Lithuanian mental health system: the search for the best solution

For the first time in Lithuania an NGO initiated and together with the Ministry of Health, Committee on Health Affairs of the Parliament and Vilnius University organized international conference „Mental Health Policy in Lithuania and Europe 10 years after the Helsinki Conference: from ‘the vision of needed changes’ to ‘actual results’ will be held on the 15th of May. Lithuanian and international experts will discuss mental health policy devepolments and will present an Alternative Lithuanian Mental Health Strategy and Suicide Prevention Alternative Action Plan 2016 – 2018.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the Mental Health Declaration and Action Plan for Europe 2005-2010 at the Conference of the Health Ministers for the European Region in Helsinki in the year 2005. This policy document set out evidence and fundamental values-based principles for strengthening and safeguarding mental health in Europe. This was intended to provide guidelines, which could be used to improve society‘s mental health indicators and address mental health problems more effectively. One of the most important conditions for this to become reality, was a firm decision needed by all member states to review and redistribute the quantity and quality of investment in mental health; redirecting national resources towards such prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services, that would reduce social isolation, guarantee respect for human rights and non-discrimination, as well as strengthen psychological resistance of individuals, groups and communities.

During the abovementioned period the attention of Lithuanian society, decision-makers and media has been mobilised, and the Ministry of Health undertook the opportunity for Lithuania to potentially become the leading member state in putting the Mental Health Declaration and Action Plan for Europe in practice. Following the Helsinki Conference a working group was formed for development of the National Mental Health Action Plan. This Action Plan was developed as a strategic national health policy document and formally approved by Seimas on 3rd April 2007. It is foreseen to review the progress of the implementation of this strategic policy document in Lithuania at the time of the upcoming Conference. The progress of development of a modern mental health system in the general European context will also be discussed.

Objectives of the upcoming Conference – Lithuanian and international experts in the field will explore and discuss the main changes achieved whilst implementing the Lithuanian mental health policy over the past 10 years – since the Helsinki Conference, 2005. Special attention during the Conference will be paid to the following priorities in the comparative context of the situation in Lithuania and the rest of EU:

– Development of community services and deinstitutionalisation;
– Involvement of service users and the NGO sector in decision-making processes;
– Re-structure of the primary mental health care services sector;
– Suicide prevention;
– Strengthening of mental health for children.
Conference programme (10 years after Helsinki conference-20150515_1).

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