In understanding Turkish mental health policy, one should consider the country's population, migration to provincial cities, the level of education, rapid economic improvement and industrialization, ever-increasing health problems, the lack of medical treatment and rehabilitation centers and qualified personnel, the sudden social changes that bring about changes in the concept of the family, the newly arising demands created by the influence of improvements in other countries made publicly known through mass media, and the inability of limited budgets to met all these needs.
The population in Turkey has increased almost fourfold over the past fifty years. The improvement of health services and the decrease in death rate have had an important role in this rise in population. The problems caused by overpopulation have led to birth-control campaigns. The integration of physical and psychological health services has not yet been successful due to the rapid increase in population. The amount of money provided to the Ministry of Health makes up 2.7 percent of the total budget, and psychiatric services receive only a share that is not sufficient to meet the present needs. There has been improvement of preventive medical services, and more outpatient centers are planned. Moreover, practitioners working in about 3,000 health offices all over Turkey can be trained to help with psychiatry also. Likewise, adding psychiatric sections to the provincial health directorates in every town and city is believed to help bring mental health services to individuals. In addition, teachers, religious people, lawyers, policemen, and other professionals are accepted by mental health personnel and are trained to help others regarding these issues. As a result of all these efforts, deinstitutionalization can be said to have been successful in Turkey. Some negative influences of mass media are being overcome by using the mass media themselves to protect the mental health of the community. Both the state and some private companies prepare educational programs to be broadcast on radio and television on mental disorders, their reasons, and avoiding addiction. Establishing a mental health concept, integrating physical and mental health services, decentralizing the psychiatric services and their planning process, providing for the coordination of sectors and disciplines, improving the mental health departments of provincial health directorates and the preventive mental health services, broadening the education and training activities, bringing better service to chronic mentally ill ex-patients and mentally retarded people, and, finally, training the practitioners working in about 3,000 health offices all over the country to bring mental health services as well as physical health services are the main principles of the mental health policy in Turkey.
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Publication information: Book title: International Handbook on Mental Health Policy. Contributors: Donna R. Kemp - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 388.
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