In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the number of cases of depression, anxiety and disorders related to stress or domestic violence is rising steadily. Of particular concern is alcohol and substance abuse among young adults suffering from transgenerational trauma, which affects the children of those exposed to conflict. These mental disorders are exacerbated by high unemployment and widespread impoverishment. Mental health problems that affect elderly people, in particular dementia have also risen owing to the ageing population and increased life expectancy.
To meet these challenges, the country embarked on a large-scale reform of its mental health system in 1996. The reform aims to progressively integrate mental health services into basic healthcare infrastructures. The SDC has been supporting the reform in partnership with the cantonal governments of Jura, Fribourg, Bern and Geneva since 2010.
Mental healthcare for all
The project aims to improve the health and well-being of people living with psychological disorders or at risk of mental illness. The project takes a global approach, combining several objectives. These include guaranteeing patients’ access to mental healthcare in their communities, fighting the stigma attached to mental health problems and encouraging better integration of people with a mental illness in communities. So far 74 mental health centres have been established to serve communities nationwide.
The project works with the system already in place and aims to facilitate the reform process while strengthening the capacity of the individuals and organisations involved in the changes. In addition to this, the Swiss cantons are providing valuable technical assistance.