Turkey is very committed to tackling mental health issues, says WHO expert


There is a strong commitment from Turkish authorities at national and local levels to tackle mental health issues, an adviser to the United Nations World Health Organization said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr Ledia Lazeri, Regional Mental Health Advisor at WHO Europe, praised Türkiye’s efforts to tackle mental health issues.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health problems are “incredibly common, with around 1 in 6 people in the WHO European Region – or 155 million people – having a mental health problem”.

As such conditions can affect anyone at any time in their life, experts frequently stress the need for well-resourced mental health systems and adequate support for those who need it.

Saying that she has seen first hand the experience and commitment of the Turkish government and local authorities, Lazeri said that “there is a great commitment on the part of the Turkish authorities both at the national level and at the local”.

“Turkey has a very good national action plan ‘encompassing’ all aspects of developing mental health systems that start with mental health policy,” she added, saying the country’s parliament is currently discussing of a national mental health law.

Lazeri said that there is “a boom in community mental health services, community mental health centers all over Turkey. In addition to this, also services like, for example, hope houses or child care centers for people with mental health problems or intellectual disabilities. This goes hand in hand with the involvement and inclusion of people with mental health problems and intellectual disabilities.”

“Turkey’s actions in reforming its mental health systems and services (are) … very comprehensive,” she said.

“It includes policies, it includes laws, it includes services, it includes people with lived experience. This includes training for staff, mental health professionals or social workers, psychologists, nurses, doctors who work in these services all receive training.

Following the second meeting of the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition which concluded in the Turkish capital Ankara on Thursday, Lazeri said they were able to listen to those who have lived daily with someone suffering from mental health problems.

She said they had “guided tours in some mental health and developmental disability services around Ankara… We want our international guests to be able to see for themselves the innovation in these services around Ankara”.

In addition to the second meeting of the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition, Lazeri said there was also “the annual meeting of the project, supporting people with mental disabilities in Turkey, which is an EU-funded project, set implemented by WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies.

“So for us at WHO, this is a very, very important event because it allows us to bring international experiences, face to face, with national developments in Turkey,” she said. , adding that one aspect of the meeting cannot be separated from the other because “there is a lot to learn from each side of the other”.

“International exposure is very important, but so is local exposure,” she added.
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