Greece’s mental asylums will be gradually closed down over the next few years, and their patients turned over for care in the community, the government said yesterday. During an inauguration ceremony for six new buildings at the Attica Psychiatric Hospital in Dafni, western Athens – which will replace buildings severely damaged during the September 1999 earthquake – Deputy Health Minister Christina Spyraki said mental asylums belong to the past, as far as Greece is concerned. Some 3,500 patients will be relocated to 211 selected hostels and apartments by 2010, while five mental hospitals – at Petra on Mount Olympus, Corfu, Tripolis, Hania and the Attica children’s mental hospital – will close down, Spyrakis said. She insisted that her ministry has no intention of sending large numbers of people to asylums in the future. By 2010, Spyraki said, 75 mental health clinics will be created within general hospitals. Furthermore, the ministry will set up 52 mental health centers for adults, 15 support and rehabilitation centers for alcoholics, five centers for Alzheimer disease victims and 46 employment agencies for former patients.