Special issue on Lithuania

In the twenty years since Lithuania’s reinstating independence, many efforts were initiated to reform mental health care services in the country. The reforms started with full enthusiasm, as part of the national drive to reestablish democracy and build a civil society, and culminated in a multitude of projects to develop community mental health care services, empower relatives and consumers, guarantee the rights of persons with mental illness and mental disability and reconnect to world psychiatry. However, since Lithuania joined the European Union, the reforms in Lithuanian mental health have come to a halt. Since the beginning of the economic crisis of September 2008, many initiatives have been folded due to lack of funding or active obstruction by those who do not favor a community oriented mental health care system in Lithuania.

This special issue of Mental Health Reforms looks at Lithuania as an example of a former Soviet republic were much effort was put in ending Soviet approaches in mental health and where accession to the EU seems to have had a stagnating effect. The issue analyzes the reasons behind this turn of events and tries to provide lessons for other countries in the region who might be going down the same path. It also, for the first time, analyzes in depth what 20 years of mental health care reform has brought the country.

MHR Lithuania 2011