According to the World Health Organization, every fourth person at least once in a lifetime experiences some of the mental difficulty, disorder or disease. Mental disease, like any other, requires care, treatment and support – of the closest – friends and family, to society as a whole. But unlike the others, mental disorders particularly alienate the person making them the sacrifice of misunderstanding, lack of information, fear, stigma and consequent discrimination and unjustified deprivation of basic human rights, which makes recovery and normal life more difficult and precarious.
About 260 people on average are residing in the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Kotor. Their plan of treatment and recovery in addition to pharmaco therapy includes occupational therapy, whose primary objective is the development of skills and encourage independence in activities of daily living, as well as improving the quality of time spent in hospital. However, this kind of therapy took place sporadically in unsatisfactory conditions and with the participation of a small number of patients. At the end of 2016, six NGOs received the opportunity through small grants program within the project “Beyond exclusion – Effective rights for mental health patients” of the Human Rights Action (HRA), the Center for Women and Peace Education ANIMA and the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), supported by the European Union through the EU Delegation in Montenegro, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, to improve the present and offer new activities that would make the time spent in the hospital more substantial, meaningful and enjoyable.
We hereby present three projects that refreshed and enriched the occupational therapy in Kotor hospital: “Yoga for physical and mental health” NGO “Art of living in Montenegro”, then “Tie up with strands” – NGO “Strands” and “Don’t worry-play” NGO “Brljok!”. Patients were offered to acquire or improve various skills that give them the opportunity to better understand their body and take care of them in a new way, to relax and have fun.
“YOGA FOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH” – NGO Art of Living in Montenegro
Yoga training attracted patients from different wards. During previous two months every practicing attended by an average ten patients with occasional participating of the interested staff of the hospital. Exercise are carried out easily and synchronized with the active participation of patients and adequate music from the device secured within the project. All patients received new mats for exercise and at the moment they are preparing the brochure with an overview of the exercises performed during the training, which will enable the independent exercise at the end of the project.
“TIE UP WITH STRANDS” – NGO “Strands” (Nit)
Over twenty patients participate in workshops of knitting, embroidery and crocheting of the NGO “Strands”. Materials and tools for work are provided and then demonstrated easy techniques for making practical and decorative items. Each workshop starts by making coffee and serving juice, and continues with music and conversation that follow handicrafts. In addition to knitting scarves, ties of different motifs and creating a “friendship bracelets”, on the eve of New Year patients made balloons for Christmas tree as well as other decorations which enriched the room where they often reside. About 150 things were made, of which most of the participants donated to their loved ones. From February start workshops for patients who will be trained to create souvenirs.
“DON’T WORRY-PLAY” – NGO “Brljok!”
Innovative approach of NGO activists “Brljok” who organized social games in various wards and in a large dining room for all interested, attracted a large number of patients and staff. This organization of energetic young activists brought a dynamism and freshness in everyday hospital environment. 25 different social games were bought, specially selected for hospital patients according to their needs and abilities. On patient’s proposal, table football and three electric darts are ordered and are waiting with impatience. Lockers for keeping games and books are provided in every ward.
In cooperation with the hospital staff and the project team, NGO “Brljok!” organized a New Year’s raffle in the large dining room of the hospital which was attended by over 200 patients. For all patients, those who joined the party, and those who did not attend, the New Year’s gifts were provided that made this New Year’s Eve somehow a little different and more beautiful and special. The party lasted nearly four hours, they were singing and dancing, and a prize that NGO “Brljok” activists prepared very delighted the winners. For a time the atmosphere was expanding and Santa Claus, until it was overshadowed with an unexpected joy caused by rotation of eardrum, and a voice that shouted selected numbers making happy a large number of winners.