theStrategy for Youth Health Development in the Republic of Serbia(2006) stress out that the health care system for young people should be territorially and content-wise accessible and inclined to young people, with full implementation of health promotion, team work development and intersectoral cooperation, active participation of young people and local community engagement.
The Decree on the National Health Care Programme for Women, Children and Youth specifies the importance of the organizations of health services to be adapted to the needs of adolescents. The Programme presupposes increased access to health services for all adolescents; increased adolescent confidence in health services and increased use of health services. To achieve this, it is possible for:
- adolescent representatives to participate in commissions dealing with planning, organization, implementation control and assessment of health care that is in line with the needs of young people;
- establishment of accessible health care for all adolescents, regardless of gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, geographical area;
- education of health workers and health associates who provide health care to adolescents for a youth-friendly approach;
- establishing mechanisms for cooperation between health institutions and various associations with the aim of expanding the network of institutions and organizations that contribute to health and provide quality health services for all adolescents.
The Ministry of Health initiated the project of youth-friendly health services within the primary health services system with the support of international donors (savetovalista za mlade). Health care for young people is provided by youth health centres (primary centres). Counselling for young people (aged 10 to 19) has been set up in 40 of these institutions, with trained specialist paediatricians, gynaecologists, general medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and visiting nurses. Counselling centres are open every day and implement health educational activities for adolescents and young people up to the age of 19 related to: growth, development, nutrition, physical activity, smoking, use of alcohol and illegal psychoactive substances, violence, abuse, chronic diseases; safety, safe sex and contraception. Both group health-educational work and individual counselling work is applied.
According to the Child Health Care System of Serbia Analysis, adolescents with mental health problems are referred to these youth counselling service and most interventions are completed here. If problems are beyond the level of competence of the staff employed in the centres, children and adolescents can be referred to local social services, specialized clinics, and departments for mental health care of children and adolescents within large hospitals (secondary health care). From here, when the problems are beyond the scope of secondary health care, children are directed toward tertiary health care. These are specialized departments for child and adolescent mental health care at university clinics. Most of the diagnostic procedures and treatment of children and adolescents with serious mental health problems take place at the tertiary health care level, clinics, institutes, and specialized hospitals in major cities.