Covid-19 virus pandemic brought numerous challenges to all segments of our lives. Isolation, sorrow, suffering, fear, job and income loss lead to an increased need for mental health preservation and strengthened psychosocial support. Thus, investing into the prevention of mental disorders is now more important than ever, particularly regarding children and young people as the most vulnerable population, to whom good quality services of mental health protection need to be equally available, the Protector of Citizens Mr. Zoran Pašalić underscored today on the occasion of celebrating World Mental Health Day.

Operating as the National Preventive Mechanism, the Protector of Citizens has visited Special Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases "Kovin", Psychiatry Unit of the General Hospital in Leskovac, Clinic for Psychiatry and the Center for Mental Health Protection of the Clinical Center in Niš. In the reports, the Protector of Citizens accentuated the need to step up the activities aimed at deinstitutionalization in the sense of abandoning the practice of the long-term placement of patients in hospitals, as well as the need to set up a non-institutional community care and support to people with mental disabilities and their families in order to enable life and treatment in the community. Furthermore, the Protector of Citizens underlined the need to establish the Centers for mental health protection in the community, including the provision of the necessary resources for prevention, advancement and post-hospital care of the patients in the community.

The Protector of Citizens reminds that it is necessary to develop without delay a network of services for mental health protection in the community that will provide comprehensive mental health protection with the minimal restrictions possible and as close as possible to the family. In addition, it is important to strengthen the staffing of the existing specialized services at health care institutions, ensure continuous education of the staff in the area of mental health, continuously take activities to raise awareness about mental health importance and invest additionally in the reforms in the area of mental health directed at respecting human rights and treatment of people with mental disorders in compliance with the principles of contemporary psychiatry.

The Protector of Citizens also highlighted the importance of partnership between the governmental and non-governmental sector, as well as the connection between experts and institutions at the local level to promote mental health and fight against the stigma.

The Protector of Citizens welcomes the establishing of the National Telephone line to offer psychosocial support to the citizens in need of it. The number is 0800 309 309, while special numbers of the Institute of Mental Health are: 063 7298260 (for young people and parents of children under 18) and 063 1751150 (for over 18).