The current model of care in the Psychiatric Hospital is not designed to “cure”, but for custody or confinement, said psychiatrist Charles Rodas, representative of the Mental Health Solidarity Movement.
“During the Nicanor government, precisely, he managed to denounce serious attacks against the human rights of patients hospitalized in this system. In fact, the International Commission on Human Rights intervened and penalized the Government of Paraguay regarding the conditions of the Psychiatric Hospital”, he recalled.
Along the same lines, Rodas mentioned that the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture also revealed from different reports that, in the current psychiatric care system, patients “are treated like things.”
“Patients do not have any belongings or any individual space and are locked up if they do not follow the instructions. They lead an inactive life and all this adds to the alteration that the person already brings and, thus, increases psychosocial deterioration. When these patients leave, it is very difficult for them to reintegrate, ”he explained.
In order to transform this “prison” system and guarantee humanized care, aimed at the reinsertion of psychiatric patients, the Solidarity Movement for Mental Health and other social organizations are developing a draft to “de-insanelyize” psychiatric care in Paraguay. The initiative will be presented to the Senate Health Commission, chaired by Senator Jorge Querey.
“According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), only 10 to 20% of psychiatric patients would have to remain permanently hospitalized. This means that 7 or 8 out of 10 hospitalized patients have the ability to re-enter society. What the community model proposes is that the treatment process be humanized, that it be done outside the hospital”, he clarified.
The psychiatrist added that “we are not against the hospital, but against confinement. We propose that the hospitalization be in the Regional Hospitals, so that the uprooting is not too great. If this is not the case, the families ignore the patients and they stay forever in the Psychiatric Hospital, with the aggravating circumstance that this center does not have any therapeutic rehabilitation process”.
In addition to the model presented by the Mental Health Solidarity Movement, Senator Lilian Samaniego and former legislator Mirta Gusinky also presented a mental health bill in 2018, which Rodas described as asylum. The proposal of these legislators is currently “boxed” in the Upper House.
“This initiative must be adapted to the national reality, which is what we did with the draft, aiming at the defense of the Human Rights of patients. A dispute arises over the care model, which in reality should lead to achieving the greatest possible degree of autonomy for the affected person, with a quota of inclusion”, he stated.
To carry out the “de-institutionalization” project, the Mental Health Solidarity Movement organization is currently holding talks in different parts of the interior of the country.
Likewise, they also began a collection of signatures through the website “Change.org”.