The Czech Republic’s health minister has outlined a plan to reform the country’s long-neglected psychiatric care. The emphasis should be shifted from large psychiatric institutions to a network of mental health centres that would serve patients locally. Up to a third of psychiatric patients could be transferred to the centres by 2030.
Psychiatric care in the Czech Republic has been profiting from a trend towards external care, which keeps psychiatric institutions from overflowing and lets patients function in society. To support this development, the Health Ministry set up special mobile psychiatric teams in 2018 and plans to create up to 100 in the future. But securing financing from health insurance companies may prove crucial.
Psychiatric care in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, is ineffective and heavily underfinanced, suggests an international study, which has just been published in the prestigious US journal The Lancet Psychiatry. In most of the post-Communist countries, mental health care still relies on large psychiatric hospitals and there is a huge stigma connected to mental health problems. I spoke to Doctor Petr Winkler from the National Institute of Mental Health, who headed the international team of experts, and I first asked him to
The country’s health minister, Miloslav Ludvík, has outlined ambitious long-term plans to reform Czech psychiatric care, placing new emphasis on community care. On Tuesday, the minister said that when it came to psychiatry, the Czech Republic needed to move towards the West: the plan is to create a new network of some 100 mental health centres serving patients locally.
One of the most thought-provoking films at this year’s One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague has been I’m Not Afraid. It follows the assisted suicide of Eli, a Dutch woman who has been suffering from extreme anxiety for most of her life. To discuss the ethics of euthanasia involving people in mental rather than physical pain, I spoke to another protagonist in the documentary, Eli’s psychiatrist – and the man who approved and assisted her voluntary death – Dr. Frederick Polak.
Scientists from Brno’s Masaryk University are engaged in a research project aimed at studying the effects of stress on the psyche of Holocaust victims. According to the internet site Novinky.cz which posted the story on Monday the team of psychologists, neurology experts and genetics experts are studying possible changes to the brain as a result of long-term exposure to extreme stress. The head of the research team Ivan Rektor said 30 survivors had agreed to cooperate and has asked others willing to do so to come forward.
A new psychiatric evaluation of US citizen Kevin Dahlgren has been ordered by the Olomouc High Court. The move follows Dahlgren’s appeal against his life sentence delivered in July for the murder of four relatives in Brno. The court then had found the 24-year-old fully responsible for his actions. The main defence argument in the previous trial was that Kevin Dahlgren was not at the time of the crime able to understand the consequences of his actions. During the trial, Dahlgren spoke of voices in his head that blocked out everything else and encouraged him to do evil. It’s not clear whether the new evaluations will be carried out near Brno, where he is in prison, or at Prague’s main psychiatric hospital.
The Bohnice psychiatric Hospital did not commit an error in judgment when it released a patient who subsequently attacked and killed a stranger in a Prague shopping centre, Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek told journalists in Prague, citing the outcome of an investigation by a commission of experts. The commission concluded that the staff responsible did not break the law, violate the hospital’s internal regulations, or disregard the recommendations of the Czech Association of Psychiatrists. The commission said the police was to blame for not relaying vital information relating to the case. The hospital was allegedly not informed that the said patient had attempted to strangle another woman in a coffee house a fortnight before she committed the murder. She was merely hospitalized for aggressive behavior.