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Mental Health Project in BiH

Mental Health Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina supports the reform of mental health care services in order to improve the well-being of people with mental health problems and those at risk of developing them. The project aims to reduce discrimination of people with mental health problems, enhance their social inclusion, and increase access to and quality of the much needed care.
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Improving the well-being of people with mental health problems country-wide

In BiH people with mental health problems belong to a highly disadvantaged and vulnerable group. They face discrimination and social exclusion on a daily basis and have limited access to adequate care. Mental health service providers at the community levels lack special skills necessary to conduct psychotherapy, occupational therapy, to work with juvenile patients and victims of family violence. Thus, the scope of care available to people with mental health problems is rather limited. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen preventive care, as identifying early symptoms could prevent mental illness from becoming severe.

Better quality of services and community anti-stigma programs

The focus of the project is on mental health services at the community level, improving the scope and quality of those services, and accrediting the community centres for standardized and quality care. Through the project, mental health professionals are educated and enhance their skills and knowledge in occupational and work therapy, psychotherapy, preventive work in the community, crisis interventions, and work with families. This ensures that people with mental health problems and those at risk of developing such problems have access to a wider range of qualitative services. In order to decrease discrimination against people with mental health problems and raise respect for their human rights, the project worked closely with different associations to conduct social inclusion activities and community anti-stigma programs, and developed programs for promotion of mental health.

Over 500 mental health professionals, working in 74 Community Mental Health Centres country-wide, are included in the project. Additionally, support is provided for associations and self-help groups of mental health service users in 31 municipalities. Mental health institutions received support in enhancing their management capacities and in reorganising their services. Strategic steering of the project’s interventions is with the health authorities in BiH. By engaging with these numerous actors, the project contributed to improving the quality of life of people with mental health problems, their families, and of those at risk of developing mental health problems.

Continuous support and progress within mental health care in BiH

The Government of Switzerland has been supporting the reform of mental health care in BiH since 2009. With previous project’s interventions significant results have been achieved.

The policy and regulatory framework for mental health care in BiH was aligned with European standards and the system for monitoring population’s mental health was established. In both entities, the legal framework for protection of human rights of people with mental health problems was revised and adopted. This enables monitoring of human rights violations of patients in mental health institutions.

Within the Community Mental Health Centres, the percentage of nurses who are working independently with patients has increased from 29% to 88%. The quality of services has been improved and the hospital referrals rate of patients has decreased by 30%. Furthermore, over 5’480 patients with severe mental disorders have benefited from the case management approach which was introduced into the work of Community Mental Health Centres.