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Introduction: There are large differences in the development of mental health systems of the West and the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. The latter is characterized by a more biological approach to mental health and reliance on psychiatric hospitals. In 2018, Uzbekistan authorities showed interest in reforming mental health care of the country. The policy report provides an overview of progress towards the provision of community mental health (CMH) care across Eastern Europe and recommendations for this transition within Uzbekistan.
Methods: A literature search on mental health care in Uzbekistan was conducted to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Progress towards the provision of CMH care across Eastern Europe was assessed using data on the number of psychiatric beds and availability of mental health services in community settings reported within the published literature. Countries identified as making the greatest progress towards CMH care were reviewed in detail to better understand the process of reform assets and barriers.
Results: Mental health care in Uzbekistan is highly institutionalized, underfunded and understaffed. Social care services are poorly developed. However, current leadership has kindled the promise of mental health reform. Georgia, Lithuania and Poland have made the most progress in terms of CMH care availability. However, due to various obstacles such as dual financial burden, high stigma and lack of political will, their programs lack social integration and/or uniform availability and underfunding along with scarcity of mental health specialists are common. On the other hand, research and evaluation, involvement of service users into service planning and cooperation with donors facilitated reform implementation.
Conclusion: Uzbekistan may develop into a modern mental health system and avoid the setbacks encountered by other countries in the region, through careful financial planning, stigma reduction, improving mental health literacy, human resources strategic development and civil society engagement.
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