ERASMUS+

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Lead applicant: Citizens association Prostor has been working towards development of community based services for persons with mental health problems and de-stigmatization of this population in Serbia since 2010. The purpose of the organization is to develop municipally recognized and supported services that cover most of the needs of persons with mental health problems: psychological, economic and social. Over the past 5 years, Prostor has provided services for persons with mental health problems through different programs in the community aiming at empowering them, support of their re-socialization and providing psychological support. During its work, Prostor has been recognized by the institutions as a partner in the reform of mental health system, in particular in the process of de-institutionalization. As a consequence, Prostor has officially partnered with the Belgrade municipality of Zvezdara in pioneering the development of the local Community Mental Health model in Serbia, now widely recognized and practiced in EU countries. A part from direct work with psychiatric care users, Prostor has been working on the development of alternative approaches in treatment of mental health problems through organization of educational activities for mental health professionals, persons with mental health problems, students, civil society organizations working in the field of community mental health, and volunteers.  Prostor is an official representative of the International Hearing Voices Network and one of the founders of the regional West Balkan Hearing Voices Network. Intervoice- governing body of the International Hearing Voices Network is responsible for the development of the Network in Serbia and the region.

In the last three years, Prostor organized accredited trainings  (trainings were accredited by the Regional Medical Chamber of Serbia as a part of continuous medical education), for medical staff of 4 major Serbian psychiatric institutions (SHPD Vrsac, Kovin, Novi Knezevac, Psychiatry Clinic  Laza Lazarevic), and private practitioners in the field of psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry and other related professions. The trainings took place both in the community and within psychiatric institutions. A part from that, lectures for students, volunteers and people with psychiatric experience were organized on the Faculty of Psychology in Belgrade and Belgrade Municipality Zvezdara. Approximately 300 people participated. In Serbian system of mental health, this king of trainings is very popular and valuable, especially for medical staff of major institutions, as well as for people with psychiatric experience. Since Serbia recently started its path toward reform in psychiatry, requested by the European Union, every community initiative and training in alternative approaches is more than welcome. A part from that, pharmaceutical approach in psychiatry is in a so called “dead end”, there are many researches being done but little success, especially regarding people who suffer from psychotic specter of diagnoses, experiencing so called “hallucinations” (voices, visions, other unusual experiences). The trainings organized by Prostor were accepted even by practitioners who had many prejudice and rejected new tendencies. This initiative was supported also by the minister of health. Prostor also took part in the foundation and development of the West Balkan Hearing Voices Network, a regional network formed in 2015, aiming to create a solid platform for further application and development of these alternative practices on regional level.

According to the Prostors’ three year strategy (2016-2019), two of the most important areas are staff capacity building and organization of trainings and educational activities in the field of alternative methods in the treatment of mental health problems, especially the Hearing Voices approach as well as PR and rising public awareness strategies.

Project partner: Mind in Camden is a registered charity (No. 292180) and a company limited by guarantee (Reg. No. 1911178) established in 1985.

It provides directly services to over 1000 people with serious mental health needs each year. Their annual turnover is in the region of £864,000 per annum, and hire around 80 volunteers per year (other than Trustees). It is the lead organization in the London Hearing Voices Network, which supports 42 hearing voices peer support groups across the capital.

Mind in Camden has a wealth of experience in training, consultancy and delivering innovative services. Their philosophy is that organizations benefit the most from training when they take a ‘whole team’ approach, rather than merely sending one or two staff members on a course. As such, they base their practice in organizing educational events on developing bespoke training and consultancy packages to suit the precise needs of each organization.

Mind in Camden has a wealth of experience in training, consultancy and delivering innovative services. Their philosophy is that organizations benefit the most from training when they take a ‘whole team’ approach, rather than merely sending one or two staff members on a course. As such, they base their practice in organizing educational events on developing bespoke training and consultancy packages to suit the precise needs of each organization.

Brief description of the project:

 

Over the course of the last century in Europe crucial developments occurred in the understanding and treatment of mental health problems. Comprehensive care, social support and community treatment outside of mental health institutions, as demonstrated by decades of empirical research on treatment results significantly contribute to better life quality and recovery. According to the National Strategy for the Development of Mental Health of the Republic of Serbia (2007.), in the past years the number of people suffering from mental health problems has been increasing as a result of the accumulated stress originated from impoverishment, wars and overall decaying life standards. People with mental health problems represent a social group on which society has plenty of misconceptions and little information. Prejudice, stereotypical representations, and fear originated by lack of information and experience with this vulnerable group are the result of insufficient interest on the part of the public, often resulting in discrimination against them. Taking in consideration the fact that only in the last few years we managed to slightly raise public awareness on this subject, and that prejudice and discrimination both by public and professionals, are very present and strong, mostly due to the lack of information and education on the subject, organization of education is of crucial importance in this phase of deinstitutionalization of mental health system. Only in the last 2 years some interest came from the EU, some small steps were taken toward improvement of situation, through the process of deinstitutionalization, reform in psychiatric system that includes transition from strictly institutional and medical treatment toward community initiatives, development of community services and centers for mental health, global change of attitudes toward psychiatric care users, change of practices and old fashion methods rooted in Serbian system of mental health. Hearing Voices, apart from being an alternative tool in the treatment and the new path in contemporary psychiatry practice in the world, also represents one of the most active contemporary tendencies in the fight for human rights of this population. Prostor has been working towards development of community based services and de-stigmatization of this population in Serbia since 2010, developing the Community Mental Health model. It is an official representative of the International Hearing Voices Network and one of the founders of the regional West Balkan HV Network. Partner organization Mind in Camden, representative of the English HV Network, is a charity established in 1985, that provides directly services to over 1000 people with serious mental health problems yearly, and has a wealth of experience in training, consultancy and delivering innovative services. Through this project, the staff of Prostor will participate in a mobility activity in the UK, where they will have an opportunity to experience the application of this practice in a completely different atmosphere in the field of psychiatry and human rights characterized by the European dimension and proper implementation of human right laws, learning form the colleagues from the UK from their good practices and long experience in this field. During the stay in London, Mind in Camden will organize a 4-day training for Prostor staff, aiming to transfer following knowledge: advanced group facilitation based on Hearing Voices methods, organization of educational activities in the community and within psychiatric institutions, monitoring of practitioners who participated on the educational activities and follow up, maintaining local and regional network, disseminating and public awareness rising activities. During its work, Prostor has been recognized by the institutions as a partner in the reform of mental health system, in particular in the process of de-institutionalization, and has officially partnered with all major psychiatric institutions and the local government, especially through organization of educational activities for professionals, persons with mental health problems, students and NGOs. In the last 3 years, Prostor organized trainings accredited by the Regional Medical Chamber of Serbia as a part of continuous medical education. Through this project, Prostor staff will improve their organizational skills in the field of education and gain new knowledge and competences in monitoring and follow up of the implementation of gained knowledge in practice. Taking in consideration the importance of public awareness rising on the subject of mental health, prevention and human rights of psychiatric care users, Prostor is planning to undertake serious dissemination and PR efforts, promoting the results of this project and Erasmus+ program and support, and at the same time reaching to a wider public, aiming to improve the social status and life quality of psychiatric care users in Serbia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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