Surviving Croatia’s psychiatric hospitals
“I got my dignity back, now I feel like a human being.” These are the words of Jelica, a Croatian woman with an intellectual disability who survived 17 years shut up in a psychiatric hospital. The organisation Human Rights Watch reports that more than 8,200 people with mental disorders in Croatia are locked up for years in institutions and psychiatric hospitals. Even in cases where people have been granted freedom, they are completely denied their legal rights. They are unable to make decisions on matters such as getting married, having a family, signing a work contract or owning property. The report reveals that there are many barriers and bureaucratic-social obstacles still to be overcome to ensure these patients have the right to an independent life in the community. It also notes the slow process of de-institutionalising nursing homes and the creation instead of family homes to help and support them during their reintegration into society.
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