“I’m very optimistic about Armenia. This is the second year I am in Armenia and I see here what I cannot see in my own country”, Bugarski added.
Public Health Program Coordinator Anahit Papikyan noted that there is political will in Armenia to improve the mental health area.
“A person who returns home after mental hospital does not have relevant support to live in the community. No rehabilitation work is implemented to bring them back to community. We lack community circle”, Papikyan says.
She mentioned that there are two types of services in Armenia for people with mental disorders – day care centers and residential treatment facilities – this system is different than international experience.
Director of “Susret” Association Radmila Stojanovic Babic mentioned that community services are being designed on a national level in Croatia. “Susret” has offered shelter and support to people with mental disorders throughout the last 7 years.
“If a person gets right support they don’t need to leave their community and move to a residential facility. We are supporting 12 patients and they are fully involved in the community life”, Radmila Stojanovic Babic says.
However, Zsolt Bugarski stated that they successfully managed to contribute to the community integration of the people who had spent 10-40 years in residential facilities. Bugarski thinks though residential facilities are not an effective way of treatment and are leftovers of 1950s when the Minister of Social Affairs of Hungary announced that mentally and physically disabled people should be excluded from the socialist system. Thus, those people were isolated in residential facilities the majority of which were located in frontier zones that might not even be mentioned on maps.
Bugarski told that the Hungarian government has for 10 years been financing retraining programs for people with mental disorders implemented by various non-governmental organizations.
Anahit Papikyan claimed that people with mental disorders can hardly be employed in Armenia: there is no relevant system. “Those people have stigmas in Armenia. They are considered dangerous for the society”, she states.
On November 22 the Media Center hosted a discussion titled “The Latest Developments in Mental Health Sphere and the Situation in Armenia”. The speakers of the discussion included Anahit Papikyan, Public Health Program coordinator, Open Society Foundations Armenia; Zsolt Bugarski, international mental health expert, OSF, Hungary; Radmila Stojanovic Babic, director of “Susret” Association, Croatia.