Istrian health programs

The inhabitants of Istria live in the most developed county of Croatia but also in the healthy Istria County that is the leader in the Croatian network of healthy cities. Therefore during the multi-year cycles, the Department of Health and Social Assistance of the Istrian County takes care of the health of its inhabitants and issues the county plans on health and social well-being. The plans of each cycle include work on the priorities that are important and specific to the inhabitants of Istria, which is seen necessary by the needs of the inhabitants and the perception of health in the county. The work on priorities continuously develops the health of the inhabitants of Istria. These plans were designed to develop the high standards made to improve the health of the inhabitants of Istria. The main objective of the resource department of the Istrian County, that determines and coordinates health plans, are the connections within the network and the collective activity of the Istrian resorts, connecting the knowledge of the Istrian experts and the establishment of high standards of health of the inhabitants of Istria. On the path of satisfaction of health goals, the county determines the project partners, uses county resources and knowledge and creates a better quality for the life and health of all Istrian inhabitants by following the mission “Connect people, knowledge, and policies that want to ensure the health and social welfare for their inhabitants.

In the new Plan of health and social welfare of the Istria County from 2017 to 2020, one of the priorities is focused on the care of the mental health of children and young people and the support for families.

What is mental health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a part of our health in general, that means that there is no health in general without mental health.

The WHO predicts that the greatest challenge of the 21st century is the mental illnesses, and especially depression. Various factors influence the depression and mental difficulties. But experts in the field of biomedicine and psychological science are often finding that one of the greatest risks of mental problems is the (im)possibility of accepting the changes. The human organism can not accept physically or mentally the changes that are taking place at all levels (the advancement of technology, the way of life and work, the change in the family structure, the elderly left to take care of themselves, the dependence of children and young people on media, and more). Western civilization is affected by various chronic non-communicable diseases, including the problem of mental health. According to WHO until 2020, depression will be the second major diagnosis, and until 2030 it could become the primary diagnosis of the Western world and overcome cardiovascular diseases that nowadays are the most common cause of morbidity and mortality of the inhabitants of the western world.

Is the mental health of the inhabitants of Croatia compromised?

It is certainly right the points that the numerous indicators are confirming. The Institute of Public Health of Croatia affirms the fact that in Croatia in major percent antidepressants are prescribed in the medicine. About 20% of inhabitants in Croatia suffer from mental illness. In Europe and in Croatia, people between 20 and 60 years, as well known as the active population, become more depressed. About 25% of total hospital morbidity in Croatia is linked to mental illness and the active population. In countries under war, natural disasters, unemployment and other stressful factors, the mental health of the inhabitants are at a greater risk. For this reason, on the health and diseases of populations, states and complete county of Western Europe, they not only think about health workers and other support activities, but health has become the economic category that a large number of economic analysts deal with. This is not surprising since only healthy individuals can work in private life, work, earn, ensure the development and economic development of their communities. The preventive health protection programs are available in the environment in which people work and live, ensure the help and support of initial risks for all people, and they are the most efficient, economical and convenient for a long time.

Why does Istria recognize the importance of the protection of the mental health?

The life in Istria is dynamic, with all the advantages of modernly developed counties, but also with the risks that characterize the 21st-century life of the most developed Western countries. It is the life characterized by the innumerable demands on man and on the whole family. The fast changes, risks, stresses, changes in the structure of life and work of Western culture dictate the time when people have serious difficulties with the adaptation. The changes that are taking place in all areas of life (the development of technology, the work of parents, seasonal work, difficulties in the education of children, the desolate elderly…) are much faster than people can follow, and the human organism can adapt to changes neither physically nor mentally. For this reason, Western civilization is affected by numerous non-communicable diseases, including also by the difficulties of mental health. The inhabitants of Istria, as well as all the people of the developed countries in the West, undoubtedly need support and help in the preservation of the mental health. Not surprisingly, Istria as the most developed Croatian county for many years is living the European lifestyle recognizes the difficulties of mental health as a risk and a challenge, but also as a priority for the healthcare of the inhabitants.

How can we protect mental health?

The accessible help in the immediate environment is one of the biggest challenges for health protection in general and also for mental health! In the dynamism of life that is very stressful and in itself hampers long the mental health of individuals and sometimes complete families, the journey to distant centers for the protection of mental health can greatly complicate the rhythm of the functioning of the individual and the families and also totally disable the use of the mental health protection service. With this, the problems that become bigger and bigger begin to add up. A result of this kind is not enough for anyone as it places the inhabitants of the community or county in a position where they can not effectively solve their own problems that for long affect both individuals and families, but also on the general development of the community/county. As development is achieved by people and in the first place – by healthy people. People of all ages can protect themselves with quality, professional, accessible and feasible mental health protection programs in the surrounding environment or in the nearest resistance center. These centers are well-equipped counseling centers with educated experts who have the knowledge and skills to work and help with various mental difficulties.

These counseling centers are just the biggest challenge for the Istria County in protecting the mental health of the inhabitants of Istria.

The Healthy City of Poreč, a center for the development of the Istrian Counseling Center?

The Consulting Center of the Healthy City of Poreč and its team of experts has become the Istria Coordination Center for the development of the work of the consulting centers of Istria.

