Towards mental health and human rights advocacy in Lithuania: NGO role

Overall objective of the NGO Programme Lithuania was to strengthen civil society development and enhance contribution to social justice, democracy and sustainable development; also strengthen bilateral relationship between Lithuania and the donor states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Lithuanian mental health care system and social care policy are still based on generic and outdated institutional and medical models. Community care services have not yet been adequately developed, nor has an effective human rights monitoring mechanism been put in place. NGO’s that are working to improve this situation do not have sufficient advocacy skills or resources, which would otherwise enable them to make a substantial contribution towards influencing and informing political decisions in this field.

It is crucial to empower NGO’s in order to address these issues properly as the decision makers tend to ignore more personalized, outcome focused alternatives, and prefer preventative rather than reactive practices. The aim of the project is to contribute towards the development of the civil society and improvement of fair social justice system in Lithuania by promoting reform in the mental health field.

Project activities can be divided into 4 interrelated groups:

– Lithuanian NGO capacity building in the field of advocacy;

– Evidence-based data collection for advocacy campaign;

– Advocacy campaign;

– Creation of alternative sources of financial support in order to ensure the continuity of advocacy activities.

It is anticipated that the Mental Health Strategy Action Plan which was developed during the project, will be reflected in Lithuanian legislation. Moreover, monitoring of the deinstitutionalisation process and recommendations produced is hoped to stipulate the transparency within decision-making forum, as well as promote consistency for the target groups ensuring that their needs are met and rights protected. In addition to this, the right of individuals with mental health issues to a fair trial will be safeguarded at all levels.

Project duration: 18 months (December 2013 – November 2015, January 2016 – April 2016).