Today the Commissioner published a letter he addressed to the Greek government noting with interest the efforts made by Greece since the mid-1980s in order to end institutionalisation of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities and to develop community care services. However, he is gravely concerned by the instances of deaths and of physical restraint of patients in certain institutions. The persisting, grave deficiencies in the state mental health care system require more proactivity and coordination by the state, more rigorous planning and a stronger and more effective monitoring system.
In addition, the Commissioner notes with serious concern the increasing demand in mental health care which has been coupled by drastic cuts in the staff and budget of the health care system, due to the on-going economic crisis and austerity measures. He stresses that this leads inadvertently to an increased burnout of healthcare professionals and entails real risks of extensive use of medical restraints and sedatives, as well as of patients’ ill-treatment. Greece and the country’s international lenders are urged to spare health care, in particular psychiatry, from further budgetary cuts while negotiating and designing austerity measures. The Commissioner also encourages the Greek government to eliminate involuntary placements, forced treatment and the use of physical restraints in psychiatry, and to redouble efforts to achieve the de-institutionalisation objectives set in the successive psychiatric reforms.