Mental hospitals to be replaced by mental health centers

October 12, 2011, Wednesday/ 12:08:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkey's mental hospitals, where patients are sometimes kept in isolation for long periods of time, will soon be replaced by mental health centers, which will focus on methods that emphasize treating patients in their homes and shorter periods of inpatient treatment, in accordance with a new national action plan being implemented by the Health Ministry.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference at the Rixos Hotel in Ankara on Monday, Health Minister Recep Akdağ introduced the National Action Plan for Mental Health, which covers the period between 2011 and 2023.

Akdağ said that according to the plan, the current system of keeping patients in isolation and away from their homes in mental hospitals will be phased out, because the condition of mental patients tends to deteriorate when they are isolated from the outside world. He added that new mental health centers will be opened in every province in Turkey, in place of hospitals, which currently only exist in certain provinces such as İstanbul, Manisa and Elazığ.

The provision of mental health services will be decentralized to allow patients to seek treatment at locations closer to their hometowns and avoid long-term inpatient treatment. They will be encouraged to continue living with their families, except in severe cases. In such cases, mental health centers will admit patients for a short period and then continue the treatment with routine outpatient follow-up.

Pointing out that mental health centers have already been opened in 29 provinces, Akdağ said the ministry would continue to open centers across Turkey in towns and cities. He said the centers will be staffed by psychiatrists and mental health clinical nurse specialists. Rehabilitation activities will be available at centers to aid in patients' recovery. Akdağ added, “Mental health services will be provided to patients in their homes. The centers will refer mental health practitioners to the patients' homes.”

Responding to reporters' questions about a bill being drafted by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy that mandates psychotherapy for abusive husbands to prevent violence against women, Akdağ said: “We know punitive measures are not enough to prevent abusive husbands from committing violence again. Psychotherapy is necessary for preventing such violence. The new mental health centers will also include departments to provide psychotherapy for abusive husbands and rehabilitation services for abused women.”

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