7.5 Mental health
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In 2007, a Strategy of developing mental health care was adopted and in 2019, a Programme on mental health protection was developed based on some of the then statements, but still current:
- mental health is still often seen as a low priority,
- the dominant culture of neglect and exclusion of people with mental disabilities persists.
The Strategy is not aimed solely on youth, rather on general population.
National Youth Strategy for the period 2015-2025 targets mental health of young people in the 4th strategic goal -Improved health and well-being of young women and men through increased availability of youth programmes for the preservation of mental and general health. This should be achieved by:
- supporting education programmes for youth, parents and teachers on the improvement of mental and general health of youth.
- Developing counselling offices offering mental health services and psychological support and help outside of health facilities.
The National Youth Strategy 2015-2025 has not undergone any revisions/updates since its adoption. One evidence-based evaluation of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy have been conducted. The evaluation was for the implementation period 2015-2017. The evaluation showed that within the specific goal increased availability of youth programmes for the preservation of mental and general health planned activities are somewhat realized.
Source: Youth National Strategy Action Plan Evaluation 2015-2017
Similar, theStrategy for Youth Health Development in the Republic of Serbia (2006) states three tasks related to mental health of young people :
- establishing new stationary units for mental health problems of young people;
- strengthening, programme and territorial defining of existing units for mental health of young people;
- developing programmes for strengthening of self-confidence, communication and negotiation skills in line with the development the potential of young people with mental health disorders, chronic diseases and the need for special support.
Improving the mental health of young people
Programme on mental health protection in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2019-2026 year is a harmonized system of measures, conditions and instruments of public policy. The programme predicts reform of the mental health care system in the Republic of Serbia and improvement of human rights of persons with mental disorders. It is aimed at general population, but young people (15-24) are recognized as particularly vulnerable population that needs:
- more comprehensive preventive activities, primarily early diagnostics, as well as comprehensive assistance to children and young people and their families, at the level of primary health care. Primary prevention of mental disorders of children and youth as well as improvement of their mental health should also be implemented through the education system and forms of mass communication;
- additional continuous education of existing staff in health centres
- empowerment and assistance to existing health care institutions at the secondary and tertiary level
- introducing norms for work in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry;
- within the future centres for mental health in the community, form sub-units for mental health for children and young people and connect them with existing development counselling centres and youth counselling centres;
- develop services for twenty-four-hour admission of emergencies in children and adolescents psychiatry in several institutions that have the capacity and resources for this activity;
- expand the list of diagnostic categories in the field of mental childhood disorders and provide better access to psychopharmacotherapy for children and adolescents with mental health problems, from the budget;
- improve cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach in order to enable adequate treatment of children and adolescents with behavioural disorders and chronic aggressive behaviour.
The programme envisages the procedures and software programmes for patient registration and monitoring in all mental health services, with direct cooperation between the services as well as cross-sectoral cooperation.
In the implementation of the Programme, the Ministry of Health cooperates with all partners from the health system, as well as to all other partners outside the health care system, which are marked in the Action Plan as holders of individual activities.
Funds necessary for the implementation of measures and activities contained in the Action Plan for the implementation of this programme will be provided from the budget of the Republic of Serbia in accordance with the limits set by the Ministry of Finance.
The Decree on the National Health Care Programme for Women, Children and Youth for early detection and adequate care of adolescents with mental health problems suggest the inclusion of mental health information in primary and secondary school curricula. Work on increasing the motivation of the adolescents to seek help and start treatment in a timely manner, as well as destigmatization of those seeking help or assistance are also activities proposed by the Programme.