Global Shapers Bucharest Hub is a group of young enthusiasts who, under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum, work together to find solutions to local, regional and global challenges to our society.
Global Shapers Bucharest Hub is a group of young enthusiasts who, under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum, work together to find solutions to local, regional and global challenges to our society. In partnership with the Medical University Students in Bucharest, Global Shapers Bucharest Hub has initiated a series of meetings focused on the controversial topic of mental health. A fist such meeting was held at the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in the capital city.
Diana Loreta Paun, a presidential advisor with the Department of Public Health told us more about the problems facing the psychiatric field in Romania: “We have this big problem of insufficient staff. This is in fact a general problem of the Romanian healthcare system. I am talking about the young people who leave the country after they complete their studies. There is also a big deficit in terms of financial resources and infrastructure. The treatment of patients with mental health problems is limited. Generally, after we diagnose a patient, we focus on the treatment with medicines. In fact, the correct treatment also involves social assistance, social reintegration, behavioral therapy, social psychiatry, elements which unfortunately are not well developed in Romania.”
In over 40 years of communism, psychiatry in Romania developed big problems in terms of approach and vision. These problems still impact, every year, the lives of an important number of patients as many of them remain, due to the same causes, undiagnosed.
Diana Loreta Paun: “We still feel the consequences of the communist years. I believe that discrimination and stigmatization facing patients with mental problems are rooted in that time. Moreover, we live in a society that is highly affected by stress. This involves adjustment and we often fail to adjust. We develop behavioral problems and depression that can go as far as suicide. We must consider all these things in order to find the best approach. In our daily life, our inability to recognize some of these symptoms has obvious consequences. Patients avoid accessing medical services, avoid going to the psychiatrist and are consequently undiagnosed and untreated. “
There have been, however, better times for Romanian psychiatric medicine. If, before WW2 our specialists were keeping up with Western tendencies in the field, at the end of the 1970s the communist regime totally marginalized psychology.
Julien Ferencz Kiss, a psychologist, the author of the book “The History of Psychoanalysis in Romania”, tells us more about it: “Until the early 1940s there had been a very strong tradition in Romania. Proof of that is the fact that the international psychology congress was due to be held in Bucharest. It did not take place eventually, because of the war. But it was for the first time when a country outside the Western bloc was going to host the congress. Of course, we talk about psychology in general, not about psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis did not develop in Romania. What happened after 1948 was a denial of psychology itself. It was a time when psychology was completely dismissed. In 1977, psychology faculties were closed down and the profession of psychologist was removed from the list of professions.”
Leyla Safta-Zecheria, a sociologist with the West University of Timisoara, has analyzed mental institutions in Romania at various times. Unfortunately the situation of these institutions and the perception of the psychiatric health system does not seem to have improved much in time:
“In spite of attempts of improvement, through the new psychiatric infrastructures proposed by Obreja and Parhon in the first ten years after WW1, we learn from Parhon himself that in Socola, there were precarious hygiene conditions and the patients received the minimum amount of food. These are problems we kept facing throughout history. “
At present, statistics regarding mental health are alarming. Stefan Bandol is the president of the ARIPI association for mental health patients. He tells us more about the importance of this field:
“The major problem, facing all people across the world is discrimination and stigmatization. WHO statistics said in the 1990s that 25% of the population across the globe will need a specialty consultation at least once in their lifetime. In the 2000s this number was increased to 33% while the latest statistics say that in the future 50% of the world’s population will need, at least once in their lifetime, a psychiatric evaluation. “
Romania’s Troubled History with Mental Health is part of the project “Shaping Conversations: Mental Health” through which the Global Shapers Bucharest Hub brings to the forefront important topics from the mental health field. The event will be followed by The Reality of Mental Health and Digital Revolution Meets Mental Health, on March 5th and April 9th respectively.