OPINION

Mental healthcare an embarassment

Many years have passed since Greece faced the shame of the horrifying conditions at the Leros mental hospital. The images that made their way around the world embarrassed and shocked us. We had hoped that the conditions of care for mental patients would only get better and better and that the first set of measures taken would be continued. Unfortunately, in the past few years, plans for the deinstitutionalization of patients have foundered and nursing staff shortages at the country’s mental health facilities have led to inhuman methods being used: 70-80 percent of patients are strapped to their beds. Increasing funding to these facilities is imperative, but what is even more important is the need for a lasting, effective policy in this sensitive area. Deinstitutionalization cannot be something attempted only occasionally and when there is available European Union funding. State psychiatric wards should also not be suffering 70 percent staff shortages. It’s not just a question of humanity, but a matter of culture and rudimentary healthcare in a country that boasts of its national health policy.