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Health

RUSİHAK

Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative Makes a Difference with its Community Based Approach in Mental Health Care

On 12 May 2011, Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" hosts Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative (RUSİHAK), a civil society organization that aims to get the rights of mental health patients recognized by the society and encourage their participation in social life in Turkey.

Published in 2008, the "Human Rights Report on Mental Health in Turkey" points out the fact that there are 450 million people around the world with mental health issues. While 30% of all countries in the world do not spend any money on mental health care, 20% of all countries only allocate less than 1% of their budget for mental health care. The situation is not any better in Turkey. According to the same report, there are 800.000 persons in Turkey diagnosed with schizophrenia. While 39% of them fight their disease by consulting a psychiatrist, 33% consult specialized doctors, 20% practitioner doctors, and 3% religious healers.

The Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative was established in 2006 by a group of mental health patients' relatives and professionals working in this field. Their main objective is to adapt the community-based mental health care model, which has been implemented in Europe for more than 30 years, in Turkey. The initiative argues that if not well-managed, the hospitalization process isolates mental health patients from the rest of the society and therefore causes repetitive hospitalization. In a community-based mental health model, on the other hand, the rights of patients are taken account, patients practice participation in decision-making processes and therefore receive their treatments in a small community rather than a hospital.

For this goal, the Initiative's members inform patients about their rights, while trying to raise the public and private sector's awareness on the topic. The Initiative also provides patients with one-on-one consultancy, psychological and legal support through various educational programs. Professional and volunteer members of the initiative also hold meetings, conferences, and presentations across Turkey to raise awareness on the community-based mental health-care models in the community at large. Through various programs, the Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative has reached approximately 1.200 people today. "It is not like the world outside; I am respected here, I feel like a human in here." says a mental health patient and a member of the initiative.

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