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Mental Health Project in BiH

Mental Health Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina supports the reform of mental health care services in order to improve the well-being of people with mental health problems and those at risk of developing them. The project aims to reduce discrimination of people with mental health problems, enhance their social inclusion, and increase access to and quality of the much needed care.

Strategic Domain:
Strategic partner:
Department for Health and Other Services of Brcko District, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of RS, Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, Ministry of Health of FBiH
Institute for population and development IPD
Project implemented in:
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, Brčko District
Tuzla Canton, Zenica-Doboj Canton, Sarajevo Canton, Central Bosnia Canton, Una-Sana Canton, Canton 10, West Herzegovina Canton, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Posavina Canton, Bosnia –Podrinje Canton
Municipalities (74):
Živinice, Žepče, Zvornik, Zenica, Zavidovići, Vogošća, Vlasenica, Vitez, Višegrad, Visoko, Velika Kladuša, Ugljevik, Tuzla, Trebinje, Travnik, Tomislavgrad, Tešanj, Teslić, Široki Brijeg, Šamac, Stolac, Stari Grad Sarajevo , Srebrenik, Srebrenica, Srbac, Sokolac, Sanski Most, Prnjavor, Prijedor, Pale, Orašje, Olovo, Odzak, Novo Sarajevo, Novi Grad Sarajevo, Novi Grad, Nevesinje, Mrkonjić Grad, Mostar, Modriča, Maglaj, Ljubuski, Lukavac, Livno, Laktaši, Kozarska Dubica, Konjic, Ključ, Kladanj, Kiseljak, Kakanj, Jajce, Istočno Novo Sarajevo, Ilijaš, Ilidža, Hadžići, Gradiška, Gradačac, Gračanica, Goražde, Foča, Doboj, Derventa, Čelinac, Centar Sarajevo, Cazin, Bužim, Bugojno, Brčko distrikt, Bosanska Krupa, Bijeljina, Bihać , Banja Luka, Banovići

Improving the well-being of people with mental health problems country-wide

In BiH people with mental health problems belong to a highly disadvantaged and vulnerable group. They face discrimination and social exclusion on a daily basis and have limited access to adequate care. Mental health service providers at the community levels lack special skills necessary to conduct psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and to work with juvenile patients and family violence victims. Thus, the scope of care available to people with mental health problems is rather limited. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen preventive care, as identifying early symptoms could prevent mental illness from becoming severe.

Better quality of services and community anti-stigma programs

Focus of the project is on mental health services at the community level, improving the scope and quality of those services, and accrediting the community centres for standardized and quality care they provide. Mental health professionals are educated and enhance their skills and knowledge in occupational and work therapy, psychotherapy, preventive work in the community, crisis interventions, and work with families. This will ensure that people with mental health problems and those at risk of developing such problems have access to a wider range of quality services. In order to decrease discrimination against people with mental health problems and raise respect for their human rights, the project works closely with different associations to conduct social inclusion activities and community anti-stigma programs, and develops programs for promotion of mental health.

Over 500 mental health professionals, working in 72 Community Mental Health Centres country-wide, are included in the project. Additionally, support is provided for associations and self-help groups of mental health service users in 31 municipalities. Mental health institutions receive support in enhancing their management capacities and reorganisation of services. Strategic steering of the project’s interventions is with the health authorities in BiH. By engaging with these numerous actors, the project contributes to improving the quality of life of people with mental health problems, their families, and of those at risk of developing mental health problems.

Continuous support and progress within mental health care in BiH

The Government of Switzerland has been supporting the reform of mental health care in BiH since 2009. With previous project’s interventions significant results have been achieved.

The policy and regulatory framework for mental health care in BiH was aligned with European standards and the system for monitoring population’s mental health was established. In both entities, the legal framework for protection of human rights of people with mental health problems was revised and adopted. This enables monitoring of human rights violations of patients in mental health institutions.

Within the Community Mental Health Centres, the percentage of nurses who are working independently with patients has increased from 29% to 88%. The quality of services has been improved and the hospital referrals rate of patients has decreased by 30%. Furthermore, over 1’000 patients with severe mental disorders have benefited from the case management approach which was intro- duced into the work of Community Mental Health Centres.