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Client Centered Mental Healthcare Focus of International Conference in Zagreb

March 13, 2017

This past week the Trimbos Institute organized an international two-day conference in Zagreb regarding client-centered care and developing community mental health services. The Institute did so in cooperation with its Dutch partner agencies. Experts from Australia, Italy, Moldova, Spain, and the Netherlands of course, cooperated with those present in shaping a new Croatian mental health service.

Mrs Ellen Berends, Dutch Ambassador to Croatia and Mr. Tomislav Dulibić, State Secretary, Ministry of Health of Croatia, opened the conference. All main themes were covered: stigmas; client and family participation; recovery based approach; community-based care; cooperation with police.

The conference concludes the one-year program Ensuring optimal health care for people with mental ill health. This one-year program started April 20, 2016. The program produced an in-depth analysis of policy making in Croatia and offered components for a broadly accepted vision and policy. The program also strengthened the position of client representatives. So far 300 professionals were trained in basic community mental healthcare principles. Community mental health teams are formed in several regions. The program developed three basic guidelines. The next step will be to adapt legislation and funding and to implement this new approach in all of Croatia.

Better focus
The program brought mental health care in Croatia into better focus. Politicians and high-level officials gave presentations during the conference. Recently, the Croatian State Secretary of the Ministry of Health visited the Netherlands. He was accompanied by the chairman of the client organization, medical directors of psychiatric and university hospitals, a director of a national health insurance agency, chairman and director of the Croatian Institute for Public Health and specific Ministry officials. They gained inspiration at the Trimbos Institute and Dutch umbrella organizations and witnessed at several agencies how recovery oriented care and regional teams work in practice.

A significant result of the visit is improved treatment of people suffering PTSS in Croatia, which 25 years ago was at war. The Netherlands will train Croatian psychiatrists in EMDR.

Croatia and the Netherlands are cooperation in this program. Their aim is to have Croatia profit from Dutch experiences in shaping and maintaining effective mental health services. The Trimbos Institute is spearheading the program, which is funded by the European Union (Twinning-project).

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Ionela Petrea

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