Athens ESF report/ Part 1

ESF Statements

Our 8 statements which were proposed, discussed and agreed on, at May 5th, 2006 at the 4th European Social Forum (ESF) in Athens, Greece


Statement 1. It is important to talk about the topic psychiatry within the movement of Social Forums, which originates the modern reflections of freedom.

Statement 2. A lot of psychiatric disorders are caused by violence and the abuse of power.
a. a main theme is child abuse.
b. a second theme is violence against women.
Statement 2. The abuse of power and the violation of vulnerable groups should be prevented, by education, guidance, client networks on self-support and jurisdiction this can be decreased.

Statement 3. The most highest rate of isolation cell usage within European Menmber states can be found in the Netherlands (about 20% of all patients gets isolated during admission). This is mainly caused by the inadequate number of employed professionals in psychiatry. Worldwide the situation of Human Rights withinm Psychiatry is even worse than in the Netherlands. In some Eastern European countries almost a half of all psychiatric patients die in the first year of their admission (mainly caused by poverty of the hospitals). Also refugees often do have serious problems with the way their problems are dealt with.
Statement 3. Protection of human rights in psychiatry, and international solidarity with psychiatric patients is necessary, and in special towards refugees and patients in poorer regions.

Statement 4. Large scaled psychiatric hospitals, with a high population of psychiatric patients, do show a lot of poverty, annoyance, prostitution and drug abuse, This, combined with the usually impersonally approach and the imbalance of power within psychiatry, and the stigma and exclusion of psychiatric patients, makes the problems of a psychiatric patient even worse than they already are.
Statement 4. Large scaled psychiatric hospitals should be replaced by smaller community-based service facilities, to give better personal care to the patients, and to give the patients the opportunity to participate in the daily life of society.

Statement 5. In the Netherlands Mental Health Care is being privatized.
a. Own Responsability is being explained in a liberal way by our governments, and it in fact means that the Rich part of the population does not want to pay for the poorer citizens.
b. Cutting down the expenses leads to a situation where people don't get the help they need. In the Netherlands there are patients whom have trouble finding their daily food. (In our county South Limburg about 300 citizens are placed on a waiting-list to get access to free benificial food distribution. New initiatives for distributing free clothes have already started).
c. Also very disturbing is the fact that compulsory means and methods on psychiatric patients in the Netherlands are used more and more frequently (this includes involuntary treatments, involuntary admission, involuntary observation, involuntary drugging, which is even done outside on the street by a special police task force)
d, But also the psychiatric proffesionals are constrained to do their job in accordance with the rules, and they cannot freely decide what to do (for example with regard to the insurance policies and legislation)
Statement 5. By privatizing mental health care, a positive development of qualitative contents of mental health care is under a threat.

Statement 6. The main response of the psychiatric proffesion is tofight all psychiatric symptoms with the presciption of psycho pharmaceutical drugs. But this medication only represses the problems, and does not solve the cause of the problems, which may lay in power imbalances, traumatizing events, poverty and social exclusion, loneliness etcetera.
Statement 6. Psychic problems are related to the social background of the patient. Psychiatric treatments should therefore not only focus on the medical theories of a human patient, but also on the social context.

Statement 7. Freedom, patient and client movements, psychic and psychiatrical problems and mental health care are closely related to one another. The practice of the Own Responsibility of psychiatric patients means to organise and establish all kinds of networks on self-support.
Statement 7. Governmentally founded initiatives on the social participation of psychiatric patients, imply often the influence of psychiatric professional, which may lead to old-fashioned habits.

Statement 8. Unequally divided economic potential, among others, causes poverty, housing problems, under developed neighbourhoods and unemployment. Thesae are main causes of psychic and psychiatric problems. Within poor areas the psychosis rates are higher, compared to the number of psychosis in richer areas.
Statement 8. People from poorer regions should get extra support to be able to stay healthy.


Actions/ work:
1. Make psychiatry accepted as an important topic within the left, social movement, and in the rest of the world
2. More participants on next ESF
should talk about this with others, inform as many people as we can,  and try to  bring more people the next time)

Main themes; repression, Human Rights, privatization, stigma, alternatives

To contact: send an email to : Jolijn Santegoeds,





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