Unravelling the cultural drivers of mental health care reform in central and eastern Europe

A new publication from WHO/Europe offers insights into the cultural contexts of mental health care and reform in central and eastern Europe (CEE).

In a move to better meet patient and caregiver needs and expand access to high-quality mental health services, several of the WHO Member States in CEE are engaging in mental health care reform. This involves a shift from an institutional approach that applies segregation and exclusion to an approach that is community-based and people-centred. To give such reform the best chance of success, a culturally nuanced understanding of attitudes to, as well as expectations and experiences of, mental illness and mental health care is needed.

Through careful analysis of the wider historical, cultural and political contexts in the region, this workshop report suggests a set of key cultural drivers of mental health care and its reform in CEE:

  • cultures of decision-making in service provision and the evaluation of decision-making processes;
  • cultures of collaboration among stakeholders, particularly the inclusion of service users and their families;
  • cultural understandings of community-based care among various stakeholders.

The report is the result of a 2-day workshop on culture and reform of mental health care in the CEE region, which took place on 2–3 October 2017 in Klecany, Czechia. Jointly organized by the WHO Collaborating Centre on Culture and Health at the University of Exeter (United Kingdom), the National Institute of Mental Health (Czechia) and WHO/Europe, the workshop brought together mental health professionals and other key stakeholders in the CEE region.

To learn more about the cultural drivers of mental health care reform in CEE, we invite you to read the full report.