10 May 2023
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The “Regional Conference on Mental Health”, which started today in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, provides an opportunity for stakeholders to network, share ideas, and collaborate on strategies for promoting mental wellness in the region. This three-day event is organized by the health authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Ministry of Civil Affairs, Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the Government of Republic of Srpska), in cooperation with the Mental Health Project of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and supported by the Embassy of Switzerland and the South Eastern Europe Health Network Secretariat.
Some of the topics that will be covered are:
• The impact of the pandemic on mental health and well-being
• Innovative approaches to mental health care delivery
• Addressing the stigma associated with mental illness
• Promoting mental health awareness and education in the community
• Strategies for improving access to mental health services and resources
Additionally, the preliminary results of the SEEHN Comparative analysis of the situation in the mental health in the SEE region, conducted from August 2021 to December 2022, will be shared.
In her opening remarks, the Head of the SEEHN Secretariat, Dr Mira Dasic, praised the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina leadership for the last 22 years in creating policies leading to the achievement of European standards in protection of mental health and providing access to improved and better quality mental health care services. Bosnia and Herzegovina led the process of establishment of the community mental health facilities in the region. It has vast expertise, thanks to the requirement for rapid action, following the war. Bosnia and Herzegovina brought experience to the region, which served as basis for the Network’s first guiding document, the Dubrovnik Pledge, focusing on strengthening social cohesion for the defence of people’s mental health.
As a result, the first decade of the existence of the SEE Health Network was marked by special attention given to the mental health, with Bosnia and Herzegovina as the frontrunner of the process. The BiH Mental Health Project was used as means to foster collaboration at the professionals and at the political level. Health connected the region beyond conflict in a deeper way creating true value and long lasting partnerships. This Mental Health Project is among the most admirable ones that boosted regional cooperation and exchange of experience.
Over the years, mental health issues have seen a steady rise globally accentuated further by the onset of COVID-19, with far-reaching consequences we will have to deal with for a long time.
By prioritizing the new community mental health centres, the SEE governments, through the ministries of health, managed to reform the old psychiatric hospital system.
In addition, in 2010 SEEHN established a Regional Health Development Center for mental health in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to support better mental health resilience in the region. A regional expert base is established and continuously upgraded to work on promotion and strengthening the mental health field and the reform process.
Having in mind that BiH will hold the next Presidency of the SEEHN, as of July, 1st, 2023, it is expected that the topic of mental health will be kept as a key regional priority.