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Mental Healthcare

From Kathimerini

Mental healthcare an embarrassment

Many years have passed since Greece faced the shame of the horrifying conditions at the Leros mental hospital.

The images that made their way around the world embarrassed and shocked us. We had hoped that the conditions of care for mental patients would only get better and better and that the first set of measures taken would be continued.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, plans for the deinstitutionalization of patients have foundered and nursing staff shortages at the country’s mental health facilities have led to inhuman methods being used: 70-80 percent of patients are strapped to their beds. Increasing funding to these facilities is imperative, but what is even more important is the need for a lasting, effective policy in this sensitive area.

Deinstitutionalization cannot be something attempted only occasionally and when there is available European Union funding. State psychiatric wards should also not be suffering 70 percent staff shortages. It’s not just a question of humanity, but a matter of culture and rudimentary healthcare in a country that boasts of its national health policy.

On Saturday 24th May 2008, there will be a rally, meeting and discussions about mental health issues. The discussion centres around mental health “reforms” which includes closing down hospitals and focusing on community care. Read all the information here (in Greek).

Thank you for the information P.

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4 Comments

  1. May 22, 2008    

    My husband and I have conversations about these types of issues all the time since he started working at the psychiatric hospital. My only knowledge of how bad things can be in such hospitals was from the state hospital in Tennessee, where I visited a friend who was there, and it was the most awful place I think I have ever been.

    I do know that psychiatrists like my husband are very concerned about patient’s rights (in fact, one of the seminars at the Panhellenic Psychiatric convention last week was on that very topic). There is a very delicate balance there, between patients that need to be restrained (for a very short time) and allowing patients to roam freely in the hospital (which they are). As far as doing away with such hospitals, from discussions with my husband I don’t see how possible that would be, aside from moving long term patients to group homes, which aren’t always the best situations either.

    It is heartbreaking work.

    melusinas last blog post..Vacation blues

  2. May 22, 2008    

    De institutionalization was done here in Toronto about 10 years ago. They called it a human rights’ issue. Now homelessness is rampant, these unfortunate people live on street corners and under bridges. Most don’t have the were withal to get and or keep a job, find and keep an apartment and/or stay off drugs and alcohol. The problem, from my view is that the drugs used to control a lot of mental health issues have such horrible side effects that the moment these people are able, they stop taking them.
    Just in the last two weeks an innocent couple going about their business were stabbed to death by a man with mental health “issues” and yesterday a young woman almost bled to death waiting for a bus because she was stabbed by a man also with mental health problems. If not for a passer by, she would have died.
    I agree that persons should not be “strapped to their beds” but a humane way to keep these people off the street need to be found. By the way, they strap and or tie elderly people to their beds in hospitals for something as ridiculous as removing their oxygen. I saw this with my own eyes. They also tie elderly people into wheelchairs and one woman choked herself to death last week in a “home”.
    I’m sorry this is so long I

    rosittas last blog post..The Sock War Is Over – I’m Toast

  3. May 22, 2008    

    Sorry, I hit “post” before I had a chance to say…ciao
    sorry for the long post and rant…rositta

    rosittas last blog post..The Sock War Is Over – I’m Toast

  4. May 23, 2008    

    No need to apologise, Rositta. Your insights are very welcome.

    I am shocked by what you write about elderly people too.

    I agree, there must be some humane way of treating people who are the most vulnerable while also protecting the public from people who become violent because of mental health issues.

    Melusina, it must be heartbreaking. I really don’t know how doctors and nurses, most of whom are totally dedicated and brilliant, can deal with these situations on a daily basis. Lack of money and staff shortages are the problem not doctors and nurses.

    deviousdivas last blog post..Mental Healthcare

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