West Balkan Hearing Voices Network is the part of International Hearing Voices Network, active in more than 30 countries in the world. The Network was established in 2015, and its members are organizations, institutions and individuals with a different view on mental health issues. Members of the The West Balkan Network are Dom Turnic (home for people with mental health problems), Rijeka, Croatia, and three citizens’ organizations: Kralji Ulice from Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tavan from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Prostor from Belgrade, Serbia.
The project „West Balkan Hearing Voices Network “is supported by Tempus Foundation under Erasmus+ program.
In ex-Yugoslavian countries, mental health issues are a burning subject and, according to the number of people struck by them, these problems are amongst most common „illnesses “in some of these countries.
The System of Mental Health is still on a rather low stage of development with predominant strictly medical approach to the treatment, visible in the existence of large, isolated institutions where people sometimes even spend their whole lives. The situation is slowly changing it the past years, unfortunately decades after other parts of Europe. More civil society organizations dedicated to mental health now exist in the countries of ex-Yugoslavia, the institutions are more open to accept different alternative approaches to treatment of mental health issues and the governments are slowly starting to support the deinstitutionalization process and development of alternative methods that can complement the existing medical treatment.
For people who live with these unusual experiences, Hearing Voices represents a sort of support in the recovery and one step toward taking the initiative to improve the quality of their own life. Hearing voices method includes self-help groups, training, as well as exchange between people with same or similar experience.
This project aims at providing Hearing Voices group members from three partner countries with an opportunity to strengthen contacts with peers from the region, exchange experience and knowledge, make closer connections and make impact on the improvement of the social status and position of psychiatric care users in the region, through common efforts and project activities.
Our goal is to minimize fear, prejudice and wrong discriminating attitudes that follow these people throughout their lives.
Some of the planned activities like international project meetings and short courses and trainings, are a great opportunity for project teams from all three countries to meet and exchange experiences, as well as to work, through clearly structured activities, on challenges and future plans for the development of this movement in the region.
A part from that, dissemination activities and public events are planned, as well as publication of personal stories of the members of West Balkan Hearing Voices Network, as the final result of the project.
Photo: Željko Maletić