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Reforming mental health services in the Balkans

In cooperation with international initiatives, Bosnia and Herzegovina has in the last decade or so realised a major overhaul of its mental health care system. However, the further development of services in the region of the Western Balkan Countries calls for high-quality mental health reform research.
Reforming mental health services in the Balkans
Towards this end, the 'Strengthening research capacities and evaluation of mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina' (Evidence) project established and developed a research unit at the Psychiatry Department of the Clinical Center University of Sarajevo (KCUS). Project partners recognised the potential of the department to consolidate the region's sustainable research expertise and access health care and social services networks for carrying out related research.

Against this backdrop, Evidence worked to gather the critical mass of local academic expertise needed and develop the long-term infrastructure for conducting pertinent research. As such, the initiative set the groundwork for strengthening the research capacities and evaluation of mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Networking efforts proved successful for setting up group and individual links for research focusing on the evaluation of mental health services. The latter was carried out at the Psychiatry Department of Sarajevo University. Within the framework of the Evidence project, the MNH Services Research Network conducted studies related to primary data analysis, the efficacy of psycho education for treating patients with unipolar depression, effectiveness of mental health interventions for patients with depression, and routine data gathering (RDG).

Project outcomes and the research produced succeeded in raising the awareness of professionals regarding the importance of research into mental health services, especially in the context of social and economic disruption. Evidence also raised awareness of available services for mental health problems and their efficacy related to populations at risk. This spurred efforts to decrease the risk of stigma for those seeking out mental health services.Dissemination activities also contributed to the project's success, and ongoing research and information sharing will work to support the development of health and welfare policy in the region.

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