Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Czech Republic: Available treatment for psychiatric disorders; social stigma for those with psychiatric disorders

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 14 January 2000
Citation / Document Symbol CZE33477.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Czech Republic: Available treatment for psychiatric disorders; social stigma for those with psychiatric disorders, 14 January 2000, CZE33477.E, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Sources refer to a Czech Psychiatric Association located at the Department of Psychiatry at Charles University in Prague (Pulier n.d.; WPA n.d.), that it is a member of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), with a Czech person as a member of the Planning Standing Committee (ibid.). Pulier also states that there is a Czech Sexological Society (n.d.). There is also a Czech branch of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation, "dedicated to training health and mental health professionals," in Prague (n.d.). Sources also refer to a hospital for the mentally ill at Bohnice (Lidove Noviny 24 Mar. 1998; The Prague Post 1 Oct. 1997a).

According to a 1 March 1996 CTK report of claims made by the head of the Mental Care Centre in Prague, "at a seminar called Human Rights in Psychiatry":

insufficient funding hampers patients in Czech psychiatric wards and facilities from having their human rights guaranteed. …he said that services for mental patients are not available and patients are being placed in large facilities where they tend to be restricted. There are about 11,000 psychiatric patients in this country, with the largest facilities caring for 700 patients. …No policy on caring for people suffering from mental disorders exists, he went on, adding that there are no legal guarantees of patients' rights.

In 1996, 303,684 Czechs sought help from a psychiatrist (The Prague Post 1 Oct. 1997c). According to The Prague Post, Czech psychiatry, which has a long history, has a "biological focus" which means that "patients are commonly treated with a combination of drugs and therapy" (ibid.).

Although many patients are still institutionalized in the Czech Republic, more persons are being treated at community care centres such as Fokus in Prague "which treats people suffering from schizophrenia, manic depression and other serious psychiatric disorders" (The Prague Post 1 Oct. 1997b).

Other community-based psychiatric support services include:

(Rainbow Society - Integration of Mentally Disabled Individuals) [in Prague] provides social services for adults with mental disabilities including daily programs, supervised workshops, a school, supervised living places, supported employment and advisory services (The Prague Post 18 Dec. 1996).

In 1992 RIAPS (Regional Institute of Acute Psychosocial Services), the first 24 hour crisis centre opened in Prague (The Prague Post 6 Oct. 1999). RIAPS'

staff members are capable of making house calls to the scene of the emergency and of treating clients for acute crises in an intensive, in-house department. The belief at RIAPS is that crisis intervention is not only necessary to prevent a tragedy, it is also the best time for treatment. …

RIAPS provides emergency services, including a crisis hotline and an ambulance service …

RIAPS treats clients through five departments. The first and most important is the contact team, made up of an individual with a social work or psychology background to staff the crisis hotline, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist. The latter two are both part of the team so that if one is with a client when another emergency comes in, the second person can also receive immediate attention.

During that initial contact, the psychiatrist on duty makes a diagnosis and recommendation. If …that contact is enough, that is the end of the treatment. If not, the psychiatrist may recommend either another institution in Prague - for example, the psychiatric hospital at Bohnice for highly developed psychosis; or, for family problems, the Prague Family Center.

For immediate, acute problems, however, RIAPS, which doesn't have the long waiting lists typical at other facilities, offers outpatient therapy and an in -house, eight-bed facility where staff and clients can work intensively on the issue at hand. (ibid. 1 Oct. 1997a).

In 1998 "it logged close to 11,000 calls and treated more than 3,000 people. Between January and August [1999] 319 people …  called with the intention of committing suicide" (ibid. 6 Oct. 1999). However, in October 1999 it was announced that RIAPS would be temporarily closed, and by 1 January 2000 would no longer be part of emergency services (ibid.). No further information on the current status of RIAPS could be found in the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to The Prague Post, both the suspicion surrounding psychiatric treatment and "the stigma that was once attached to mental illness" is "dissipating" (1 Oct. 1997c). People talk openly about receiving psychiatric care (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

CTK National News Wire. 4 October 1999. "Czech Press: KSCM Can Grab Votes Amid Bank Collapses." (FBIS-EEU-1999-1004 4 Oct. 1999/WNC)

_____. 1 March 1996. "Violations of Human Rights in Psychiatric Wards Linked to Funds." (NEXIS)

Lidove Noviny [Prague, in Czech]. 24 March 1998. Renata Kalenska. "Czech Republic: Report Outlines Differing CSSD Views on 'Mamberg Affair'." (FBIS-EEU-98-083 24 Mar. 1998/WNC)

Milton H. Erickson Foundation, Inc. (Phoenix, Arizona). n.d. <> [Accessed 14 Jan. 2000]

The Prague Post. 6 October 1999. Jana Pinterova. "Crisis Line to be Out of Order." (NEXIS)

_____. 1 October 1997a. Kit Kimberly. "Healing Through Crisis." (NEXIS)

_____. 1 October 1997b. Lubmoir Sedlak. "Putting the Patient Back into Patient Care." (NEXIS)

_____. 1 October 1997c. Lubomir Sedlak. "More Czechs Turn to Psychiatry for Help." (NEXIS)

_____. 18 December 1996. David Murphy. "Charities Express Christmas Wishes." (NEXIS)

Pulier, Myron (Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA). n.d. "Mental Health Organizations and Their Events. [Accessed 14 Jan. 2000]

World Psychiatric Association (WPA). n.d. "WPA Structure." [Accessed 14 Jan. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases



Resource Centre. Czech Republic country file. January 1998 - December 1999.

World News Connection (WNC)

Unsuccessful attempts to contact four non-documentary sources

Internet sites including:

International Association of Applied Psychiatry (IAAP)

World Psychiatric Association (WPA)

Search engines including:

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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