It takes time to rejoin society, and not everyone is able to

The people who are admitted into the Attica Psychiatric Hospital in Dafni are either those who have clinical symptoms that endanger their lives and those of others, or those who wish to be hospitalized as they feel they are not capable of living in the outside world. They first enter the section for severe cases and, if they are not discharged in the next 24 hours, remain for a certain period or are moved to another section for two to six months. When their condition permits, they are sent to hostels, boarding houses and apartments so that they can live under normal conditions. To help them find work, 14 social associations of limited responsibility (KOISPE) have been founded. These associations provide part-time work (four hours a day) at a normal salary. «Not everyone can work or leave the hospital, a small percentage (2-3 percent) cannot be reintegrated,» said the hospital’s director, Athanassios Cosmopoulos. «We cannot hope that everyone will leave and the hospital will close – some patients cannot live outside the hospital.» «At the moment, the Attica Psychiatric Hospital has 1,200 patients but 600 of these live outside the hospital in boarding houses, hostels or apartments,» said head nurse Vassiliki Mougia. This is a great improvement, as just a few years ago there were 3,000 patients with no prospect of ever leaving. Even those who cannot leave the hospital can improve. It requires time, as psychiatric disorders have to do with the patient’s biological makeup and the environment to which they are exposed. These two factors are interrelated. «Our aim,» added Mougia, «is to create mental health units in many areas of the country so that patients can go there for treatment instead of here.» The necessary funds must, of course, be secured so that patient discharges can continue, as there is nothing more catastrophic for the patients living in the hostels and boarding houses than to return to the mental hospital when they have already learned to live in the outside world.