Patients being let down by mental care

Ten years after the reform of Swedish psychiatric care, local authorities are still not meeting the goals set out for them.

This is the conclusion of an investigation by the National Board of Health and Welfare and Sweden’s county councils carried out between 2002 and 2004.

Despite a relatively well developed organisation, people with psychiatric problems do not get access to adequate support, the report says.

When support is provided, it is often not adapted to the patient’s personal situation.

Fewer than half of patients are given individual treatment plans or are systematically followed-up.

Social workers in nearly half of Sweden’s local authorities lack the resources to plan or coordinate their work, according to the report. In addition, the health service rarely coordinates its plans for treatment with other relevant organisations and patient groups.

RSMH, a campaign group for people with psychiatric problems, says it is a scandal that councils have such shortcomings. The fact that many councils don’t even know how many people with psychiatric problems they are responsible for is particularly serious. Many people in the affected group don’t seek out the help of social services of their own accord, and there is therefore a great need for a more proactive organisation.

“When the psychiatry reforms were assessed in 1999 the number of people with serious psychiatric problems was put at around 35,000. According to our information, councils are only aware of 19,000 of them,” says Marianne Björklund from National Board of Health and Welfare, who led the investigation.

RSMH believes that the lack of contact between councils and patient groups, such as RSMH itself, is a major cause of the problem.

TT/The Local

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