Transforming mental health care in Turkey

Yanki Travel

Large-scale transformation efforts in the field of mental health care in Turkey were highlighted through a conference held in Ankara, Turkey on 2–3 October 2013. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Health in partnership with WHO, within the scope of the project “Promoting services for people with disabilities” funded by the European Union (EU) and the Government of Turkey.

The conference was attended by nearly 600 participants, representatives of the relevant ministries, provincial health directorates, community mental health centres, mental health hospitals, service users, carers, professional associations, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, international experts and the media.

Community mental health care as the path to social inclusion

The conference placed particular emphasis on the evidence base supporting the concept of community living for all people with mental health disorders and on introducing the person-centred approach as a key principle within the care planning process. Another highlight of the conference was discussion of the European Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020 and corresponding developments in improving the national mental health policy and legislation framework.

The conference was opened by Dr Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Minister of Health, Mrs Fatma Sahin, Minister of Family and Social Policies, Mr Michael Miller, First Counsellor, Head of Section of Political Affairs of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Mr Muhsin Altun, Director of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit, and Dr Maria Cristina Profili, Head of the WHO Country Office in Turkey.

Stakeholder involvement

A short film and panel of mental health service users and carers gave voice to the experiences of people living with a mental illness and the opportunities provided by community services. The conference underlined the importance of involvement of users and carers in the process of planning, implementation and running of mental health services. Examples of evidence-based initiatives and reforms in other countries were also highlighted.

Other issues addressed at the conference included:

• workforce development and training;

• collaboration and partnerships with the primary health care services, social services, employment agencies, and families and carers;

• planning the way forward in developing effective, appropriate and efficient community-based services for people with mental health disorders.