Centers for mentally ill increase

More than 30 mental health centers have sprung up all over Greece in the last seven months as the government pushes ahead in a race against the clock to use European Union funds earmarked for health projects, ministry sources said yesterday. The funds come from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII), which started running from 2000 and is scheduled to end next year. Spending from the package is a controversial issue, as governments have reportedly been slow in implementing programs at the risk of having these budgets cut from by the European Commission in Brussels. Poor planning and a reluctance by the government to participate in co-funded EU backed projects have brought on the slow absorption rates. The health system, however, looks to have benefited so far this year, as 35 centers catering to the mentally ill have been set up, bringing the total number under the scheme to 166. The main aim of the health centers is to introduce patients suffering from long-term psychological disorders back into society.

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