Elderly Rights and Mental Health Association made a statement to the press on the occasion of 10 October World Mental Health Day. While the World Federation of Mental Health sets a theme each year, this year’s theme is ‘Let’s Make Mental Health and Mental Well-being a Global Priority’.
In Northern Cyprus, the treatment of chronic mental patients is carried out with doctor follow-ups in the polyclinic and hospitalizations during exacerbations. Although these are very important, developed countries have given up hospital-oriented treatment model, arguing that patients should be reintegrated into society, and have switched to the “Community Mental Health” system. The transition to this system in the Republic of Cyprus started in 1983.
In the northern part of Cyprus, the mental health law that remains from the British administration is still being enforced, and patients are treated only in a hospital-oriented manner, and they are separated from the society they live in, with an approach that is behind the times. Patients and their families are unable to express their problems due to stigma, social exclusion, and fear of being unemployed. This leads to violations of patients’ rights. Patients with mental health problems who are orphaned at an advanced age are not accepted by many nursing homes. The main reason for this is the lack of easy access to mental health services and medicines.
As at home, in the nursing home, there is no system to monitor flare-ups before they occur. This causes exacerbation periods to occur more frequently. Both private and public owned nursing homes are unable to cope with such situations.
In drug purchases, these people can only obtain drugs from Barış Mental and Nervous Diseases Hospital. For example, the family of a patient living in Famagusta has to go to Nicosia every month to be able to get his medicine free of charge.
Providing the subscribed drugs is very difficult for both families and nursing homes, and patients are therefore neglected. In addition, there is no ambulance to take a person who is experiencing an exacerbation to the hospital, and they escorted to the hospital by police.
While it is normal for our soul to get sick like our body, these people are treated as criminals because of their illnesses and are excluded from society. This is against human rights, no human being can be excluded from society and stigmatized.
As the Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health, we invite the administrators in Northern Cyprus to make the necessary reforms in the field of mental health, to update the mental health law, and to increase the number of doctors, nurses and psychologists in the field of psychiatry, who are never in sufficient numbers in hospitals, and put them at the service of our citizens in every hospital.
Our association will continue to be the voice of patients and to take the necessary steps in this area and to improve the system. The activities of the association can be followed on the association’s website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
The Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health is a non-governmental organization that works to enable the elderly living in Northern Cyprus and individuals with chronic mental illnesses to live in line with human rights and improve their quality of life.
Dr. Ayşe Aydındoğmuş
Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health