Today, the Service Center in the Sour City Community of Poreč is an institution, formerly a non-profit organization, with one of the oldest public health counseling centers in the state, which has been developing for the past 20 years. In Poreč it has been active since 1993, supporting the exiles and refugees of the national war and all the inhabitants of Poreč and surrounding areas that needed psychological support. In all these years, his work is supported by the local community as well as by the City of Poreč which provides him with a representative space and the means to receive all the inhabitants of Poreč who need help. Municipalities and neighboring cities have relied on the Poreč Consulting Center with funding for programs to support their inhabitants and today the institution provides psychosociological services for the largest part of northwestern Istria. In all these years, in collaboration with the important people and experts of Poreč, Poreč has developed the most specific consultancy center of the state which today is a recognized mental health center in the community. The Healthy City of Poreč, in recent years, is connecting and strengthening local experts for the assistance of the inhabitants with the various serious or transitory mental health difficulties. It supports individuals and families at an early stage of risk, work organizations, managers and socially vulnerable inhabitants, employees with special working conditions and all of whom it is necessary and with this stand out as a center of mental health protection during the early risk level. They ensure early intervention and often prevent the serious development of the problem. The practice and activity of the Poreč Psychological Counseling Center, which offers and develops the various support programs, shows that the communities that have recognized the significance of mental health support have virtually recognized the greatest risk to the health of people in the 21st century and better protected their inhabitants.

The improvement of the work of the consulting center of Istria

The available help in the surrounding environment is the biggest challenge for mental health! It is possible to protect people of all ages with quality, accessible and feasible programs for the protection of mental health in the surrounding environment or in the center nearest to the place of residence. The consulting centers available on a territorial basis, spatially, with working time, with qualified personnel, with the price of the service, are functional consulting centers that really improve the health of the inhabitants of a territory. The Istria County wants to support its similar centers, develop and strengthen them with the aim of providing professional assistance in the psychological counseling of all the inhabitants of the territory of Istria. It is necessary to have teams with qualified staff for assistance to groups of all ages with different difficulties and who are functional advice centers.

The role of the local community in the protection of mental health…

In short, caring for the inhabitants of the community/county is an important role of meaningful people who manage community and community helpers. People are the greatest strength of any community and local / county investment in people and their health is the most important investment for progress and development! Only the healthy inhabitants that are considered living in a better way, can solve personal and family difficulties, are capable and active in the world of work, are motivated and can finally ensure the development of the community. Psychological counseling centers that are available for children, young people, adults and whole families today are a necessity and not just for the luxuries of the inhabitants of the developed counties. The challenges and stresses from individuals to those brought about by social, climatic and other changes are great, and human support for man is inevitable and it is the healthy path for strengthening and preserving health.

We can only imagine one of the common stories in the counseling center… think, for example, of the family in which the parents work, have a child with difficulty, another child who needs attention and support, goes to school and needs the help and requires his time, there are also here grandparents (elderly people) of which one because of illness requires full-time care. This family needs a professional support program for the child, for the elderly member of the family, and often only for parents who are in stress due to the circumstances of life, and next to this they have to work and earn for the family, sometimes they also cross their own growth and professional affirmation, maybe they also want to thrive in their jobs.

WHO research shows that healthier communities / counties are those that have developed social cohesion (social connection, union), those that unconditionally take care of every person, those in which not even a man with serious problems do not feel lonely, those that recognize sensitive (vulnerable) groups and are interested in their needs, those that invest their efforts and their strength in programs that empower people as the strongest force in every community.

The basic mission of the Healthy City of Poreč project is to give support to every man in need, the improvement of personal and social health and creates the conditions for health and healthy life choices. For years, this achievement has been a great success. Just for this reason, the Healthy City of Poreč has become the model center of health protection and thus also of mental health and the center of the improvement of mental health protection in Istria.

Activities of the Istrian cities in mental health care…

The safeguarding of the mental health should be a real challenge and the interest of the important people of the Istrian communities from mayors of municipalities and cities then others. In the cities the important people are visionaries, who follow and recognize the risks that arise in modern times for health, that follow the risks and needs in their environment, which believe that the basic role of communities is the investment in people and in the protection of the inhabitants, who observed in the long term the development of the community with all the crucial factors of development, will be included in the project of improving the mental health of their fellow citizens and will participate as partners in setting up the network of counseling centers of Istria. With this, it will create a better quality of life for all your fellow citizens.

The Istrian project of the improvement of the mental health has begun

The Administrative Department of the Health and Social Assistance of the Istria County in cooperation with the Healthy City of Poreč started the activity with this priority. The representatives of the consulting centers of Istria are brought together that today exist in the localities and represent a form of the local consultancy centers. What is known initially is that the consulting centers have different forms of organization, have staff with different capacities, differ in the time available to users, are oriented towards truly narrow or wide areas. All interested representatives are already included in the first education for the reinforcement of the professional staff who are insured by the Istria County. The main goals of this project are the profiling of the Istria advisory centers which can be sustainable long-term projects and will be capacitated for the locality and the surroundings so that the consulting centers in the future Istrian network give service to the inhabitants of the territory of Istria. In the period between 2017 and 2020, the Department of Resources of the Istrian county will ensure the education of staff, professional supervision for the teams of the Istrian consulting centers and work of the team of experts who will establish the minimum conditions for the work of the counseling centers Istrian. The project for the Istria County will be conducted by the Professional Team of the Healthy City of Poreč as one of the most specific advisory centers in Croatia that its work has been developing and undertaking for more than 20 years, and eight years ago, the Healthy City of Poreč is became the expert center of the Healthy Cities Network of Croatia for the health of families thanks to the great success in strengthening whole families.

Director of the Healthy City of Poreč
Nataša Basanić Čuš
Psychologist – psychotherapist