Expert: State's System for Addressing Mental Illness Is On the Rocks

Tiina Kangro Photo: ERR
10/3/2013 2:02 PM
Category: Health

The condition of patients committed to involuntary treatment by court order is not improving, says Tiina Kangro, a journalist and advocate for people with disabilities.

There are three care homes in Estonia to which courts send people who pose a danger to themselves and others due to mental illness. Two of these institutions have been in the news for bad management recently, including the nursing care facility in Valkla where patients have repeatedly escaped and caused trouble, ETV reported.

Kangro said the problems are systemic, not least for the fact that patients with completely incompatible illnesses are bunched together, a problem the Social Affairs Ministry has admitted. The journalist described a lack of will for reforming the system.

"I don't know why those lines don't work, why mouths are kept shut, why things can't be talked about, why papers and documents are written only to be repeatedly shelved and collect dust, and why these problems aren't resolved," Kangro said.

A recent analysis by the Ministry of Social Affairs found that over half of the 175 patients committed to involuntary treatment last year should not have been.

"Where these people should go is another question. That depends on the reasons why they do not belong there. The analysis also found that a large share of them suffer from dementia, that's why they don't belong there," said the ministry official who oversees nursing care facilities, Uku Torjus.

Another finding of the analysis was that the average patient in the facilities only attends one psychiatric appointment per year.

"Since all these changes are based on funding and budget amounts, this will take time, but we have drawn our conclusion from this and will try to move in the direction of improvement," Torjus said.


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