Seminars for students and public, e-mail or personal counselling. These are some of the ways used by professionals to fight the stigma of mental disorders. Moreover, they help individuals with meant health problems seeking for help. Dozens of organizations like Lomikámen in Beroun and BONA in Prague are involved in these activities helping people with mental health disorders which were also funded from Norway grants during last three years. Mental health disorders are significant problem, because as the data of the National Institute of Mental Health shows, almost every fifth Czech suffers from them.
Organization BONA helps people with mental disorders by running sheltered workshops and shop with craft products called “Jedna bedna” in the centre of Prague, which at the same time serves as community centre where also other activities like thematic movie afternoons, exhibitions and personal counselling are carried out. “Customers are usually attracted by the design of the shop and only later on they notice that we are also community centre providing counselling. Subsequently they become interested in topics related to partner relationships or mental health problems in the family,” describes the director of BONA Aleš Lang. Clients or everyone else can also use the anonymous e-mail counselling, which is intended for crisis assistance. Workers of BONA most often deal with issues related to domestic violence, bullying and complicated family relations. “It reveals to us that Czech society isn’t ready to openly talk about its problems. And there are a lot of them! People are afraid to visit mental health professionals. We deal with issues we can handle and if we can’t, we refer clients to other professionals. There is great need for intensive education about mental health issues at schools, public institutions and even in hospitals.”
Destigmatization of mental health issues focused on education, fighting with stigma and prejudices belongs among long term priorities of the support from EEA and Norway grants in the Czech Republic. Another project fighting stereotypes that was supported in the past is the web portal www.mujmindset.cz. There can be found many useful information, advices on how to help, links to online counselling and even videos about people dealing with mental health issues in a different spot light.
The employees of NGO Lomikámen also participate in the education about mental health issues in Beroun region. They communicate with the public, psychiatrists, mayors and counsellors and also with students.
In cooperation with outpatient psychiatrist Jindřiška Masnerová, they have prepared information brochures in the design of an old schoolbook, which briefly present mental disorders, treatment options and stories of patients with mental health issues. They also organize seminars for high schools named “Are you crazy? So what!” It is a set of workshops carried out by different organizations all over the Czech Republic. The workshop at school is divided into three parts. The first one is educational, the second one is interactive, where students can share their experiences and the third one involves a person with experience with mental health disorder, who was until that moment one of the workshops lector and students didn’t know about his experience. “In the first part students often say something very unflattering about ‘freaks’ or mentally ill people. When one of them, whom they considered as “normal” till that moment, reveals his story it is always very strong moment. We even cried together for a few times. At the same time we have many times realized that even in very hard situations, which can be brought into life by mental illness, there is not only hope, but most importantly there are particular solutions and certain ways of support on the way to recovery. Project ‘Are you crazy? So what!’ is bringing to students a new view on mental health issues. A view less biased by prejudices and concerns which is often surprisingly relieving. Prevention at primary schools is also needed, but with a slightly different concept and focus on how to take care of myself and how to talk about our problems,” described the social worker Petra Zemanová of Lomikámen.
Prevention of mental health disorders in children is one of priorities of the Ministry of health in the mental health area. That is why the support of children mental health is one of the main priorities of the Programme Health, which is supported from the EEA grants and which shall be implemented starting in the second half of 2019.