A study on accessibility of services for people with intellectual and mental disabilities was presented in Minsk. The study "Assessment of the preparedness of services for people with intellectual and/or mental disabilities at the level of local communities in Belarus" was prepared by the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a part of the "Deinstitutionalization" information campaign. The company works in support of the regional project of the Lithuanian organization "Prospects of Mental Health" with the financial support of the European Union.
The key objective of the study was to determine the readiness of local communities to provide services helping in independent living to people with psychic and mental peculiarities.
- In the course of the study, it was possible to find out strong and week sides, as well as to identify the resources that exist at the local level and to give a possibility for full implementation of the Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on an independent way of life and inclusion in the local community. The assessment was carried out understanding the key principles of the international document using international legal norms, - emphasizes the director of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Sergei Drozdovsky.
At the same time, - he stresses, - the researchers faced some difficulties, among them a very small number of organizations working with the theme of psychic and mental disability. In addition, most of the organizations are concentrated in the capital, there are practically none in the regions. Another point: today there is very little public information and data about what is happening in the sphere of disability of people with mental disorders. Despite the abovementioned difficulties, the researchers described the key features of providing services and social support for people with intellectual and mental disabilities.
The prevalence of the medical approach and treatment as a patient
People with intellectual and mental disabilities are more often considered to be patients requiring medical treatment, sometimes even isolation, and, accordingly, the concept of support is as follows: examination by a doctor, the appointment of necessary medicines. At the moment, 151 specialized psychiatric departments work in Belarus, and people with mental health problems are registered in them. There are about 30 thousand of them today, most of whom are people having problems with alcohol. Plus, those who have been diagnosed with psychoses, nervous breakdowns and other mental disorders for a long time. Sergey Drozdovsky specifies: not all people are registered, but only those who came for help and have constant problems with psychics. In reality, the number of "clients" is much higher: according to world statistics, about 40 percent of people in different periods of life have problems connected with mental health.
Social support: institutions and TCSSP
Services of social support are represented mainly by two institutions - psycho-neurological institutions and territorial centers of social services for the population, which work practically in all districts. It is noteworthy that approaches to the social support of people with mental disabilities in these institutions are almost polar, although the mission is one. For example, the first type - institutions of a closed type that remained in the country after the collapse of the USSR. The group approach to the formation of care (despite the fact that all residents of institutions have disorders of different degree and nature), strict "regime" and lack of guarantees (forms of realization) of specific human rights are among the main issues of institutions.
- After a person gets to a psycho-neurological institution, he or she is completely deprived of legal capacity, and therefore of all civil rights and freedoms. The right to study and work, the right to create a family, freedom of movement, personal integrity and others. For example, in some institutions people are offered to work in the garden, although they do not receive money for this work, what can be considered as a forced labor. People in institutions do not have the right to create a family: The Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is aware of several cases of forced abortion of women from institutions, - says Sergei Drozdovsky. - And this is not all. In practice, for a person deprived of legal capacity, in case of deinstitutionalization, it is practically impossible to "rewind" the diagnosis and to return the legal capacity. For him, all actions should be done by the guardian - the director of the institution. It is clear that the director is simply not able to deal individually with each of his clients.
Daycare department of TCSSP in Volozhin
In contrast, today there are territorial centers of social services for the population (TCSSP), which provide social support services under a different scheme. Many of them "grew up" even in full-fledged complexes of various services for people with disabilities, including those with a mental disability. In institutions of this type, assistance is provided through a program specially developed for each individual, which can lead to positive shifts and more successful participation of people with disabilities in public life, self-service skills development, and so on.
Non-professionals can not provide enough support
Educational services for people with intellectual and mental disabilities are a separate topic. So, many children have an opportunity to study in centers of correctional-developmental training and rehabilitation.
- However, when they reach adulthood, they are often left outside the educational system. Despite their possible successes and considerable progress, in the present conditions many of them in the future become simply a person with a disability with a pension, - the director of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities speaks about the shortcomings in the educational process.
Another important point: staff working with people with intellectual and mental disabilities, often does not have sufficient special skills.
- For example, institutions are often located in small towns and are city-forming enterprises. And people work there not because they are professionals in this sphere, but because there simply was not any other work in the region, "Sergei Drozdovsky said.
This, of course, does not provide the necessary social support, the proper level of education for people with disabilities, and, in general, high-quality provision of services for the comfortable lifestyle of people with mental peculiarities.
The study was prepared by the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as part of the "Deinstitutionalization" information campaign. The company works in support of the regional project of the Lithuanian organization "Prospects of Mental Health" with the financial support of the European Union.