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    Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. The National Mental Health Program is being developed rapidly

    Later this year, the current network of 33 Mental Health Centres (MHC) is to be expanded by at least six institutions. By the end of 2027, there are expected to be about 300 such sites nationwide. “Mental health protection, also during a pandemic, is one of the priorities of the European Union, so funding should be ensured,” argues Katarzyna Szczerbowska, spokeswoman for the Office of the National Programme for Mental Health Protection (NPMHP).

    The NPMHP pilotage is implemented based on the Minister of Health’s Regulation of 27 April 2018 on Mental Health Centres and will last until the end of next year. The basic task of the so-called “implementer”, i.e., the entity responsible for the functioning of the Mental Health Centres is to provide comprehensive psychiatric care (ad hoc, outpatient, community, day and 24-hour) to adults residing in the area covered by the Centre. The main assumptions of the programme were discussed at a conference held on Monday at the PAP (Polish Press Agency – editor’s note) Press Centre in Warsaw.


    “The general idea is to help patients not only during a crisis but also in the process of getting back to life. Accompanying and supporting them in taking on the social roles of a husband, father or employee that they had before the illness crisis, or new ones,” explained Dr Anna Depukat, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and head of the NPMHP pilotage office.


    The centres are expected to fight to eliminate the “patient profession,” a social role in which issues related to illness and treatment consume 100 per cent of a patient’s attention and a significant amount of their family’s energy. Traditional psychiatry and psychology, as recalled by Professor Halina Sienkiewicz-Jarosz, neurologist and director of the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, boiled down to treating symptoms and crisis intervention.


    “Mental Health Centers’ assistance also extends to medical sciences other than psychiatry, as well as the community-related support, or even help to find a job. Family support can be crucial in the recovery process. Therefore, also the patient’s loved ones can and should take advantage of the services offered in the clinic” – emphasized Prof. Sienkiewicz-Jarosz.


    Dr Anna Depukat spoke in the same vein. “We want to move away from the traditional model in which the patient often takes on the role of a patient forever, we want to help them return to life, work and family. But for this to happen, it is necessary to have the cooperation of physicians with different specialities, community institutions and people closest to the patient,” she said. The next step will be to extend such care to children and minors. “A psychiatric hospital should be considered only in the most severe cases and for a short time. It is even necessary to deinstitutionalize the mental health care system in Poland” – said dr Anna Depukat.


    Pilotage activities under the NPMHP are currently being conducted in 33 facilities. Later this year, the network is expected to expand by at least six centres. Next year, when the pilotage will be over and normal, statutory activities will begin, the number of centres will increase so that by the end of 2027 there will be 300 MHC situated in large agglomerations, big cities, as well as smaller towns (50-200 thousand inhabitants).

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