7.5 Mental health
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There are no top-level strategies and other policy measures addressing the mental health of young people in Cyprus, including suicide prevention measures. In Cyprus in 1997, the "Psychiatric Care Law" (Ο περί Ψυχιατρικής Νοσηλείας Νόμος του 1997) was passed, which was subsequently amended in 2003 and 2007. This law provides for the establishment and operation of Psychiatric Centres for the care of mentally ill individuals, the safeguarding of the rights of these individuals and the definition of the duties and responsibilities of their relatives. The approval by the House of Representatives of this law has been a major advance in psychiatric reform, particularly with regard to the protection of patients' rights, the implementation of de-institutionalization and the promotion of community psychiatry in Cyprus.
There is not a suicide prevention strategy in Cyprus, either as a standalone document or as an integrated element of another national policy/plan.
Available top-level policies, programmes, projects or initiatives addressing the mental health of young people in Cyprus are the following:
Mental Health Services of the Cyprus Ministry of Health: The Mental Health Services offer a number of services for young adults, adolescents and children in all districts of Cyprus. These are:
- Psychiatric Clinic
- Community Services
- Vocational Rehabilitation Unit
- Day Centre
- Psychotherapy Department
- Mental Health Services in Central Prison Department
For adolescents and children:
- Inpatient Unit for Adolescent’s hospitalization: hospitalization of teenagers with serious psychiatric and psychosocial problems
- Services Consultation – liaison child and adolescent psychiatry: psychiatric and psychological assessments, management and treatment to children and young people (up to 17 years). The liaison child and adolescent psychiatry deals with cases where mental health issues / emotional and family distress result from acute, chronic or life-threatening illness and disability as well as when mental health and emotional problems present as physical symptoms.
- Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Centre: outpatient assessment, treatment and care for children and young people, up to the age of 18, with severe physical and psychological problems relating to eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating, and food refusal.
- Prevention and psycho-social intervention centre: services for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation to children, adolescents, and their families. Interventions include the family environment and the school context.
- Inpatient Unit for Adolescent’s in Addiction: adolescents with addiction problems that present delinquent behaviour, severe mental disorder and a court order is pending for their obligatory examination, can be hospitalized.
For more information about each of the above services, please visit the Mental Health Services official website available in Greek and English.
The Youth Board of Cyprus (national authority), recognizing the importance of safeguarding mental health especially for young people, is leading a range of services that openly respond to all young people. The aim of the services is not only to help people with mental disorders, but also to empower all young people to be able to secure their own welfare on their own. The relevant services are listed below:
The 1410 Help Line: This line is addressed to all those who want to get responses on issues related to their everyday life, family and social relationships, school issues, isolation, antisocial behaviour, anxiety, depression, mourning, but also for more complex issues such as addiction, sexuality issues, eating disorders, etc. The same service is also available over the internet by vising the E-counselling link and it deals with the same issues and follows the same principles and deontology as the Help Line 1410. The Help Line is a permanent measure without a specific timeframe of implementation.
Counselling Services ‘Protasi’: The purpose of these advisory services is to provide support and personalized counselling to young people, couples and families facing challenges in their lives. The services are addressed to children, teenagers and young people who want to share confidentially their personal concerns with a qualified advisor on issues such as relationship problems (friendships, sexual relationships or marriages), substances addiction problems, domestic violence, antisocial/ delinquent behaviour, any other issue of concern. In addition, they are aimed at couples and parents who have difficulties in their relationships and / or their families. The services are provided by registered psychologists, without any charge to the public. ‘Protasi’ is a permanent measure without a specific timeframe of implementation.
The Psychosocial Empowerment Programme “Micri Arktos”: This programme aims at personality development and improvement of social skills, as well as confidence boosting and personal empowerment that will enable individuals to deal successfully with daily challenges. Interventions are done through experiential workshops and psycho-educational groups and aim at personal development and empowerment through the growth of individual skills and competences such as self-awareness, problem-solving and decision-making, managing emotions, such as anxiety and anger, communication skills, etc. The programme addresses young people, aged 16 - 35 years old, who wish to participate individually, as well as groups and organisations that wish to offer their members the opportunity to participate in personal development and empowerment programs (e.g., Youth Organizations, Sports and Cultural Unions, Municipal and Community Authorities, etc.)
The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) preventive programmes:According to the Ministry’s 2020 Annual Report, the EPS’s mission is to protect and promote mental health and facilitate learning and development by empowering all pupils within the educational system, from preschool to the end of secondary education. The provided supportive programmes, interventions and psychoeducation trainings were developed and delivered to prevent school failure and enhance psychological health issues. Examples include stress management, dealing with difficult behaviour, anger management, prevention of school violence and bullying, emotional literacy, promotion of self -confidence and many more.
PERSEAS and PROMETHEAS Counselling centres (Κέντρο Συμβουλευτικής Εφήβων και Οικογένειας ΠΕΡΣΕΑΣ και ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑΣ) belong to the Mental Health Services of the Ministry of Health and exclusively specialise in providing counseling and treatment interventions for substance addiction as well as addictive behaviors to adolescents and young adults. The centres respond to the specific needs of every adolescent / young adult from the age of 13 until the age of 22, and their family, through systematic group, individualized, family, intensive or short-term interventions. The main goal is that every family member will be able to develop and acquire more efficient ways of communication and relationships as well as useful coping skills for a dependence-free meaningful life. Therapeutic programmes target early intervention so that the adolescents’ / young adults’ course towards addiction from illicit (drugs), legal (alcohol) substances, or other addictive behaviours (gambling, internet) is blocked, and addiction is prevented. The services provided are free of charge and fully confidential.
At the same time, multiple NGOs specialise in providing support on particular mental thematic areas in Cyprus and offer their services independently.
There is not a top-level policy, programme, project or initiative for suicide prevention in Cyprus. Advice counselling and support to schools and communities following tragic and traumatic events are offered by the Educational Psychology Service of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, and the relevant educational psychologists are involved in crisis intervention on suicide of children, death of children, etc. However, prevention programmes organised by top-level authorities are not available.