NGO Hope For Children on Friday called for more investment to be made in supporting the mental health of children and provide easy access to them, parents, and professionals, especially amid the pandemic.
In a statement on the eve of World Mental Health Day on October 10, the NGO said: “All children without discriminations have the right to an easy access to mental health care that can provide them with support and a feeling of inclusion.”
It is important to send a message to society that mental health intervention and psychological support need to be more affordable and accessible, the NGO added.
According to the statement, many of Hope For Children’s projects focus on providing affordable and accessible services for mental health issues for children.
“Examples of these services are; the European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111, which runs in collaboration with SPAVO, enabling all children to call for free and anonymously to receive guidance and psychological support services; workshops at schools about equality, prevention of abuse, bullying and other topics related with mental health issues,” the NGO said.
Hope For Children added that their organisation offers free psychological counselling services for children and parents, who are dealing with mental issues.
The NGO said that for more information on their programmes and services, people can contact 1466, as well as through the organization’s 24/7 online platform at www.uncrcpc.org.cy.
Earlier, the European Statistical Service (Eurostat) reported that in 2018 Cyprus had the second lowest number of psychiatric hospital beds among EU member states.
The numbers, which were never high, have been dwindling for years.
Eurostat, reporting on the occasion of Saturday’s World Mental Health Day, said Cyprus had 26.2 beds per 100,000 in 2008, but by 2017 the number was down to 21.2 and a year later to 17.8.
These numbers are far below the EU average.
In 2018, there were 73 hospital beds for psychiatric care per 100,000 inhabitants in the European Union. This corresponds to 14 per cent of all hospital beds.
In 2004, the first year for which data are available at EU level, the number stood at 79. Since then the rate has decreased continuously.
Among the EU countries, Belgium registered the highest rate in 2018, with 135 psychiatric hospital beds per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Germany (128; data for 2017) and Latvia (122).
Only Italy with nine beds has less beds per inhabitants than Cyprus.
The Athalassa hospital built in 1964 is the only state psychiatric hospital on the island. MPs, political parties, hospital staff and patients’ relatives have been lamenting for years the sorry state of the building, calling for a new one.
The building was declared unfit for human habitation by the town planning department last year.
The government has said it has plans to open new psychiatric hospital.