public focus or the focus of political debates is not on topics such as mental health”, he warned.
This needs to change because the “new normal” caused by the coronavirus pandemic will have major consequences for the population’s mental health, he said.
New Left party leader Ivana Kekin, who works as a psychiatrist at the KBC Zagreb hospital, warned that for a long time not enough had been invested in mental health in Croatia.
“The WHO recently published a study which shows that during the pandemic in 93% of countries worldwide the quality of health services in the area of mental health has dropped, and Croatia is no exception”, Kekin said.
She warned that as of recently psychiatric wards were being closed down in the country, such as the one at Zagreb’s KB Dubrava hospital, while the space for psychiatric patients at KBC Zagreb was being reduced due to the March 22 earthquake.
“Instead of expanding and investing in infrastructure, we have been ‘shrinking’ and services are becoming less and less available,” she warned.
We know that the vaccine for the coronavirus will be ready in the winter or possibly spring, but there is and will be no vaccine for depression, panic attacks, alcoholism and suicide, she said.
The first step should be to adopt a national strategy to increase investments in prevention and mobile teams, and we have to move away from the model of treatment where most chronic patients are hospitalised, Kekin said./ibna